Itinerary Tips from The Blonde Wanderer

[singlepic=1528,250,,,right]Even though Bill & Cindy Peterson have a great deal of combined travel experience, the idea of taking a year off from their careers still terrified them. Like most Americans, the difficult thing for them to get over was the “work hard, save for retirement” mentality.

Still they knew that if they didn’t take this opportunity now to travel the world, they would regret it down the road. And they found their corporate experience to be very beneficial in planning a year of backpacking the globe.

“We used our previous travel experience and our Corporate America budgeting and Excel skills to plan an overall budget. Our budget was broken down into maintenance costs (storage, cell phones, etc.); time for ‘re-entry’ (into the work world), and actual travel money. Our travel money allowance allowed us to establish a monthly travel budget and pick destinations and activities that we could afford.”

Bill & Cindy are now more than half way through their trip, and even managed to extend it from 12 to 14 months by stretching their travel budget even further. They took time off from the road to share with us their favorite tips on creating an itinerary that works best for you.

[singlepic=1530,175,,,right]1. Don’t try to cram in too much in a short period of time. Three months in SE Asia may seem like a lot, but it’s not. It’s hard as Americans who normally have to carefully plan our limited vacation to just go with the flow; but you’ll find it will save you money and provide you with a lot more flexibility to experience the places that really speak to you. Plus the more you are on the move, the more costly it is. We learned this lesson the hard way our first few months on the road and had to readjust our mindset accordingly.

[singlepic=1531,200,,,right]2. Strive for as many authentic experiences as you can. Stay with local families, friends living abroad, or home stays when you can find them. Volunteer in local communities, especially those places you visit that need it the most. My husband and I volunteered in a Cambodian orphanage and schools in Indonesia, and are planning to do more volunteer work in South America later in the year. These experiences will turn out to be the best and most authentic of your travels, and provide memories that will last a lifetime.

3. Focus on the travel schedule that is right for you. For both of us, it was important to connect with our family and friends, so we planned a two-month US tour in the middle of our year of traveling. We saw a lot of new places in our own country and spent quality time reconnecting with the people we’d missed the most. As an added benefit, it gave us some mid-point reverse culture shock relief!

[singlepic=1529,200,,,right]We already know that our biggest lessons have come from our new perspective on our world and the most important things in life. So many Americans are tied down with too much debt, too many ‘things’ and the expectation to acquire more things! We have vowed to maintain a budget travel lifestyle and continue to strive for authentic travel experiences and the flexibility to continue to travel as much as we can in the real world. In the meantime though, we are just enjoying each other and new experiences every day.

You can follow along on their adventures at The Blonde Wanderer. And we look forward to watching them transition through the re-entry process when they return to the States in 2010.

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5 Comments on "Itinerary Tips from The Blonde Wanderer"

  1. Tweets that mention Itinerary Tips from The Blonde Wanderer | Briefcase to Backpack - Travel Advice for Career Breaks or Sabbaticals -- on Thu, 17th Sep 2009 12:09 pm 

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  2. Emily @ Maiden Voyage on Fri, 18th Sep 2009 10:16 am 

    I love these tips! I think one of the main problems with world travel is that people simply try to cram in too many destinations in too little time. If you are in a city for just one day, you’re not going to get a feel for it. I also really like the idea of a home stay. I feel like that could be awkward if it isn’t a good fit, but it’s definitely a great way to see the culture up close.

  3. Sherry on Sat, 19th Sep 2009 4:23 am 

    Love the ‘authentic travel’ advice! My best career break memories are staying and interacting with the locals!

  4. LeAnnette on Thu, 5th Nov 2009 10:43 am 

    Love the tips.
    The thing I think is the best advise for young couples and anyone is to let go and enjoy life while you can. Mike and I work hard but know when to take time for us.
    I realize retirement is important, but then how am I going to dive for lobster or hike a mountain when my whole body is broken from working my ass off. We want to do these things while we are healthy and will sit on the porch telling our adventure stories later. Honestly, I think you both should write a book.
    love you and enjoy the rest of your trip.

  5. Cindy on Sat, 7th Nov 2009 7:32 pm 

    Emily and Sherry – I couldn’t agree more. We haven’t had a bad experience with any of our homestays. I think that most locals who volunteer for homestays are as interested in cultural exchange as you are so it works out great!

    Lea – One of the reasons that we chose to take a break now instead of waiting until we retire. The activities that we chose to do have been very different than if we waited to travel. And those weekends away are equally as important for keeping work stress at bay and staying happy and healthy!

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