Gabor and Michelle did what some say is impossible: press pause on “the 9-to-5” and travel to some of the wildest places on earth.
Sitting in my air-conditioned Las Vegas hotel room, the past 15 months seem surreal. Was I really climbing glaciers in Iceland? Camping out in the Namib Desert? Chasing waves in Sri Lanka? Riding the sweetest powder of my life in Japan? Trekking on the top of the world in the Himalayas? Turns out, I was.
My wife, Michelle, and I just returned to the United States from a long trip around the world. We backpacked through 20 countries exploring Europe, Africa, and all over Asia; having incredible adventures and experiences to last us a lifetime.
In conversations about our trip, we are always asked, “How did we do it?” And, “Why?” What motivated us to sell all our possessions, and leave well paying careers behind to hit the road? The why is very easy for me to answer: I have always had a strong vagabond streak and for years I spent all my savings on travels, and now I'm lucky enough to have found someone that’s wild enough to share all my crazy ideas. Michelle and I were not trying to escape anything. We were not soul-searching, wandering, or looking for earth-shattering realizations (though in my experience, extended travel is likely to have that affect). We were merely excited to see parts of the planet we knew nothing about, by being open to the world and just getting out there.
The how is not necessarily complicated, but maybe a bit more layered. For us, it entailed three years of dreaming, visualizing, SAVING, and planning, including color-coded spreadsheets, budgets, to-dos, and wish-lists. Our experience, however, makes me believe that anyone with our (admittedly fortunate) background could do the same.
Here are a few specific things we did that helped our dreams become a realities.
Keep dreaming. It might sound silly, but for us this translated into constantly talking about destinations, watching travel shows, reading blogs, and starting a million different lists to get ourselves into the actual planning process. Details in this phase do not matter too much. Oh and our secret family method…drinking beers from the places we wished to visit.
Forgo loans and get rid of debt. Loans and debt are all too tempting and easy to obtain. It is really hard to save if you’re constantly dealing with a pile of debt. We made sure our credit cards were paid off monthly and that we had very minimal monthly payments to make while traveling.
Make life decisions with your goal in mind. A few simple examples are: signing short term apartment leases, month-to-month cell phone plans, and opting for second-hand furniture. These are the easy ones. Our most difficult decision was to turn down exciting out-of-state career opportunities in high cost-of-living LA and Chicago, and staying put in Atlanta where stability, promotions, and lower living expenses were more likely.
Pull the trigger. After all the planning, saving, and downsizing is done, you just have to do it. You have to tell your boss. Your family. Your friends. You have to buy that plane ticket, break your lease, and GO!
Despite full-time travel being a dream for us, it did have some challenges. When you live out of backpacks and are on the move constantly, a sense of home and finding some sort of a routine is a must. For me (besides having the love of my life by my side) both of those are easiest to accomplish through physical exercise. One day you might be running the crazy streets of a concrete jungle, dodging rickshaws and stray cows, and a couple of days later find yourself running along the edge of Africa with the Namib Desert on one side and the South Atlantic Ocean on the other. If I was near the ocean, I would surf every day until my arms were about to fall off. In Japan our days would be filled with the powdery bliss of snowboarding and backcountry adventures. Nepal would bring weeks of high altitude trekking, while a month in India would keep me on the yoga mat for hours each day.
However, often in the crowded and badly polluted cities of Asia, monkii bars would be my only option. I would find a quiet courtyard or a hostel rooftop, set up next to the drying laundry and tune out. The means don’t matter as much as the goal of getting yourself moving. Detach from your surroundings, do what makes you feel good, and achieve a sense of productivity, wherever you are.
The 3 things that matter are: keep dreaming, get after it, and stay WILD!
Gabor's Travel Workout
Legend has it that Gabor completed the first round in less than 10 minutes. Start a timer counting down from 10 minutes and see if you can beat the clock. Try to complete all 50 reps of each movement before moving on to the next. You can break up the 50 reps into as many sets as needed. Once you have completed the final movement (Hammy Curls), immediately transition to Round 2. Rounds 2, 3, and 4 are ideally done outside, or somewhere that allows for an overhead setup. However, if you need to, you can substitute the Pullups with Rows if you are using the Adventure Kit as your anchor.
Gabor is a VERY wild monkii. If needed you can modify by lowering the rep count. Try doing 30 or 40 reps of each exercise and work your way up to 50. It’s a perfect challenge for an extended trip.