Changing your life direction... contemplating the thought alone could be a catalyst for change. This thought can cross your mind at any age or life phase, particularly in your late 20s and early 30s. I had the privilege of meeting Anna Christensen and Jeremy King, world travelers hailing from Denmark and New Zealand, during my 7th continent trip to Antarctica, and found myself fascinated with both of their traveling tales and how they pulled it all off. Below I pick their wandering minds -- from the catalysts that made them quit their jobs, to where they traveled to, and how they did it all on a budget for the past year.
WHAT WAS THE CATALYST FOR QUITTING YOUR JOBS TO TRAVEL?
I’m always intrigued by the breaking point, or the catalyst, that leads folks to quit their jobs to travel the world. Anna was born and raised in Denmark, and Jeremy was born and raised in New Zealand -- however it was London, England where they met and began dating. Hailing from international backgrounds and living in a loved global city -- I wondered why they wanted to give it all up for budget traveling. Anna explained the catalyst moment that motivated her: “I was in a pub in Australia, talking to a guy who asked how long I had lived in London. I told him it had been around nine years and his reaction was, ‘Oh, you must really love London if you’ve been there for so long.’ I had heard that comment before, but this time something hit me and I realised that no, I didn't love London THAT much. So when I got back to London I started planning how to leave.”
Jeremy did love his time London as well, but told me that living in London wasn’t very conducive to his love for outdoors and adventure that he had grown up with in New Zealand. He disclosed to me that: “I had a great job which I really enjoyed, but I had already spent a long time working there and there I think it's always a good idea to challenge yourself and not get caught in the status quo even if you enjoy your job. Even if you get to 65 years old in the same company and had a good career, you still miss the opportunity to experience more.”
It all sounds very romantic, but it did take them a couple of years since Anna was finishing her university degree through night classes in London and did need to finish before leaving the city for good -- not to mention saving thousands of dollars to backpack around the world for a year!
HOW DID YOU SAVE ENOUGH MONEY?
I wouldn’t even know where to start with budgeting for an around the world trip, but luckily Anna is a self proclaimed geek with a thing for spreadsheets, and has always been a natural saver who enjoyed setting strict budgets to adhere to once the long term travel planning was in motion. In fact, she had been dreaming about and saving for Antarctica for 10 years prior to this trip!
They estimated how much they would need to travel on for a year based on their past trip experiences and budgets; and then made bold, strategic moves to save as much as possible. They both moved into cheaper apartments with roommates, cut out unnecessary spend on luxuries (yes, even resisting phone upgrades!) -- Anna even switched to glasses from contacts to save every extra penny and Jeremy started cycling to work to save on public transportation costs. Anna suggests creating a detailed spreadsheet to track monthly income, saving, and spending closely. Every bit counts while saving for traveling and they knew the sacrifices they were making then would greatly benefit them during their year of traveling.
HOW DID YOU PLAN YOUR TRAVELS OUT FOR A YEAR?
Leaving a city you have lived in for over nine years with nothing but a savings account and backpack is no small feat. You’re going on a grand adventure, sure to be filled with excited and unexpected off the beaten path adventures... but you still need some kind of plan! Jeremy and Anna introduced me to the concept of “Skeleton Planning” -- having a rough idea of how many weeks they would spend in each country, and fitting that around how long they wanted to travel in total without feeling too rushed.
They both made a top five list of places they wanted to visit and planned their trip around that. Anna wanted to explore Antarctica, Galapagos in Ecuador, Red Desert in Namibia, The Lost City Trek in Colombia, and the country of Cuba; Jeremy also wanted to venture to Antarctica, along with dreams of San Blas in Panama, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Machu Picchu in Peru and Safari in Africa. They started with that list and dreamed up a route around the world that led them from Africa, to Central America, South America, and Antarctica! Jeremy laid it out for me:
“We knew we wanted to do start with some touring around Africa and we found super cheap flights to Tanzania. So we figured out a rough skeleton route which we could take from there down to Capetown, South Africa. After our Africa adventures, we found the cheapest flight to get to Latin America which worked out in Anna’s travel wish list favor as it turned out to be going through Miami to get to Cuba. We continued our travels through Central and South America in the same fashion, with our only fixed travel dates being our Antarctica basecamp adventure cruise with Oceanwide Expeditions in November 2016.”
HOW DID THE TRIP ACTUALLY WORK OUT?
Anna and Jeremy, in total over 12 months, traveled to 28 countries across 6 continents. It seems so magical, but Anna immediately admitted that “as always with traveling the plan didn’t work out as well as we had hoped, but we always improvised and made it work.” They even had to deal with Brexit aftermath halfway across the world since the value of the British pound dropped, instantly decreasing their budgets by 20%! They used up all of their airline miles throughout the year to keep flights cheaper, cooked their own dinners in hostels, and slept on a lot of overnight buses (a month's worth!), which meant saving on accommodation for the night as well as saving precious daylight hours.
They were able to visit all of their nine top countries / continents they originally put on their top 5 dream travel lists (both had Antarctica at the top of their list). In order to make the trip come in on budget they decided in advance that they wanted to “spend money on activities and adventures over fancy hotels, expensive food and booze”. This meant that they were constantly haggling with everyone about everything! Anna let me in on her travel secret: “You can haggle with everything from buses to accommodation and day tours. And we haggled a lot. I do like haggling, I have spent enough time overseas now to have my own haggling tactics, and it mostly works.”
There are countless adventures to be had across the world! Whether you decide to hike Machu Picchu, go on a Safari, swim with turtles in the Galapagos, explore mysterious Cuba, or play with penguins in Antarctica, you’re sure to have a priceless adventure that will bring joy for a lifetime to come. Traveling opens up your world in ways you could never imagine; it will transform you and inspire you to grow leaps and bounds both personally and professionally with each adventure you take.
Anna and Jeremy both named Antarctica as their favorite destination of the entire trip. I absolutely agreed with Anna when she expressed to me that “Antarctica is the most amazing place I have ever been. So magnificent, peaceful, and dignified, with such pure and untouched nature that you can’t even believe your eyes.” Jeremy also loved Colombia, with its beautiful and colorful towns and friendly people. Anna’s other top world favorites were Cuba because it was so unique, and Argentina for the outstanding hiking experiences in Patagonia.
These majestic sights and stunning opportunities are out there and yours for the taking as well — these trips can take months or years of dreaming and planning, and they are all worth every minute dedicated. Use the adventures of Anna and Jeremy to spark your imagination and dream of experiences that only traveling the world can give you.