Time to Go

Late in May, my wife and I will be leaving home with nothing but 2 carry-on bags to travel the world for an indefinite period of time. Below I’ll talk through a few of the reasons for “jumping ship” and talk through a few of the frequently asked questions, including what the heck I’ll be doing professionally.

Why long term travel?

The obvious reason to do this is because it will be amazing. Almost everyone I know loves travel, but at best manages to do it for a few weeks a year. Americans suck at traveling. Our average trip is a paltry 4.3 days. We receive 13 vacation days a year, but leave an average of 3 days on the table. 4 in 10 of us take 1 week-long vacation per year and use the rest here and there. 75% of us check in with work during our vacations. Short trips are fun, but tend to be challenging for exotic travel and certainly make it difficult to dig deep into a country/culture.

But there are a few non-obvious reasons to do this. A big one is that my recent career shenanigans have distracted me a bit from my lovely wife. When we leave, I will have spent 7 of the last previous 12 months in different cities than Alex. This thankfully included near-weekly visits, but that’s obviously not ideal. A year of travel will be an opportunity to spend time together that very few couples get.

And I really want to “de-screen”. For the last 5 years, I’ve been waking up and grabbing at the first screen I could get my hands on. After a quick morning routine, I hop on a laptop. I head to work and sit in front of a computer. I come home and often surf the web or watch a show. I fill in the gaps with a smartphone, catching up on Twitter, Facebook, and Hacker News. I won’t lie– when I break this routine, I feel pangs of withdrawal. World travel will force me back into the real world.

And finally, as one of my favorite travel bloggers puts it in a post about magical berries, I’m a little sad about the death of wonderment in my adult years. She puts it better than I could:

“The other day, I was lamenting to myself (and by extension, to my long-suffering husband) about the death of wonderment in my adult years. How there were now so many known variables in our lives, so many answered questions. There were very few decisions to make. Very little was new.”

This trip is going to generate a lot of unanswered questions. It’s going to add a mess of delightful variables. It’s going to force dozens of decisions per day. And it’s going to positively bury us in new experiences.

What about your career?

… The number one question asked by mothers everywhere.

I’ve been lucky to find myself in one of the few growth industries left in the states– software. I’ve done Y Combinator, raised a series A, run a few profitable companies, sold a few projects and have recently been running a new product initiative for an amazing company. I don’t have a concern that this trip will keep me from starting my next company, or make me less appealing if I decide to “go legit” and jump on with an existing company. For this, I feel insanely lucky. The only thing the separates me from the other unlucky folks with psychology degrees are my wonderful parents who kept me buried in bleeding edge technology at an early age. That’s LUCK, people. I was too daft when I was young to consider how special that was.

What will you *do*?

I’m not sure if I’ll work at all on the road. I have a few offers for some light consulting and could also help out a few non-profits. I’ve got some projects I’d like to monkey around with. I’d love to work on learning new languages (both wetware and software), to improve my memory, and more. I’ve got stacks of (digital) books I’m itching to read. I’ve committed to blogging throughout the trip and taking lots of pictures. I’m honestly not sure how much I’ll feel the itch to be productive on the road. We’ve got income from a few rental properties we own (we’ll be renting out our furnished Seattle house, too). Between that and savings, we won’t need to make any more money on the road, though it wouldn’t break my heart if we did. I’m interested to see how much of my identity is tied up in my output and whether that hole needs to be filled or not. Stay tuned on that front.

What about your life/friends?

To be honest, this is my biggest concern. I have a great life with great friends. I play pickup sports. I host huge potluck dinners. I love geeking out with folks (friends and strangers) at startup events in Seattle. It’s really weird to leave all of that behind. We’re hoping friends, acquaintances, and even strangers will meet up with us on the road to say hello. And we’re hoping to meet new ones. But I worry about “breadth versus depth” with friendships on the road.

Speaking of the road, where are you going, exactly? And for how long?

We’re not committing to a set amount of time. If we’re loving it, it could stretch to a year or beyond. If we’re itching to come back to the real world, we could cut it short.

Here’s our rough itinerary. Seriously, if you’re a friend, acquaintance, or just strange reader of this blog and would like to meet up, please drop me a note. Also, if you’ve got advice for long term travel, a destination that you think is life-changing, or otherwise want to geek out on travel, don’t be shy.

Late Spring/early summer 2013 – Morocco / Southern Spain
Summer 2013 – Czech Republic / Germany / Hungary / Croatia
Late Summer / Fall 2013 – Turkey
Fall 2013 – Nepal / Myanmar / Northern India
Late Fall 2013 – Indonesia / Malaysia
Winter 2013 – Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia)
Late Winter 2014 – Central America (details TBD)
Spring 2014 – South America (details TBD)

Anyhoo, for those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook, expect less (but more exotic!) activity. For those of you who read the semi-annual posts on this blog, you might be out of luck for a while.

  • http://www.marinamartin.com MarinaMartin

    I am so very excited to play along at home as you both travel the world! And rest assured that your real friends are not going anywhere, even as we all go everywhere. You’ve always got a couch and an ice cold Painkiller wherever I am :)

    • http://www.tonywright.com/ Tony Wright

      Ha, you better do better than play along at home. We’ll see you out there somewhere!

      • http://www.marinamartin.com MarinaMartin

        Count on it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/WestHJones West Jones

    YESS

  • Allen

    No place in China? You should hit Shenzhen/Hong Kong. An awesome place. The ancient cities around Shanghai (Wuzhen/Suzhou) are also well worth a visit. I assume you’ll make it to Siem Reap while you are in Cambodia. Enjoy the adventure!

    • http://ohheyworld.com/ Drew Meyers

      Siem Reap is awesome…love that place. And Chiang Mai.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrewhyde Andrew Hyde

    Enjoy the road. Just sent you a copy of my book.

    Take your time and always remember it is your trip to enjoy.

  • http://twitter.com/Joey_Aquino Joey Aquino

    Amazing. Let me know if there is any from the Startup Weekend community we can plug you in with as you travel to certain areas. I am sure all would love to host or show you around their cities! Safe travels!

  • http://moz.com/Rand Rand Fishkin

    I love the decision, the process, and the post. Bravo Tony.

    Maybe G and I can catch up with you guys in one destination or another over the next couple years :-)

  • http://twitter.com/mikeindustries Mike Davidson

    Nice! This is going to be fun. While you’re in South America, don’t miss the Galapagos. Best place I’ve ever been to. Also, bring earplugs for the overnight boat rides.

  • http://twitter.com/davidniu David Niu

    Best of luck! My wife, our then 10-month old daughter, and I did the exact same thing last February. I called it a “careercation” because I didn’t want to wait until I retired and had a bit of wealth but diminished health. Plus I needed to recharge after a decade+ of entrepreneurship.

    We took six months, and it was great. I’m very happy for you. Reach out if you ever want to bounce ideas about our experience (how to deal with health insurance, best way to find lodging, places we loved, etc). We started with one-way tix to New Zealand. Safe travels!

  • http://twitter.com/nkaiser Nathan Kaiser

    Congrats Tony and Alex. We are all very excited for you both!

  • http://ohheyworld.com/ Drew Meyers

    Hey Tony-
    3 years of near constant travel is what led me to create the startup i’ve been working on for a year — getting the most out of my travel network efficiently & minimizing missed connections while traveling were two massive pain points/frustrations for me the past few years. So we’ve focused on solving them. Would love to see if the service can make your travels easier.

  • Louisa Grothe

    Good for you Tony and Alex! Life is too short to worry about the “what if’s” and what a great experience for the two of you to have together! My good friend Jenni has been traveling all over Asia while living in Japan with her hubby who is in the Air Force. She has been posting the most amazing pictures of Mylasia, Cambodia, Thailand and Bali, etc…it is like stepping back time. I look forward to your postings and pictures, you two be safe and enjoy!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Saffitz/685196053 Michael Saffitz

    Congrats Tony. Sounds like an awesome adventure. I can’t wait for all the photos and to follow along.

  • cliff

    If you make it over this way while you’re in Germany, we’ll show you the best Thai in Amsterdam… it’s my favorite restaurant and I hate Thai.

  • http://mckoss.com/ mckoss

    Woah! Time for your own “Golfing on the moon” adventure, eh? Have a great time! We’re cruising from Amsterdam, through Germany, to Budapest in Sept 2013 – looks like we’ll just miss you.

    P.S. You MUST add Australia to your list.

  • http://twitter.com/swoodgate Steve Woodgate

    Hope you have a great time, remember Winter in the USA is Summer in the southern hemisphere and rainy season and if you get to Indonesia please come that bit further and visit us in Australia.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicholas.redd.77 Nicholas Redd

    Incredible and inspiring at the same time. Truly living ‘the dream’

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