By Jennifer Mikosky
Last November, my husband and I said a bittersweet goodbye to family, friends and our home in Tampa Bay, as we prepared to embark on the adventure of a lifetime: an 18-month journey around the world.
We’ve always shared a passion for travel. Just two years earlier, we were celebrating Christmas at a monastery in Prague and ringing in the New Year on the rainy streets of Amsterdam. We were sipping lagers with locals at a crowded bar in Berlin and stuffing ourselves with waffles and frites and chocolate in Brussels.
We were having the time of our lives, and we wanted it to last forever. Instead, with heavy hearts, empty wallets and a depleted vacation bank, we came back home and returned to reality.
Weeks later, still dreaming of our days abroad, we wondered how these brief trips would ever be enough to satisfy our appetite for exploration. We needed months, if not years, to scratch the surface of all we wanted to experience in this world. If we worked hard, saved our money and planned for an early retirement, maybe one day we could pursue a life of full-time travel. But the future is uncertain, and offers no guarantees.
Right now, we are young and healthy and financially stable. We are unencumbered by a family or a mortgage, and thanks to the freedom of modern technology, we could continue to work from the road, without sacrificing our successful careers.
So why wait to follow our dreams?
Initially, our grand plan to circumnavigate the globe sounded like a pretty novel concept, but it didn’t take long for us to realize that we weren’t the first to follow this path, however unconventional it might seem. Online we found an active community of fellow travelers who became our trusted guides, providing practical advice and personal inspiration as we prepared for our own adventure.
Developing our itinerary was one of the first, and most challenging, items on the agenda. After years of making travel plans around three-day weekends and the occasional one or two-week vacation, we were confident that an 18-month timeframe would give us plenty of time to go anywhere we could imagine.
Until we started to map our route, and found that the more we researched, the more we wanted to see.
Knowing we needed to prioritize, we identified the destinations, activities and events that shaped our travel “bucket list,” and used these pillars to create an itinerary that would begin in New Zealand and Australia, and continue through Asia, before heading to Europe and South America.
To fund our travels, we cut back on our expenses, lived well below our means and saved every extra dime for nearly two years leading up to our departure. We set an estimated travel budget of $5,000 per month, challenging ourselves to spend no more than an average month at home. Without the ongoing burden of rent, utilities, car payments and other personal expenditures, the cost of continuous travel was surprisingly within reach.
Before we left, we also made a deliberate effort to minimize our possessions. Like many couples, we’d managed to accumulate a lot of “stuff” throughout the years, and it was weighing us down both physically and financially. We sold what could help us fund our travels, donated what might bring value to someone else, trashed the junk and saved the items that mattered most. Everything we aren’t currently carrying on our backs is now packed away into a single 5’x10’ storage unit for our eventual return.
So far, we haven’t missed a thing.
Continue to follow Jennifer and Brock’s journey online by visiting ContinentalDivides.com, where you’ll find a carefully curated collection of travel tips and personal tales reflecting their first-hand experiences on the road. From the people they’ve met and the places they’ve been, to the planning and preparation behind their adventures, they chronicle the highs, the lows and the everyday realities of two working professionals taking the path less traveled.
Jennifer and Brock Mikosky on top of the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand (center).
Sunrise at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia (left) and the morning mist in Halong Bay, Vietnam (right) are some of the sights the couple experienced on their 18-month travels.
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