[Video Excerpt] Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolph Plots

I heard about this book from Tim Ferriss’ podcast. In it, Tim dedicated an entire show to the author’s reading of this book. It got me hooked.

Usually with books I review I’ll append all the excerpts I’ve highlighted from my Kindle into the my blog post. For this book however, I found myself highlighting almost every sentence. He really nails the philosophy of long term travel including the feelings, challenges and rewards that come with . I’ve thought about writing my own philosophical experiences down, but why build when you can buy, right?!

This guy is like the Confucius of travel.

Here is a short 4-minute excerpt from Tim’s podcast, and here is the book on Audible and Amazon if you end up getting hooked too.

Long-term travel doesn’t require a massive “bundle of cash”; it only requires that we walk through the world in a more deliberate way.

This deliberate way of walking through the world has always been intrinsic to a time-honored, quietly available travel tradition known as “vagabonding”.

Vagabonding involves taking an extended time-out from your normal life — six weeks, four months, two years — to travel the world on your own terms.

But beyond travel, vagabonding is an outlook on life. Vagabonding is about using the prosperity and possibility of the information age to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions. Vagabonding is about looking for adventure in normal life, and normal life within adventure. Vagabonding is an attitude — a friendly interest in people, places and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word.

Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It’s just an uncommon way of looking at life — a value adjustment from which action naturally follows.

And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time — our only real commodity — and how we choose to use it.

Things that go BUMP in the night (in Sri Lanka) by Jackie

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So, it all started late one night, in a hotel, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the jungle, in Sri Lanka….

I am woken up in the middle of the night, by some mysterious noises happening across the room.  Me – “Sean! What is that?!” Sean (groggily) – “What?” Me – “THAT! what is that NOISE?!” and I click on the lights.  Sean tip toes over to the corner of the room where I think the noise is coming from, moves the huge ceiling to floor curtains, and suddenly he says, “Oh my GAWD! You DON’T want to know what it is. Do NOT come over here”.   I am panicking on the inside, true flight or fight mode, thinking the worst, that it’s a snake or a tarantula, I KNOW it! So I am relieved when Sean finally tells me it’s a mouse.  Then he says he thinks the mouse is “kind of cute”. I say, “Let’s switch rooms,” instead, we call the front desk to explain the situation and I settle to let someone come to the room to try to chase the “cute” mouse out.  The time is now 1:15am.

Poor guy that worked there came to our room in the middle of the night to try to catch the mouse which we figured out was hiding in the huge wooden media console that held the tv.  He brought a can of bug spray and tried to catch him in a towel.  I hid in the bathroom while Sean and this poor guy (who spoke no English and was about 16 years old) chased the mouse around the room.  Finally they “thought” they got him out the patio door so Sean says, “Let’s go back to sleep” (yeah right) So the guy leaves, we go back to bed, and about 15 minutes later, the papers on the media console go flying off and hit the ground and we realize the mouse is not gone at all, and is back with a vengeance, throwing things in the room to get back at us.  Now I say, quite firmly, “WE ARE SWITCHING ROOMS. CALL THEM” And while we wait for them to come back and assign us our new room, we discover a second, slightly larger mouse run behind THE BED, so I am sitting on the coffee table in the middle of the room so they don’t get me, and Sean goes over to the bedside table, opens the drawer, and WHOOP! THERE HE IS! Looking up at Sean.  So cute.

A bunch of hotel workers show up now, including the manager wearing his pajamas, to help us move our things to another room, and when we settle in the new room (which is right next door so I am worried the angry mice clan will follow us) we hear the guys bumping around next door, moving furniture, furiously trying to catch the little (big) buggers.  We called them mice, the workers called them rats, so maybe they were baby rats? I would have felt better thinking they were mice, but whatever, so is life in Sri Lanka in the middle of the jungle….at 2am…

Get a Visa for your Startup

Have  a startup? Thinking about living in a new city? Maybe even one abroad?

Well, you may be in luck.

If you haven’t noticed, there is a globalization of startups happening. The world is becoming not only more accepting of the startup mentality, but working hard to nurture it.  So much so that many countries now offer visas, and even cash, to startups willing to relocate.

Below are a few I’ve heard of. If you know of others let me know and I will add it to the list!

Chile

Startup Chile

Canada

My Startup Visa / Article

France

French Tech Ticket

Spain:

NY Times Article

UK (United Kingdom):

Tier 1 Entrepreneur

EU (Europe):

The EU

Italy

Italian Startup Visa

Dubai

Dubai Startup Visa

Singapore

Singapore Entrepreneur Pass

New Zealand

NZ Work Visa 

Ireland 

Start a business in Ireland

Hong Kong

http://www.rosemont.hk/worldwide-location/hong-kong-entrepreneurs-visa-/

Netherlands (Dutch)

Dutch Startup Visa / PDF

Denmark

Startup Denmark

Interested in getting a visa to the U.S?

U.S. Startup Visa Options

 

Top 8 Apps and Sites of a Nomad

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.55.47 PMTrusted house sitter (Founded 2010) This is probably the most valuable site we’ve used on this trip. The idea is simple, people have houses  with pets and when they go on a trip they need someone they can trust to watch them. The trade is almost always even-steven. We got matched up with a wonderful family and a dog we love (Dexter) in a posh area of London for two weeks.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.58.34 PMRome2Rio (Founded 2010 in Melbourne AUS) Trains, planes and automobiles, getting from point “A” to point “B” can end up using them all. This site does a great job of giving you all of the options for your trip and includes options you may not have thought of.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 12.01.47 AMXE Currency (Founded 1995) The objective is simple: Show how much you can get for $1USD in another country. The live updates, ease of use, and inline calculator makes it a solid app. What I especially like is the feature that tells the difference between what you got and what you should have got.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 12.04.38 AMHotels .com (Founded 1991) This isn’t a new site but we have become loyal users ever since our incident in Kyoto.  Their phone support has been the nicest we’ve ever used for a product (and we have used it on more than one occasion). Their coupons, discounts, and one night free after 10 nights of stays makes it the kind of product that gives you no reason to search for others.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 12.06.58 AMGoogle Photos (Released 2015) We take tons of photos and movies on our trip and finding a place to store them use to be expensive. I was ecstatic when Google released this new tool. Unlimited storage FREE and it is a better photo management tool than most paid ones likes Amazon. I go into detail on how Google Photos is better than Amazon here.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 12.18.56 AMOokla Speed Tester (Founded 1994) This app doesn’t do any miracles by any means. That being said, internet is terribly inconsistent from country to country. With gigs of photos to upload it is a nice way to get an idea whether or not you have a shot of getting any of them to the cloud.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 12.20.32 AMUber (Founded 2009) By now everyone is familiar with Uber, even internationally. The reason why it deserves a place on this top travel products list is the peace of mind it has given us in foreign countries. Getting ripped off by cabs is an international phenomenon. With uber we will not only get a fair price, but a less expensive one too – and in a nicer car.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 12.21.30 AMFitbit (Founded 2007) It takes a great deal of steps to tour a country. The actual number of steps would be a mystery without this app. There is a sort of satisfaction in justifying your aching feet when you see that you’ve hit 20K+ steps in a single day.

Some Honorable Mentions

Startup Travels (Founded 2014) If you are interested in getting to know entrepreneurs and startups on your next visit check out this site. I have made some great connections that have turned into amazing stays from this site.

Bla Bla Car (Founded 2006) We haven’t ended up using this app yet, but we can see where it may come in handy. For far less than a train or plane ride this ride sharing site is available all over europe.

AirBnB (Founded 2008) Just about everyone in the world knows about AirBnB by now. The reason this didn’t make the top 8 is that we have had a few unsavory stays using them and when you are dropping in on a country for a few days not getting what you expect isn’t easy to deal with. That being said it is an awesome product and we intend to give it another chance in the coming weeks now that we know what to look out for.

Duolingo (Founded 2011) If you are planning on making your way to another country it may help to learn the language. Duolingo is the best way to learn a language I’ve come across so far – and it’s free. The only thing its missing is a crash course version for people who aren’t trying to be fluent. Since I couldn’t find one I started building one for myself. Check out my casual language learning app Bitlang.com for a crash course.

Hangouts/Voice (Launched 2009) The best thing about this app vs Viber and Skpe is the ability to make or receive free calls home using a real phone number. You can learn more about how to set up a free home phone number here.

Google Authenticator  – In order to keep your data safe these days 2-factor-authentication is the way to go. However, when you’re traveling you don’t have a home number to complete the text verification part of the login process. That’s where authenticator comes in. It provides your verify passkey without the need for an internet connection or phone number. Be sure to set this up before you go!

Tripadvisor (Founded 2000) A trusted brand, we saw the Tripadvisor sticker placed on every store window we came across around world.
iMovie – The iPhone app lets you merge and annotate your video directly on your phone.
Hyperlapse – There is a lot of video you’d like to share, with Hyperlapse you can share more in less time. Videos shot include video stabilizers to make your videos even smoother.
Units Plus – This app has every possibly conversion type you can think of.

70L Backpack Packing Breakdown. What got in, what got cut and what I wish I had

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Birds-eye of the items that went into the pack. (A video run through is below.)

During our trip around the world we were sure to experience a range of climates. As such, packing the right clothes in the smallest bag possible was a challenge.

Originally I wanted to try “ultra-light backpacking.” That’s where you fill a 35L-45L (or less) backpack with only what you need, expectating to reuse clothes A LOT. There are certain types of clothing that are made for this type of use. For example, there is underwear that claims you can  wear it for 6 weeks without a wash.  Jackie talked me out of it –  I’m glad she did.

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I ended up going for a 70L bag (50L main bag with a 20L daypack) that is not carry on approved. I was worried about needing to check a bag in on every flight, due to the extra bag fees airlines may charge and the potential for lost luggage, but we decided we “needed” the all stuff we packed below and would make it work.

Most of the things we got below is from REI and Amazon. If you haven’t tried REI I wrote a bit on how I was skeptical to walk in the door at first but happy I did. They are awesome!

A video run through of the bag items a day before we left

What didn’t end up making the cut

I ditched all the wool sweaters and fleeces (top right of picture) and kept one thick hoodie and one long sleeve base layer. I figured layering undershirts could get me through most temperatures – and it has. I also got rid of the pajamas (bottom left of picture)  since my sweatpants (or gym shorts) could be used for sleeping or working out. I also trimmed down my running clothes completely (bottom left of picture) since I could just use my t-shirts and surf-shirts.

What made the bag

  • Osprey Farpoint 70L Backpack (50L w/ 20L Day Pack)
  • 1 power adapter
    • This was a nice grab from when Radio Shack had a going out of business sale. I am wishing we bought two. It’s not something you can just grab on the go, since every other country’s adapters are made for their plug’s inputs. Note, We didn’t bring a converter and haven’t needed one yet.
  • 2 shorts (cotton, one hybrid, one bathing suit)
    • It was nice having the hybrid so that if the bathing suit was wet I had a back up to swim in, and if the cotton one was dirty I had a back up too. Amazing how few people wear shorts in foreign countries. They can see me as a tourist a mile away in these things but I don’t care, it’s hot as hell in some places!
  • 3 pants (one Jeans, one Lulu hybrid and one sweat pant)
    • The tan Lulu pants are awesome. You feel comfortable hiking in them and you can wear them out since they really do look like khakis. Jeans are great to have to feel a bit more dressed up; I use them often. Sweats are good for working out or sleeping in as pajamas, but haven’t used them too often and thinking about ditching them; we are following warm weather mostly.
  • Noise canceling headphones and batteries
    • The headphone cable came in handy a lot when driving. We used it to hook into aux in our rental car to listen to music on our long drives. They ended up breaking, and took a lot of space, so I ditched them a few weeks ago. They were 4+ years old anyway so  I got some great use out of them. Regular iPhone headphones aren’t cutting it when there is background noise so I will need to find replacements.
  • Chromecast
    • A nice bday gift from a few years back from the Mosqueras. I really love having this on the trip. Although, this only works when you are on a private wifi network, like AirBnB rentals, it is small enough to be worth the space for the second screen on your TV for work, maps or movies.
  • 15″ Macbook pro and charger – duh.
  • Assortment of USB cables for iOS and non-iOS devices
    • Sometimes I wish we got rid of a few. But we have so many devices that charging them (or using them) all at once requires more than you’d expect.
  • Android phone (for travel SIM cards)
    • A crappy phone that we can tether to any device for internet or make local calls or texts from. Our phones aren’t jailbroken.
  • iPhone
    • The plan hadn’t run out yet – so we froze our account for 6 months (the max allowed.) It’s been great for WiFi, movie editing, VoIp, hyperlapse, pictures, music and games.
  • Kindle Paper White
    • A solid going away present from the Odios. We use them every day before we go to bed. They’re great for flights and the beach since they are light, don’t reflect sun and have their own back light.
  • Backup Drive
    • Since internet on this trip has been almost non-existent (or slow as molasses) backing up our video and photos quickly has been crucial.
  • Waterproof camera
    • Jackie’s dad got us this for our trip and it has been a crucial item on our trip. Not only for taking pictures and video underwater while snorkeling, but, just as importantly, it has brought us peace-of-mind when it is raining or when we are walking near water or pools. Since it is durable we take it with us everywhere. If it wasn’t, we may have “kept it safe” more and miss some great shots.
  • “Fast dry” towel
    • Meh. We used this once, barely. Since we are staying in hotels we always have had towels. They aren’t great for laying on the beach so we ended up buying beach towels anyway.
  • Button-up wool short sleeve shirt (Icebreaker)
    • Great buy on Amazon. I got it for $60 and see it everywhere for close to $100. It definitely dries faster than most of my other clothes, but the ability to just put it in the sun and it smells fresh after wearing it has been crucial. Whenever I wash clothes or run out this is my go to. It also looks good enough to consider “going out” clothes. Very versatile.
  • 100% Polyester Tennis Shirt
    • This dries super fast BUT it also smells super bad after wearing it.
  • Tee shirts (two light cotton ones)
    • At this point I wish I had more light shirts. Jackie was right. I thought I would wear the icebreaker everyday but even though it smelled less and dried fast we didn’t always have sun or time to clean it when it got dirty.
  • Loose Surf Shirt
    • This shirt is SPF 50 so it adds extra protection from burns on long days in the sun or at the beach. Plus, if I get to go surfing I’ll have a nice rash guard. It is also one of the faster drying shirts in the collection.
  • Camera stand and iPhone stand
    • These items are light and compact, about the size of a cigarette box (only long nice wide.) I needed it to take the upcoming shot of my engagement, but since then I haven’t really used it. I have pretty good selfie arms.
  • Travel under-clothes satchel
    • I use this all the time when flying. It is a good place to keep your passports handy and safe. In shady cities known for pickpockets I use it instead of a wallet to carry my credit card and cash. I always leave my passport locked up in the hotel. Tip: To get a SIM card in each country you need your passport so bring it along with you for that.
  • Bag lock
    • Cheap and peace of mind. Not only for checking bags but a nice to have in places that don’t have a safe. I lock the bag up and slip it under the bed.
  • Collapsible Sun Glasses (Ray ban)
    • I love these things! Jackie got them for me on my birthday and they have lasted longer than any other pair. I think because they are easy to pack or stow in my pocket.

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  • Underwear (A few cotton ones and 1 ExOfficio)
    • Jackie was right. Although the underwear claims to be able to go 6 weeks without a wash I really couldn’t bring myself to wear it for more than two days at a time – max. Maybe it does have anti-microbes that keep it clean, but I didn’t feel great about myself inside knowing I had used underwear on. Not worth the $40 bucks. Sure it dries fast but not THAT fast. I’m just not getting the value for the cost.
  • Vacuum Bag
    • This thing is amazing. I just stash all the fluffier items I need for cooler climates in the vacuum bag and it takes up little space. You just smuch the bag and seal it.  Sort of a light weight travel trunk.
  • 4 Shoes (walking, running/sneakers, sandals and boat)
    • Sounds like a lot of shoes – and it is, but I’ve used them all. Not only based on the environment but it keeps my feet from getting too tired. Changing the form of my shoe has kept my feet fresh for the hundred of 30+ miles I walk a week.
  • Fitbit
    • It sure is nice to see a number when you get home from a full day of walking. Turns the tiredness into a feeling of accomplishment.
  • Goggles
    • Worthless. Getting rid of them. Everywhere we wanted to see underwater we ended up renting snorkel gear (or getting it for free with a tour.)
  • Collapsible Pillow
    • Another non-starter. Jackie seems to use hers a lot, but mine has made it out of my bag once. It is super comfortable and compact – but taking it out and unfolding it only to have to fold it and packing a day or so later just doesn’t seem worth it. I typically have plenty of pillows on the bed of the hotel and on long flights they give you a pillow. I can’t bring myself to get rid of it though because that ONE place that I need it will suck.
  • Collapsable water bottle
    • Saw it on Tynan’s packing blog. Seemed cool when I got it, but, again, everywhere we went had cheap bottled water that was cold. It has sat in my bag all but once in an airport when we tried to use it from the water fountain but the taste brought us back to the bottle. I know it’s not environmentally as friendly but – sorry – I’m getting rid of it. Even if we wanted to save bottles we would just fill up an old used water bottle we bought.
  • Bag weigher
    • It has come in hand a few times when the bags seemed like they would go over. Though, we always have gotten away with a few Ks give or take and can’t carry much more. We would probably be fine without it.
  • Bug spray/Sun block lotions
    • Yeah. Especially in all the bug infested parts of the south pacific and beaches we’ve visited. We have gone through these bottles quickly.
  • Toiletries
    • You know, the usual. Tooth brush, tooth paste, nail clippers etc. brought face wash, shampoo, and shaving cream but have used it infrequently since our hotel’s toiletries are usually good enough for me.
  • Plastic Bags
    • Simple but useful. I like using it to cover my shoes when I put them with my clothes. Call me crazy.
  • Dr. Bronner’s Soap
    • A useful soap that can clean clothes, wash hair or anything else you need. We’ve used it a lot for times we didn’t have a laundry service and needed to wash things in the sink. We haven’t used it for the other uses – yet 😉
  • Granola Bars
    • We always grab a box when we can. It has come in handy so many times when we were stuck between meals in transport or at a hotel.
  • Vaccination card
    • I haven’t needed to show it to anyone yet but it is small enough that I am fine to carry it everywhere I go just in case.

All in the bag weighs about 20Lbs + (4.5Lbs for the laptop.)

Since leaving SF I’ve bought …

  • A Battery powered hair trimmer
    • I thought I would go full beard but A) I found out you can’t snorkel with a bear and B) It is way too itchy and hot. The trimmer I got in Australia is surprisingly good. I love that I can drop a few double AAs into it and it works. No adapter or outlets needed.
  • Underwear
    • Per my realization above of the realistic use of my ExOfficos, I bought another pair and will probably get more as the time passes.
  • A polo shirt
    • Again, Jackie was right. I have quick dry and odor-fighting shirts but throwing on a fresh shirt just feels too good to pass up for so little bag space. I got a fake Lacoste in Istanbul for $5.
  • Beach towels
    • They are a PIA to carry, but the “quick dry” towels suck to lay on and we are visiting A LOT of beaches. They are pricey enough (and hard enough to find) that buy-and-ditch doesn’t feel like a good alternative. Having the vacuum bag has helped decrease the space needed to keep them.
  • Sewing kit
    • I have kept the sewing kits we have found in our hotels. It is useful to have a needle and thread for fixing clothes, or patching equipment.

After a month or so on the road I wish I had …

  • Another (compact) adapter
    • Using the computer and charging devices (camera, phones, backup charger etc) would go a lot faster if we had another adapter. Worth the space for sure. And as I mentioned above, you can’t find a U.S. adapter in other countries  :-/
  • Another vacuum bag
    • I can’t seem to find it anywhere else in the world other than REI in SF. I Wish I got two.
  • A pencil and drawing paper (maybe some water color stuff that Silvio showed me)
  • An Umbrella.
    • That being said I’ve only wanted it twice so far. It would have been nice to have, but just carrying it the other 90% of the time would be annoying; I’m on the fence about it.
  • An ethernet cable
    • Another item I *sometimes* wish I had. There have been only a few times I had an opportunity to plug-in for a faster connection. Small item for a nice ROI – I think.  
  • Ketchup
    • They don’t make it like they do at home (and it is rarely available). So sue me.
  • A few bottle top water filters
    • You can’t find a bottle water filter easily like you can in the US. This would’ve cut down the need for water bottles immensely.
  • A bigger collapsable water bottle
    • Like I said in our itemized list, the one we got is semi useless because of how small it is (only a few gulps worth of water for Jackie and I) and because of a lack of a water filter to fill it safely with.

 

My favorite store to stock up from before extended travel

The #1 Store

REI-Logo-400x300I have to make a special shout out to REI. With so many brick and mortar stores losing out to the web store-front, REI clearly demonstrates its value to exist. I was hesitant to even walk in the door at first, it seems more expensive and therefore more pretentious, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone we talked to at the store was a true-to-form avid outdoor type who loved helping people explore. As for price, you actually don’t end up spending more than most other places. As a member you get 10% cash back per year on your purchases AND you can return anything, anytime, in any condition, for up to a year for a full refund. Beyond the policy, the staff was incredible. I bought my first bag in SF and returned in in VA. The staff was always super helpful and informative in both stores! To retain a great customer service attitude 3K miles apart is nothing short than amazing. So, in short, I am a fan. If you haven’t yet, you should try them out.

#2 goes without saying. Of course, it goes without saying, there are something that you just can’t beat Amazon on. For any smaller items that don’t require a feel or explanation we got it delivered.

How to make free calls home from around the world

imgres-5Wouldn’t it be nice to make free calls to your home country from anywhere in the world? How great would it be if friends and family at home could call you for free while you travel? Sure you can use Skype or Viber to make internet calls, but with them everyone needs to use the same service; it won’t work well when calling a business or landline. With the method below you can call any phone number directly, be it a home phone, cell phone or app. To do it all you need is a Google Account, a phone number with your local “home” area code (only initially,) and a computer with an Internet connection.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Sign up for a Google Voice number in your home country before you leave.
  2. Google will provide you a new local number called your “Google Voice Number.”
  3. “Link” your GVoice number to an existing landline or cell number to complete the registration. Note: You can only have one GVoice number for every landline or cell phone you have.

 Your new GVoice number will charge you for “international calls” made to area codes outside your designated GVoice’s area code, BUT it will consider any call to the same GVoice area code a “free call” – no matter where in the world you call from! See screenshots and captions below. 

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After registering you must verify your new number is connected to a real non-google number.
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Using the voice.google.com (or hangouts) you can make or receive calls or text to your GVoice number.
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All calls made with the same area code as your GVoice number will be free – no matter where you call from!

In addition to the free calls, you will have voicemail that includes a free automatic transcription service, allowing you to read your voicemail messages. You will also have the ability to send and receive texts. Another great option is to use the Hangouts app. Using it you can make internet based calls to other Hangout user AND direct to local phone numbers from your phone.

For travelers this feature gives you an amazing way to stay connected to family and friends at home while using a local number they can call for free as well!

How we turned our 750 sq ft apartment into two 50L backpacks

“Here we go – one month left until move-out day!” With our plane tickets bought, it just got real.

We posted to Facebook, Craigslist and taped signs on the street, “EVERYTHING MUST GO!” If you we’re looking to fill your apartment with more stuff, Sean and Jackie’s house was the place to be.

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Price check on aisle 1

Why were we getting rid of everything? Well, this wasn’t like any other move-out day because it wasn’t really a move at all. We were going “nomad” for a year and for the first time in our moving history we were NOT figuring out how to relocate our stuff into another set of rooms and closets. It sounds like a subtle difference, letting all the things you’ve accumulated over the years go versus “go somewhere” but the feelings were monumentally different.

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our soon to be filled backpacks

Our goal was to take everything we needed (and I emphasize *needed*) and make it all fit into each of our 50 Liter backpacks. So, goodbye couches, tables, blenders, utensils, and plates. Goodbye to our multitude of change-of-clothes options, Jackie’s coveted hairdryer, and, most notably, our current concept of home.

We’ve been planning this for years, well, at least talking about it for that long. You know the conversation, right? “Hey babe, what if we just dropped everything and just – went? Just you and I. Somewhere far away. Wouldn’t that be great?!”

Bowls of too hot, too cold and just right porridge.

The conversation would usually end with either an imaginative tour of all the top places we’d want to see or end with a comment like, “we have too much going on right now to leave.” Just like a modern day Goldie Locks it never feels like the right time to make it happen. The economy is always going too well or too poorly – when is the timing just right?

“Okay”, Jackie said, this time changing the typical end-game phrase, “If we did this what would it look like?” We talked about going to South America and making our way down to Patagonia. Maybe visit family in DC and then start in Europe? We could make the dollar stretch if we went to the South Pacific, right? How long would we go? Three months? Six? Sadly, the more time we gave ourselves to travel the more things we were able to do and thus – out of time again. In the same way our bag size grew and filled, it never felt like there was – enough. We were living Parkinson’s Law.

I won’t bore you with the play-by-play, but trust me in that researching locations, costs, transit systems and weather had us going back and forth between destinations, routes and timings ad nauseam.

But, now with our plane tickets bought there was no longer an ever widening gap between theory and reality. Our first stop is Fiji and we have 30 days to jettison what we didn’t need, pack what we do, and go.

Next up, making it happen economically!

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Jen C. and Jeff came by to lend a hand and take some stuff
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My view from the backseat of Jeff’s wagon after shoving our couch in it to quickly get it to his apartment on our last day in SF

 

 

First stop Fiji. Amazing snorkeling with warm oceans and private beaches

The first stop on our trip was Fiji. We used our Virgin America points to fly for free to Los Angeles and then took a direct flight from LAX to NAN on Fiji Airways using Webjet.com. The total cost for the flight was $547 each and took about 11.5 hours.

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We arrived at 6AM and took a 20 min taxi to our hotel, First Landing Beach Resort. We stayed for 4 nights at about $74 per night. The hotel was quiet, the staff was friendly and the location was great.

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After all the packing, moving and planning stresses it took to make this trip happen we promised one another that the beginning of our trip in Fiji would be low-impact. Our mission was to relax by the beach, read our Kindles and take it all in. We did a pretty good job at keeping to our mission for the first few days. 😉

One of the first things that excited us was the water temperature. The moment I dipped my toe in the near by ocean I couldn’t help but smile. It was bath water warm, and, after living in San Francisco for so long, I have yearned for a nice warm ocean experience for some time.

One thing you’ll notice when you get to Fiji is the lack of long beautiful beaches. I personally have always imagined Fiji to be full of them, but the ones on the mainland are mostly small, short and rough. At low tide the water is pretty shallow in most spots and the water line can be a bit far from shore.

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There are magical beaches, though they live on the smaller islands surrounding the area. If you plan a trip to Fiji be sure to make time to tour the Islands. Per our promise to do very little while in Fiji we only chose to cruise to one island on one day. We are so glad we broke our promise to do so.

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We took the Oolala cruise to Savala island from our hotel’s port for $100 per person. It was the highlight of our trip and totally worth it. On the way to the island we did some snorkeling.

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We were so close to the fish we had a school swim up to us and eat out of our hands. You could feel the little nibbles on your fingertips. Imagine snorkeling in lukewarm water with a beautiful reef below and schools of fish surrounding you. It was a magical experience and ones we will never forget.

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Next we hit the island for a BBQ and down time. Many of the islands around Fiji are extremely small and uninhabited, some only 100 meters long. Just being on a private island was an amazing experience. We kayaked and paddle boarded and laid out.

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Oh no, the awesomeness of this day wasn’t over yet. We returned to our hotel to get dressed and make our way to dinner. We sat on the beach and ate pasta and pizza. Surprising note about Fiji, for some reason the pasta (and pizza)  is really quite good – don’t forget to order it if it’s on the menu. We had a great dish (that had a few different ingredients than listed. Island style I guess) and took a walk to the bridge where a separate tiny island was attached. Long story short, we got engaged that night in Fiji. Like I said it was a pretty awesome day 🙂

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Like to travel? Yup. There’s a gene for that.

14381860924_p0_v2_s260x420Every time you see a story like this you can’t help but think about Ethan Hawk in Gattaca. Our lives, actions and – self – broken down into a perfectly predictable set of genes we can architect for birth.

Elite Daily recently reported the discovery of a gene identified as DRD4-7R ,dubbed the “wanderlust gene”, that gets us yet another step closer.

You can read more about the findings of the Genetic Basis to a Globetrotting Fanatic here. It explains how the gene is carried by an approximately 20% of the human population and is linked to restlessness and curiosity.

Here’s a fun question, if we ever were able to gain complete control of our genetic make-up would you choose to have the Travel Gene?

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