Editor’s Note: In honor of this month’s “New Beginnings” theme I’m so excited to feature this amazing couple! Featuring stories of people who embraced their dreams and goals even when it seemed impossible to do so, is what I envisioned this month would be like. I hope it inspires you to make decisions in your life that will get you closer to that dream…and while making sacrifices to travel the world may not be your dream…this can apply to many areas in our lives. xoxo, Lourdes
Tell us a bit about yourselves: Your age, background, interests, etc.; Hi! We’re the Bests, Andy and Sam. We were best friends for 3 years working together at LinkedIn and finally started dating about a year and a half ago. We got engaged in Portugal 6 months after we started dating and began having talks about the possibility of quitting our jobs at the beginning of the following year and travel the world. We got married 6 months later in front of our immediate family in Rhode Island and started our journey of traveling the world in mid-January. We got rid of our apartment in NYC, sold our furniture and packed 2 checked bags and were off! I’m (Sam) 29 years old and developed a passion for traveling back in 2009 when I left to study abroad in Australia for 6 months. I may be a Rhode Islander by birth but in my heart, I will always be a New Yorker. NYC changed my life for the better, it introduced me to many new friends and opportunities that brought me to where I am today. I love trying & finding new restaurants wherever I am in the world and making sure I write down all of my recommendations so I can pass it on to others. I’m an avid reader, newfound blogger, and adventure seeker. Andy is also 29 and fun fact, his 30th birthday will be the same day as our wedding reception with friends & family in Portugal! He jokes that it will be the best birthday party ever and I always give him an eye roll and say that’s not funny when he says it. Andy’s interests include anything Boston sports related, writing and his new calling since we started traveling, photography.
Both of you had good jobs and a good quality of life in New York City, but you still decided to leave everything behind to live an adventure. Was it difficult to make that decision? It might have been one of the easiest decisions we’ve ever made. We started talking about it early in our relationship and Andy was dead serious the entire time we would talk about it. I took him more seriously when we got engaged and realized that it was definitely going to become a reality. We both traveled so much separately and then the year we dated we were always traveling to new places together, both domestically and internationally. We travel well together and knew that. NOW was the time we were going to make something like this happen in our lives. No assets, no kids, just each other.
What sacrifices did you have to make to save to be out of work and traveling the world for a year? It was WAY harder for me (Sam) to save for this year than Andy. We both had to give up spontaneous dinners and going out for drinks/meals 3-5x week. We started cooking a lot at home which was something I was not used to as a New Yorker with the kitchen that was inside our bedroom. We both stopped shopping (not that Andy ever actually shopped) and just put all of our money towards our savings. We had specific financial goals we wanted/needed to hit before we left in January.
What is your daily budget? We try to stick around $100/day which is sometimes very difficult. Mostly because we are always planning the next destination so flights, Airbnb, hotels add up. It’s doable in Asia… a little bit less realistic in parts of Europe.
What has been the most special moment of your trip? And the most difficult one? The most special moment of our trip, hands down, was when we got married and wrote our own vows in the Maldives. When we were JUST friends, Andy asked me where I’d want to get married one day. I blurted out that I wanted something small and intimate -somewhere crazy like the Maldives. He wrote ‘Marry Andy in the Maldives’ on my bucket list in the notes section of my phone that day without me realizing. When he proposed, he asked me to marry him in the Maldives. It was the perfect ceremony and incredibly meaningful, to say the least. The most difficult day so far has been our 17-hour layover in Shanghai, China…in the airport. Yes, airport. Granted we had access to a pretty amazing lounge for those long hours but it was pretty heartbreaking when the Immigration officers said we couldn’t leave the airport. We did our research when booking this layover and knew that being a US citizen we were eligible for the 24-hour transit free visa and would be able to explore Shanghai. When we arrived the Immigration officers said no and said they changed the rule in February. They wouldn’t explain, wouldn’t hear us out, nothing. It was extremely frustrating and in that moment completely understood how people could get arrested in airports.
What has been your favorite country and why? Myanmar has been our favorite country so far. It felt extremely undiscovered and almost magical in a way. Myanmar opened it’s doors to tourism in 2012 so it’s still developing and we got to witness that. From the pagodas to floating villages, to crazy city of Yangon, we knew that we just explored a country that will be completely different in the next 5-10 years and we’re so grateful we got to see it before tourism takes over.
What are some things that you have learned about yourselves during this adventure? The biggest thing we’ve both learned so far is how little you actually need to have with you to be happy. We both have 1 suitcase each and as crazy as that sounds, it was enough. I don’t care what I wear every day, because I don’t have any options. We’ve realized we are WAY more patient than we thought. NYC is fast-paced and inherently makes you impatient. So far in South America and Asia, we have learned to slow it down and appreciate that most cultures outside of our own are slower and to embrace it. We’ve been resourceful in a lot of situations in terms of booking our accommodations and tracking deals & staying loyal to hotel booking websites. We get deals through them and use them. The other thing we’ve both realized is our work ethic is extremely strong and ingrained in us. We thought we’d never set an alarm and not think twice about not working. We were wrong. Both of us have been consulting and freelancing for new and old clients. I’ve even started my own little business. Making money is addicting and I guess it’s a good thing we can’t get that work ethic out of our system!
What has been the best and the most challenging part of traveling with your partner? The best part of traveling together is that every once in a lifetime experience that we have, we’re doing it with your once in a lifetime partner. We’re creating these memories that we’ll have for the rest of our lives and we remind ourselves that quite often while we’re traveling. We have a lot of “oh shit this is our life” moments and fully take it all in. The most challenging part is probably not having our consistent time with friends. Of course, texting and facetime are great but having that time in person to just hang out gets hard. Luckily, we’ve had a few friends meet us around the world which has been amazing to have that girl/guy time.
What have you missed from home besides family and friends? The conveniences that America offers is something we miss. Being able to stay in and just click your food app on your phone and get food delivered without talking to anyone. We also miss cheeseburgers and good authentic Italian food (at least when we’ve been in Asia).