Where did you get the idea to do a trip like this?
We happened to hear a speaker, Amanda Pressner, at the San Jose Travel and Adventure show in the spring of 2011. She talked about a similar trip she and two of her friends took and the idea stuck with us. Covered a bit more at The Decision to Travel
What made you decide to actually go?
Chris: The more you’ve traveled, the more you’ll travel. My work in the past has taken me all over the world and after a while, I started to realize that the experiences have really made me a much better person. I have been kicking around the idea of some extended travel for a while, but the timing now was right in just about every aspect so I decided to jump in.
Mindy: The realization that it was something I desperately wanted to do. I have always had a deep desire to travel the world and definitely have a strong passion for volunteering abroad, which is something you just can’t do on two week breaks from work. When Chris and I started talking about this trip and we realized we had the opportunity, due to having such an extended time period, to combine our love of travel with immersing ourselves in other cultures via volunteering, I knew we had to go.
Are you rich or something?
It’s all relative. The vast majority of the world gets by on a tiny fraction of what we are accustomed to spending in the USA. We are focusing most of our travel to those places. It does take money to get around and we have covered and plan to cover more of how we made this happen in our Prepping and Planning section. It is also true that we are missing out on a year of lost salary, but we consider that and the cost of the trip to be a very worthwhile investment in our personal growth.
My friend/brother/third cousin went to one of your destinations and got mugged/abducted/pickpocketed/infected with exotic diseases/intestinal parasites/a hangnail. Isn’t travel dangerous?
Sure, travel is dangerous. So is everyday life it is just that you have adapted to all of the threats around you either by ignoring the insignificant ones or by hedging or avoiding the serious ones. I have no doubt that we are going to get sick in ways that are entirely new to us, some gear or money may turn up missing, or other unforeseen things could happen, but dealing with these things makes us that much better at it the next time fate frowns on us. And besides, this is where all the good stories come from.
What did you do with all your Stuff?
For the most part, gone; sold, traded, or given away. We stored some irreplaceable stuff with Chris’s brother and parents, but for the most part, we headed out with a clean slate. We were worried when we first started (how could we possibly not own a couch?!?!), but it quickly became incredibly liberating to be living life with less stuff tying us down. We should all try it from time to time.
What are you most looking forward to on the trip?
Chris: Expanding my comfort zone. Getting from place to place is hard, even harder when you can’t speak the language, read the signs, or understand the local customs. I’m looking forward to Tanzania because I think it is about as different culturally as I can get and it will be the most challenging.
Mindy: Meeting people, both locals and other travelers, and hearing their stories. To me there is nothing more amazing than meeting people who have a different background than me and getting a glimpse into their lives. It constantly ends up shifting how I see the world and myself, and therefore gives me opportunities to grow in ways I never could have imagined. Also, I will be fulfilling my biggest childhood dream of volunteering with Sea Turtles!
What are you doing when the trip is over?
We have deliberately left our plans open. One of the major reasons for this trip was to take a step back and decide what we really want out of life, and then to start heading in that direction. We are using the trip as an opportunity to gather all kinds of information on how different people live so we can create a version that suits us. We’re evaluating careers, location, family plans; the whole shebang. It may be we had it right already and we just need to continue on. Time will tell.