A Travellerspoint blog

Seriously we're travelling for a full year!

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View 2019 - New Zealand on Evanda's travel map.

The past few weeks we have heard the same questions from just about everyone we know..."when do you leave?" " where's your first stop?" "really a full year?". It made me realize that many of my friends and family are aware we are going away as we seem to have a new destination every year but this adventure is different. So different that i don't think i can even call it a destination vacation but more so a brand new way of living for Amanda and I.

The purpose of this first blog post of our upcoming year is to help answer some of the many questions that we have been hearing lately. but believe me we cannot answer them all even now with less than 2 weeks til we leave.

The idea for this 'year off' started on our last big adventure when we took 4 months off to explore Nepal and India back in Dec 2013 to March 2014. It was near the end of our trip in Goa India and we realized 4 months just wasn't enough time to really get to experience some of this world. Sounds crazy right? the thing is even though we had 3 months in India we still found ourselves rushing and not really getting to experience the culture. when we arrived in Agonda we spent 12 days living in one spot and we made friends, we had a home base, even the locals started to recognize us. So, we decided we needed to experience this part of travelling more instead of rushing from place to place just to check it off the list. It was here when Amanda mentioned that her work (City of Calgary) offered a 'self funded leave program' and the snowball started rolling down the hill.

When we got home we dabbled in talking off and on in the actual possibility of this happening...could we actually do it? What do we need to do to make it happen? How much money do we need to survive for a year without working? We came up with a list and I'm not gonna lie it was a big undertaking but again...here we are.

The self funded leave program is actually a five year legal contract that Amanda signed with work that helped us save a travel fund and guaranteed her job upon return. But before she signed anything there was one major importance in our life that we had to make sure would be looked after if we were to start this process. we needed to make sure that Jake (our now 10 1/2 year old fur child) would be cared for when or if we decided to do this. the first thing we did was ask my brother Marlin and Diana if they could find it in their hearts to look after Jake while we were gone...i still can hear my brother ask with surprise "A whole YEAR?" obviously they agreed or we wouldn't be where we are at now. we asked them because they really love Jake and Jake really loves them. they treat him like their own pup and we are eternally grateful for their commitment and massive role they have in the success of our planning. in fact this challenge increased when Jakes health took a turn for the worse in October of 2017 and almost derailed everything. thankfully Jake is a tough little guy and his health has improved and will be medicated for the rest of his happy waggy life.

After 9 months of planning out what we needed to do Amanda signed the papers and that snowball got a lot bigger. A major important step had been taken, from that day on every pay period the City put a set amount of money into a separate account and our savings had begun. The last pay period is at the end of this January and come February 1st the full sum of all of that account will be deposited into our hands. We also have paid separately for both of us to be covered with full benefits during our sabbatical. This is only our travel money...we still needed to plan to take care of all our other expenses, primarily our mortgage.

I didn't mentioned that we purchased Amanda a new car upon our return from India and we paid that off in 2 years, we also still enjoy to travel so we planned on some sort of annual 2 week vacation to tie our travel bug down so we didn't go to stir crazy. We visited Costa Rica, Vietnam and Thailand over the past 4 years. also we sold our beloved Vincent Van Gogh (VW pop top van) and purchased Bingo a '75 Sprite trailer and Frank the Tank to pull her. so none of these items helped us save for the trip, in fact they were all the opposite but travel and camping are all big factors in who we are and without them we would not be us.

but i digress...
A big step in making this trip a reality was for us to finally make our disgusting basement into a suite to actually have a supplementary income to pay for our expenses and allow us to use our travel money for just that. Man, this was a long and arduous road but the snowball just kept rolling and it slowly increased in size and speed. Developing the basement suite was not without issue. We had professionals come in to quote us how much it would cost to do their work. The lowest was $60K and that fella seemed as excited to do it as a dead fly. We also had a quote as high as $100K and I used their proposal as good price point guide. We decided to take on the project ourselves with me as designer and PM. We hired trades people and skilled friends to do major jobs such as plumbing, electrical, drywall, framing, flooring etc. I also had friends help right from the beginning of the initial demo to finishing work. Our goal was to create a space that we could live in and rent our upstairs out to maximize our potential income. A big problem arose with the decline in Calgary's economy; the rental market declined and objectives had to change. We chose to the route of short term rental and we fumbled through to create an Airbnb listing of our basement a couple weeks after our target date of July 1st 2018. Much to our surprise it was wildly popular and was steadily filled from July til November. During this time we decided with the bad rental market that our best bet was to rent the main part of our house on Airbnb also. We found a host to look after everything and worked towards this goal. We were worried; our suite was vacant almost all of October up til now so we were worried about making enough to cover our expenses. December 13th everything changed, by serendipitous luck I worked out a plan to rent our out our furnished house to a coworker for the entire year and suddenly our financial concerns have been relieved.

I mentioned earlier that Amanda has a guaranteed job upon our return i however do not...I told the partners of my company 3 years ago about our plans as i didn't want them to hear gossip and feel myself disloyal. Subsequently the company i worked for was absorbed by a much larger corporation and i learned in July that leave of absence is not a part of their policy. So I gave my letter of resignation in late December and my final day of work is fast approaching on January 16th and Amanda's is the 18th. This was quite a big leap of faith and was the cause of much anxiety for months but I have made peace with this and feel confident in my decision.

That was a lot of rambling but believe me it really is the short version of everything that has been going on in our lives lately. We had to put off our usual trips to the mountains on the weekends, and a lot of the usual entertainment we enjoyed was not in our saving money budget. Even walking Jake took second fiddle to constant work on the house and getting everything prepared to be away for year and have other people living in our house. Amanda, Jake and I moved into the basement suite on Dec 30th and its been amazing, it is super functional and at 403 sq/ft its packed full of everything we need. Sadly Jake hasn't adjusted well to it and his anxiety cannot handle being left alone down here, so doggie daycare is his newest friend until we drop him off at my brothers house on Jan 14th.

Now our time is filled with final packing of our clothing, packing for our trip, changing insurance for our vehicles, house, storing our vehicles, preparing our finances, bills, visiting friends, canceling phone accounts. This probably explains why we have been fighting colds for days lately.

We are leaving on January 22nd...only 13 days away now. Our first destination is a 4 day layover in Honolulu on Waikiki beach then off to Auckland, New Zealand on the 26th. When in NZ we plan on purchasing a camper van, spending amazing family time at Amanda's cousins wedding and travelling around both islands of Amanda birth country. We really do not know how long we are going to be there for, we have no itinerary!!! No really, me 'Evan Mr Plan' has no plans we don't even know which country we are going to after?! South pacific islands perhaps, Australia perhaps? but we know we would like to hit Indonesia especially Borneo and Bali. We are then trucking it all the way over to South America and in either Columbia or Ecuador we plan on taking Spanish lessons in one city for at least a month before we move on... but to where??? We know we will hit Peru where we will be meeting friends to do the Inca trail at Machu PIcchu, Chile (Patagonia), Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay but right now we have no plans on hitting Venezuela and maybe not even Brazil due to some political unrest. We also know that we will probably spend a lot of January 2020 taking a vacation from our travels somewhere hot and beachy.

The snowball is almost full size and it hasn't stopped at the bottom of the hill it has only picked up momentum and enough speed to keep going up higher and higher with every new adventure we are about to embark upon.

If you would like to follow along with where our adventures take us then please subscribe to this post...as you can tell I'm not a great writer and if you've followed us before a worse blogger with no consistency either. but when i do make a post i ensure you will be entertained. we also will be posted many videos and photos on our social media accounts please follow along our IG accounts are monkeyslick & aturv.

If you have more questions please ask! we love you all and will miss our friends and family dearly...none more so than our Jake. jake.jpgIMG_1092.JPG

Much love
Amanda & Evan

Our lives on our backs for the next 53 weeks

Posted by Evanda 10:35 Archived in Canada Tagged travel planning jake a&e2019 Comments (15)

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