While it's been so good to spend quality time with family and friends, eat an abundance of cheese, and be able to spend fall in Minnesota (our favorite season!), our feet are itching. Our minds are drifting to faraway beaches and our taste buds are craving exotic flavors.
I guess we really do have wandering soles. (See what I did there?!)
In just a few days, we will be heading East yet again on a one-way ticket.
Destination? Southeast Asia.
Our plan is this… drumroll, please...
We have no plans.
Now pick your jaw off the ground and I’ll explain.
We'll spend our first two weeks exploring Thailand with Ben’s sister and her boyfriend. We have a couple things booked and a rough itinerary for those 15 days, but after that… nada.
We have some ideas of places we want to see and things we want to do along the way, but we’ll take it day by day. If we fall in love with a town, we want to be able to stay for longer than expected. And if we hear about a place from other travelers, we want the freedom to make a detour.
When we explain this to well-meaning friends and family, we’re met with wide eyes and endless questions. So here’s an attempt to answer some of them:
1. When are you coming home?
We actually don’t know. No, I’m not hiding something. We really have no idea. And yes, it's a little scary, but that's part of the adventure!
2. Since you taught English in South Korea, that must mean you’re teaching English in Thailand too. Right? Right?
No, we are not teaching English in Southeast Asia. At least, we aren’t planning on it. We're going to focus on travel for the time being, but we do already miss our Korean kiddos, so we’ll see…
3. So if you’re not working, what will you do all day?
We will wake up when we want, drink fresh fruit juices, and walk on the beaches. We’ll rent motorbikes (and hopefully not crash this time). We will live without a routine, and explore whatever and whenever we feel like it. Yeah, we’re pretty stoked.
4. What countries are you planning to travel through?
Okay, so I guess it’s a little unfair to say we have absolutely no plans. After spending some time in Thailand, we are hoping to travel in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam too. We’d love to make it down to Malaysia and back to Indonesia. And there are about a hundred other countries on our list too, so we’ll see what happens.
5. What will you do about money? How are you going to eat and sleep?
We have been dreaming of this trip for a few years, so we've been saving money for quite some time. We will travel slowly, sleep in hostels, and eat cheaply to keep costs low. We’re also hoping to volunteer in exchange for a bed whenever we can. We’re used to traveling on a budget and have found that we often have more adventures and see a more authentic side to things when we aren’t paying top dollar.
6. Well, you must be rich or have no student loans to be able to afford to travel, right?
Actually no, we are not rich – we didn’t win the lottery or inherit a fortune. And yes, we do have student loans. A lot of them. So how are we doing this travel thing? This is the most common question people have been asking us. We will be sharing our tips on how we're able to afford long-term travel very soon, so stay tuned!
7. Why Southeast Asia?
We have fallen in love with Asia. The people, the landscapes, the food. The big cities and charming villages. Beaches and jungles. Culture and adventure. Asia seriously has it all. And it’s cheap. We can travel in Asia for an exponentially longer amount of time than in Europe, the Americas, and just about anywhere else in the world. If you are one of the many people that say, "Asia just doesn't appeal to me," I would implore you to Google images of the Philippines, Bali, and Thailand just to get you started. Yeah... now you understand our obsession, right?!
8. Will you continue blogging on this next adventure?
Of course! We will be documenting our travels every step of the way, through pictures, videos, stories and tips We have a couple fun and new ideas for the blog, so we hope you continue to follow us on this adventure!
9. But really, when are you coming home? Will you be home for Thanksgiving/Christmas/Martin Luther King Jr. Day/my birthday?
See question 1.
So there it is. We truly have no set plans, and we’re thrilled about it.
Are we nervous taking this big step without having things mapped out? Sure. We actually both love To Do lists and itineraries, but sometimes the routine of it all can get monotonous.
Most of our lives are mapped out by a schedule. Years pass by and dreams pass by as well.
I’ve noticed over the past few years that I personally spend so much time worrying about and planning for the future. On this journey, I want to challenge myself to live more in the moment and take in life’s experiences as they happen instead of looking back and wishing I'd been more present.
And I've also learned in the last couple years that we are never guaranteed tomorrow. I don't want to save all of my dreams for retirement in hopes that I'll get there healthy and financially stable enough to be able to fulfill them. Not many people are hiking the Inca Trail or bathing in mud volcanoes in their seventies, after all.
We are living our retirement (and our dreams!) now. And I know with every fiber of my being that this decision to see the world with no plan is not one we will regret.