Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Kirk's Travel/Life Plan

Kirk's Travel/Life Plan

  1. See the world
  2. Don't make a plan

In a little over a week I fly one-way to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I'm 45 years old and it's likely that my life is about half over. Much of the first half was spent being a good boy and doing as I was told. The last several years, however, were spent asking questions about what is important to me. The last several years were spent stripping away much of the cultural baggage I grew up with and trying to understand myself from a broader perspective.

It is easy to see many benefits in the way I grew up. I received a very good (for it's time) formal education for free (thanks Grandma & Grandpa!). I was taught the value of planning for the future. 

The future is now.


Money is obviously a reality of travel. As stated above, I was taught early on that saving money was a good thing. Then I had a 20-year career in the financial services industry where I was similarly brainwashed that saving for retirement (whatever that means in the 21st century) was critical. 

I am thankful for those lessons.

If you look at a map of the world, 80% of the land mass includes places that are quite inexpensive compared to the USA. Aside from the US, Canada and western Europe, a solo traveler can pretty easily live on $1000-$1500/month. That would be just my bill for gasoline and auto insurance if I was road-tripping around North America in my old VW Eurovan.


I've always been a planner, but I'm putting those days behind me and taking a leap. Do I have enough money saved up to completely retire and travel the world living in exotic locales for the next 45 years? No.

But do I have enough money to travel the world for the next several years while keeping my eyes and ears open to potential future income streams? Yes, but I'm only interested in income streams that will be mostly enjoyable instead of mostly a grind. 

I've always been jealous of people to have careers that they actually enjoy. It was pretty cool for me to work for a not-for-profit that gave to charity over $1 billion during my tenure. But still, virtually every day on the job I would have rather been doing something else.

The Plan

Right now my plan includes formally studying Spanish 20 hours per week for a month in Buenos Aires. After that it's up in the air, though I do have an outline of what things might look like. 

A likely scenario is that after getting a couple semesters worth of Spanish in me I'll fly down to the southern tip of Argentina and work my way north at a leisurely pace. I'll do some trekking in Patagonia and take my time winding up through Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. I could spend days or months in any of those countries. Then I'll make my way through Central America, the whole time looking for opportunities to do extended bicycle touring along the way.

The one constraint I have is that I want to get to China while my buddy Mike is still living there, so sometime in the next 2 years or so. Perhaps when I hit Mexico City is when I'll fly to Shanghai.

When will I be back stateside? I honestly don't know and don't care. At this point I have no plan to come back to the US. We'll see how the reality of long-term travel matches up with whatever is in my head. I'm sure I'm romanticizing large portions of it, but also have read the blogs of many people who are happily living the sort of vagabond lifestyle that I'm envisioning -- stay put in cool places as long as I want and move on whenever I please. I can certainly see myself at some point having a home base from which to launch long-term jaunts, but that home base could be in any number of nations that are less expensive than here.

Travel is People

If you have any friends in any of these places that you think would be fun for me to meet, please let me know. The greatest benefit of travel is connecting with and learning from all sorts of different people in all sorts of different cultures.


Unknown said...

Wow. Sounds like quite the adventure Kirk. Keep the blog going!
Scott B

Suse said...

Looking forward to following your blog Kirk. Bon Voyage!
Susan M, Butte MT

Amanda and Suze said...

A 35 yr old dutch girl, cycling the world for 12 years, pedaled 61 countries, stayed at my house a few days ago. If of interest, check her blog out: www.cyclingdutchgirl.com

Suse said...

I forgot to say she is heading to South America

Kirk Ahlberg said...

Thanks for the tip, Susan. I'll check out her blog and see if our paths cross.