The end of May was the six-month mark on our trip and that calls for our second quarterly update. We are now officially through half of this wonderful adventure and I cannot believe how fast it has flown by yet, how much we have managed to do in six months. There have been some major changes this quarter for both Devin and I which has impacted our travel style, budget and time management. This edition of the Shanahan Quarterly, I will explain how our lives, perspectives, and appreciation have evolved.
Big Dreams, Big Changes
Devin’s pretty much full-time job
As briefly mentioned in the first quarterly, Devin received his first paycheck from his remote Software Engineer role he landed while on this trip. He has committed to 30 hours per week but can work wherever and whenever suits him best. While some may view working while traveling a nuisance, it is actually quite the opposite from our perspective. Not only has it provided an income stream that we did not have in our first three months of travel, but it has also instilled a sense of purpose and routine in daily life that is so easily lost.
For those who don’t know Devin personally, he has an incredible work ethic and discipline so somehow, someway, he always manages to get 30-35 hours of work in every week. Quite an admirable accomplishment considering how much else we pack into our days, I do not know where this man gets the energy but he loves what he is working on which definitely helps. We were chatting about our hobbies earlier today and when I asked what his were, he said poker (of course) and computer programming. So within a few of years, he turned his hobby into a paying job which I think is pretty damn awesome.
Stef’s new gig
The last three months have brought on a lot of change for me as well. With the incredible support of my sister, Chantelle, I have been able to supplement my income with a recruitment consulting role for the company she works for. This contract role has been the perfect fit for me and my traveling lifestyle. The basic idea: I deliver, I get paid. No hourly wage, no set schedule, no being managed, I have complete autonomy to do what I love to do, hire amazing people! Thanks to my sister’s depth of knowledge in the industry and willingness to teach me, I was able to hire three people in the first month of signing my contract.
While Devin has a minimum number of hours he needs to work per week, my situation is quite different. When I started, there was a very immediate need to hire in multiple markets so I was working a lot. Between hunting for passive candidates and arranging Skype calls a million miles away, I was kept very busy. Since the individuals I was interviewing were in Ontario, I had some very late night phone calls to accommodate their schedules. I must admit, it felt really good to be back in it, working hard and seeing the results of that hard work. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to not only make the client happy but to be a part of a huge career transition for the candidates I hire.
Work hard, Play hard
Another quite obvious benefit to both of us now earning some money is the experiences we have got to have as a result. Sometimes during our travels, we come across something we had no intention of doing, something so awesome that we cannot miss it and now since we have an income, we can enjoy guilt free! Examples of the types of things I am referring to include whale-watching in Mirissa, a hot air balloon ride in Luxor, and a snorkeling trip in Hurghada. They are not “make or break” experiences but they are those once in a lifetime, would kick yourself for missing type things. Before we were working, we had a hard time spending money on these “extras” but now, we can truly experience every city to it’s fullest!
Devin is going to be posting about our finances soon and it is quite easy to see that once we started earning money, our standard of living increased. This was not a major change but it was a conscious decision to start spending money on the essential things we denied ourselves of earlier in our travels. These things are mainly based on comfort: air-conditioning, private bathroom, good wifi and we didn’t worry as much if we were getting the absolute cheapest food or drinks. These small changes made the world of a difference for me to bring back some of the comforts of home.
Another major improvement to our physical and mental well-being was the implementation of daily yoga practice. While in India (what better place) we decided to purchase yoga mats and reintroduce yoga into our lives. We were both experiencing a lot of back pain and stiffness from the combination of the exhausting backpacking lifestyle and sleeping on sub-par mattresses for 6 months. We started with a 30-day yoga challenge to kick-start our practice and it made a huge difference for me. My back stopped aching at night, my hips loosened up and I just felt much more at peace.
The yoga mats may not be the most practical travel item but we have had no issues strapping them to our packs and taking them as carry-ons when we check our backpacks. The most difficult (and funny) part is that a lot of our hotel rooms have been so small we have had to completely rearrange the furniture in order to fit two yoga mats. We are so used to making due with what we’ve got that we don’t even think twice about it now, but now that I stop and think about it, we have had to practice yoga in some pretty hilarious configurations.
As I mentioned earlier, we have had to change our travel style significantly from how we started the trip. In the first three months, we were traveling from city to city, changing hotels ever 3-4 days, exploring new places each and every day. Now, with our work commitments and the fact that we are in more expensive countries, we have had to slow it down. What this means for us is that instead of spending 3 days in a new location and packing it all in, we stay for 5 or 6 days to allow ourselves time to either crank out a couple long work days or split work and fun each day.
It all depends on where we are, what we are seeing but Devin and I have been able to both agree to this new travel pace and it is much less tiring. You do not realize how much “settling” in a place: knowing where to get food, where to go for coffee, where to pick up groceries, can make you feel a sense of belonging. Since we have slowed our speed, we have had a chance to return to the same stores and restaurants, getting to know the locals which are unexpected benefits we would have otherwise missed.
Our Travel Stats
For all you travel nerds out there, we have been keeping track of every aspect of our travels and here are a few interesting nuggets.
Halfway to Go
In the first half of our trip, we were fortunate to spend time with my parents in Singapore for a few days, but that was already three months ago. At the beginning of July, only a few weeks away, Devin’s parents, brother, and sister-in-law will be meeting us in Rome! We are so incredibly excited to be spending a week with the crew, eating and drinking our way through Italy! We are more than ready for some quality family-time so we are counting down the days until we reunite.
The first question I get asked when I talk to my friends and family back home is “do you think you will travel for the full year?” and I don’t blame them. I can see from their perspective that we are missing out on a lot back home, and defying the traditional lifestyle but my answer to them remains the same. Yes, we are still planning on being gone for one year total, and yes we do miss everyone dearly. While this trip is amazing in and of itself, it is the catalyst for transforming life as we knew it. It is the trip that forced us to leave the comforts of secure careers, home ownership and overworking to build a life for ourselves that would be both fulfilling and challenging.
I understand that the average person does not have their immediate family spread across three countries, so it may be hard to comprehend this undying need for location independence that Devin and I possess. Our end goal, by the time this one-year trip is complete, is to be able to work and live wherever makes sense for us at the time. We would love to spend the summers in Calgary and Edmonton, watching my nephews play their sports, spending weekends at the lake with my cousins, aunts, and uncles and visiting all four of my grandparents that I am so fortunate to have. To have the flexibility in the winter to visit my parents in Cabo while still being able to ski in Colorado would be a dream. Much of Devin’s family lives in California and we’ll also be able to spend more time with all of them so not being tied to one city, state or country is very important to us!
A Legend – Gone too Soon
I cannot write this post without acknowledging the passing of my all-time favorite chef/author/celebrity/tv personality/globe-trotter Anthony Bourdain and how much it has affected me. He was one of my biggest inspirations not only to travel but the way in which to travel, open-minded and without judgement. Anthony Bourdain is one of the most incredible humans who can effortlessly find his way into other culture’s homes and hearts. With his unwavering no-bullshit approach to life, he is someone I aspire to. Without watching him fully immerse in a new country, eat with the locals and cut through the small talk to the dirty, sometimes hard truth, I know this trip for Devin and I wouldn’t have been the same. He gave us the courage to take the opportunity that travel provides, and learn all about people we meet around the world. To not be afraid and to be open to the world.
Before we left for our trip we watched every episode of his CNN series Parts Unknown. It sparked a curiosity for the world that we had to explore. Anthony Bourdain has positively impacted our lives and the millions of people who have realized how much travel can teach us about each other. I will forever be grateful for the man who broke the mold on what defines travel and will deeply miss his passion for the unknown.