As soon as we started telling people about this trip, we got SO many questions. Some as basic as “Where are you going first?”, and some were much bigger questions like “Why?”.
While this round-the-world trip we’re taking is not necessarily unique (we’ve already met numerous people doing the exact same thing), it is not particularly common among Americans. We think this is partly due to geography, but it’s also just largely a culture difference. So unless my friends/family/coworkers were active in the RTW travel space of the internet, this concept seems a little insane and hard to take in.
So I’m here to break it down. I figured I’d go ahead and answer as many as I can right here. If there’s anything I missed, please let me know in the comment section and I’m happy to tackle it!
So what exactly are you doing?
Let’s call it a gap year. We’re taking approximately one year to travel and live abroad. We’ve got our backpacks, our laptops, and each other, and, really, what more do you need? Some places we’ll be in for a while (like starting our trip with 19 days in Medellin, Colombia), but some places we’ll bounce through quicker (like Europe we’ll hit most places for about four days). We know this won’t cure our travel bug forever, but it should at least get us through having kids.
Where are you going?
That’s a surprise! Follow along and find out.
What about work?
We quit our jobs. While it was hard (more on that here), it was a relatively good time for us to leave. I had been with my company for 5.5 years. So when I left, I had at least developed a decent amount of skills and relationships that I expect to be able to find a job in a reasonable time when I return. Kenny is actually continuing to volunteer as the social media director for the non-profit where he worked and will likely return to the same organization when we get back.
How much does this cost?
We are planning for approximately $85 per person, per day. That cost includes flights, places to stay, food, everything. That comes out to about $62,000.
How can you afford that?
How do you afford your designer wardrobe, your house, or your hobbies? (Can you tell this one strikes a nerve with me? haha) People chose to spend their money in different ways on different things. We know we are very, very fortunately to be able to take this trip, but we also worked really hard, budgeted like crazy, and made tough decisions. But it really just comes down to the fact that this was the most important thing for us, and that comes at the expense of other things that we don’t spend our money on.
How long did it take to plan this?
We talked about this trip for a good year before we actually left the US. We started by dreaming up where we’d want to go, we scoured the blogosphere for recommendations from other RTW travelers, we cross-referenced the cost of those places with our budget and then we mapped out important dates, seasons and holidays that we wanted to catch in certain places. We booked our first non-refundable thing on February 21 and we left the US on July 2, so about 4 months.
Was it hard to plan?
YES! It’s actually so much work. Kenny does most of the planning and has invested so many hours researching locations, flights, points, safety and everything else that goes into this. It’s not something we can complain about it, because it’s a great opportunity, but it’s definitely not something that we willy-nilly decided to just go and wing it.
Where are you staying?
Mostly Airbnb’s, but a few hostels in Europe. We also sprinkled in a couple hotels for special occasions.
Do you have everything all planned out?
Some of it. When we left, we had the first three months planned with flights and Airbnb’s booked. We also have a few long-haul flights booked already for later in the trip. But other than that, we have an outline of what regions we want to be in and for what period of time. Places like Southeast Asia are easy and cheap enough to get around that we kind of decided to play some things by ear.
Are you coming back to the US at all?
Yes. I have two dear friends that are getting married so we are coming back for both of those weddings in the US. One is near my hometown in central Illinois in September, so we’ll fly into Chicago to see our friends and Kenny’s family before heading south to spend the weekend with my family. This also gives us the chance to swap out our Summer in South American clothes for our Fall in Europe clothes. Then we’ll be back again in the DC area for my other friend’s wedding in November. There is never a good time to leave home for a year, but choosing to do this meant that I couldn’t make all of their wedding activities. They are both insanely supportive and amazing people and never once made me feel bad about it. I love them both desperately.
What does Lattes & Runways mean?
Coffee and travel are two of our favorite things and will be prominently featured in this blog. We’ll also be posting a lot about running, we’ve got a few marathons lined up, so running also plays into the runways meaning.
What inspired this?
We both had hugely influential bosses at our jobs who we were intensely close with. Last year, within three months of each other, we’d both lost our leaders. This transition time at work lead to dreaming about what’s next. We had just booked a trip to Germany and London for the marathon in the fall, so we had travel on the brain. Once you get bit by the travel bug, you’re never cured (as my friend’s dad said, “you’re ruined for life”). We started following bloggers like Nomadic Matt, Goats on the Road and RTW Couple and fell in love with the idea of taking some serious time to travel.
Won’t you miss your friends and family?
Of course! We’re not monsters! Saying goodbye was hard. Choosing to take this trip didn’t come without sacrifice. I mentioned missing wedding activities, I’ve already missed the birth of my friend’s child, I’ll miss my friend’s 30th birthday, and I will likely miss at least one engagement. There are always a million reasons to stay, but sometimes you just need to go.
How do you even pack for a trip that long?
I spent months perfecting my packing list. I needed light, packable clothes that covered a range of climates. I needed collapsable everything. Everything that was going to take up space in my backpack needed to be reliable and have a variety of uses. And even after all that prep, I found that it still didn’t all fit in my backpack and the night before we left I just kept taking things out until my pack zipped. At the end of the day, the fact is that you just do laundry in the sink a lot and are prepared to purchase things you don’t have.
You can read all about what I packed, how I picked it, and how I made it all fit on my packing list page here.
Where are you from?
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Are you scared? What about terror threats?
I came on this trip because I wanted to stop thinking that the world is such a dangerous place. I wanted to know that people are good. It’s important to be smart and exercise caution no matter where you are, but it can’t stop you from doing things. Life is about calculated risks and travel is a statistically safe one. You are more likely to die in a car crash than anything travel related, but that doesn’t stop people from driving their cars. We do prioritize safety above all else in our travel planning, but things like terror threats won’t stop us from seeing the world.
What did you do with your stuff?
When we moved out of our apartment, everything we wanted to keep had to fit in a 5×10 storage unit. We donated most of our furniture, a lot of clothes, and several kitchen appliances. We kept our core wardrobe, kitchen staples, and our dresser and vanity which I inherited from my grandma. Each of our parents have a couple things and we left a few suitcases and a bike with our aunt who graciously let us stay with her for three months (love you Aunt Linda!). To be honest though, after living without much stuff, I can’t imagine I actually need the storage unit full of stuff! But who knows, after a year I might be ready to own things again.
Are you coming back?
Yes, we promise. We do really want to have children when we return home so that is a big driver that will ensure we don’t keep galavanting around the world.