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The power of commitment
Journal Post #37: September 18th 2023, Tulum Mexico
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I'm writing this from Treviso Italy while in the middle of packing for our first flight in a while. Our trusty car, the one we picked up in Bulgaria, has been on quite the adventure with us. We drove it for over 7,000 kilometers all around the beautiful Balkan Peninsula. Before leaving it behind for a while, we pulled the plug on its battery to keep it fresh, and put a flimsy cover on it to protect it from whatever the winter throws at it.
And speaking of changes, I've got a job interview lined up for tomorrow, and we're landing in Mexico this Friday. When you receive this post on Monday, Alan will be starting his new job. Phew!
Basically, a lot is happening, a whirlwind of stuff, and my brain's in overdrive trying to make sense of it all. Our epic 15+ month sabbatical is coming to an end, and we're gearing up for the next chapter in our lives. The one we're hoping will eventually lead us to the pinnacle of all sabbaticals: early retirement. But that is a story for another day.
Amidst all these changes, we have also been planning where to be after mid-November, when we basically have to leave our home in Mexico to rent it out for the high season. Ultimately, we decided to stick around Mexico and discover a portion of the Pacific Coast, which I have never been to (think Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita, San Pancho, etc). So, we have solid plans until end of February, when we will head back to the USA for a couple months.
I share all of this because people often ask us how we are able to travel so much, and apart from the obvious answer - we have prioritized it above anything else and by now it’s simply our lifestyle - the reality is that it’s because we fully commit to things way in advance. What I mean is, we pick a general destination about 4-6 months before we want to go, keep an eye on flight prices, and snatch up tickets when they're a good deal. Then, we take our time finding places to stay – generally Airbnbs because we need work spaces and a kitchen – usually booking a couple of months ahead, sometimes even more. This way, our travel plans come together smoothly and stress-free. On the last 15 months of traveling to almost 30 countries we literally had zero issues with all our plans, I am still (very happily) surprised by this.
As an example, we know today - September 18th - that starting around mid-April we will spend 3 months in the south of Italy. We don’t have plane tickets yet nor anything else booked, but we are monitoring ticket prices and will likely start planning - deciding which specific towns to visit and how long to stay in each - in the next couple of months. By January we will likely have our entire 3-month itinerary booked. So, I might not have any idea what my job will be at that point, but I know where I will be taking zoom calls from! (note: a fully remote position is a a non-negotiable for me, so I’d only apply and be willing to take positions that are fully remote).
Of course there is more than one way to travel. We've got many friends with similar lifestyles who approach things quite differently; they're the spontaneous, last-minute type, and it all falls into place for them. But, that is just not us, we like to minimize potential stress, and I truly believe that committing to go places months in advanced has been a key reason why we have been able to see so much in the last decade. This is even when we had on-site jobs and could only squeeze in vacations here and there. Besides, you get to be excited for longer! starting from the initial spark of an idea to the moment your feet touch foreign soil.
If you, like us, work remotely, then committing in advanced should be even easier. You can travel slowly, stay in places longer, and don’t have to worry (much) about vacation time, etc. In the end, all you need is a reliable internet connection, and thanks to the growing number of remote workers like us, hotels, Airbnbs, and the like are becoming increasingly transparent about their internet speeds (plus reading reviews can tell you a lot).
Now, you might argue that going with the flow and planning last-minute offers more flexibility, and it can. However, it often comes at a cost – fewer flight options, limited lodging choices, potential budget overruns. Besides, planning in advanced doesn’t have to be inflexible, most places we book can be cancelled until just a few days before arrival so if we decide to follow a different route we can do it without loosing a penny, and there are also flexible options for plane tickets. Although the truth is that we almost always stick to plan :).
If you desire to travel more our advice is simply: COMMIT! Decide on a place, buy that plane ticket, and book a place to stay. Things will work out, or rather you will make them work out.
So, as we wrap up our car for its winter slumber, embark on new job opportunities, enjoy our stay in Tulum, and anticipate the magic of the Mexican Pacific Coast, one thing remains constant: our commitment to planning these adventures in advance!