Monday, 31 December 2012

Bring forth the new year

I want to see a heart that's pounding
I want to hear a beat that's sounding
bigger than a leap that's bounding
I was lost but now you found me.
- Sally Seltmann

This is how I feel about the new year. I'm so excited for it. There's nothing like the first day of the year to cleanse away all the old from 2012 with a renewal of energy and hope. This year I will throw myself into my travels, my blog and open myself to life and all its wonderful opportunities. Fear will play no part, doubt will not creep in, there will be only freedom and love.

A lot of people tell me I'm brave for beginning this journey. They say they could never sell all their things, pack up and leave and to them I say do what makes you happy. It feels like such a natural progression to do this that I certainly don't feel that I'm doing anything extraordinary or particularly brave, I'm doing what feels right for me. 

Now that 2013 has offiically been welcomed in, our (Kevin and I) departure date is just around the corner. And with it comes pangs of sadness for all our friends we will not see for a few years. You are all so wonderful and bring so much joy into our lives. And though our paths fork and will be taking us in different directions, we will surely be bound for each other another time. 

Friday, 28 December 2012

RTW Budget

So I spent a lot of time and effort scrimping and pinching in the last 10 months and I'm going to try to stretch it as far as possible. As we will be travelling solidly for 6 months (3 months in South America, 3 months in North America), I've only made a budget for that part of the trip. After that we will be free to get jobs or travel a bit more around Europe depending on how we feel at the time. A lot of the pre-trip expenses have already been paid for (such as flights) but I've included them anyways for purposes of interest. All prices are per person though there will be the two of us.

Pre-trip expenses
SYDNEY- RIO and QUITO - LA flights - $1700
These are economy one way flights that aren't really flexible. They were booked through STA travel 3 months ago and we got an early bird promotion on them + 'student' discounts though more for being under 30 as we are not actually students. We looked at RTW flights but they ended up costing around $3000-4000 as we aren't really taking any traditional routes usually offered on these. 

NYC - LONDON flights $450
We haven't actually bought these tickets yet but will soon and looking around this was the approximate cost (stopping over in Iceland).

UK Visa Application - $310, more about this on a separate post.

Brazil Visa Application $30.

International license application $40 (lasts 12 months, can renew)

Yellow fever vaccination + booklet - $110. Cheapest in Sydney I could find was in Sydney Medical Cetnre on Castlreagh St as they didn't charge extra for a consult. I also needed Hep/tetanus/typhoid injections but I already had these earlier. 

World Nomad Travel Insurance - Explorer package with grade 2 adventure level. $720 per person.

Osprey 55L S/M Backpack - $165. Bought off Amazon as that was the cheapest option. Should arrive in 2-3 weeks. Review on how it goes later but from trying it on at the shops the fit was very comfortable and the smaller size doesn't bother me. I plan to pack light as everyone recommends.  
2 x Ex officio travel underwear. Currently on trial, so far so good. $13 per pair + $7 postage from amazon.
I will definitely need more travel gear and will pop the details in when I get them.

Running total is $2805.

Before I go through this I'd just like to note that our style of travel will be minimal (hostels , long bus rides, street food) so we don't plan to be extravagant, except when it comes to doing activities as we want to make the most of our experience there. There are both cheap countries we plan to visit like Peru, Bolivia, Ecaudor and Colombia but I also know that Brazil, Chile and Argentina will be more expensive so on average I'd estimate we will spend $40/day/person. The Galapagos Islands will be VERY expensive but something that we have to do (it is a trip of a lifetime after all).
Total: $40 x 83 days = $3320 + $1500 (5 days galapagos) = $4820 pp

Obviously North America is more expensive to visit and I hear they don't really have cheap, good hostel accommodation but we won't really be shopping much and we hopefully will spend a lot of time in national parks etc so lets say $70/person/day.
Total $70 x 90 days = $7200

And with anything you want to add 20% to the total just as a safety net. So the total would be $13,776 per person and hence $27,552 for the both of us.  I'll keep a rough expense record as I go to see if the projected expsenses run true or not. If it does it's fine as we did save a bucket load, outlined in 'How to Save for A RTW Trip' so I'd rather run over and get to do all the things we want. And the planning continues.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

RTW To Do List

Eight weeks to go and now that things are speeding along quite quickly I've got a very thorough to do list so that nothing is missed. I love lists and I find they really allow me to streamline what I'm doing and prioritise things properly. Sounds fun doesn't it? OK here it is:
Things To Do:
-Organise Brazil + US + UK visas
-Organise trip itinerary

-Scan + make copies of important documents
-Organise resume
-Learn Spanish
-Buy NYC - LON flights
-Organise money. I've read very good things on the 28 degrees mastercard which you can use as a debit card if you put your own money into it with no foreign exchange fees, no ATM fees, good rates
-Get yellow fever and rabies vaccinations and organise first aid kit (anti-diarrhoeal medications, band aids, disinfectant)
- Organise travel insurance
-Buy travel gear, already bought my backpack. Tried some on for size and the Osprey Farpoint 55L S/M fit me perfectly (I'm only 160cm) and was really comfy. I bought it off Amazon for $165 including postage. Also bought some exofficio travel underwear. More about that later.
-Organise going away party
-Organise spare passport photos
-Organise taxes
Things to cancel
-Give notice on rental property (in writing) - 3 weeks
-Cancel electricity/gas
-Forward post
-Inform voting/tax office
-Cancel mobile service
-Give work notice
I've bolded the things we've done so as you can see,there is still a lot to do but that's OK, besides the Visa's most of them can be done quickly and I'm sure we'll be good as gold by the end of the 8 weeks. Kevin and I will be moving back to my parent's place the day after I finish at work so we can finalise all our stuff and put a small amount of things in storage with them. Even though it's only for 2 weeks the thought is still making me slightly queasy.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Quitting Your Day Job

I'VE QUIT MY JOB! HURRAH! No offensive to my job or the people in it, they're both awesome. But after three years at the same place I was beginning to feel that weight being stagnant. You know, when you stand too long in one spot and then you get this uncontrollable urge shake things up a bit. I've been working all my life. Since my job at KFC in year nine, my kennel job throughout uni, my new grad job and now my proper job, it's all been a constant flow of work. Like most other Asian people (the non rich ones by the way) I never went to schoolies or did a gap year. My mum would of had kittens! It's bad enough that I disobeyed them and chose Vet as a career (my mum wanted me to a be pharmacist). 

So here I am, a full quarter century into my life and I've had enough of the humdrum of normal life. I'm throwing all my worldly goods out of the window, quitting my job and going on indefinite migration. I want each day to be a different from the last. It's all built up to that one big relieving moment when I gave notice, I'm leaving folks, in 8 weeks, sorry, bye! And then all my little worries and insecurities at work just melted away. Like Justin Beiber, I'm releasing a 2.0 version of myself and she is going to be awesome!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

How To Save For A RTW Trip

Once you have made your mind that this is 'it', you're going on your round the world trip, your mind flips a switch. Suddenly, all your energy is focused on that one goal and all other things pale in comparison to this all-encompassing dream. Reading numerous articles on how much money we need I've given ourselves a generous estimate for around $70 per person/day for our 6 month trip around the Americas which means we are needing around $26 000 for the entire trip. However I also want to give ourselves some breathing space for when we get to the UK so we don't have to scramble to get jobs (I hear the economic climate there isn't that great) and also some money tucked away for when we get back and move to Melbourne. Just to make sure that we had as much money and hence freedom as possible to avoid any sticky situations we may find ourselves. 

We're not going to be living luxuriously by any means, our accommodation will be mostly hostels but not the dingiest, cheapest one we can find. Also we will be eating comfortably and doing as many cool things as possible - like the Galapagos islands. It is a once in a lifetime trip after all. It may seem excessive but I'm thinking $100 000 for the two of us will be more than plenty. So here are some tips on how to save a big wad of cash and get rid of your things in one go:

1. Obvious one - put your savings into a high interest account, you could be making at least $200 a month. Also makes it harder for you to take money out of it. I'm with Bankwest. Make a budget so you can project how much you will need for necessities and squirrel the rest into your savings account.

2. If you have a lot of clothes and knick knacks like I do, start early (I gave myself 10 months) and list them up on ebay. Put some effort into making your clothes presentable by taking lots of photos, putting up measurements and a description and posting items out quickly. Know the value of what you're selling. I would research similar items and list it as a 'buy it now' close to that price. If it doesn't sell one month, it's bound to sell in another so don't be disheartened. I had a 30% success rate each month ie. if you put 30 items I would sell 10 of them. I have now sold over 60 things and made $4000. 

3. Have a garage sale. We joined the 'Garage Sale Trail' in May which was a Sydney wide event. Lots of free advertising, more people, better success. What's junk to you might be worth something to someone else. Be reasonable with your prices and try to selling most things for around $5-10 as most people aren't going to want to spend a lot. We made $600.

4. Get creative and make something. I don't necessarily want a second job but I want to try to earn some extra cash on the side (as well as have some fun doing it) so I started making terrariums and necklaces to sell at markets. It's not that much extra cash but it's also is a fun activity that will prevent you from getting bored and spending money as well.

5. Don't go shopping. Duh! You're going away, make do with what you've got and just avoid shops altogether so you don't get tempted. 

6. Get value for your money.  I love David Jones yoghurt but its $9 a tub, so I use David Jones gift cards that people have given me and I also get them to leave the lid off so I  get some extra and sometimes an hour before they close they sell them for half price. Enjoy life but be smart about it.

7. Be frugal, not stingy. As much as I want to save, I don't want to do it at the expense of spending time with my friends so I'm happy to spend money on dinner nights out. But occasionally I'll suggest a night in at our place with a movie and a homemade meal. Just as nice and a bit cheaper. We try not to go to swanky places that would cost more than $30 per meal.

So there's 3 months til the trip and we're just about to hit our 100 K goal. Hurrah! It's our life savings but it'll be worth it. You only live once!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Grand Plan

I've always wanted to go travelling, it's been an itch that just needs scratching. I want to see how other people live and experience a world other than what I've known. I want to challenge myself and have my reality stretched beyond what I thought I was capable of. So Kevin and I are going for 3 months around  South America (Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Patagonia)  and then 3 months around North America (up the west coast, through Canada, then down the east coast) and then we're popping over to the UK where we may get jobs if it takes our fancy. After a year or two of working + weekend trips away we'll head back home via the trans Siberian express through Russia, Mongolia and China and then all the way back home. Once we come home, we'll be moving to Melbourne.

I know that I have a pretty comfortable life here and Sydney with great friends, a great apartment near the beach and a stable job. I'm very grateful for it and this upcoming trip has made me value it all the more. It seems crazy to leave it right? To throw away our life savings on flitting moment of fancy. After six months of telling people about our plans I've had a wide range of reactions. Most people are happy and excited for us and kindly enough are sad we won't be around any more (its always nice to know you will be missed). I've also been told 'that's silly!' to go travelling for so long and why couldn't I be happy with a few weeks away every year. My mum also thinks I should stay and settle down, buy a house and not put myself in 'dangerous' situations. 

This trip will be a slow and fruitful exploration. It is not to see as many sights as possible so we can tick it off a list. It's so we can meet new people and learn to understand them better. For me personally, its about a culinary adventure and trying new foods (don't worry, I'm brining diarrhoea tablets along). It's about throwing off the shackles of having a job, having stuff, having a plan. It's about experiencing true freedom. 

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Big Purge

Having stuff is a burden. After making the decision to leave I've made a very active effort into getting rid of as much stuff as possible. We had a garage sale earlier in the year and I've been continuously putting clothes up every month on ebay in order to make some cold hard cash for the big trip. 

I wish I could build a time machine and go back to my 20 year old self and tell her to not waste so much time, energy and money accumulating useless things that I would spend more time and energy later on trying to get rid of. But let's get real here, if I could go back in time I would give my past self the winning lotto numbers so I can buy as much rubbish as I wanted! Duh!

Back to my ever crushing reality of having to rid myself of 4 years of stuff. I'm glad I gave myself a year to do this because it is a loooong process. And that's understandable. Considering it took me so long to build it up, I'm not really going to be able to rid of it that easily. But it's a worthwhile effort because so far I've been able to make $4000. And it's actually really rewarding being able to make some money from something you haven't touched in years.

So hark my words dear friends, that less is undoubtedly more. Don't get sucked into the consumptive world that we live and keep your money so you can save up for that round the world trip that you've been dreaming of. If a ex-hoarder, extreme shopper, frivolous spender like me is able to - then I'd say pretty much anyone can. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Beginning of the End

It feels like the beginning of the end of our life in Sydney. In four short months we will make the change from responsible adults working towards home ownership and stability to citizens of the world, vagabonds looking for adventure, drifters without a care. 

Yet as with each exciting step closer I can't help but start to feel a sad tug of longing for the comfortable, for our friends and loved ones. There is no doubt that Kevin and I miss you greatly and that is why I've started this blog. So that we can stay in touch and you can keep track of where we are in the world. I'm also documenting the who's,hows and why's as we go along just in case one or two of you want to also do what we're dong. 

So keep posted folks, who know's where this will end up?