Today marks exactly 12 months since we set off on what we had planned to be a year-long travel adventure. The 28th November 2015 was a really crazy day, we had so many conflicting emotions running riot. We were stiff with apprehension over what was to come, consumed by sadness as tears flowed down our cheeks and yet overwhelmed with excitement as the reality of what we were doing took hold. Thinking back, that bizarre day seems so long ago but the year feels like it’s flown by in the blink of an eye.
We’ve had so many unbelievable experiences that it’s kind of hard to process all the amazing things we’ve done and exciting places we’ve seen. We learnt to Tango in Buenos Aires, partied at Carnival in Rio, trekked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, had our first taste of surfing and scuba diving in Colombia, survived the world’s most dangerous hike in China and explored the most spectacular caves in the world in Vietnam. On top of this we’ve met so many amazing and inspiring people and feel very fortunate to now have friends from every corner of the globe.
We thought that this trip would satisfy our wanderlust, but instead it’s only fuelled it further and over the year we’ve come to the realisation that we don’t want to stop exploring the world.
So we’re not going to.
Pin Me For Later?
How we arrived at our decision
Having never been away from home for more than a few weeks prior to this adventure, we didn’t know whether we would even like travelling. Was it going to be dangerous? Would we enjoy spending so much time together? Could we survive carrying all our possessions on our back for a year? How would we cope with squat toilets and bum guns? However, despite these concerns, we very quickly fell in love with it and threw ourselves wholeheartedly into everything the experience had to offer.
Us as fresh faced rookie backpackers
Of course throughout the year we have had periods of homesickness, particularly around the times of significant events such as the arrival our new nephew, the weddings of close friends and birthdays of friends and family. There have also been moments when we’ve felt so removed and helpless to comfort family and friends in difficult times and that’s been really tough all round. But despite these difficulties we’ve found something that we genuinely love doing and it’s making us extremely happy.
We relish learning about the countries that we visit, from the culture and history to the food and drink. With every border we’ve crossed our passion for these new experiences has never wavered and only grown stronger. We thrive off the spontaneity and freedom our new life style affords us. Not knowing where we’ll be next week or next month would previously have been a nightmare but we’ve grown to appreciate the beauty in the unknown and living in the moment.
Larking about on the Bolivian salt flats
Considerations and sacrifices
When we left England, all of the arrangements that we made were for a temporary one-year period and we fully believed that we would go back to life as we knew it. We rented our house out, arranged to store our belongings and organised for our beloved pet cat to be looked after – all on the basis that we’d return a year on. These are all things that we now have to sort out on a more permanent basis and re-homing our cat is going to be heart breaking to say the least.
Back in the UK, we’d worked hard to achieve the things that we thought would provide us with contentment and stability in life. We’d bought a house, had nice cars and good jobs, but yet in many respects we were still unhappy. We now realise that for us, anxiety and depression were largely a by-product of that lifestyle. We appreciate how privileged we are to have options and it’s for this reason that we’re making the choice that feels the most positive for us at this moment in time. Travel.
One of our best days!
But by far the biggest consideration in our continuing to travel has been our friends and family. We anticipated that such a big decision would come as a shock to most, upset a few and even anger some of our loved ones. And yet here we are. We have considered our decision from all angles and definitely haven’t taken it lightly. We miss, cherish and think about every single one of our loved ones every day and talk about them constantly.
Whilst it might appear that we now live a life of sunsets and beaches this is by far a more difficult option than coming home for good would be.
Making it a reality
Travelling costs money, and therefore we need to earn money. We only saved up enough to travel for a year and don’t have a nest egg buried away. But if there is one thing we have learnt this year it’s that there are tonnes of opportunities and alternative ways of making an income. A big thing for us is that we want to be able to afford and have the freedom to come back home regularly, as and when we want to or need to. Otherwise it’s just not going to work.
Jamming down Thai street food
We already earn a small income through our blog and have been fortuitous enough to have picked up some freelance writing and social media management work. The plan is to increase these revenue streams by gathering more clients, growing our blog readership and partnering with more companies. Beyond travel, we’ve discovered that we both have a real passion for writing and we’re looking forward to diversifying that into different areas.
We’re under no illusions and are well aware that earning money online and working for ourselves is by no means easy or stable. But for us, the trade-off is the freedom and happiness we’ll gain from it. We have met, been inspired by and become friends with a number of people who are in similar positions to us, all at different stages of making their dreams a reality.
The whole world or nothing
Some are right at the beginning of their journey to sustaining their travels, others are further down the line and doing things as diverse as freelance writing, teaching in China and even making a great living solely from their travel blog. Without personally knowing these people we might not have believed it was possible, but there are so many different and interesting ways of supporting travel that we feel confident we can do it as well.
And so we’re very much taking a calculated risk. This isn’t something that’s been decided on a whim over one too many 16p beers. The easiest thing would very much be to fly home, move back into our house, get similar jobs in sectors and environments we are familiar with and carry on where we left off, so to speak.
Said 16p beers!
But we would be sacrificing our happiness in doing so. So for now what we really need is everyone’s love, support and acceptance.
What our travels will look like going forward
First and foremost, we are going to slow down. Considerably! We made the mistake that all rookie travellers do at the beginning of trying to see and do everything in the shortest amount of time possible before moving on to the next destination. But we’ve realised that to really get to know somewhere you need to spend more time exploring than we necessarily have done.
Hitchhiking in Thailand
In fact, it led to us drastically changing our itinerary for this year and taking India completely off our list. We’re planning on planning less moving forward. We’re also going to be working as we go which will mean we will need a more stable base for longer periods of time in order to focus on that side of things.
Where are we going to go next? We’re not entirely sure yet! We have so many ideas buzzing around in our head that it’s difficult to pick one and settle on it. In the meantime, we’re hoping to explore some places closer to home – we love the UK and there are countless adventures to be had there.
When will we set off again? Well we have no set ideas about this either. For the time being we’re looking forward to getting back to England and catching up with all of our friends and family. It may be a matter of months, it may be longer. We’re giving ourselves the flexibility to make the decision when the timing is right.
We love a good explore
How long will we be gone for? We don’t know the answer to this one either! But as we said before, we’re going to be coming back home on a regular basis to see our friends and family – that’s a real priority for us. We constantly communicate about how we’re feeling, talk about our hopes and dreams and make sure that we’re both happy. If travelling stops making us happy, we’ll reassess.
We’re fortunate enough to know that we always have the security of being able to come back to UK if things don’t work out. If we fail, so what? We owe it to ourselves to try.
This is where our adventure really starts… What are you waiting for?
James & Sarah