One Year Abroad

Posted by Arlo on Nov 10, 2011 under Postcard Valet, Travel, Website

Last year, on November 10th, our flight from Miami to Quito kicked off our trip around the world.  Since then, we’ve traveled tens-of-thousands of miles across five continents, seen amazing sites, and met amazing people.  One year later, to the day, we’re still going strong.  We just arrived in a new city, Thailand’s Chiang Mai, and because of a fantastic coincidence, we happened to arrive during their Festival of Lights (Loi Krathong.)  We pretended the whole city was turning out to give us a huge anniversary party!

Originally, our year of travel was supposed to begin on July 1, 2010.  We’d budgeted $100/day for the entire year, setting aside a whopping $36,500 for our trip.  But we had setbacks and delays in the States which eventually delayed our trip by three months.  By the time November 10th rolled around, we had already been gone from home 140 days.  Assuming we’d stuck to our travel budget, that was $14,000 already spent.  We discussed it and made the tough decision to start again at zero – time-wise and money-wise – when we flew to Ecuador.

We did fairly well in South America (aside from spending too big a chunk on the Galapagos Islands), but Africa pitted our travel budget spreadsheet against us.  We regained some ground when we stayed with friends and family in Europe and Russia, saving on housing, but the transportation costs caught us again.  By September 12th, we had exhausted the $36,500 we’d set and realized that any remaining travel costs would be coming out of our savings.  We had fallen 58 day – almost two months – short of our goal.

We spent the month of October in Thailand, spending as little money as we could.  By staying close to our hotel (and pool!) and eating out only once a day or so, we managed to get by on less than $45 a day.  That average will probably ratchet back up this month, as our transportation costs have already increased as we begin to travel around Southeast Asia with friends.

We spend a lot of time trying to figure out our budget now.  It seemed so easy when we planned it out.  $100 a day for a year; what could be simpler?  But now we’re juggling three different time periods:

  • Time in the US & Canada (July 2010 – November 10th, 2010)
  • Planned year of travel (November 10, 2010 to November 10, 2011)
  • Wrapping it up (November 10, 2011 to roughly mid-December)

As well as four different budget breakdowns:

  • US & Canada (July 2010 – November 10th, 2010)
  • Actual “year” of travel (November 10, 2010 to September 12th, 2011)
  • Time between exhaustion of funds to planned end of trip (September 12th, 2011 to November 10th, 2011)
  • Extended travel plans after original end date (November 10th, 2011 to approximately mid-December 2011)

How much we’ll end up spending on this trip and how it all breaks down will have to wait until we’ve finished recording every expense.  All we know for sure right now is that every penny we spend after September 12th is coming out of the money we’d saved for a house back home.

So, anyway.  What’s next?

As I mentioned, we’re currently traveling around Southeast Asia with our friends Wendy, Dusty, and Sarah.  We’re moving fairly quickly, which is a necessary evil if we’re going to see some of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia before flying from Singapore to Australia in mid-December.

Oksana has been sending out resumes all over Australia, looking to put her Holiday Work Visa to good use.  If she can find a job that pays well enough, we expect to spend almost all of 2012 living there.  While she’s busy with her new job(s), I’ll be working hard on producing something from all these videos, photos, data, and stories we’ve collected over the past year and a half.  Probably a book.  Perhaps something for your coffee table that’s full of photos.  Maybe a DVD.  It’ll depend a lot on what you all would like to see.

I have big plans for the travel blog and podcast once we stop moving around and look forward to sharing them with you in the New Year.  In the meantime, you should know that we’ll probably be posting less in the month to come, mostly because I’m having trouble finding time to sleep, let alone the time to write about what we’re seeing and doing!  Next week will be the first time in months that I won’t be posting a “Thoughts On…” article because I’ve caught up to Russia and that entry is going to take a long time to write!  (Has anyone noticed that we had a consistent posting schedule for a little while there?  Did you enjoy it while it lasted?)  Rest assured that we’ll still be tweeting and Facebooking updates as we go!