Exactly a month ago I posted one of my older articles, What Is An RTW?, on foXnoMad’s Facebook page. Within that thread, Nima suggested doing a post on what the travelers mentioned in the original article were up to, now two years after their around the world trips. It was a good idea but thought a single post wouldn’t be able to cover much, so I got in touch with those travelers. Eventually coordinating with Gillian and Jason, Saben, and Manali and Terry.
Jump down to the live chat happening for the next 90 minutes!
The chat is only open from 8:30pm-10pm US EST; (12:30am-2am GMT; 9:30am-11am Tokyo)
I’ll have the best comments of a hot August to kick things off before opening up the discussion with my guests. As always, I encourage you to jump in with us:
- Manali and Terry – “We left Atlanta in August 2009 to see where our one year world adventure [will] take us!”
- One Giant Step (Gillian and Jason) – “In June 2009 Jason and I set out on an 11 month RTW trip. We visited fourteen countries and came home realizing that our dream of one day living overseas was entirely possible. We are now in full planning for OneGiantStep 2.0 that will soon see us living our next dream. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.”
- Saben and Lin (Saben in chat) – “Now lives in Washington, DC. Was able to find a great job but if he told you where he would have to kill you. Enjoys the life and action in DC but does not enjoy the burning smell coming from his debit card.”
I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with many of these bloggers years ago when blogging felt so new at the time. I look forward to reconnecting with them and you too of course! If you’ve ever thought of taking an RTW, career break or gap year and worried leaving your job, what happens when you get back, or anything else that comes with it, this is a great time to ask away in the comments below.
Hi everyone and welcome to the first live chat back from summer hiatus. I hope you’ve been able to spend some of the last 3 months traveling. I’ll kick things off here shortly with my group of guests but first here are some of the best comments from this past August:
Sophie adds another country where George W. Bush is surprisingly popular. Can you guess what it is?
I can’t wait to talk Trek with Gray in Jordan, hopefully soon..!
If Callie gets her dream travel partners, we’re all in trouble!
Stephanie I hope you’re still thirsty (I am) and Turkey’s For Life thanks for noticing my new look!
Alright, there you have them, the best comments of August 2012 on this site. Now, how’s everyone doing?
Just checking that I’m in the right place for the chat this morning. Looking forward to connecting up with everyone!
You’re in the right place 🙂 Hopefully the page refreshes automatically but I haven’t had a chat yet where it worked when things got crowded. Where are you right now?
We’re in Kyoto, Japan. It’s Friday morning here which means we’ve been in Japan for a week now – strangely, it feels like much longer than that. I think that we have gotten our travel legs back very quickly and have easily dropped back into our travel routine. Loving it!
I’ll be there in the last week of September in a few cities. I still need to figure out my exact schedule though but perhaps we’ll be able to meet up. Though I’ll still keep and eye out for your recommendations 😉
Checking in. Excited to see whats going on with everyone.
Hi Saben, glad you could make it! I appreciate you taking the time. It’s funny, did you catch this comment from above when this chat idea first came about?
I appreciate the invite.
Ha! Yeah i saw that, I kind of feel the same way.
Hey Anil, I’m here representing AirTreks, a provider of RTW tickets for 25 years and experts at arranging complex itineraries for long term travelers. I’ll try to answer any questions about RTW tickets that come thru.
Hi Nico, thanks for joining us and am sure there will be plenty of questions 🙂
What’s the one question you get the most about RTW planning Nico?
I’d say one of the the biggest misconceptions people have about planning is that they have to turn to the airline alliances to buy a RTW ticket. Yes, it’s true the airline alliances (like Star Alliance) can sell RTW tickets and they cover a lot of destinations, but they rarely offer the best deal. They have a ton of restrictions about what you can and can’t do, AND they usually end up being more expensive, with lousy customer service to boot. Most people turn to the alliances because they don’t know there’s any other way to book them.
How does AirTreks solve that problem?
Well, our tickets have very few rules to them. People can start anywhere, end anywhere and go virtually anywhere in between with any amount of overland gaps they like. We also have a great team of agents that help out people during their planning process, and even after they start traveling.
People can get their prices down by working with their agent and seeing what works best. People have said it’s a pretty comfortable process, and fun!
Where in the world are each of you now?
Sitting pretty in San Francisco.
Washington DC. Growing roots…
I’m actually in the area too for the next week or so.
Nice! Shoot me an email if you want to catch drinks while you are in town.
That would be great, I’ll keep in touch 🙂
I’m in Kyoto, Japan. We’re one week into a month long trip here.
Tell us a little about your RTWs, how long was your trip and when was it?
Jason and I left in June 2009 and returned at the end of May 2010 – just over 11 months on the road.
I’m curious what’s One Giant Step v 2.0 going to look like?
2008-2010 16 or so months. 25+ Countries. Been back in the states for 2.5 years.
What were each of you doing before you left – job, career, etc.?
I was well into an IT career. I had a very posh job working for the Navy. It was a pretty tough decision to leave that for the great unknown.
What was the ultimate push?
Fear of settling into a mediocre life. I had worked a full time job since the age of 14 and couldn’t stand the thought of spending another 40 years that way before i could retire and enjoy what was left of my life.
I work in healthcare IT. It was not hard to leave – I had been doing the job for a while and had done a really big project that zapped me – it WAS hard to come back. I returned to the same job….for a while.
Interesting that the three of us are on the computer side of things 🙂 How did your former employer treat you when you returned? Was it strange being back?
Its strange, i met quite a few fellow IT folk while i was away. More than any other profession. No idea why that is.
It was like I never left. I remember I went to a large, department meeting not long after returning and an old colleague just started chatting with me as though I had been away for a long, long weekend. It was surreal. I was sad. I would sit in my cubicle trying to work and would just ache to back on the road – it brought me to tears more than once.
What was your biggest fear before leaving?
Not being able to communicate with anyone (english was my one and only) and being stuck in some crazy isolation in some terrible third world county. That and human bot fly’s.
How did your fears match up with experience when it was all over?
(Also, I didn’t know what a bot fly was until now and I don’t like it either! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dermatobia_hominis)
No problems at all! When you are immersed in a language every day (traveling the cheapest, local way will do that quick) you have no choice but to pick up words and phrases. I became a master of charades.
Most important phrase a traveler can know. “How do you say (point at something) in _____”. Great ice breaker too.
That and I wasn’t attacked by a human bot fly so…. win!
Definitely don’t want to come across these (here now I’ll scare everyone 😛
My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t like it. That I would have stepped out in such a big way, potentially lost my job, sold my house and car, left family and friends, and then didn’t like it. Someone once said though that in order for something to happen the fear of not doing it has to be greater than the fear of doing it. That was surely the case – my bigger fear was that I would regret not doing it. It turns out to be the best thing I have ever done in my life.
I like that philosophy, I think fear is probably the biggest obstacle for people who are close to an RTW.
I think it is the biggest obstacle. Everything else is just logistics – just take the steps to doing it and it will get done – but fear is inside, and sneaks up and manifests itself in strange ways. I tried to look at the absolute worst case scenario to see if I could live with it – in my case, the worst case scenario would be that we return home, find jobs and continue on. Not that bad, or that hard, really. The safety net comes with you – I wan’t going to find myself living in a cardboard box on the street because my safety net of education and experience would catch me well before that. It’s a philosophy we are still using as we look to leave Canada and live somewhere else…what is the worst case scenario?
I took a similar approach before I took off – what cities are you considering moving to?
Most popular question! The goal is not the destination, but the experience. We have some criteria and will start looking in Oct once we return from Japan. I just wrote about this process here: http://one-giant-step.com/setting-the-criteria/
If Jason can’t find a job in the first few months then we’ll go with plan B; sell everything and move somewhere inexpensive while continuing to work on plan A. Thailand and Central America are high on the list.
Talk about fear! OneGiantStep 2.0 is scaring the sh*t out of me…and I like it!
I’ll just add in the stream there were 9 of you in that original post and it was tough to track down a few people. Saben, does the site still generate activity or has it gone dormant since your last post?
We still get a bit of traffic. Not a ton by any means but 100 or so unique visitors a day. Mostly on our China posts. That seems to be an under reported on area and as independent travelers are looking to it more they are seeking out other who have done it before.
Interesting. I’ll be in Shanghai this October I’ll have to double-check if you’ve been there 😉 Do you still keep in touch with Lin?
Only spent a few days there. There are some nice parts of the city but it was pretty intense. Haven’t spoken to Lin in some time. She moved out to Portland , i moved to DC and we got caught up in our separate lives. Life moves fast if you are not paying attention.
I think Manali may not be able to make it, Gillian, are you still on or did you get disconnected?
Anil – are my comments hitting the spam folder?
I just rescued them, sorry about that!
Hi everyone is the live chat already underway?
Hi Stephen, yes, we’re all here! Feel free to jump in with any questions or comments for any of us.
Sorry, Anil, I’m afraid I have to drop out. If anyone has questions about AirTreks tickets, feel free to email me directly: [email protected].
I’m happy to help if I can. Best of luck!
Hi Nico, I appreciate you dropping by and the offer to help. Remind me we should set up a chat about ticketing soon one of these months if you’re interested 🙂
How did your RTWs change you?
I am stronger, more confident, more out-going, more willing to take risk, more willing to put myself ‘out there’. It made me realize that our dream of living somewhere else is completely possible – we just have to do it. It made me see that we’re all just people who all want the same things – a roof over our heads, some good food, friends to share it with and a family who loves us – no matter where we’re from. It made me realize that I have some serious stereotypes and misconceptions in my head which I also think is unavoidable as we are products of our own culture and upbringing. It made me realize I can do anything!
I matured a lot during that time and gained a lot of confidence in myself. I feel like my people skills really lined up. I was always a social person but the isolation of traveling through some rough places really pushes you to be extra outgoing. I think the thing that changed the most was my perspective. All the small stuff just doesn’t affect me any more.
I have a questions about your travel blogs ( as I am just starting mine for my RTW) What was the process you went through to develop your niche? How often would you plan to put up new content?
In my case I wasn’t off on a RTW with a set end date, but my niche came naturally to me combining my two passions – and technology is an area of expertise of mine. It was a good fit. As for content, I was doing 5 times a week – and now 3 times a week. Much less stress and readers responded better to it.
I didn’t ‘develop a niche’ – I just started writing about the trip preparations and then about the trip itself. I’m not sure there were many niches in 2008 when I started – we were just starting to split into ‘backpacker’ and ‘flashpacker’ groups. I don’t even think I know what my niche is now; I write a blog about my personal travels, how I do it, and how I believe that just about anyone can. For me, OneGiantStep refers to the relatively small distance between what you’re doing now and what you could be doing if you just took one giant step outside of your comfort zone.
While traveling I posted every 4-5 days depending on what I’m up to, when I’m not traveling I post on Mondays and Thursdays. This trip is different for me though (I’m currently traveling in Japan – hi from Kyoto!) as I now use Facebook which I didn’t use at all during my RTW. Now I am posting to FB a couple of times a day, asking for recommendations etc as well as posting a small photo gallery daily. I think, for me, FB has really changed blogging – it’s much more personal and interactive for me.
During your RTW did your approach or attitude change toward blogging?
Not consciously, no. Although I think my story telling got better over time. I had not done any writing of this type before I started OneGiantStep so I had a lot to learn!
My approach changed once I returned and realized that I wanted to keep it going. Then I really started thinking about niches, where I wanted to be, how to gain audience etc. I discovered the travel blogging community and learned a lot more.
What’s the ultimate goal in this next phase – say, in a year or two? Assuming you’ve planned that far ahead, I’m usually in the 1-2 day range 😛
I guess my plan is to continue OneGiantStep as a personal story with interesting, helpful and inspirational pieces in there for people to take away. My plan in the next year is to start another site that will connect travelers and stories – a place for travelers to come and find stories, novels, memoirs etc about the places they want to travel. Stay tuned!!
I will 🙂
We posted almost every single day. I’m terrible at keeping a journal and the site is a living archive of our journey. We didn’t really have a niche in mind (beyond crazy low budget rtw travel) It just ended up that our travel style/budget met a specific niche. The goal was never to widely market or profit from ours. It was just a way to share information and stories with others and to have for ourselves for years to come.
What do you think you’ll do with the site from here on?
The site is officially closed, no more updates will be posted there. All future travels, if they are to be blogged, will be done elsewhere. I do get offers almost daily from advertisers but i don’t really have an interest in monetizing. Like a chapter in a book that one is closed and while i love to go back and read it from time to time no more words will be added. Only new chapters…
I should clarify that it will stay up and functional for…. ever. Or until the internet is beamed into our minds and HTML is no longer applicable. Like a wedding video on Betamax.
I’m almost at that point, I’m first in line to becoming a Borg.
What impact did your RTWs have on your relationships with your traveling partners?
Ha! (Insert crash and burn sound here). Spending every hour of every day together will really tell you a lot about the strength of your relationship. We were together for 5 years before our trip and lived together for 3.5 of those. Ours was not meant to be. I feel like our trip accelerated the degradation of our relationship and really worked out best for us. Better for it to end then when we were both getting ready to build new lives anyway then 10 years down the road in a standard divorce.
It was hard. Jason and I had been together for 11 years when we started and we spend the majority of our free time together but it was still hard. Expectations (of travel, of ourselves, and of each other) was probably the biggest part – full time travel is a real change. Full time travel on a budget in non English speaking countries is a real challenge. Our absolute #1 rule was that we would not break up on the road no matter what happened – if things got bad we would return home and deal with it without the stress of travel. I had heard of too many couples breaking up (sorry Saben).
On the other hand it was amazing – we got to experience all this cool stuff together and now we talk about it all the time! ‘Remember that time…’ is a favorite phrase. Totally worth it!
Thanks for the information! I just read about the importance of a Niche and was wondering. OneGaintStep I have been following you guys on Facebook for a while! I love what you are doing. You are one of the first sites I found when researching my RTW. I am a backpacker, and have been traveling 1 to 3 months a year for the last 6 years. My next trip with hopefully last a few year
Thanks so much Stephen! I still remember the first blog I found ‘Euros Ate My Dollars’ I think it was called – I couldn’t believe people actually did this…and then I was hooked!
Sounds like you’re on your way to being hooked already…is your site live yet?
I remember that blog. Great stuff. That and 48 Degrees (i think). 48 degrees was my favorite. That guys was a huge inspiration.
Do each of you still follow travel blogs?
What do you think the hardest part of long term travel is? What could you have done, if anything, to prepare better. In the planning or mental department?
Good question, the hardest parts I think, begin to appear a few months in. The question of where do you go, purpose, if that makes sense?
I give the same advice I was given and didn’t follow – slower is better. But it’s oh-so-hard to not want to see everything and go everywhere! I still struggle with it although I am getting better at taking my own advice.
You can plan, and plan, and plan…and then just go!!
All mental. I should have chilled out and not wrecked my mind for the 3-4 months running up to it trying to plan for every possible thing that could happen. Learning to go with the flow of things made the trip and my life so much easier. As long as you are flexible and have a positive outlook few things are as bad as they seem. The worst times make the best stories.
Now, months after your RTWs, how is regular life? Looking back, how do you view your RTW in your lives?
My RTW was the best thing I ever did and has set me on a path that I have wanted for a long, long time. I have always dreamed of living somewhere else and was waiting for ‘something’ to get me there. Now I know it has to be ME that gets me there and, hopefully, by the end of the year our plan will be in place. Wish us luck!!
With all my energy, the best of luck your way!
Regular life is pretty great. I miss the open road but i still get a chance to travel and my life in DC is awesome. I have a couple of big adventures still in my back pocket so when i get travel sick i break out the maps and start working on the next one.
Fantastic to hear – and yes, DC is a great city. It doesn’t get enough credit on the east coast of the US. Btw, if you’re ever in Arlington and like pizza:
I’m going to begin wrapping things up in a few minutes, last chances for questions and comments!
I encourage anyone thinking about any travel to connect up with anyone you find who has done it. I haven’t met anyone who wasn’t more than willing to answer questions and give advice – it’s how we all learn!!
No my site isnt live yet :(. I am working on it with nomadic matt ( i don’t know if you have heard of him). It should be in about a month! I can let you know if you want! Thanks for all the info everyone. I leave in may, I have 3 years of travel planned so your information was very very helpful!
Nomadic Matt is the Man. I think i read every post before and during my trip.
He is everywhere 🙂 Stephen, shoot me the link when you’re site is live, I’d love to check it out.
haha thanks saben! He is awesome. He is mentoring me for the next three months. I’ll let you guys know when my site is live if your interested. Thanks everyone and safe travels!
Thanks Anil P. You guys rock!
I appreciate you putting this together Anil. I still follow your blog from time to time. It gets me hankering for the next adventure.
I appreciate that and that you took the time to join us. It’s been a pleasure reconnecting.
Well, it’s time to close things up for this month. I’ll have another live chat in the first week of October, from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur as I’ll be in Asia for the next few week. (I’ll post the exact times here soon: http://foxnomad.com/live-chats/)
Gillian, Saben, I want to thank you again very much for spending some of your time with me and my readers. It’s been wonderful chatting with you, hearing what you’re up to, and very educational for others planning an RTW.
Thank you to everyone who followed along and left a comment as well. Until next month, happy travels!
Thanks Anil. It was great to catch up! Good luck to anyone planning a trip and Enjoy!!