Before quitting my job in architecture I knew that I wanted to create a life that centered around travel and I knew that I wanted to travel around the world for at least 6 months. I spent two years saving, paying off bills, planning out my route, researching how much it would cost, whether I wanted to stay in hotels vs. Airbnb vs. hostels, where I wanted to go, researching how to get from one country to another, visa requirements, things to do, currency exchange rates, etc.
The amount of research involved can be exhausting because there’s so much to consider for a long term trip. Not everyone does it this way, some people just wing it, but this is how I did it because I'm a planner and an organizer. The quality of this experience was extremely important to me and I wanted to know everything about the destination before I got there. Even getting on Google maps street view to see what the city or neighborhood looks like before I get there.
This trip wasn’t initially meant to be a solo one, but it ended up that way because the family members I was planning to go with couldn't come. I knew that I would still do the trip by myself, there was no way I was going to back out. This was a dream that I’d had for years, I'd taken inspiration from others that I’d watched do it successfully and I was excited to do one of my own. After years of only taking one or two big trips per year and as many weekend trips as I could squeeze in in between, I had reached the point where all I wanted to do was travel.
I tried to reconcile my feelings of restlessness about my job by thinking that maybe it was the TYPE of architecture projects that I was working on that made me dissatisfied with office life. But each time that I came back from a trip, the feelings were intensified.
When I was traveling, I loved how it felt to completely disconnect from the rigid office schedule that I had. Feeling the freedom of not being tied to a clock and a commute everyday was something I couldn't ignore. To just be wherever I was at the moment and to just enjoy the people I was traveling with was beautiful. And the fact that they were volunteer trips only heightened the experiences. I was able to learn about different methods of construction and actually physically help build a home for someone.
It was incredible!
It was exciting to think about and plan a huge adventure like this, but what was more exciting was that it was actually happening. Lots of people dream, think or talk about doing certain things, but don’t actually end up doing them for one reason or another. I was determined not to fall into that category. This was happening. More than that though, this meant a big turning point in my life, I was getting ready for a massive change.
I’d decided that I would start in the summer of 2017, in Italy, work my way through Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary, Morocco, then head to SE Asia. How did I choose Italy as my starting point? It was really a bit random, I'd met a few Italians when I was in Tanzania at the end of 2016 and I figured it was as good a place to start as any. I love architecture, food, art, design, history and knew that all of those things would be easily explored in Italy. Also, eastern Europe is more affordable than the western part. The other thing was that I only wanted to pack for one season.
Morocco also seems like a random choice, but it was one of the closest and easiest places on the African continent to get to and I felt like I couldn't be that close to Africa and not go back. I'd been several times before to Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi and know that I wanted to go again. So, Morocco was it.
Southeast Asia was a no brainer because it's extremely affordable. I'd only been once, to the Philippines, and knew that I wanted to go back to the region. I settled on Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. This is what 6 months of travel looked like for me, I left it open at the end because I didn't want to be locked in to going home on a specific date.
Among other things, this trip was also a chance for me to relax, re-center and figure out how I wanted to live this new life. Not for the short term, but for the long term. Sometimes we resign ourselves to living a certain way, even if it makes us unhappy. But change is very possible, you just have to want it bad enough. I wanted a better quality of life and I was going after it with everything in me.
I also knew that I wanted to share travel with as many people as I could. It changed the way I saw the world, how I saw myself, how I interacted with people, it humbled me, made me more understanding and compassionate. It was fun and exciting, there was so much to learn, see and do. Having created Inspired Wandering I wanted to see where in the world my focus would be, what countries would speak the loudest to me.
Creating experiences for people, seeing them have a good time and enjoy travel was my ultimate goal.
I’d quit my job and walked away from something that I no longer wanted in my life. I’d turned my love of travel into a business and shifted my focus from working full-time in architecture, creating material things to creating the intangible.
This was the biggest thing that I’d done so far in my life and it was exciting, terrifying, exhilarating and freeing. I couldn't wait to see how this all turned out.