Sunday, November 8, 2009

No Regrets: How We Decided to Take This Trip

We were in the midst of planning our wedding, a party that turned into a series of parties, a celebration that  turned out to be bigger than either of us really wanted, because it was easier to give in to the momentum than to stop it.  It was a lot of work smushing together our two families, gathering people from places and cultures as diverse as rural Vermont, Washington DC, Toronto, and Delhi India, and figuring out how to make everyone feel equally welcome, loved, and comfortable.

Distracted by all the party planning, we were having a hard time deciding where to go on our honeymoon.  We both love to travel, and our three-year courtship was a patchwork of trips, ranging from a road trip to the beach on our third date, to ski weeks at Park City and Whistler, to two weeks in Turkey and Greece, to a month in Vietnam, to long weekends in Montreal, San Francisco, Toronto, DC, Vermont, Cape Cod, and beyond.  We're approaching our mid-thirties, and we're surrounded by friends who are having babies, moving to the suburbs, saving for college funds and buying diapers in bulk; the outline of our near-future life is laid out before us.  We have a list of places we're dying to experience that's much too long for a three-week vacation.

Mohit came home from a particularly draining day at work.  You know, one of those days where you feel brain-numb from having worked for the past ten years, where you have the terrifying thought that you've still got 30 years of Mondays through Fridays to go.  I bet that most of you out there who love your job, enjoy your coworkers, and feel grateful to be making a comfortable living (like Mohit and I do) still know what I'm talking about.  Call it a quarter- or mid-life crisis, call it whatever...but we were both feeling burnt out, uninspired, bummed out that "this is it?".  Mohit declared that we should quit our jobs and move abroad.  Live in Thailand, move to Australia, or learn Spanish and relocate to South America.

At first I thought he was crazy.  We're well into our careers, and there's no convenient "break" to take advantage of.  I have a great job, I'm a shareholder, I have a future there, I can't just throw it all away and start over.  Mohit had recently started a new job, he was making a difference there, developing a place for himself.  We have a brand-new mortgage and a house full of plants to water!  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right.  We are at a unique point in our lives- we have the money and the freedom to travel now in a way that we won't again for 30 years after we have kids.  As we discussed the pros and cons, the deciding factor was this:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Maybe we're giving up promotions, raises, and many years worth of savings.  But we have decades of working and saving to go...and there's no way I'd remember the raise I got in 2010.  But I'm pretty sure we'll never forget the trip around the world we took just after we got married.

In the end, our year abroad was shortened to 4.5 months (based on what my employer and our savings would allow) and our ideal of working or volunteering in one place gave in to the pull of too many places left to experience in our lifetime.  We made a list of the places we're dying to see, prioritized them (would love to see Cambodia, but we'd just spent a month in Vietnam), and decided how difficult it would be for us to visit those places in the future. (We can pass on New Zealand for now since we can imagine it as a family vacation destination.  Tanzania, on the other hand, is probably not the easiest place to pack up the kids and hustle them off to...)  We consulted the One World Explorer ticket restrictions....and voila!  Our itinerary was born.

So away we go!

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