Taking Time Out…
A ‘career break’ – that’s what we called it. We were not young students in the early days of adulthood embarking on a ‘gap year’ before university or taking our first extended trip overseas. We were the ‘sensible’, married couple, that no one would have expected to quit their jobs and sell their house to go ‘travelling’ indefinitely. (Well, realistically, for as long and as far as our savings would take us.)
Why did it even enter our heads? Having enjoyed an amazing honeymoon in Mexico where we visited the archaeological site Chichén Itzá, snorkelled the coral reefs of Cozumel, and swam with dolphins for the first time, our passion for travel was ignited and it fervently snow-balled from there.
Inspired by travel related books, magazines and the internet, coupled with the realisation that it’s a long time until our retirement age, when we might not be fit or well enough to do many of the activities we were keen to try (should we even reach retirement age at all), we knew it was time for a change. To put it simply, we didn’t want to be armchair travellers any more, drooling over the amazing places on the National Geographic Channel, adding them to our bucket list, and living for our 2-week annual summer holiday. More than anything we wanted to break out of the confines of the 9-5 world we were living in, and go and explore the world for real!
I, being the sun-seeker, had desolate beaches and an array of cocktails in mind. Wayne on the other hand dreamed of mountains and dramatic views that he could capture on camera, being a keen amateur photographer. Despite our difference in vision, stepping out of the rat-race for a while into a life of travel appealed to both us, and this decision was the major hurdle in starting our world adventure… the next was telling our parents!
After the initial shock, family and friends soon came round to our crazy idea of going ‘travelling’, after all “You only live once”. Being older than your average backpacker, we had a good budget compared to younger travellers we met along the way, thankfully having made a decent amount of equity in our house over the 7 years we lived there. I loved our house – we had shed blood, sweat and tears in refurbishing it and bringing it up to date, but at the end of the day – it was only a house. We had done it once. And we could do it again – we could make any house a ‘home’. So after putting it on the market and selling it within 2 weeks – our dreams were starting to become a reality.
We sold all of our ‘big’ stuff and went on a mission to de-clutter our lives, keeping only things that had sentimental value. Thanks to our amazing parents, we had somewhere to store our most treasured possessions, and a bedroom to return to at the in-laws, whenever we wanted it. And by default, Mum and Dad Fenton have also become the surrogate parents to our two very spoilt cats, Trixie and Alfie!
Travelling ‘light’ was not in my vocabulary, so while Wayne started loosely planning a route and researching places and budgets needed, I started buying clothing and travel accessories for the bottom drawer! We found that half of the excitement of travelling is in the research and planning stages. We would spend hours poring over travel magazines and guide books, looking at photos of different destinations, and deciding how best we would spend our days instead of being at work, whilst trying to maximise our budget. We got our ‘First-Time Travelling Around Asia’ Guide Book and read it cover to cover. Next came our vaccinations, passport renewals, lap-tops, and finally the major purchase – our backpacks – which took a lot of deliberation!
We headed off to Marrakesh in August 2010 on a cheap no-frills one-way flight from the UK. We had always wanted to visit Morocco with the draw of the souks, vibrant colours and famous culinary dish – the tagine. So being just a short flight from England, it seemed the perfect place to start.
From there we have never looked back… The ‘travel-bug’ as they say has become an intrinsic part of our being. Yes, there were days when we were homesick and pined for our comfy sofa, TV with English speaking channels and a good cup of tea. But, the amazing people we have met, the beautiful landscapes we have witnessed, the culinary delights we have savoured and the magical moments we have experienced along our journey in this wondrous world far outweighed the luxuries we were used to having at home – even after spending 17 hours on a ‘hard seat’ travelling through China by K-Class train!
A lot of people have said to us we are so ‘lucky’ to have done what we have done, seen the places we have seen. But we made it happen. We didn’t win the lottery and travel on a ‘5 star’ budget – far from it. We planned, saved, prioritised and ultimately sold our house to see us on our way. It’s not easy diverting from a more traditional path and giving up a life you’ve worked hard to build. But what we did was see our position as one of opportunity, which we grabbed with both hands, thankful we had the means by which we could follow our dreams, and the safety net of returning to our home country with the skills and qualifications to start again should it not work out. It really is a birth lottery – and it’s our circumstances that make us lucky.
There’s a big wide world out there for us all to enjoy!
We originally set up our web page ‘TrekSnappy.com’ to document our adventures, blogging about our travels for the amusement of our family and friends. We hope that by reading our posts you will gain an insight as to what it is like travelling as a couple for an extended period of time. (Not always the romantic picture that Hollywood paints!) We also aim to provide you with some helpful tips and advice based on our personal experiences of travelling to various parts of the globe either overland or on foot (again, this is not always easy!). You might just be inspired to follow your own dream, whatever that may be. We are ordinary people. So as you can see here, it can be done!