Nick and I both traveled to Thailand, separately, 5 years ago and for each of us it was our first true backpacking experience. After years of “vacationing” and tossing around ideas of venturing to a foreign country on a whim, with no set plans other than a plane ticket to that first destination, we both strapped on the backpack and set out on month-long journeys that would not only change our life but our vision of what traveling means to us and how we would eventually end up here- back in Thailand together, on an open-ended backpacking journey around the world, writing our first blog post. I suppose you could say we’ve come full circle.
Every time we discuss our past travels and life experiences, and how we have been shaped by them, those conversations further the evolution of this adventure, creating a dialogue between us that is both open-minded and fluid and a great reminder that one of the most important aspects of this trip is that it remains unplanned and full of spontaneity.
I was born and raised in Orange County, California, have always been innately curious, ferociously passionate, and asked far too many questions. Despite my wonderful upbringing in what I still believe is one of the most beautiful places in the world, I found myself wondering what was outside my bubble far too often and the curiosity became too much to bear. In 2009, after finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in Southern California I decided to move to the UK to pursue my Master’s Degree. I had never left home for more than 10 days, I booked a short trip to England when I applied so I could at least see the country I could potentially move to, and besides that, I had modest experience traveling within the US and virtually none anywhere else. There were certainly some growing pains, the stark reality of life in a foreign country and fending for myself for the first time, but I learned quickly, remained positive and believed that no matter how the experience turned out, in the long run it would be good for me.
My time in England was supposed to last 9 months, fast forward 3 years and about 15 countries later and I finally ended up coming back to America where I moved up to San Francisco. In typical Andi fashion, I’d never spent any real-time in San Francisco but I’d never met anyone who went there and said they hated it, so I took a job offer, packed a few bags and moved up north. I fell in love with San Francisco and after 2 years there, I finally know where home is. After settling into an exciting new life and my budding career in corporate banking, I still felt like something was missing and deep down, I knew it was the travel bug. All of my traveling when I’d lived in England had been throughout Europe apart from my month in Thailand. From all of the people I’d met over those years, the conversations that really struck a chord were those about long-term travel. The people who took a chance and left their life behind to venture out into the world. I never believed I would be one of them, and I certainly never believed I would find a partner who had been fighting that same urge for so many years.
As soon as Nick and I met, all we did was talk about travel. I had never met anyone as passionate about the world as I am and naturally the “what if’s” and “when’s” of an around-the-world trip began to come up. Right away we booked a ticket to Central America, put on backpacks and made sure the trip would be low-budget, just like how a “big” trip would be and by the end, that sealed it for us. The savings plan was in motion and ideas of how this would work consumed our lives for a year before we made the big announcement that we were leaving our careers, beautiful city and putting the backpack back on for a true “adventure of a lifetime”.
Today marks the first day of month 5 on the road and I am finally getting around to writing this blog and telling pieces of our story. I know there are hundreds of blogs out there and most travelers envision a life of getting paid to write on the road, but for us we simply want this to be a great source of information for other mid-range (flashpackers as they’re called these days) travelers out there. I spend hours on blogs, searching for real-life, real-time updates and reviews of places all over the world. Sometimes I want to see big cities and sightsee and sometimes I want to find remote islands in the South Pacific and I don’t always want to do that by the cheapest, most inconvenient travel methods. We want mid-range travel options, I want to be immersed in new cultures and surrounded by like-minded people, because gone are the days where I can spend all night drinking buckets of booze and still manage to make the most of my days.
This trip is so much more than that for us. We aren’t the same wide-eyed, naive travelers of our early 20’s and while we are still on a path of self-discovery we know all too well what we left behind and the risk we took in leaving. We know fantastic restaurants and nice wine, big city life, and pretty good pay checks and just because we are out on the road for at least the next year, doesn’t mean we will forego those passions so quickly. I hope this blog will be an inspiration to those who don’t think this life of long-term travel is possible once you hit 25 and start a career, and even if that isn’t your plan, we want travelers to know that it’s still possible to have this kind of backpacking experience with a few weeks or a few months. Our advice will be for those who don’t necessarily feel bad about being interested in the paths well-traveled because those still can lead somewhere quite beautiful, and for those who also seek out remote destinations that are rich in culture, have great food, lots of adventure and maybe some great nights out along the way. We will post photos, travel tips, stories and recommendations that we hope will inspire and encourage more people to travel.
A quote from one of my college professors that I will never forget was, “No one of their death-bed ever said they wished they would have worked more”, and to me that was so obvious yet profound. I hear far too many people say they will travel when they retire, but truthfully, they may never get the chance. Maybe I will still want to scuba dive, hike through the Himalaya and book one-way tickets abroad at 70 but I would rather not take my chances. I believe in my heart that this journey will shape the rest of my life, with no doubt that there will be another job at the end of it and that the beautiful city we left behind will remain intact. Until then, we plan to choose happiness everyday, be present and never take this opportunity for granted because although it eventually will end, our passion for travel won’t go anywhere and we will be inspired to keep traveling for the rest of our lives.
Stay tuned and happy travels!