FAQ / Interview

How and why did you decide to do this trip?
M: Kat and I have talked about doing a trip like this (maybe not so drastic) for a number of years, but work and excuses always got in the way. We’ve been fortunate enough to travel a lot together, but constantly wanted more. The idea of extensive volunteering abroad has also been in the back of my mind ever since my summer experience in Nicaragua. Add to the mix that we’re soon to start a family, and we figured it was now or never. We consulted with family, friends, and work counterparts before finally taking the plunge. 
K:  It has been a life long dream of mine to truly “see the world” and a life long priority of mine to give back.  While Mike and I have been fortunate to take a lot of vacations in the past, I have felt a deeper desire (a “calling” for lack of a better word) to travel in a way that might afford me the opportunity to really interact with and begin to understand foreign cultures.  Additionally, I have had this voice deep inside of me telling me to volunteer and give my time in a big way.  I realize that quitting my job and traveling for 9 months is a slightly drastic way of accomplishing my life goals, but it was the right timing for us (before having kids) and a huge benefit that we were on the same page.
What are you most looking forward to about this trip?
M: To seeing different cultures and parts of the world that seem so foreign to me (I think mostly Asia when I say this). I’m also looking forward to traveling on the fly with, at times, absolutely no schedule and the freedom to do whatever we want. 
K: I cannot wait to build lasting relationships with the people that we volunteer for and with.  
Which country (or two) are you most interested in visiting?
M: India
K: India
How did you decide which places to visit?
M & K: We wanted to visit countries that we’ve never been to that are difficult for us to reach in a typical American vacation (Oceania, Asia, Africa). Central and South America and Western Europe were ruled out due to previous travel and knowing that a return trip is much more feasible. Nine months seems like a long time, but it’s a fraction of what is needed to see the whole world, so a number of places were regretfully left out. 
What are you hoping to get out of this trip?
M:  Just the experience of a lifetime with my wife. 
K:  A more worldly life perspective 
How did your family, friends and work respond to the news?
M: Everyone took it relatively well. No matter who I told, the difference of opinion was evident in what Kat and I referred to as the “Generational Gap”. Everyone within roughly 10 years of us (we’ll both be 30 for about a month in September), was overly excited and happy for us. The “older generation” was somewhat hesitant, asking more questions about safety and our careers. One point to note (that didn’t falter on either side of the generational line) was that no matter what the initial response, in the end, practically everyone understands. When people realized how passionate we were, how much research we had done, and how confident we were in that the timing was right, non-believers started to get on board.
K:  I was shocked and delighted by the overwhelmingly positive reactions to our decision.  It really showed me how wonderful my family, friends, and colleagues are.  Obviously, there were some people that did not understand because they would never do it themselves and it is difficult to try to explain our reasons to them.  Many people were very concerned about safety and that is completely understandable.  The two most common reactions that I received were “WOW, that is unbelievable and awesome…I am so jealous”  or “Did you win the lottery or something?  What are you going to do about your job?”  I feel thankful for all the support and will try to carry all of the positive encouragement with me on the trip.  
How do you pack/plan for such a long trip?
M: After reading numerous travel blogs, packing clothes became quite simple: only bring what you can’t live without and make sure it’s quick-drying, odor-resistant and light to carry. And since we’re following mostly warm (and sometimes brutally hot) weather, we were able to easily go with a mix of shorts and summer tops. As for the essentials, we packed medicine and other must-have toiletries and accessories. Planning wasn’t too hard either. We were able to pick a starting point and map out a general sense as to what countries we wanted to hit. After vetting out a number of volunteer organizations, we were able to schedule a few projects and then tailor our personal travel around those stops. 
K:  As a woman who likes to look fashionable and look nice while traveling, I was worried about how I would pack for such a long trip knowing I could only bring what I was willing to carry on my back.  I did some research on the web and made contact with some other people who have been on similar trips and realized that packing was easy….and liberating.  I packed dry-fit, wicking clothing that would be appropriate in every culture (i.e.. made sure that I had scarves to cover my shoulders and plenty of pants covering my knees). In addition to clothing, we made sure to bring medicine, toiletries, bug spray, and sunscreen.  In terms of planning, we structured our trip around our volunteer projects and filled in personal travel to places we have been wanting to visit.  We booked a handful of flights for our first 4 months of the trip but did very little specific planning in order to keep the itinerary flexible.
What will you miss most about home?
M: Visiting family, socializing with friends, and, at times, the comfort of some my favorite foods.
K:  Hands down being and feeling connected to loved ones.  I am so close with my family and friends and am used to being in communication with them on a daily basis.  It will be very hard to be away and miss big events, weekly dinners, and knowing what is going on back home.