Well it’s been a few months since my maiden post so I thought it was about time I committed my thoughts to this blog on how the planning is going for the Big Trip and where my head currently is at….
Suffice to say, as always there are a million and one things going around in that attic space I sometimes refer to as my mind – some positive and some negative – with the resultant broken sleep patterns and mood swings between unfettered optimism and glass half-empty doom mongering.
So I reckon if I just set it all out on this blog (I nearly said “paper” there)……. just unload what’s on my mind for all to see (not that anyone out there is listening as yet) I can at least deal with everything one piece at a time. You see I’m not very good at dealing with uncertainty, although this is one of the fears I’m going to have to overcome if I’m to get the most out of travelling the world – there’s no point in expecting everything to be pre-determined and planned with military precision.
What have I been doing since my last post?
When I posted in June I was half-way through a 6 month contract, which was ultimately extended to 7 months and completed mid-September. Nicky and I then went off on a 2-week holiday to Italy and now I’m searching for another contract or job which will take me through till October/November 2014. Nicky has a full time job, which she will continue with until we leave (the owner of the company she works for is fully aware of this and the arrangement very much works for both parties over the next 12 months).
How are the travel plans going?
For a number of reasons we have decided that we will travel around Asia from December 2014 for 18 months, taking in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, The Phillipines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, India and Nepal (probably in that order). We’ve already spent some time in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Maldives and really want to experience what this continent has to offer in terms of its people, food, culture, history, landscape….and its beaches! It’s also likely to be the cheapest part of the world to travel so it ticks all the right boxes as a starting point. I’ve worked on the itinerary so that we can take advantage of the dry seasons wherever we can, although I accept that this will inevitably result in higher prices and lots more tourists.
Depending on the financial situation (see below) , we might actually do some travelling before then – either around Europe by car (France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Belgium) or Africa (Seychelles, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya). Our thought process is that a European trip might be a way to ease ourselves into a back-packing culture, albeit with the use of our car.
What are the financial implications?
This is the issue that gives me most sleepless nights. As it stands we have a number of choices…..
1. Save up enough money to at least cover us for the 18 months in Asia (I reckon we would need £35,000 for this), which would allow us to rent out our house fully furnished
2. Sell our house, place our possessions into storage and use the equity released from the sale to fund our travels
3. Sell our house and all our possessions and take the leap into the unknown!
4. Fund our travels while working abroad.
Option 1 is definitely the preferred choice, but is absolutely subject to my finding employment fairly soon and saving over the next 12 months (at this point, for whatever reason, we don’t have any cash savings to our names).
Options 2 or 3 will have to kick in if there is no movement on the employment front come January 2014….and then we are reliant on completing a sale within 9/10 months. Anything longer than that would undoubtedly mean delaying the trip….unless we go for option 4. However, while this might be an option to help extend the travelling I wouldn’t want it to be our main activity.
Of course if we do decide to sell, and the sale completes quicker than expected then we may opt for the European or African trip before we head to Thailand in December.
What we currently call “home”
What other barriers are there?
For me, the main one is not being around for my dad – he’ll be 80 in July and lives by himself about 50 miles from where we live. As Everton Football Club season ticket holders, we generally see each other once a fortnight to go and see the game, which sometimes coincides with him coming to stay over for part or all of the weekend. His general health is good for his age but I’m acutely aware of the fact that anything could happen over the next 12 months, and indeed the 18 months beyond that when we will be away. My brother lives closer to him so he will be able to keep an eye on him but it is a worry for me. Of course we will be staying regularly in touch, but he relies heavily on a mobile phone which he doesn’t find particularly easy to use. So any ideas about connecting up via Skype or something similar are out of the question unless I can arrange something with my brother.
What about after the trip to Asia?
Again, this is where we have a number of ideas floating around. We certainly want to continue travelling the world, but at some point the money will run out unless we are actually earning a living. The question then becomes do we attempt to earn a living “on the road” and travel open-ended, or identify a way to settle somewhere either in the UK or abroad and plan/fund our travels from there. We probably won’t find the answer to this question until we’ve actually been travelling for a while – however it won’t harm for us to think about “skilling up” over the next 12 months to try and take advantage of any opportunities that might come along. I’ll cover these thoughts in more detail in another post. However, one thing we absolutely agree on is that we won’t be returning to a lifestyle driven by being part of the “rat race”.
So, apart from finding employment, what else needs to be done before it’s time to travel?
I would really like to be publishing a blog of our travels which has a large and dedicated following. I say this mainly from an enjoyment and satisfaction point of view, although it would be nice to think that I could generate some income from it as well. However, I accept that this is a very competitive market, with hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there. I have been reviewing lots of other travel blogs to get a feel for how they work and I’ve decided to sign up to Travel Blog Success to improve my skills and take advantage of the online support/community. I’m also considering taking a travel writing course (for example, the Matador U Writing Course as recommended by Y Travel).
I’m still trying to determine a name for the blog – ‘Time to travel” is a work-in-progress moniker, although it does sum up our approach in that we want to make and use our time as best we can….and the fact that we’ve decided the time to do it is now (or at least 12 months from now if you see what I mean!).
One of the things I’ve noticed is that the online travel community seem to be very supportive of each other and it would be foolish not to take advantage of this, particularly in understanding how to travel safely and efficiently. So I’ll be starting to network with the community and brushing up on my social media skills – I have a Twitter, Facebook and Flickr account but they are as good as dormant so I’ll be starting from scratch here (Nicky, however is a Facebook die-hard!). My Pinterest account is a bit more mature in terms of content and followers and I’m also on Linked In.
And, although I’ve had an interest in it for quite some time I want to improve my photography skills and also understand more about post-production techniques.
In the meantime, I will continue to build up a picture of what we might want to see, do and experience in each of the countries we intend to visit – not to the point where everything is pre-planned, but to at least establish what it is we want to get out of each part of our journey.
So there you have it, and I have to say I already feel better for sharing these thoughts with you, my imaginary reader! I’ll be building up some content on this blog over the next few weeks, including some posts on our recent trips. No doubt there will be plenty of changes to the appearance of the blog as I learn more about how to develop it…..but if you’re interested in staying with me on this journey then please bear with me and perhaps say hello.