Planning to escape (part 1)

Since making my plans known to the greater public I have received many questions like:

“How long have you been planning this?”, ” How do you plan for something like this?” and finally “What are your plans for this trip and for after this trip?”

I’m not sure I can completely answer these in a single post, but I think I can give a relatively short answer that can set up future posts that are more in-depth regarding each question.

“How long have I been planning this?” and “How do you plan for this?”:

Well, formalized planning and preparation took about 6 to 7 months. That time frame fits well with what I have read it takes to plan long-term travel like this from other sources. Six to seven months seems like an accelerated pace, but manageable for a single person with few responsibilities outside work. However, I didn’t have much downtime that wasn’t related to the goal. Twelve months would be easier in terms of getting things done, but increases the chance that personal circumstances change causing the trip to be cancelled, as well as potential issues with maintaining motivation to take the leap. Within the six to seven month time frame I completed all the basics like: figuring out if I had the money, budgeting to ensure I did have the money, building an anticipated expenditure profile up to and through the travel and return home, selling personal possessions, planning for moving/storage, deciding on an initial destination, getting an idea about a route/path, looking into visa and immigration requirements for each country along the route, adjusting the route based on season/mileage/visa length, acquiring the supplies needed for the trip, getting vaccinations, and generally making sure all domestic affairs are in order before I leave. I’m sure I’m forgetting things that I have done, like reading a metric F-TON about long-term travel and bicycle touring, but the preceding are the major bits of the planning.

The alternate answer is that I decided I was leaving my job and West Texas about 16-18 months ago. In some ways I’ve been planning and preparing for this for even longer than that. I did my first cycling tour at 28 years old down the central coast of California. I did my second tour in the Italian Dolomites at 30 years old. Both of those tours were fully supported tours. Last year, at 31 years old, I added back country hiking to my hobbies and found that I really enjoy the simplicity of life on its own. These three experiences along with my other international travel experiences formed the basis for my desire to escape a traditional career based lifestyle. The final push was reading a book by Rolf Potts titled “Vagabonding : An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel”. That book gave me the final inspirational push I needed to make the leap to a new lifestyle. I should warn you that if you have a seed of wanderlust in you, this book is highly inspirational and may lead you to make rash decisions that can change your future… forever. It has certainly influenced mine.

“What are your plans for this trip and for after this trip?”:

Based on what I have said above, it’s clear that I have a basic plan for what I think I am physically doing during this trip. However, I have no expectation that it will follow the path that is currently listed on my “Route Calendar” page. I think the question many people want to ask is more likely to be: “What do you think you’ll get from this trip that makes it worth giving up what you have?” That’s a simple question for me to answer, but a tough answer for some people to accept. My only answer for it is the vague response, “experiences”. I can’t say that I have any other goal for this trip besides gaining experiences. How it will affect who I am is what I think makes it worthwhile, and the fact that the “value” is unknown and potentially unquantifiable is part of the adventure.

The second part of the preceding question is answered in a similarly vague way. I don’t know what comes after. Maybe the trip will end similarly to when I took a year off from engineering school to take humanities courses in Sweden. In that case I came back and went headlong into engineering with renewed vigor. Or, I might come back with a completely new focus and sense of purpose. Again, figuring it out is part of the adventure.

Overall, while people are curious, I have received nothing but support for my decision. With all that I need to do in final preparation, the next post will likely be my “Farewell to the U.S.A.” post, or a “Hello, Spain!” post. Wish me luck!

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Published by: Andrew Monfort

I am a former engineer who decided to follow my dreams. After 9 years of working as a process engineer in the oil & gas production and refining industries, I decided to follow my passions (cycling and travel) to see where they lead.

3 Comments

3 thoughts on “Planning to escape (part 1)”

  1. Eeek! I am so excited to hear all about it. Never have I been so excited to see someone chase a passion. I’ll have to avoid that book for the time being…. Good luck, friend!

    Like

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