A friend asked me to explain our travel plan today. I gave him the same answer we’ve given everyone: “We’re flying to Hawaii first. We’ll spend four months on the Big Island and then we’re going to Japan.”
He followed with, “How long are you staying in Japan?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“And where are you going after Japan?”
“Somewhere in Asia. Undecided.”
“How long will you be gone?”
“I don’t know.”
“How can you not know?”
“We’re traveling slowly and playing things by ear.”
“Are you going to Europe?”
“Maybe, we’re generally moving westward.”
“Do you have round-the-world plane tickets?”
“How do you know when you’re done traveling?”
“When we feel we are. I don’t know.”
“You must have some parameters…”
“We have a monthly budget and a list countries we’d like to see — Japan, Thailand, India, New Zealand, Australia — but other than that, we’re seeing how things go.”
This is just the latest of many such conversations Brian and I have had; our friends and family often seem baffled by our lack of travel details to share. The truth is we’re only preparing one leg of our trip at a time. We have a reasonable idea of what’s happening in Hawaii, but even that is open to change. Here’s what we know: We booked two plane tickets to Kona on March 31st. For the first week, we’ll be searching for a long-term apartment rental. Depending on how that works and what we find, either we’ll stay in that rental for the entire four months or we’ll move from rental to rental, if necessary. Our only luggage will be two rolling Eagle Creek backpacks, so we’ll be portable and ready for whatever opportunities are presented.
The unspoken question: “How can we travel like this?” Well, Brian is very comfortable with open schedules and actually prefers leaving plans up in the air. For me, the part of our pair who prefers schedules and organization, this kind of travel is an acquired taste made possible by my complete faith in our ability to handle any challenges we may face. When you’re traveling fast and covering a lot of territory, it’s only natural for schedules and logistics to be the order of the day. When you’re traveling slowly like we are, there’s more room for flexibility. ‘Oh, there are no flights to Bangkok until Thursday? No problem.’ ‘The flight we want is overbooked, so we’ll be wait-listed for the next flight? That’s cool.’ ‘Our apartment isn’t available until next week? Ok, we’ll extend our current reservation.’ I’m sure there will be frustrations along the way, but one of the reasons we wanted to embark on the trip was to change our lives and to re-evaluate. Life in Silicon Valley can be hectic, scheduled, vigorous… It is the hotbed of American entrepreneurism and technical innovation, after all. A delay or uncertainty in our daily lives could be a welcome change. Who knows what we’ll learn along the way?