How We’re Planning to Travel the World

 

For the past 2 years, my husband and I have been plotting something crazy. And it’s finally time to put our crazy plan into action. It’s no secret that we love travelling and we’ve been doing it much before I started blogging. We did a crazy last minute trip to Thailand and Cambodia last year, cut short because we hit a financial snag 😁, and this year we hit pause on our lives in Bangalore to move to Goa for 2 months.

But this time, we’ve decided to go full steam ahead, emptying out our apartment, packing our lives into a suitcase, and setting off to see the world, one city at a time. 😎

I just posted this update on my Facebook a while ago, and what a whirlwind month it has been. From connecting with friends I haven’t spoken to in eons to strangers wishing me luck to being featured on the local radio to being written about in an upcoming book! Wow 💥😎💥

Ever since we’ve known each other, we’ve known that we want to see as much of the world as possible. We realized 2 week vacations were not enough to see a place properly. And we’ve always wanted to just slow down in a place for a while and explore it at our own pace.

Just as we were getting comfy in a new place, found our favourite street food cart or our new favourite coffee shop around the block with great wifi, or just started making some new friends in a place where we didn’t know anybody, it was time to board the return flight home.

We wanted the freedom to travel as we wished, leaving a place if we didn’t like it, or staying longer if we loved it. No itineraries, no ticking things off a hurried list, no coming back home! So we decided to build a life that made this kind of travel possible. This is how we’re doing it.

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You need to make this decision to travel full time

Picture this. You’re at dinner with your friends and their friends. It’s fun to catch up. You want to try every appetizer in the place (I always do haha). Conversations flow from old college stories, to who’s dating who to who’s marrying who to office stories to evil bosses to annoying colleagues to travel stories. At some point you’ll declare that you want to drop everything to travel the world. You’ll say you want to quit your job, take a sabbatical or find a job you can do while travelling. You’ll quote the example of a POI (person on the Internet) who is also doing this. You’ll declare that you’ll take 1 year, or 2 or 3 to live this dream life. But the next day you go back to work and live the same life and continue to live it without considering the alternatives. When asked about your declarations you’ll say obviously you weren’t serious/ no one actually does that/ it’s not realistic… and so on.

The difference between you and me, is when I made declarations like that, high on sangria and the hazy memories of past travels and feverish excitement for future adventures; I actually plotted to Make. Them. Happen. 😈

Know that it IS possible. Make the decision to travel, then get down to realistically planning it. But first, decide that you want it enough to actually make it to the planning stage…

planning-fin

I’m going to divide this into 2 sections for what I hope will give you better clarity on how we got this stage and how we plan to manage finances while travelling so that we make enough to fund our travels and also have some savings: 1. Working While on the Go 💻 and 2. Getting Finances in order💰

working

As many of you know by now, I used to be a lawyer. I’ve worked in a company as a legal analyst, as a little junior pumpkin scurrying around the local court, to a law firm. I thought it’ll be like Suits, all dressy and smart flinging files around, talking in cliffhangers. It wasn’t. But the most exciting thing I did as a lawyer was work for startups. In 2013-2014, I worked remotely for a a little startup law firm in Canada. I came to know many cool people who were building even cooler things. Coolest of all, was the lifestyle they chose for themselves: digital nomads. Some of them picked a country, figured out business and immigration and moved there, some people chose to live in different places for a short/long time, some of them relocated for their dream job. 💥

DIGITAL NOMAD, a definition: One who derives income remotely by working online, rather than from commuting to an office. This enables the digital nomad to not need a permanent home base, and she/he can travel anywhere at any time.

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All I needed to work was a laptop and a good wifi connection. It slowly (although a little late I admit lol) dawned on me that I could do this from anywhere in the world. And then the whole world seemed accessible. Which country do I imagine myself in? Where do I want to go? I shuttled between a few cities in India, staying with friends and relatives and saving all that lawyer money. 😜 One beautiful summer day in Bangalore, just as I was planning a trip to Malaysia, I met a boy who was just back from Nepal. We’ve been inseparable since. ❤️

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So about my startup lawyer job, I didn’t really enjoy being a lawyer and didn’t see myself pursuing a legal career forever. So I started developing my dormant skills to find a career that I could love. Long story short, after a lot of trial and error and some crying, I discovered social media and writing, and worked hard to find a combination of the two that could make me money and let me work from anywhere. And then I started this little blog you’re reading and the rest as they say is recent history.

So now I make some money off the blog and some freelance work.

My husband is a programmer who has been doing the digital nomad thing for a while now. He’s lived in Chile and Vietnam and Nepal. So he’ll be fine I guess. 😅

I want to emphasize that starting 2017, travelling for the next few years will not be a vacation. We’ll be working from wherever we are. So one day our office might be a beachside café in Bali or a co-working space in Chiang Mai on another. We’ll be taking some time off to explore the place we’re in. But that depends on work. Because working full time is what enables us to live this life.

We joking referred to this as our 2 year plan, because we think 5 years is too far ahead for anyone to plan ahead. I’m very excited to say that I don’t even know where I’ll be in the next 5 months! So we decided to buckle up and work hard, develop our skills, work on the blog, make connections so that by the time 2017 rolls around, we’ll have enough work projects and enough money to fund the first leg of the trip.

Which brings us to:

getting

Since we knew we were going to do this in 2017, we made sure all our big financial decisions revolved around it. We lived in a rented apartment and didn’t splurge on anything for the house. We literally just had a big dining/work table with a couple of chairs, a bed, a shelf, fridge, washing machine and basic kitchen equipment. We didn’t accumulate stuff and a lot of the stuff we did have was hand-me-downs from our friends and/or simply flicked from our parents house.

We saved a lot of money not buying furniture, or not buying one appliance after the other, and not spending one bit on the scam that is home décor. Except some stuff we’ve collected from our travels. We sold whatever we could and gave some stuff away. It’s so freeing to be without stuff.

empty-apmt

We make about the same money as any average couple in Bangalore. On the road, we’ll be staying in airbnbs or renting apartments for a short time. We won’t have the expenses of furniture, appliances, utilities, clothes, and other miscellaneous bills. And we’ve hacks to score cheap flights.

When people hear about our travel plans, they immediately assume we’re rich, or our parents our rich, or one of us built an app and sold it and stepped into some serious money (we wish!) but it’s none of those. The same people don’t bat an eyelid when someone buys a car, or a house, or spends on a masters degree abroad.  People don’t question spending on conventional expenses. But as soon as you put the same expenses into something that defies convention, suddenly people think you’re throwing your life away.

At the end of the day, it’s your money, your earned it, spend it on the kind of life you want. If you think a degree abroad and the massive loans are justifiable and will help you reach your goals, then go for it. Studying abroad is one of the most legit ways to explore a new country and the places nearby. If you want to save up for a big fat car, then do so. If every cell in your body begs you to buy a big house then by all means do so.

Ignore convention, spend on what you want to.

Our wedding defied convention in a lot of ways. We didn’t believe in most of rituals because they are patriarchal and regressive. Indian weddings from the outside look like beautiful celebrations of love and culture and tradition, while in reality they are not. We also didn’t believe in throwing lavish 3 day fests for people who barely know us, or don’t even talk to us or know what’s going on in our lives.

We also especially didn’t want either of our parents to spend their savings on rubbish like wedding halls, and caterings and crap. And don’t even get me started on people who borrow money for weddings! So we just rounded up a few of our closest friends and family walked down to the courthouse nearby, signed a few things, and Poof! we were married. And then we had south indian brunch food at home. There were more idlis in our wedding than people!

We decided we don’t need a car in Bangalore. We’d just be sitting in traffic anyway. We also didn’t see the need to buy a house in Bangalore, because we don’t see ourselves living here in future, even if we do come back to India. We also didn’t buy a house anywhere in India because we don’t know which place we might want to call home, or “settle” if and when we choose to do.

But why not have a house and make money from renting it off you ask? We didn’t want to get ourselves into getting tied up in a loan before we were ready to pay it off without making sacrifices. Maybe some day we will buy a house and a car, but we don’t know when and where. Or maybe we won’t. But we want to decide that for ourselves and not accept society’s conventions like get married at this age, buy a car, then a house, then have a baby, then another, and so on.

So what I’m trying to say is, do what YOU want, be the architect of your own life. Own these things or don’t, but because you want to and not because society or your parents tell you to.

So Where Next?✈️

We thought we’ll start with Bali. Easy visa process, affordable accommodation, endless chicken satays, stunning beaches, good internet connectivity and other benefits aside, we’ve been trying to go for to Bali ever since we met. Our third date could have been in Bali! When we just started dating we thought we’ll go spend a month in Bali (we both had remote jobs at the time). So we happily booked tickets and I announced to my parents that I was off to Bali with a boy I liked. Obviously my parents would hear none of it. So it was no Bali and no Boy for me. 🙁 We postponed the tickets to a couple of months ahead. But as luck would have it, some work related stuff came up and we couldn’t postpone the tickets again and we ended up losing those tickets. So see you see, it has to be Bali. Finally! 😀 😀

After that we might explore northern Thailand, Vietnam, I definitely want to take Boy to the Philippines, and then we’ll see. The plan here is to have no plan. We’ll make it up as we go along, as most of the best kind of plans are.

But immigration and visa people will put a stop to that wanderlust bohemian nomad nonsense. So we are in the process of working our how we’ll do the Americas: North, Central & South, and Europe. We’re currently figuring out the process and let’s see. We might have to go pray at a temple for visa. We’ll go to Angkor Wat then. 😉

How Long is this Madness? 😱

This question along with similar ones like “will you settle down?”, “where will you settle down?” “don’t you have to plan for all that now?”, “when will you stop this and grow up?”, “when will you act like responsible adults?”, “what about mortgages and babies?”. Such questions we prioritize to put in one ear and out the other. Our trip could be a year, or 2 or 5 or more. We might hate travelling full time, or we might love it more than we ever imagined. Or some new opportunities might arise, we might find a quaint new country to call home for a while, or we might want to continue this madness, or we’ll could very well end up in Canada! Who knows what the future holds! And that’s the beauty of it.

Come along with us then, if you will. There will be traipsing through forests, endless walks through unknown roads, splashing in crystal waters, figuring out coffee tea culture in every place we go to, and omg breakfast food!, eating local goodies, playing with stray animals, making human friends, fighting over luggage, sleeping in airports, a lot of hours clocked behind our laptops, and then some more eating. And discovering new things about each other and ourselves. And learning new things. We’ll stop along the way to take photos and videos and write all about it. But mostly we’ll defy convention, smash all stereotypes, and live life on our own terms. And hopefully you’ll come along?

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Phew! BIG BIG post. That was a lot to go through. If you made it this far, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Let me offer you a virtual glass of wine. I hope that helped shed some light on building a life of travel. I also hope it inspired you to make some badass plans for yourself. If you have any questions please ask away and I will answer them.

In the coming months I plan to share actionable steps on how exactly I got here and how you can do it too, plus some insider travel guides and deals, and lots of cool things. If you like, follow me on Facebook

and sign up to my newsletter to get a little travel sparkle straight to your inbox, along with exclusive content and a few hugs. ❤️

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Comments 27

  1. sudha hariharan
    Reply

    Ruchika, Keep the posts coming ! There’s so much to learn from these travels… ! Enjoy !

    1 December, 2016
    • Ruchika Shankar
      Reply

      Thank you! I will! 🙂

      2 December, 2016
  2. Murali
    Reply

    Much nice!

    1 December, 2016
    • Ruchika Shankar
      Reply

      Much Thanks! 😀

      6 December, 2016
  3. Sowmya
    Reply

    This is wonderful!!! Adventure is out there 🙂 You two are going to kill it!
    Here’s fervently hoping that you DO spam me into doing this at some point 🙂
    Loads of love and luck Ruchika!

    1 December, 2016
    • Ruchika Shankar
      Reply

      Thanks so much Sowmya! 😀 Let’s hope you run into us somewhere!

      6 December, 2016
  4. Laura
    Reply

    Yay how exciting! My husband and I are just starting the same type of adventure. He’s working as an online teacher while I’m giving the whole blogging thing a go. We’re now slowly travelling through Europe to Turkey, Iran…and eventually to India (at least that’s the plan for now.). I think we’re so blessed that we’re able to work from our laptops, older generations wouldn’t have been able to do this.

    Good luck on all your upcoming adventures and happy travels! x

    1 December, 2016
    • Ruchika Shankar
      Reply

      Thanks Laura! That’s so cool that you’re giving blogging a try.. I would love to check it out! you’re right, we’re lucky to be able to find work online.. good luck with your blog! <3 😀

      6 December, 2016
  5. Gayatri
    Reply

    Hey! This is so exciting! Have fun! I would love to know how the visa process goes! Because we as Indians are not that fortunate ☹️️
    I just got my one month Italian visa n I was all packed but then when the passport arrived it was damaged! So all was lost in seconds 😔 Couldn’t travel.. I will be writing ilall about in my blog soon..
    You know how important a passport is to a traveler 😁
    Best of luck.. 🙏

    2 December, 2016
    • Ruchika Shankar
      Reply

      Thanks Gayatri! We’ll take on the visa monster soon. Will definitely document that process.. That’s terrible about your Italian trip.. 🙁

      6 December, 2016
  6. Urvesh Bhatt
    Reply

    Good 1, very appealing writeup

    2 December, 2016
    • Ruchika Shankar
      Reply

      Thanks Urvesh! 😀

      6 December, 2016
  7. Madhuri
    Reply

    I’m so excited for both of you! I know you through a mutual friend (I can’t remember who was it) when I saw your blog on Facebook. Subscribing to it 🙂 All the best!
    P.S.- I’m a lawyer turned social media strategist too. I hope the next step in my journey becomes coincidental to yours 🙂

    2 December, 2016
    • Ruchika Shankar
      Reply

      That’s so cool Madhuri! Hope to run into you someday! 😀

      6 December, 2016
  8. Alex
    Reply

    Props for you! Good luck to you and yo’ man, and enjoy Bali… I’m sure you will 🙂

    4 December, 2016
    • Ruchika Shankar
      Reply

      Thanks so much Alex! 😀 We can’t wait to go to Bali!

      6 December, 2016
  9. Karin
    Reply

    Congrats to making this big decision! I admire your planning skills. We just jumped right into it, no big planning and we´re on the road since september. Not much remote work yet, but we still hope to keep it going! 🙂

    4 December, 2016
    • Ruchika Shankar
      Reply

      Thanks Karin! That’s really cool you are winging it! We needed to plan a bit as the indian passport and currency needs some advance planning! 😀 <3

      6 December, 2016
  10. Jo
    Reply

    Way to go girl. This is exactly what my hubby and I seek too – at this stage, being location independent is not for him.. I am already on the road most of the time with my laptop but would be looking at packing up and moving for months/years at end hopefully one day! Good luck and keep us posted 🙂

    6 December, 2016
    • Ruchika Shankar
      Reply

      Thanks Jo! I hope you can take the plunge someday too! good luck! 😀

      6 December, 2016
  11. Tanayesh
    Reply

    All the best for the exciting travels ahead. I am also a travel blogger at http://www.shoestringtravel.in and i wish i could have leave everything and travel all my life. I regret not planning my life as you did.
    I would wait to relive my dreams through your upcoming posts…
    Cheers and Happy Living

    15 December, 2016
    • Ruchika Shankar
      Reply

      Hi Tanayesh! Thanks for your lovely comment.. I’m sure you can still plan it out perfectly. it’s never too late for travelling! 😀

      24 December, 2016
  12. Shravani
    Reply

    Ruchika..what an amazing post..:) Wishing you both all the best..
    PS- I am your husbands friends wife :)(Andy) , thank you for attending our wedding. Hope to meet you both soon.

    Lots of love,
    Andy & Shravani

    19 May, 2017
  13. Deepjyoti Roy
    Reply

    An eye-opening post, to be frank. I, also like many others I suppose, used to believe that travelling full time isn’t really possible, it is only possible in movies, or only possible for rich people, or someone who won a tax-free lottery, I guess. But hearing stuff first-hand from you, is inspiring. Some people say stuff, but they don’t really do it. And you are actually doing it. Wish you all the best in your travelling. And it would be great, if one day, I too can have the digital nomad experience. For that, I gotta build up those ‘dormant skills’ though!

    27 May, 2017
  14. Tanvi
    Reply

    It takes a lot of courage to make this decision!! I hope that you and your husband, both travel the world 😀

    28 May, 2017
  15. Sankara
    Reply

    Ruchika, that was very inspiring and informational. Two things that don’t always go together. Kudos to you. Keep them coming.

    28 May, 2017
  16. Madhuri Kulkarni
    Reply

    Ruchika, it’s amazing as well as inspiring. I had heard about your travelling and blog from your mother.I stumbled upon it today when I saw it referred in an article in Sakaltimes. I am definitely going to follow your blog. Wish you all the best.
    Madhuri

    27 June, 2017

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