It’s interesting how ubiquitous “quitting to travel the world” has become. Growing up, it was such an alternative idea and now when I tell people that it’s what I’m about to do, the response is always something along the lines of “good for you” and “now’s the time to do it.” I suppose it makes sense with how cheap and efficient travel has become. I’m always curious about what someone’s motivations are for something like this, so I figured I’d talk briefly about my why, how, where, and when.
While international trips started for me at a young age with family visits to the Philippines (Filipino dad, white mom), it wasn’t until I was 27 that I first traveled for the sake of travel. I hadn’t been to Europe. My friend Brandon hadn’t been to Europe. We decided that we should go to Europe. I enjoyed the heck out of it and knew that I wanted to travel more. I’ve always been fascinated by the differences between people, so getting to experience a bunch of other cultures firsthand was awesome. I’ve squeezed a good bit of travel into the past 5 years and I’ve now been to 20 countries with the itch to add to that number.
My girlfriend, “T”, and I have no kids, no house, and while we were both content with our current jobs (she’s an accountant and I’m in IT), we didn’t see ourselves staying there forever. I was, however, very tied to coaching sports. Between 2010-2017, I coached 4 seasons of high school girls basketball and 6 seasons of high school football. I loved coaching. To be sappy, it was where I found fulfillment and, like many coaches say, I feel like I got more out of it than the players did. However, when the two coaches that got me into coaching football left for an out-of-state school, it seemed like a good time for a break.
When I told T about the coaching change, she joked that since I wasn’t tied down with coaching anymore, we could finally quit and travel the world. I took her seriously and we started exploring the idea.
In late-2014, while looking online for ways to boost my credit score, I stumbled on a community of people called “churners” who were essentially extreme couponers, but for credit card rewards. This community was intertwined with another that looked for the best ways to use those rewards for travel (called “award travel”). Churning and award travel hit every personality nerve that I have – I’m a sucker for a deal, I love digging into the technicalities of things, and I love taking advantage of loopholes and “gaming the system”. In January 2015, after having studied the system for a few months, I jumped in head first, signing up for 4 credit cards in a span of 2 weeks, and the whole thing has pretty much become an obsession since then.
When we really started taking the quitting-to-travel idea seriously, the first place we looked were the stories of people that had done it already. We found one-year cost ranges from as low as $8,000-10,000 for staying in hostels and eating ramen to $40,000+ if you treat it like a really long vacation. We saw a few examples that confirmed that a good balance of budget and luxury should put you around the $20,000 mark, give or take a few grand. Of course, this number can change quite a bit depending on how many points & miles you’ve saved up. Thankfully, we had a decent chunk to use. After some very initial calculations, we decided to try for $10,000 per person.
After setting a budget, we had to figure out where to go. T suggested that we each list the top 10 countries we wanted to visit, so we used that as a starting point. After hashing everything out, we ended up with 26 countries spanning all continents except Antarctica.
At the time of this post, the rough international itinerary is: Europe to North Africa to Asia, back to the U.S., down to South America, back to the U.S. again, then finally to Australia, New Zealand, India, and a mix of countries spanning Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa.
However, because of a few trips that existed before this big one, we’ll be hanging around North America for most of the summer. We’ll be visiting a mix of family and friends in Louisiana, Texas, Mexico, Maryland, New York, and the California Bay-area before we finally begin “The Trip”.
The end of June marks our departure from Southern California and we leave the U.S. in late August. The rough international itinerary I mentioned only takes us into Spring of 2019, so we’re playing it by ear for what to do after that. Follow us here and on Instragram @thesumofalltravels and feel free to throw any travel tips, suggestions, or ideas our way!