trip prep

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Photo May 10, 11 02 05 PM

...don't know when we'll be back again! The day is finally here; we leave this afternoon for Bogota. The only plans we have are our first two nights in a hostel and a tour of a rose farm on Wednesday. I don't have much to actually say, other than thank you to everyone who has been supportive of us as we take on this crazy adventure. As promised earlier, I have some pictures of our notable "lasts" in the states

last time closing the pharmacy gate

Photo May 13, 11 17 14 AM

last run on the Illinois prairie path

Photo May 12, 9 24 42 AM

last breakfast at Omega

Photo May 12, 7 25 08 PM

last time at our favorite Thai restaurant

Photo May 24, 7 08 41 PM

the last slice of Adornetto's pizza


the last ice cream: gelati from Rita's

In other news, we received an email request for an update on our ice cream consumption in the sidebar. Originally, we planned our arrival in Colombia as the official start of the trip. Upon further review, it was decided that the official start should be moved up to our arrival in Zanesville, given our tourist activity in the area. Daniel, being the overachiever that he is, has improved functionality so that the "ice cream consumed" is now clickable to include a detailed breakdown of each ice cream and its flavor. We have further decided that ice cream is to be defined as ice cream, custards, gelato, and sorbet. Jordan thinks that popsicles and italian ices should not count towards our ice cream totals, but Daniel is insisting that they should. Leave a comment to be the tiebreaker: should popsicles and italian ices count as ice cream?

Being a tourist in your hometown

I was born and raised in Zanesville, Ohio. I never liked it much while I was growing up, and couldn't wait to move away for college. After being gone for several years, it is nice to be back in town and around all the familiar things that I used to take for granted. For one thing, I missed how scenic southeastern Ohio is. The Chicago suburbs are a flat concrete jungle, with every big box store you can imagine crammed into each square mile. I missed the rolling hills, green landscape, and yes, occasionally the cows and horses. I also missed the "mom and pop" businesses and the general sense of hometown pride. Since tomorrow is our last day in town, Daniel and I wanted to do something different today. We decided to become tourists in our own town. The first stop was the Y-bridge. For those who are not familiar, it is a y-shaped bridge that spans the Muskingum and Licking rivers in downtown Zanesville. It is the only bridge of its kind that is in use in the United States and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I have driven over the Y-bridge thousands of times, but never stopped to take a picture before today. We went to the top of the hill at Putnam Park and spent some time looking over the city.





The next stop on our tour was to the Longaberger headquarters to see the "big basket". Longaberger baskets are a Southeastern Ohio staple. The locally owned company manufactures handmade wood baskets and is a major employer in the area. Expensive baskets are not quite my thing, but the architecture of the headquarters is impressive. Though technically located in Newark, the basket is a must-see on a Zanesville tourist adventure. I stood next to the basket for scale; can you find me in the picture?



The last stop on our tour was Blackhand Gorge, a state park with a sandstone formation that the Licking River flows through. It is located midway between Newark and Zanesville, and is the perfect place to have a picnic or go for a walk. We didn't stray too far from the main path today since the poison ivy was out in full force, but we were still able to take in some great views. According to my father-in-law, it is a hidden gem.


You can see more of our pictures from today on flickr.

The icing on the cake for us was being on the local news last week. A lot of people have found out about our trip, and WHIZ offered to interview us about it. We aired on both the six and eleven o'clock news, and our story is also on their website. We've gotten a bit more blog traffic from the exposure, and it is exciting to have people follow our story.

Balancing Time and Money

How can you....? Two questions that have come up over and over again are "How can you afford to take a trip like this?" and "How do you have the time to take such a long trip?". I would like to write a bit about each of these because many view what we're about to do as so out of the ordinary and so out of reach that it is out of the realm of possibility for normal people. Well folks, I'm here to say that there is no magic trick in making a trip like this happen. We aren't rich, our parents aren't financing it, and up until a week ago, we each held full time jobs. The trip has been in the works for the last five years and it's taken a lot of planning, saving, and discipline to get to where we are today.

The money

We've talked a bit in previous posts about our approach for purchases and goals, but up until now haven't discussed how we saved for the the trip. The first step was deciding on a budget. After doing a lot of research, we decided on $80/day. We wanted to spend one to two years traveling, so we had a big chunk of change to save up. There are two ways to save money: earning more, and spending less. Since we both worked full time, we focused mostly on what we could do to reduce our living expenses.

We continued to drive our 10 year old cars instead of replacing them and taking on a car payment. We bought a roku box and cancelled our cable, which saved us $130 each month. We began meal planning, which saved us roughly $150 a month on grocery costs. We packed our lunches for work every day. We stopped shopping for the sake of shopping. We were able to cut our budget drastically but just looking at our costs and trimming out the extras.

Once we cut down on spending, we needed a savings strategy. Letting money accumulate into our checking account was not working for us... it was too easy to feel comfortable spending a little extra when it was just sitting there. I've heard the advice "pay yourself first" many times, and it is what made saving for the trip possible. We set up an online banking account with ING. At the beginning of each month, an automatic transfer took our savings target out of our regular account and into a "trip savings" account. We did not have debit cards or other easy access to the money, so there was no way for us to accidentally spend it. We essentially lived a self-imposed paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, where our primary account was nearly empty at the end of each month. Paying ourselves first helped us successfully save the extra money that we "found" by cutting our budget.

Now that we're on the verge of leaving, we will set up our accounts so that our ING savings will automatically transfer a "paycheck" into the account we plan on using every two weeks. This will help keep us on budget as we travel and minimize our risk if our cards get lost or stolen.

The time

The only way to have time to take a trip like ours is to make the time. There will never be a convenient, easy time to take off and travel for a few years. There will always be jobs (or lack thereof), school, family, kids, houses, friends, pets, and a number of other reasons to make you stay put. Making the time by selling our home and quitting our jobs was emotionally draining. We lost a lot of money on our house, and quitting our jobs in a time of economic uncertainty was scary, but they were both necessary to make the time.

The tradeoff

Trading time for money is something that people do all the time. We go to work for 40 hours a week in exchange for a paycheck. We don't always have time to do the things we want to because we have to go to work. We're getting ready to do just the opposite... trade our money for time. We've scrimped and saved for years and its time to trade in all that hard work to follow our dreams.We will unfortunately miss a few weddings, a graduation, and several holidays while we are away. Life will go on for everyone else while we are gone. Eventually, the money will run out and we'll have to go back to the regular 9 to 5. Until then, we're breaking away from the norm and heading out into the world for the adventure of a lifetime!