As our stack of plane tickets gets thinner and our passports get more and more inked up, we've started thinking about what we're going to do next year.
A repeat? Take some time off? Some combination?
This sort of travel is self perpetuating. If I had ten places I really wanted to visit before leaving on this trip, I now have twenty. Most people we meet are travelers, and they all have crushes on cities that then get transferred to us.
Living life with almost no possessions, only experiences, stories, and friends is amazing. You feel free. We can go anywhere on the globe at the drop of a hat. We've met tons of new friends that offer couches, beds, or places to put our cots.
Taking time off isn't a real option. There's so much out there to see and do, and so little time to do it. I now speak four foreign languages, with skill levels ranging from "barely functional" to "passable". I've got to get them all down.
But at the same time, I have to admit that Life Nomadic isn't without it's drawbacks. I miss my family and my friends. I'm not at a loss for friends, especially with Todd around, but my friends in Austin are amazing and I miss spending time with them. My family is really important to me, and I don't see them.
When I left the US I had a strong anti-American sentiment. Not that I wished harm on the US or anything, but I've come to realize that although it does have many serious flaws, there is a lot there that you don't find elsewhere. Austin is an especially great town.
There are other small inconveniences as well. When I'm in new countries I am distracted and I want to go see the place I'm in. Austin is comfortable - I could sit in my RV for a week and focus on work.
I still get a lot done, but some of my best work has been done when I lock myself in for a week and just crunch.
I don't say all this to complain, or to take away from the trip. If you followed us around, most days you'd see Todd and I in some strange tourist-free neighborhood high fiving each other with huge grins on our faces, saying, "Man. This is the life."
And it is the life.
But Life Nomadic 2008 is a rough draft. We didn't base it on years of experience, ours or someone else's, but rather on what we thought would be fun.
Now we have a bit more insight and can make some tweaks to make it even better in 2009. I started writing a different post and had a revelation, which I typed out as I thought of it. Instead of rewriting it, I'll paste it here.
The toughest decisions are decisions where both options are so good that you don't want to give either up. At least for me.
If I had all of the money in the world I'd do three months in foreign countries, and then three weeks or so back in Austin. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Actually, now that I think of it... I CAN do that.
I've gotten really good at figuring out fares. I can easily beat AirTreks and even Kayak.com a lot of the time.
Let's see. I spent $2900 in airfare for approximately 6 months. It actually covers a bit more than that, but leaves me stranded in Europe. I have actually probably spent another $500 or so in miscellaneous flights through SE Asia, but that's not a regular charge.
So let's say $6k a year doing it the way I'm doing it now. Manageable and already accounted for.
I can find a round trip to Japan for $1000 (on a bad day), a round trip to South America for $700, and a round trip to Europe for $800. Those are roughly peak season rates.
That's only $2500 a year. Add in another $500 for flights to nearby countries per trip and I'm still under what I'm paying now.
I have no desire to get an apartment or a house but I could either stay with family and friends OR get an RV! There is a model for $20k that gets 20mpg and is a little smaller than my old one. Then I would have no expenses other than food when I'm in Austin.
PLUS I've been wanting to spend some time in LA. At 20mpg I can go there for one of my three week segments.
I have several people in Austin who have land and offered to let me keep my RV on it when I'm gone. I'm sure I could work something out. Ooh, and I could get an electric skateboard again. The RV and the skateboard are the only two possessions I miss.
So, I've had this idea for about 12 hours now. It was so exciting to me that I wasn't able to sleep. As soon as Todd woke up to go to the bathroom I blurted it out to him and got him onboard.
Who knows if it's what we'll actually do, but it sounds like a great way to have our cakes and eat them too.
I was telling Todd earlier today that I have a very distinct method of making decisions.
I think of some idea that sounds fun, then whip myself into a frenzy thinking about all of the positive sides of the idea and ignoring all of the negative sides. Within half an hour I convince myself it's the best idea I've ever had, and I pull the trigger.
That's how I moved to LA, that's how I bought my RV, and pretty much everything else I've ever done.
Here are some of the awesome benefits I've thought of:
1. I get my skateboard and RV back. I asked Todd, "do you know what the very best part of this plan is?" He replied that it was having skateboards. Exactly what I was thinking.
2. We can pack selectively for different areas. Going to Africa? Probably don't need the rain pants. Going to Tokyo? Bring that skateboard!
3. We can take more trips with other people. Tons of my friends travel, so I can consider where they're going and plan to meet them. When planning a year in advance this isn't really possible. PLUS maybe some of our friends will come for three months stints since they're a lot easier to commit to than a whole year.
4. We can be in Austin for the best times of the year. Skip the three hottest months and the three coldest.
5. We will spend more time in NYC, LA, and SF because most good travel deals come out of those cities. Get a Jetblue or Southwest ticket, stay in the city for a week, and then head out.
6. We can wait around for good deals. In our three week down periods we'll scour the travel deal lists. Good price on a flight to Morocco? Let's go there and check out Africa. This will add more adventure and save us money.
7. Todd and I become independent. Maybe I want to go to Europe and he wants to spend some extra time in Japan. No problem... we'll just meet up for the next chunk. A year traveling alone is expensive and not entirely appealing. Three months is cake.
The one downside I see is that it may be easy to just sit in Austin. I don't want to ever think "I'll skip this trip... I don't want to spend $700 right now."
I'm overwhelmingly happy with what I spend my money on, but the one area that I've never had any regrets is travel. No one ever regrets traveling, no matter how much it costs.
My solution will be to have a rule that if I'm in Austin for 4 weeks, I have to buy a ticket SOMEWHERE out of the country on day 28 for the next week.
I'm really excited about this new plan. What a life. We're on a plane right now and will have been to four countries in the span of 7 hours. Vietnam, Thailand, Macau, and Hong Kong.
I'm reading this article publish and yes it looks great! I like your way of writing and you've explained some outstanding points during this issue.
I was hoping that you could share the secret of finding a cheap flight. I really want to try this someday, but cost will be the biggest issue. Another question if you are able to answer it, How much did you spend daily? I am guessing finding a place to stay and food were the biggest. Were there other unknown costs, such as transportation?
I hope you can answer my questions, thank you!
U Jim is fishing in Queen Charlotts now. We go on boating vacation with UP and AJ on Thursday. We will be in BC,Canada some. Crabbing and fishing will be some of our pastimes. Great to read about your travels and thoughts. Good to see you in the pictures and in your movies... you make me laugh. Be safe. Love AJ
my dear lads,
you both have my greatest admiration for your commitment to a plan and lifestyle. obviously i am envious as you might guess. i have not been checking on your travels as i have been preoccupied and away from my main abode. i have caught up as of today and find it incredible that you have hit so many places in such a short time. accolades!
you have been so very helpful to me Todd that i am grateful. whether you , Tynan or both of you are interested in RVs i can offer you some thoughts and some facts.(most of which are based on actual experience).
Firstly, make an attempt to envision what type of traveling you anticipate. strictly hiway driving between major cities;visiting national and state parks to enjoy the scenery and staying at campgrounds(where you can plug in to voltage); visiting state forests off road without plugins; eg. dirt or gravel roads
some areas allow free camping but restrict access to vehicles less than a certain length; free camping is getting to be a rare bird!
a few years ago i wanted to be able to go to fishing spots on weekends without the hassle of setting up a tent/ camp. especially so if the fishin wasnt productive and i wanted to change locations on short notice.
hauling a trailer is ok but somewhat restriciting ;difficult to turn around or backup. definitely not for going down roads where there might not be a turnaround!
depending upon size rvs are relatively manueverable . certainly not for back road camping or exploring unless a camper van type. ergo how much space do you need ? 1 person or 2. baggqage like camera equip , guitar, fishing gear. haircurlers?
i had settled for a 3/4 ton Dodge diesel and stuck a 3000lb camper on the 8 ft bed;late added a pair of airbags to provide better steering vs swaying.2-3 yrs later graduated to a 1 ton with same camper. much better control especially with airbags. rides great.only dodge offers a 1 ton as a single rear wheel. better for off raod, less cost of tires etc.
my main reason for choosing a truck with a camper is that if there is a problem with the gas stove . frig outhouse etc. you can leave it at the repair shop and drive away untill it is fixed. when not rving you can leave it at home or at uncle icetons and drive away in the relatively economical diesel truck.
6 cylinder engines are the best balanced second only to horizontal opposed engines (VW'S and Porsche) and the most economical. the Dodge 5.9L Cummins diesel is a charm with a 6 speed manual. would you believe 18 mpg at 50 mph and 1450-1500rpm with the camper?probably 24 or 25 mpg at 50 mph without the piggy back.at 60 mph and no camper 20mpg. if you were towing a trailer like an Airstream it would almost be like towing a baby carriage.
and you can park your camper/truck anyplace that allows cars to park overnight. also if you own a residential lot there is probably no restriction of parking overnight.
Great blog, great fun. I'm currently housesitting on Lamma Island, so you can probably guess at the sort of circuitous route by which I found your blog. :)
Right now, I'm a nomad, too. I'm about 8 months out on my "spend a year living on my inheritance" plan and forming my "get a life arranged around doing what I want to do, when I want to do it" plan. I've got a great partner who's up for the trip along with me, and life is good. Nice to read how others are doing the same thing, so, I'm glad to see your blog!
Just wondering, though: why are you so worried about just sitting in Austin if you feel like it?
Just do what makes you feel comfortable and happy at the time. If you feel like just staying in your RV, then stay in your RV. If you want to be traveling, then be traveling. If you keep your load light, then you can do whatever you like; you know that already. So if you feel like staying in one place for six months or even six years, what's the big deal? Do that until you want to do something different, then go do the something different.
And even if you do accumulate stuff...well, you already know how to get rid of it, don't you? There's nothing wrong with having stuff, so long as the payoff of having it is greater than the downside of the anchor it creates for you.
The point isn't adventures. If you're having adventures all the time and you're enjoying them and what they do for you: fabulous, great, terrific! But there's no point in having adventure after adventure if it's a drag. Having adventures solely for the sake of not staying in one place isn't admirable, it's pitiful, and empty besides.
Go when you want to go. Stay when you want to stay. Set your limits by choice, and be willing to adjust them when they stop working for you. That's actual freedom, and should be the right and lifeplan of every person on the planet. (Okay, that was gratuitously grandiose, but you know what I mean.)
Good luck, and thanks for sharing your life with everyone!
I am surprised you didn't add Vermont in your list of 'misses.' I loved traveling and miss it....but living it thru you and Todd is fun.
Your family here think and talk of you often.
Thanks for all the inspiration. Been contemplating the whole RV thing myself. Where are you guys now? Tips on Hong Kong wold be very much appreciated ;)
Yesterday I spent all day putting my new solar panel on the RV. Two weeks ago I got the panel in the mail and I called Crestview RV (a local RV place in Austin) to get it installed. They said it would be about $200, but that they were backed up and it would have to be left there for two weeks. I told them I couldn't go without it that long, so he made an appointment for two weeks later and said to come first thing in the morning.
Those of you who know me know that I hate waking up early.
Still, I want my solar power so I woke up early yesterday and my fantastic sister, Kelsey, drove me 15 miles to bring it in. When I got there they told me they were backed up and I would need to leave it there for two weeks. Forget it. I'll do it myself.
I love San Francisco so much that every time I return here from a trip, I resolve to stay for a while and enjoy the city. That never happens. Next week I'm going to Tahoe, then Vegas the following weekend, and then to Austin for SXSW the week after that. Cabo or Hawaii follows in early March, but in late April comes the most exciting upcoming trip: a sixteen day cruise to Rome.
Cruises are full of old people. As best I can tell, that's because young people haven't figured out how awesome and cheap they can be. In fact, I can easily say that of all the travel I've done, cruises probably represent the best bang for the buck.
Before I tell you how to get them cheap, let me tell you why cruises, especially long duration one-way cruises are amazing.
One of my favorite aspects of cruises is that they can take you to places you may not otherwise visit. For example, the cruise my friends and I are taking stops in the Azores, Seville (Spain), Valencia (Spain), Barcelona, Monte Carlo, and Rome. Without cruising, I probably would never make it to the Azores, and those southern Spanish cities are unlikely as well. They're just too remote and too expensive to come up at the top of my list when choosing a trip.