Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's About to Get Real

On January 1st I will be leaving for Senegal to be a bride's maid at one of my really good friend's wedding, I am really looking forward to the trip. I have never been to Senegal so it will be interesting to check it out plus I can't wait to get away from winter for a few days. It's been so cold that I have even forgotten how the sun feels on my skin.

On my way back from Senegal I will stop over in Netherlands to spend some quality time with yet another good friend. I will meet her baby girl for the first time and I can't wait for us to catch up. These two trips will indeed be good for me and might mentally prepare me for a major decision that I have to make.

I will hand in my resignation at work when I get back.

I think when I quit my job that's when reality will set in and things will get more real for me as I realize that I am actually going through with my plans. Over the past few months It has been easy getting rid of any unnecessary baggage because my goal has been larger than any sentiment I might have attached to anything. Even moving out of my old beloved apartment was easier than I had anticipated, I had lived in it for 7 years.

In all my adult years I have always had a job and financial security. This will be the first time that I will be walking out of a job without another one lined up. For once in my life I will be jobless and relying solely on my hard earned savings. I am scared but the fear is not as great as it used to be. I am ready to say good bye to this..........

My soon to be old desk at work

Friday, December 20, 2013

So far

I have to say things have been lining up pretty well as far as my "to do" list is concerned and I have managed to cross out quite a number of things from my list.

I sold all the furniture in my apartment and moved out. I tend to be a minimalist so clearing out my apartment was pretty easy. I was very lucky to find another place that suited me perfectly! this family was renting out their fully furnished basement that was self contained; it has its own bathroom, kitchen, living room and a separate bedroom. The sweetest part of the deal is, my rental expenses are half of what I was paying at my old apartment, sweet!

My old apartment

I finally got rid of my glasses and contact lenses thanks to laser vision correction. I did not qualify for Lasik so the other alternative was PRK. The healing process is longer than Lasik but in the end I have no regrets about the procedure, I can finally see without glasses or contact lenses. Gone are the days of waking up and scrambling around for my glasses, squinting in the shower, worrying about running out of contact lenses solution while traveling and many other hustles of having poor vision. I am just glad that during my travels, my vision will be the least of my worries:)

Sure felt good donating my glasses, yay!!!!!
I bought a new camera that has some pretty cool features, I know it's not all fancy but a point and shoot camera is all I can handle in terms of photography....................for now anyway.

Samsung ST150F 16MP WiFi Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoom

For health insurance I have narrowed down my options to the following three (I will make my final decision later):
Travel Guard

I managed to boost my savings thanks to cutting back on my living expenses and staying debt free. You can never have enough money so I will continue to aggressively save until the last minute, my goal is to not only have enough money to travel for a year but to also have a safety net to fall back on after my year of travel is up.

I took Spanish classes which really expanded my vocabulary plus I also practice online using duolingo and other cool youtube videos that I have found. Spanish is not an easy language in my opinion, the verbs can be so confusing! but I am determined to learn.

I still have a few things left on my "to do" list which keeps changing but I am happy at my progress thus far:)


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Next?

After I made my decision to take a year off to travel, I went into planning mode like my life depended on it and even wrote down my plan and "to do list." I have to admit I was a bit overzealous at first but through the months I have been more relaxed.

I figured a year would be sufficient time for me to plan everything and add significantly to my savings (the latter being the major deciding factor). My move would officially be made in March 2014.

My Plan
  • Next year, 2014 I plan to go to South America for 6 months 1 year.
    I will base my stay in Cali (a city in Colombia) then travel within Colombia and neighboring countries.
  • I will enroll in extensive Spanish classes and also take salsa classes.
  • I plan to boost my savings so that i can have a comfortable safety net to fall back on once my trip is done and i come back to the US. This will keep me afloat until i get another job.
To Do List
  • Enroll in Spanish classes in the mean time so I can learn the basics.
  • Figure out VISA requirements
  • Figure out accommodation
  • Get Lasik surgery
  • Figure out health insurance/Get travel insurance
  • Boost my savings
  • Sell my belongings
  • Give up my apartment
  • Buy a laptop ( a very good one)
  • Buy a camera
  • Reach out to travel bloggers for tips

How It All Begun

I remember the exact moment I started thinking about taking a career break in order to travel. It was 2011 and I had just come back from an amazing trip to Turkey, I was at a friend's house on a dreary Sunday afternoon telling her all about my trip and wishing I could pack my bags again and head off somewhere else far from the snow and cold weather we were experiencing.

We were listening to Pandora and one of my favorite songs came on.

As I was listening to this song I knew where my next trip would be, it would definitely have to be somewhere in the Caribbean, Central or South America. I settled on South America. I had never been to the continent but I kept thinking how cool it would be to take off and go travel all over South America learning: Spanish, Salsa and absorbing the various cultures.

I had traveled by myself before but never for an extended period of time like what I had in mind. As cool as the thought of taking an extended period of time to travel sounded, it scared me to death. I could not imagine traveling by myself for months, wouldn't I get bored or lonely? Was I ready to quit my job and sacrifice the benefits?

Fast forward to 2013 - I had managed visit some countries in South America and had come across several travelers who were traveling for extended periods of time by themselves. Talking to them and hearing all about their experiences inspired me a lot and made me realize that I could do it too if I really wanted. I just had to plan accordingly.

In March 2013 I decided I was finally going to make my dream a reality.