Several years ago sometime in 2008 my soon to be better half and I sat at Tablespoon on Polk St, San Francisco bistro and fantasized about one day leaving it all behind and traveling the world. We weren't even engaged at the time, just getting to know each other, but we both knew it was something we would cherish forever. Our parents had done similar trips, although not as extensive, but the world has grown much smaller since they embarked on their 20-something adventures. We had no idea how we would do it logistically, if we would be able to ever afford it financially, and if we'd ever get off our asses and make the move. Fast forward several years later....many things have changed, we've married, moved to New York, but we found ourselves having the same conversation again....this time at a small Japanese bistro in New York's West Village. Very little time elapsed before we had notified both of our companies of our plans to hit the road for 5 months and our planning began.
I can't say exactly what Hannah and I have been doing for the past 2 weeks since we furloughed from our jobs in technology and advertising, but I can tell you that we have been incredibly busy. We've been planning our would tour for the past couple of months but after a 5 day trip to Miami to get one final family visit in the final planning was in full swing.
We went back and forth on this but in the end we decided to use the miles I had accumulated from years of work travel to purchase Star Alliance around the world tickets.
There are pretty specific stipulations to these tickets, they are impossible to find convenient flights, and changing one flight in your itinerary will royally screw up the rest of your trip...aside from that they're great. We went this route because we realized that a long haul flight could cost several thousand dollars and we wanted to try to minimize cost on things we could, which would be hotels and airfare courtesy of United and Marriott points I had earned. Our rough itininerary consists of 6 hops over the course of our trip, starting with Munich -> Johannesburg -> Bangkok -> Tokyo -> Buenos Aires -> Lima -> Costa Rica. As we go to these major hops we'll be taking smaller trips, returning to the major hop to go on to the next.
This decision allowed me to do one of my favorite things, which is create an overly complicated Google Spreadsheet with our destinations, things to do, accommodation, expected weather, flight info, and much more unnecessary detail. I then got to bore every single one of our friends and family that would pay attention with walking them through it...and I'm quite sure not one of them fully understood the system.
The jury is still out on our decision to take only a backpack each for a 5 month trip. This could end up being a spectacularly genius idea or a completely moronic move. We aren't "backpacking", but we do have backpacks...huge ones...with way too much of some things, and probably not nearly enough of others. In true Goldberg fashion we were still planning on how to pack our backpacks an hour before leaving for the aiport. This makes perfect sense as we only had 2 weeks without work or obligations prior to leaving. Obviously, that last hour was crucial. We opted for a backpack without wheels, but with a detachable backpack for day trips.....I have a suspicion that the next time we write about our backpacks there will be more expletives but for now we are remaining positive. Even as I write this, we are 4 days into our trip and we are constantly debating about what we can send home.
After weeks of dealing with visa agencies, booking safaris, booking flights, hotels, 20 trips to REI, 30 orders from Amazon, 29 returns to Amazon, packing up our belongings and taking them to my sister's for storage, getting apartment rented, and packing and repacking as many times as humanly possible until we realized that no matter how you pack it, it never gets any smaller, we were ready to hit the road.
For the first time in our life in NYC we decided to "save money", which is hugely ironic in itself, we took the A-train to JFK, which ended up being faster than a $60 car service.
We were at the airport...let the fun begin!