[The Trek] Chapter 1: How We Chose Where To Go
Limited references create a limited life. If you want to expand your life, you must expand your references by pursuing ideas and experiences that wouldn’t be a part of your life if you didn’t consciously seek them out. Remember, rarely does a good idea interrupt you; you must actively seek it. Empowering ideas and experiences must be pursued. - Tony Robbins, Awaken The Giant Within
"I've got a crazy idea."
"Okay. What is it?"
"Let's spend 6 months in Argentina [dramatic pause for effect] living on a farm. Look - we can live cheaply, become fluent in Spanish, and explore the sites when we're not working the farm."
"6 months? Really?"
"Yeah! Can you image learning Spanish in 6 months? And coming back fluent? Wouldn't that be way more exciting and a way better use of time than whatever else we would accomplish doing the same thing every day here at home?
"Okay. Let's do it!"
"Wait. Really? Are you serious?"
"Yeah. Sure. Why not? Let's do it. 6 months in Argentina."
And just like that, Katie and I decided where we were going on our sabbatical (for what would turn out to be 2 months vs. 6) - Argentina. Not to mention that we might have leave our jobs after almost 12 years of combined time with our current employers. It was Saturday morning and we had just woken up. A few minutes later we were out of bed looking at flights, calendars, hotels, cities, mountains, and wondering how the hell we were going to tell our families. But for now, none of that stuff mattered (we will get to all of that in a later post).
I felt more alive than I had in years. I wasn't sure how we were going to do it or what it would become (we will get to those too) but it felt so damn good to make a "huge" decision, just like that.
A few months later we were handing our house keys to our short-term, summer renters and boarding a flight from Miami to Buenos Aires with two backpacks and without much of a plan.
ACT, THEN THINK
The stars will never align, and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct course along the way. - Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week
On this path, it is only the first step that counts. - St. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, Catholic saint, Curé d'Ars
This may sound like a cop-out but it really doesn't matter where you choose to go. The world is HUGE and people live all over it. There are amazing people and cool stuff to explore everywhere. So just go somewhere.
Some helpful questions to ask yourself:
Where have I always wanted to go? Egypt? South America? Japan? Australia?
What have I always wanted to do? Learn Spanish? Ride an elephant? Eat street food in Thailand? Play golf in Scotland?
What have I always wanted to see? The Great Pyramids? Iguazu Falls? The Amazon River?
The length of your trip and your financial situation can certainly be drivers in your decision but they aren't the only things that are important. South America is much cheaper than America so the daily cost of living while traveling was much lower than our typical DC life. They also speak Spanish in Argentina which is a language I wanted to learn.
If you think about it too much you will just get overwhelmed and never do it. Katie and I like to say "Have the abundance" when we visit museums which really just means you don't have to see every exhibit in the museum. Hopefully, this isn't the only time we will be doing something like this. There are always other places you could have gone. None of those other places or things to see will matter when you are lifting off from the runway on the way to where ever it is that you choose. Decide you are going to do it. Pick a rough start and end date - with a minimum trip length of at least 3 weeks - that is a few months in the future. And put it on your calendar. Because the next step is going to be asking your boss/employer for time off and it is a hell of a lot easier to do that when you have already made the date/time commitment. All of your flights and accommodations don't need to be booked yet, you just need the rough length and dates of your trip.
Tip: If you are having trouble making a decision, take a look at Google Flights Explore and pick the location with the cheapest flights for your dates. That's how we picked the Azores, Portugal in 2019.