But For the Sky
26Jun/11Off

How Did We Get Here?

Usually when we tell someone about our plans, the response is a wide-eyed mixture of amazement, disbelief, and envy. Most people immediately think that they could never do anything of the sort, but for a few people, we're planting a seed in their minds, much as our friends Dan and Jillian from ishouldlogoff did for us: that a trip like ours is possible, that people like us actually do such things, and maybe that someday they will.

Most conversations like this don't get much beyond "Where are you going?", "How are you going to carry all your stuff?", and "What about your jobs?", so we wanted to take this opportunity to kick off the blog by answering some of the questions that people don't even know they want to ask: why we decided to do this, how we got to where we are, and what we're thinking and feeling as we start the journey of a lifetime.

Inception

I was a little timid about travel in my early life and through college, at the time when most people got their first taste of independent travel, but a short visit to a friend living in Valparaiso, Chile for a year (a trip which exposed me to such travel mainstays as the overnight bus ride, and the South American hostel) gave me my first glimpse of the freedom and excitement travel can provide.

Claudia, on the other hand, was brought up a very adventurous international traveler, taking many trips to Europe as a child, and returned there for a semester abroad in college, during and after which she backpacked with friends around the continent.

Either way, we both seem to have been bitten by the travel bug, and have traveled together to Brazil, Montreal, and Nicaragua in the past few years, as well as many domestic trips. Somewhere along the line, we began to consider taking a long trip together (it may have been in Nicaragua, where we met many other people who were in the midst of longterm trips), but didn't quite know how to go about such a thing, as well as facing the cultural stigma that such trips are quite uncommon for young Americans.

All that changed when our friends Dan and Jillian announced that they were doing an open-ended round the world trip. Over the 20 months that they were on the road, we eagerly read every blog entry, and gradually began to see that we too could embark on such a trip.

Since I've just finished grad school, we realized that this might be the best chance we would have in quite a few years to take a long trip. Claudia asked for, and was granted a year of leave without pay from her job, and we were off and running. We spent about a year formulating plans, researching visas, immunizations, travel clothing, and all the other details we would need to figure out, and got ready to go.

Now that it's here, we feel totally unprepared, but extremely excited, and can't wait to get on the road!

Why do this?

Travel is about seeing the similarity in everyone around the world. It's easy to get so caught up in our lives and the people immediately around us that we forget about everyone else outside that small circle. Having the opportunity to embark on this trip and to see how many different ways people live is sure to be a humbling experience. Beneath everything else (and at the risk of getting too new-agey), we all see the same world through our eyes; we all have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends, dreams, hopes, and interests, and it is all these things that unite us. The experience of seeing a familiar emotion in the face of someone in a completely different walk of life from our own is one of the most humbling and life-affirming experiences travel can provide.

Additionally, I'm excited to slow down the pace of life a bit, and to spend the year thinking about mindfulness and deliberateness in action. In our modern American lives it is all to easy to put too much import in whatever is in front of us; to constantly be seeking the next thing to occupy our mind. To tell the truth, it's difficult for me to stand and wait for a bus without checking my email or catching up on twitter, and it's difficult to write, or read, or cook, or clean without listening to music or the radio. This oversaturation of media is a remarkable thing, and there is certainly much good to come from it, but it also gets tiring, and it gets easy to forget to think about more important things, and more longterm goals. So I'm excited about this extraordinary opportunity Claudia and I have to slow down and reconsider our relationship to the world.

Hopefully that begins to give a sense of where this idea came from, and why we decided to do it, and of course, we'll be happy to answer any other questions you might have!

Posted by Nick