Annie and Jon left corporate America to do some world traveling. This blog chronicles their unconventional path and hopefully provides a little inspiration along the way.

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Entries in Tips (6)


travel tips - 60 days out

1. Investigate passport visa requirements.

Many countries offer visa on arrival or you can easily apply for a visa at an embassy but it is always better to check your's and the visiting countries’ official government website before leaving for the most current information.

We originally hadn’t planned on visiting China but then decided to look into while we were in Taiwan. Because there wasn’t an embassy in Taiwan we would have had to send our passports back to the states costing us about $300 USD each according to one travel agency. If we looked into it before we left the States we probably would have applied for a visa entry into China.

2. Check passport expiration date.

Your passport must be valid for at least six months past the last day of trip. You will not be allowed entry into a country otherwise.

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travel tips - useful websites

1. The Unconventional Guides.

The Unconventional Guides provides tips on discount airfares and the pros and cons of purchasing round the world airfare. The author, Chris Guillebeau, has traveled to more than 100 countries and offers insight on traveling for all budgets.

2. ITA Software.

ITA is an airline search engine without the annoying pop-up ads. It is a simple interface and combines different airlines to provide the lowest price. If you are flexible with your dates you can browse prices for a month to find the most competitive pricing. You can’t book directly with the website so you’ll need to go to the specific airline for booking. 

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travel tips - finances

1. Create a savings plan and use it. 

Before discussing a savings plan let’s first talk about debt. Debt isn’t a sexy subject but the reality is that large amounts of it can make extended travel difficult. It might be wise to take a little extra time to chip away at any debt before heading out on the road. It is possible to travel with debt as long as it is a manageable sum and you are able to continue paying it while you travel. We met a couple that rented their house while traveling and that in turn allowed them to continue paying their mortgage. 

Of course the ideal situation is to pay off all your debt beforehand, which can be done with a structured savings plan. After nine years of paying my student loans I still owed $14K. We attended a financial seminar and adopted a savings plan, which you can read about it here. This savings plan allowed me to pay off my loans within a year and at the same time save for our travels. 

Come up with a plan for your money and stick to it. You will be amazed at how quickly it accumulates. It will require some short-term sacrifices but it is a worthy goal when you hit the road and your primary focus is enjoying your travels, not how to make your next minimum payment.  

2. Read I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi.

This book offered us practical financial advice on avoiding unnecessary bank fees and overall money management techniques. Regardless of your plans on extended travel the book is worth a read for a financial tune-up.

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travel tips - planning

During our travels family and friends have asked for advice on how to pull off their own long term trip. A common theme is that most feel daunted on where to start and if it is even possible. In an effort to answer people’s questions we developed a guide. The guide is broken down into ten categories: planning, finances, 60 days before departure, useful websites, packing, transportation, culture, safety, technology, and necessities. We will post one category at a time over the next few months. While some tips may seem like common sense, we also plan to drill down into specific details and strategies. In the end we plan to combine the 100 tips into a downloadable PDF document. Our hope is that people will give us feedback as we progress through the list. 

Let’s get started with our first category…planning.

1. Take a look in the mirror.

Investigate your real motivations for world travel. It is not always as glamorous as one may think and while it sounds like a sexy idea, not everyone will enjoy traveling for an extended period of time. It may seem odd we put this first but it is important to be honest with yourself. Long flights, uncomfortable bus rides, unfamiliar food, and conflicts with traveling partner(s) will certainly happen. For us, these are minor annoyances and a means to an end. The incredible adventures we have experienced vastly outweigh the negatives.

It is important to think about being crammed in the back of an enclosed pickup truck seated next to someone with a bag full of live bats, which will be eaten that night for dinner. How would you handle incredibly expensive, slow, and unreliable internet or no television for the length of your travel? Would you be comfortable waking up in the morning and having no idea as to where you would be sleeping that night? Are you okay with nightly checks of your bed to assure there are no bed bugs? I am assuming since you are reading this, the answer is an enthusiastic yes but for some, the lack of everyday conveniences will take a toll and can become a very unpleasant experience. Put some thought into this and see if you can go a week without internet or TV, it can be quite rewarding but may also lead to some unexpected anxieties. 

2. Read Vagabonding by Rolf Pots.

Vagabonding served as our inspiration and offers a multitude of long-term travel tips. It could be just the right amount of push to get you on the road. It was for us.

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watch this first...RSS

Quick RSS Screen Capture Tutorial from Jon Carr on Vimeo.

This video explains how to use RSS. It is a great way to have the internet deliver your favorite content to you. It took me a long time to figure out how to use RSS but once I did, I quickly became addicted. This video should explain what you need to know and will allow you to easily stay up to date with (un)mapped life or any of your other internet favorites. I use two examples to collect RSS feeds in the video but most email applications have a similar ability. Happy surfing!


how can you afford this?

One of the first questions people have asked is how we can afford to leave our jobs and travel. Our savings plan is quite simple. I got it from attending a seminar called, The millionaire mind intensive wealth seminar.  It is based on a book that Jon read named, "Secrets of the millionaire mind." If you have ever heard of the seminar you might think I'm crazy. The truth is that I was a bit skeptical when Jon invited me but he had free tickets so I thought why not. Regardless of your opinion of the seminar and all the wacky things they make you do, I learned a really valuable tool that has helped me structure my spending and savings. I don't remember what they call the savings plan but in a nutshell here's what I took away.

Below is the percentage that goes into an account based on your monthly paycheck: 

  • 40% - necessity account (rent, car payment, groceries, toiletries)
  • 10% - play account (the idea is that you spend that money every month on something for yourself)
  • 10% - education account (swim lessons, tap dancing lessons)
  • 10% - charity account (giving money to a charity that you believe in)
  • 15% - financial freedom account - FFA (for investing)
  • 15% - long term savings & spending account - LTSS (buying a house)

It is based on the fact that only 40% of your salary should be going toward necessities.  But you can also change the percentage to fit your need. I wasn't always the strictest with the plan but did follow it every month. I like that it's based on percentage rather than a dollar amount. For example, I wanted to pay off my student loan so I created another account and only put 5% in play, education and charity.  

Here's what I did after the seminar. I already had my Citibank checking account which I named my necessity account and created three more savings accounts at Citibank (play, education, charity).  You can nickname each of the accounts so I literally have an account called play. Then I signed for three ING Orange Savings account (named them FFA, LTSS, and student loan).  In the end I had seven accounts and you might think this is a little too much to manage but it really isn't once you have the system down. Every pay period I had an automatic percentage withdrawal go into each of the ING accounts because that was where my real savings was going to add up. Then I would transfer money from my necessity account to the other three Citibank savings account. Sometimes I didn't transfer money to my education account because I had unexpected expenses. Remember it's only as strict as you want or need it to be.  

This savings plan has allowed me to pay off my student loan, take swimming lessons, go to Seattle/Vancouver, give over $1K to charities, and save for our trip.