Retirement

I think I’ve finally recovered from a hellish weekend of moving and my last day of work on Monday. In my next apartment I vow to have less stuff, although I’m not really sure how that is going to happen. I’ve spent the last several days mostly vegging out. I feel like I’m retired, and I love it! Now seems like a good time for some pre-trip thoughts, and to welcome our readers to our blog. My (now former) co-workers gave us 64 views on the day I plugged this blog. Not bad for a blog with almost nothing posted!

Introduction

This blog will be our account of our extended travels beginning in November 2010. We had originally envisioned this as a “trip around the world,” but found the prospect of planning such a thing too daunting. So we decided to start in South America, travel for as long as we wish, and then move on. There is no itinerary, and 5 days before departure we have made no specific plans save to book a hotel for the first several nights. I prefer it this way because, unlike most frenetically planned 1-2 week trips, it will allow us to be flexible. There are, of course, a few “must sees.” Iguazu falls, hiking in Patagonia, and Machu Picchu are top priorities, as are some of the major cities like Buenos Aires.

Getting from Place to Place

We depart on a one-way flight to Buenos Aires on November 10, and arrive sometime the following morning. We plan to do most, if not all, of our traveling after that using over-land transit. Although it will be more difficult, I find traveling by train, bus, chicken cart, etc, far more interesting than hopping over vast distances by plane. There will be more opportunity to rub elbows with locals and see things, perhaps unexpectedly, that we would not otherwise see. For some reason I also have the strange idea that the experience will be  far richer if some things require ingenuity and persistence. We will, of course, use flights to get between continents, and to avoid places that are simply not safe.

Expenses

We will try to keep a table of our expenses, and I hope to get around to putting up some kind of spreadsheet soon. I really have no idea how much the trip will cost, although I always vaguely thought that I could live with averaging about $100 per day. The purpose of this is not to be boastful about what we have, or to moralize about anyone else’s financial decisions. It is to offer some practical advice for others. I expect that this won’t even be very hard, since keeping a detailed spreadsheet of my expenses is already a nerdy habit of mine. My hope is that someone reads our blog, and realizes that they too can go on the travels that they have always dreamed of.

Shameful Moralizing

Okay, I lied, this will be the first and last bit of moralizing that I do. I’ve been struck by how many people say how much they wish they could do what we are doing. My answer is always, “you can,” most people just don’t realize it. Americans (and Germans) live in a fantastically wealthy society with innumerable luxuries, most of which we really don’t need. There is no inheritance paying for this trip, although I wish there was. It has taken us five years to save the money that we need. For five years we’ve lived in a tiny Boston apartment, seldom eaten out or gone to the movies, and have gotten by on a $50 per month shared cell phone plan an 8 year old car. I get looks of astonishment when I tell people that I do not have, nor want cable. I admit, I’m a cheapskate.

Nevertheless, people are usually dumbfounded as to how we could manage to afford this trip. It rests of course, on the assumption that both daily life, and travel need to be expensive. True, most of us choose to make our lives expensive, but it doesn’t need to be so. To quote the venerable traveler Rolf Potts, “you could work for eight months as a toilet cleaner to save enough money to ride a motorcycle across China.” So get saving, and realize that you don’t need nearly as many things as you think you do.

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