In the third of my weekly flux challenges I’ve charged myself with becoming a backpacker. Some of this took forward planning, so I want to fill in some backstory and explain why I’m writing this from a freezing cold Chicago. I hate FAQs, but it is a convenient format in this case…
Where are you travelling and for how long?
Our current plan is to spend six months travelling through North America, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil, and we’ve booked some flights to reflect this, but we accept that our plans may change.
Are you a leathery old battle-worn backpacker?
I have NEVER traveled for any real length of time. We had a warm up in South East Asia for a month last year, and I’ve seen loads of places with work, but that’s about it…so this is all relatively new to me!
Are you traveling alone?
No, I’m traveling with my wife and having occasional friends join us for various legs of the journey.
Are you taking a hoofing great backpack?
We decided after much research to limit ourselves to one 40 litre carry-on-sized backpack each. It is tiny! I’ll be posting a packing list shortly, but suffice to say that we expect the freedom, physical and safety benefits offered by a small pack will massively outweigh any downsides….so don’t expect to see any tacky souvenirs when we get back!
Organised tours or self-managed?
Whilst we do plan to take organised tours for short trips to see specific sites in Central and South America, we really couldn’t justify the cost and limitations of joining one tour (Toucan, Intrepid and the like) for weeks/months on end. It’s tempting to be lazy and let a tour operator plan it all for you, but where’s the flux in that?!
Slumming it or glamming it?
We’re not 19 years old so will avoid bug-ridden party hostels and suspiciously cheap bungee jumping, but we’re on a fairly strict budget for each country we visit. In the USA this means self catering, some camping, some Air BnB and the odd motel, but we are hiring a car and do plan to see as many sites as the budget will stretch to. Further South, we definitely plan to do private rooms rather than dorms and will almost certainly use glam buses more than chicken buses. So, in conclusion, we hope to find a happy medium and occasionally splash out!
How can you afford to travel for so long?
Six years ago I had the extreme good fortune to co-found a brilliant little video agency in London, and this year I resigned my post as director and sold my stake in the company. In light of the stress of running a business, and as something of a reward, I’m using some of the proceeds from my share sale to fund this year of regeneration and novelty. It sounds frivolous, it is reckless, I’m not rich, I’ve just worked and saved very hard and prioritised things this way!
Do you plan to work whilst traveling?
I don’t plan to work while away travelling but if a good opportunity comes up I’ll definitely consider it. However, I’ve set myself the challenge this year of breaking routines and exploring new experiences, so there won’t be any serious nose-to-the-grindstone, BUT I recognise that there are options – for example, there is a thriving digital nomad community out there (the guys at the excellent Never Ending Voyage are living that dream really impressively, and they have profiled many more) and I may yet join their merry band. In fact, my wife has packed her laptop and is doing just that.
Is My Year In Flux a closet travel blog?
Really not. We’re running a separate Tumblr for friends and family to keep track of us but we don’t think the world needs another travel blog, especially since we don’t have a particularly unique angle and are likely to be following a fairly well-worn gringo trail. But I’m not going to avoid mentioning our travel exploits here – this blog is about how spending a defined amount of time embracing new experiences can nourish the soul, and I hope travel will be a major factor.