Let’s Go: Chris Dyer’s Prep Steps

The decision to take a career break and travel is different for everyone, just as the places you go and the activities you experience will be unique as well. But you can learn a lot from how others made the choices they made.

[singlepic=1574,200,,,right]Here Chris Dyer shares with us how he ended up in Changwon, South Korea teaching English after leaving his position as a Brand Manager for a major toy company and selling his house. “I recently decided to give up all of those things to travel the world and experience different cultures. One might call it a “quarter-life crisis”, but I consider my life just beginning. I only have one life and I want to really live it!

Budgeting Money
(Chris originally planned to do a RTW trip for a year)

After researching websites/blogs of people who have completed a round the world trip already, I came to the conclusion that I needed to have $20,000 before I left. I did not live a lavish lifestyle whatsoever, but I still kept a detailed spreadsheet with my debits and credits.

Based off my calculations, I could save approximately $1,000 a month as long as no problems arose. Saving a grand a month equated to $15,000 so I decided to get a second job serving/tending bar at a local pub. This would bring in a few extra hundred dollars a month. A few other money saving opportunities were: less clubbing/drinking (huge savings potential), making my own food at home (my average grocery bill was only $50 a month), cancel my 401k and company stock options, and end frivolous spending in general.

Having a roommate cut down on bills and made my savings account grow, which was an account opened specifically for the trip. My student loans had already been paid off and all credit cards were paid in full every month. I was essentially debt free other than my mortgage.
(Chris was fortunate to have sold his house without a great loss in this tough economic environment.)

Trip Research
Hours upon countless hours were spent researching everything from RTW tickets to how much a hostel was in Thailand.

I started following the message boards on BootsnAll to see what people were saying about RTW travel as well as many blogs where people were currently on a RTW trip or soon departing. I think people’s blogs were the best source of information and most of the authors would answer any questions I had in a timely manner, including Otts World.

Finding a site like Briefcase to Backpack earlier in my planning stages would have made my research less stressful. As a young corporate drone, I was still worried about having a year or more gap on my resume. I was worried about coming back into the corporate world and how difficult it would be. Feeling as if I might potentially be killing my career meant a good deal to me and I needed reassurance I would be okay after my trip was finished.

[singlepic=1576,250,,,right]Test Trip to Mexico
Since I had only traveled to Canada (for work) and Mexico (spring break in college), I decided to do a “test RTW trip” to Mexico at the end of May 2009. This trip was to see if I liked living in hostels, not being able to communicate with people 100% of the time (I speak a little bit of Spanish), and I was comfortable traveling without a set plan.

I flew into Cancun and used Hostel World to book a hostel. I then traveled by bus and went even further south, eating and drinking with locals and other travelers along the way. I only had a week of this lifestyle and after that week I fell in love with traveling. This was a great idea to see if I enjoyed traveling, because if I didn’t, then I could have canceled my RTW plans.

Setting out on a year-long journey without knowing if you will like it at all was a little too much for me. I recommend anyone who is planning a RTW trip to do a “test trip” as well, if the soon to be nomad has yet to do any real traveling. And be sure to travel the same way you are budgeting for your trip.

[singlepic=1575,250,,,left]Stumbling on Teaching ESL
I had been following a few blogs like Otts World, where people were teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) in a foreign country and was intrigued. Come to find out, some countries only require a bachelor’s degree to teach ESL and being paid quite well. I emailed some bloggers and read forums about the ESL positions to obtain information. I applied to a few job postings on websites and had some phone interviews. Then I needed to get all of my documents together for the job and a week later had signed a contract to teach ESL in South Korea.

My plan of traveling the world had abruptly changed and I was happy with it. I could live and explore in South Korea, travel easily to nearby Asian countries and save money as well.

The research, planning and preparation made the transition from ‘RTW travel plan’ to ‘moving out of the country plan’ quick and easy. Maybe in a year I will be preparing to travel the world, but I will keep my plan to a minimum because you don’t know what other opportunities could arise in foreseeable future.

Other comments

2 Comments on "Let’s Go: Chris Dyer’s Prep Steps"

  1. Nora - The Professional Hobo on Tue, 10th Nov 2009 11:58 pm 

    Good onya, Chris! Excellent preparation and forethought has led to what undoubtedly is an excellent trip/lifestyle. Cheers!

  2. Chris on Tue, 12th Jan 2010 7:49 am 

    Thanks Nora! Just living the best I can right now. I love Korea, but can’t wait till I am on the road for an extended period of time.

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