This guest post is written by Hannah and Adam, a newlywed couple about to embark on an epic journey around the world. We recently discovered their travel blog and were reminded of the excitement we felt when we first started our blog back in 2008. We’re happy to share their story and hope it will inspire you to follow your passions and make your dreams a reality.
Getting Stamped Around the World – Meet Hannah and Adam
This is our story. A story about how we woke up from the ‘American Dream’ and started to live the life that we wanted.
Our lives were fairly typical – an American couple who own a nice house in a nice part of town. We were quickly climbing the corporate ladder with good paying and stable jobs. All is going well, right? But it was all starting to sound a little to ordinary, and we were feeling that there has to be more to life. So we decided to quit our jobs, rent out our house, and jet off on a trip around the world!
The trip that changed it all
It had been a rough few months at work and we were set to take a vacation in December 2011. Over the past few years, we’ve tried to escape the Wisconsin winters and warm up on a beach somewhere. This particular vacation found us in Belize.
Upon arrival, we headed straight for the Cayes with no idea that our path in life was soon to be altered dramatically. Everyone who decides to embark on a round-the-world type trip has that ‘Ah-ha’ moment, ours happened while in the streets of San Pedro, Belize.
We met another couple while on the boat to the islands. A few days later we happened upon the same couple again while out for a walk. This time our conversation centered around them and the epic trip that they had started. They were traveling around the world, and Belize was their first stop.
At the time, this type of long term travel was a completely foreign concept to us. The idea that someone could actually travel continuously for a year and not be a college student just didn’t seem possible. After the conversation we went opposite ways, but Hannah and I couldn’t stop talking about our new friends and their amazing adventure.
On two other occasions while in Belize we met some friendly people that were traveling through as part of a year long trip; which helped to water the seeds that had just been planted about long term travel.
When we returned home we quickly got back into the rhythm of everyday life, but our minds were still buzzing from the conversations we had. While poking around on the Internet, still wishing we were somewhere other than home, we found that other people were actually taking trips around the world too.
Fascination turned to obsession, and it was soon a daily topic at the dinner table.
Our trip to Belize came just two months before our wedding. Maybe the idea of long term travel had happened at just the right time; a time when the internal clocks in our heads were beeping, telling us “You’re starting to get old!”
We are excited to have kids, just not right now. Not that kids will stop us from traveling; we fully intend for our children to have their passports before their first birthdays. There was a point after our wedding when we both looked at each other and knew – we had to do this – we had to have OUR big adventure.
Breaking the News
A few months later, we announced to our families that we would be leaving home to travel for a year. There wasn’t much of a reaction at first, I am not sure if they thought we were serious. But after several months of talking about our plans, friends and family started to realize we were actually going to do this.
Responses from friends and family have been a grab bag of reactions. Some are excited for us, while others fear for our safety. There are friends that are already missing us (even though we haven’t even left) and more loved ones searching through our itinerary to find where they’ll meet us along the way.
The people in our lives are going to be some of the hardest parts of being gone from home.
Planning for a trip of a lifetime
Planning our vacations is something we love doing. We spend hours and hours on Trip Advisor and scouring the latest Lonely Planet researching our destination. So we thought this is going to be fun, but we quickly learned that it’s more complicated to plan 400+ consecutive days of travel.
We started out trying to plan to the level of detail we would for a week long trip, which is just not practical. So we needed a means of setting a general route to get the list of countries we wanted to explore down to a reasonable number.
We set what we call our ‘trip pillars’ – the ideas or statements that set the priorities of the trip around. For us, the most important pillar is the statement “the world is shrinking”. We obviously don’t mean literally, but it is digitally. The Internet and cell phones have connected every country around the world in a way that has never been possible before. So we want to visit the parts of the world that are seeing heavy development now and will never be the same.
For those reasons, we plan to spend 5 months in SE Asia and 3 months in Central America.
The place we can’t wait to get to: South Eastern Africa
One of legs of our trip that we are most excited about is taking an overland trip from South Africa to Kenya. 30+ days cruising through rough roads and sleeping in a tent under millions of stars in the dark African night.
We already have our fingers crossed that we will see the ‘Big 5’ while on Safari. But even more interesting to us is the chance to spend time with the Maasai in Kenya. We will also be seeking out a worthy volunteering opportunity while in Kenya. We want to see this region now, before it becomes more westernized and while people still hold tight to their traditions.
The places we plan to see are only part of the journey, we are truly excited to get out and meet other travelers. As great as a destination is (or isn’t), a big part of the travel experience is the people you meet along the way. Is there anything better than meeting people passionate about traveling and sharing stories over a few local beers?
With over 1 billion in population, India excites us but also scares the heck out of us. While reading many blog posts about traveling in India, there always seems to be a point where they become burnt out on India. We hope we’re not overwhelmed by the full on assault on our senses that is said to be India.
If we stick to our rough timeline, we will arrive in India sometime in May, one of the hotter months. Although India’s history and culture can easily keep a traveler busy for over a year, we’ve planned for about 3-4 weeks to cover off the regions that interest us most.
We will never be the same… we hope!
Like most, we are pursuing happiness – but it can be an elusive thing. We hope that by traveling around the world and seeing how others live, we will gain some perspective on what is important in life, and what makes us truly happy.
Taking this trip is our first step towards living the life we want to live. It is also a step toward living with less. We have come to the realization that the ‘things’ in life don’t always equate to happiness. Much of the world lives on only a fraction of the means we do, and still seem to be plenty happy, maybe even happier than us. So the goal, to put it simply, is to get happy and live a simpler life.
Just making the decision to take this trip has already started the simplification process.
Starting to organize and pack up our things in order to rent our house was a wake up call. The bags and bags of clothing we took out of our closest and to the donation center started to feel excessive. We are already seeing a shift in our priorities on how we spend our money and time.
Why not you too?
This is our story – what’s yours? One of our favorite quotes is from an old US Navy commercial:
“If someone wrote a book about your life, would anyone want to read it?”
If you can’t answer yes to this question, what are you doing to fix that? A trip around the world is sure to fill more than a few pages!
Read more posts about planning for a trip around the world:
- How to Budget for a Trip Around the World
- Planning a Round-the-World Trip: 15 Things NOT to Forget
- Planning a Round-the-World Trip: Booking Flights
- How to Travel the World and NOT Pay for Hotels
Author bio: Hannah and Adam decided that a normal life was just too… normal. So they’re packing their lives into a backpack for a year as they travel the globe. You can follow their journey by reading their personal travel blog Getting Stamped and following on Facebook and Twitter.