It has been a while since I posted to the blog. It is not for lack of travel or things to write about but more lack of time and desire to sit down at a computer when I am not working – I know, excuses, excuses. The last post was a few month ago and left off with my parents visiting Colombia. Since then I spent another month in Colombia and I have thousands of picture to still go through before I can tell the amazing story of the remainder of my time in Colombia. After Colombia, I returned to Chicago where I have been the past couple of months spending quality time with family and friends. I also took a few shorter trips to Colorado, Florida, and Minneapolis. However, this post is not about the travels I have fallen behind on documenting. This post is me stepping back to say – whoa where did the year go?! How have I been doing this already for a year and what should I do next? Before I can decide what to do next I wanted to take a moment and look at the past year by numbers (because I’m a math nerd and there were way too many memories to show the past year in pictures). I did a similar post on the first 5 months here. The data below is a total starting from day one (August 1, 2015 – Aug 1, 2016).
28,874 Miles Traveled!! There is a pretty cool travel website that helps keep track of travel stats if you take the time to plug-in your travel data.
5 Countries Visited: US, Colombia, Mexico, Jamaica, Cayman Islands
18 states visited: the green states I have spent at least 1 night in and the orange ones I have driven through in the past year
Logistics and Financials
If you haven’t already noticed I am a bit of a numbers geek so it is no surprise that I keep track of the details. Last time I shared my number I was pretty generic on the dollars spent. It seems taboo to talk about money so I have been pretty vague in the past. However, I am trying to travel more on a budget so maybe if I share it with others it will hold me more accountable to trying to spend less. I’ve mentioned before that my goal was to spend no more on living expenses than I was spending while living in Chicago which was about $100/nt when I took into account rent, parking, utilities, internet, etc. I know, it’s kinda crazy, but that was my reality. So when I started to travel I was by no means trying to travel a shoestring. I wanted adventure but while still having comforts I was used to in life. I did not want to rough it or sacrifice anything and I was more than willing to pay to insure I was comfortable.
I honestly has no idea if it was going to be easy or a hard thing to do. Turns out it wasn’t all that hard – even if I did not have family and friends to stay with I think it would have been very easy to stay under my budget or even under a much more strict budget. Early on I was overspending on places to stay just because it was in my budget and I could but in hindsight it was totally unnecessary. In fact, when I look at the best memories over the past year there are only a few places I am glad I splurged a bit (mainly ski in/out condos and beachfront places) and there are a ton of places I am glad I didn’t splurge on such as hostels in Colombia because they were socially so much better than the hotels and a quarter the price.
I think over time I have learned when to splurge a bit and when it is not worth it and I am hoping my expenses will continue to go down as I cut back some. It also helps keep expenses down when I spend 2 month in a high rent area like skiing in Colorado (Jan & Feb) and then spend 2 months in an inexpensive place like Colombia (Apr & May) to help average out the overall cost.
As you can see in the Nightly Details breakdown I have spent almost 50% of my time staying at Family & Friend’s places. This was very unexpected and not something I planned going into this but it is also one of the best parts of the travel which has allowed me to spend so much more quality time with the people I love! I am very fortunate that I have great family and friend who I enjoy being around (and it seems they like having me around since they keep inviting me back) and it is a double bonus because it also helps subsidize my nightly cost. In return, I try to give back when I can, like when I was in Breckenridge in January I rented a place that slept 6 people and had many friends and family come visit. I hope to be able to do that again next year!
Overall, my average nightly stay was $62 so I was almost 40% under budget which is pretty cool! I saved more money in the past year by traveling all over North America than I would have staying in Chicago. That is very hard to believe and very unexpected.
So now what?! In all honestly, I do not know. I am not ready to settle back down and I really do enjoy the nomadic lifestyle but I am also a little tired of planning things. Try planning where you are going to sleep every.single.night.for.a.year and I am sure you will be tired too, right? I just wish I could wave a magic wand and someone would have all my travel logistics figured out and my bags packed. Ahh that would be so nice but I don’t have that person so I think I am going to keep lying low until I get my mojo back to plan some bigger, longer, further away trips (I keep thinking southeast Asia, but then I don’t buy a ticket because I think it may be too hard to work when in that time zone!).
In the meantime, here is how my loose calendar is shaping up:
Sept – (potential) road trip Chicago to Colorado for a couple of weeks
Oct – return to Chicago via KC and spend a week visiting with friends. Fly to Atlanta for wedding + dog sitting for 3 weeks
Nov – still in Atlanta for a few weeks then fly back to Chicago
Dec – Dominican Republic with my sister for a week with the Soles for Souls organization
Jan-Apr – I have already rented a place in Colorado for the ski season. It is the same place I stayed for 3 weeks in March and I am super excited to go back for 3 months!
Wow, ok, I guess I do still have quite a bit planned but there are also a ton of open dates on my calendar so who knows how they will get filled. Maybe once I pack my car up to go to Colorado I will just take another extended road trip detouring through Atlanta until December. Decisions Decisions.
Shout out to Barb K. and her family for reading along and following me on my journey!!