By , May 31, 2011 7:30 am

May has been a HUGE month for us here at Traveled Earth!  Here’s a quick recap of the last 31 days:

  • We reached our savings goal.  As of May 1, we had achieved 100% of our original travel fund goal.
  • We paid off our mortgage and student loans… officially debt-free!
  • Our house sold!  While we accepted an offer at the end of April, it wasn’t until May 4th that the conditions were taken off and the deposit was paid.
  • We held a Boston Lee Day/Going Away Party – our “Last Hurrah” at our house
  • We moved out of our home of 6 years (10 years for Mike)… we were married in the backyard, so it was kind of tough letting go
  • We moved into our new temporary residence (Mike’s parents’ house), a whole block away from the old place
  • We held a huge garage sale where we sold the majority of our worldly possessions.  The result:  another 1.5% added on to our savings goal.
  • We relocated our cat to her new home with one of my work colleagues.  This was heartbreaking, but it had to be done.  I ask about her daily.  She is adjusting well to her new home.
  • My union took job action in its labour dispute.  As a result, it’s been an emotional and stressful month at work and I have spent three unpaid days striking/rallying in Regina.
  • We handed over the keys of our old house to the new owners.  No turning back now!
  • I cancelled my cell phone contract (which still had 1 year remaining) and got the company to waive the $300+ in early cancellation fees… cha-ching!
  • We attended a dinner party with Get Up and Globe and  Shahan & Donna-Lee, two fellow Saskatchewan couples preparing for their own RTW adventures.

Now there’s only 35 days and change until we get on the plane to Cancun.  Can’t wait!

Mike and Ashley - Boston Lee Day

Mike and Ashley - Boston Lee Day


By , May 25, 2011 9:15 pm

We’ve been putting together a list of documentation to get together before we leave home. We’ve got most of it together, but there are still some things we need to collect. None the less, we thought our list was complete enough to share it with the world. If you happen to see (or not see as the case would be) something that should really be included, please let us know.

I’ve divided things up a bit based on how we plan to store them. In all cases, we are going to scan everything (front and back of credit cards). A copy of the scanned files will be left in our safety deposit box on a USB thumbdrive where my sister can access them should we need her to. Another copy will be encrypted and taken with us on our laptop. Those same encrypted copies will be emailed to ourselves just in case we lose our laptop on the road.

To carry with us:

Driver’s License
International Driver’s Permit
Vaccination Records
Health Insurance Cards
Credit Cards
Bank Cards
PADI Dive Certificate
Spare Passport Photos
Traveled Earth Business Cards

To leave in the safety deposit box:

Ashley and Our Safety Deposit Box

Ashley and Our Safety Deposit Box

Last Will and Testaments
Living Wills
Enduring Power of Attorneys
List of Bank Accounts
Birth Certificates
Social Insurance Cards
Engineering/Teaching Certificates
Saskatchewan Health Cards
Marriage Certificate
Full Health Insurance Policy
Ashley’s Engagement Ring

Digital copies only:

Past Income Tax Records
High School Diplomas
University Degrees
University Transcripts
Criminal Record Checks
Doctor’s Notes/Prescriptions
Eye glass Prescription

By , May 17, 2011 5:00 pm

A bit of background information: Not too long ago, Mike came home asking the question “Why do we want to travel?” He had read Lauren’s Why Choose to Travel Long Term post at Never-Ending Footsteps and was astounded that we had never really sat down and answered it together (or individually). He proposed that we tackle the question separately by writing our own blog posts before sharing them with each other. If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve probably already read Mike’s answer. Now here’s mine…

You would think that after deciding to quit our jobs, sell our house, and travel the world, answering the question “Why do you want to travel?” would be a snap. Because I love to travel. Duh. You probably could have guessed that. But that doesn’t really answer it, does it? The real question is why do I love to travel? And why do I want to go on a RTW trip? And why now? It turns out that answering these questions and digging deeper is a tougher, but very worthwhile exercise.

Why Do I Love To Travel?

A Massive Kauri Tree in New Zealand

A Massive Kauri Tree in New Zealand

1.   I want to expand my worldview and experience what’s out there.  The world is an immense, diverse and powerful place full of interesting and unique places and people. I want to see experience a small piece of that. This is easily my biggest reason for the trip.

2.   I am obsessed with learning. I’ve always loved school because I love learning new things. And who wouldn’t prefer learning new things by experiencing them, rather than sitting at home on the couch reading about them in a book?

Why An RTW Trip and Why Now?

3.   Backpacking around the world is, in my humble opinion, the best way to achieve #1 and #2 above. By not having a timeline, agenda, or solid itinerary, I will have the time to really immerse myself in other cultures – not to just visit them for a while, but to live within them. Not having the pressure of a job, or even a house, to return to gives me the freedom to really experience the places I am in.

4.   I think we make our own fate. And mine was becoming that of the majority in North America… go to school, get a stable job, maybe have kids, work for 30+ years to earn a good pension, then retire. And then, if you’re still healthy enough, you can go out and travel. This safe, comfortable pattern wasn’t doing it for me anymore. The more I thought about, the more I realized my all-time favourite times of my life have been spent travelling with my husband – so why not do that long-term?

5.   I went through a bit of a career crisis last year – for the first time in my life, I didn’t know if teaching was THE job for me for the rest of my working years. While, ultimately, I decided it was and am currently quite satisfied with my job, this was the point where talks of an RTW trip switched from “what if” and “if only” to “we could” and “when” and “how.” After deciding that traveling was something we could really do, resolving the crisis certainly didn’t mean discarding the trip plans. There will be always be teaching jobs somewhere.

6.   I’ve been feeling that I’m living in a bit of a rut. I spend way too much of my free time doing mindless, boring stuff like watching TV. I know that you don’t need to travel to go out and experience everything life has to offer. But somewhere between my job (including the extra-curricular hours and homework), commuting almost an hour each way to work, and the daily grind, I stopped treating life like it was a journey and an adventure.

7.   I love Saskatchewan. I really do. But I can’t just take an hour drive from my house and climb a mountain. Or canoe down a river. Or go for a hike without getting a migraine from the heat since there’s no tree cover. Some people say that Regina is in the middle of nowhere, but I prefer to think it’s halfway to everywhere. And now I just want to go the rest of the way.

Summit Lake, Stone Mountain Provincial Park, BC

By , May 14, 2011 5:11 pm

We were recently  interviewed by Amy and Kieron for their blog Don’t Ever Look Back.  Among other things, they have been conducting a series of #rtwsoon interviews showcasing burgeoning travelers as they prepare for their round the world trips.  Amy and Kieron themselves are in the midst of preparing for their own RTW adventure beginning shortly after ours on July 26th, 2011.

Follow this link to check out our interview #rtwsoon Interview: Mike & Ashley – Traveled Earth

By , May 13, 2011 6:06 pm

Somewhat recently, I read a post by Lauren at Never-Ending Footsteps titled Why Choose to Travel Long Term.  I really liked the post, because it got me thinking: why do I want to travel? It suddenly dawned on me that this seemed like something I should have already thought a great deal about. You’d think answering that question would be easy for someone who had already handed in his resignation, sold his house, and booked a one way ticket to Cancun.

Truth be told, I hadn’t given the question one iota of thought. It’s been over a year since Ashley and I decided to travel, but not a minute was wasted thinking about why. Not one.

I’ve since spent a couple of weeks rolling the idea around in my head. Thank goodness I came up with a few reasons of my own. It would have been embarrassing to realize I didn’t actually want to do it at this stage in the game.

I just want to be happy.

No surprise here, so does everyone else. Still, this is probably the biggest reason I came up with for why I want to travel. Now I wouldn’t say I’m unhappy with my life as it is now, I have a lot going for me. I’ve got a reasonably good job, I’m happily married to Ashley, I have good friends, and a good relationship with my family. I wouldn’t say I’m unhappy.

Then again, I’m not as happy as I could be.

Here’s a quick fact. When I try to think of the happiest I’ve been, I keep coming back to the month Ashley and I spent backpacking across New Zealand. Canoeing the Yukon River comes in a close second, followed by our week in Cuba, and our trip to Las Vegas last winter. There’s definitely a pattern emerging: travel and Ashley.

If I keep doing what I’m doing, I can look forward to a whopping 3 weeks of travel a year. That’s only a little under 6% of my time that I can spend doing what makes me happiest.

Kissing in Kluane

Kissing in Kluane


Where does all the time go?

Despite my generally happy life, I spend very little time doing things that I want to do. Let’s break it down.

9 hours – Work
2 hours – Commute to Work
1 hour – Eating (okay, I like eating but not when I don’t have time to cook anything decent)

Take out 8 hours for sleep, and that leave a whopping 4 hours to spend doing things that I like. Some days I’m lucky and I get to go to my Karate class, visit friends, or play board games with Ashley. Other days I waste it on the internet, watching TV, and reading a book. Either way, I’m spending 75% of my waking day doing things that don’t make me happy.

What am I looking forward to?

I like to see a steady improvement in my life. I really enjoy setting goals, and working towards them. That’s probably why I’ve started so many hobbies over the years. As much as I hate to boast, aside from the fact that I’ve never become good at any of my hobbies, I’m pretty much at the top of my game right now. Ashley and I own a house outright, we’ve completed our university education, and we’re both employed full time. I’m 28, so I can look forward to 37 more years of full time employment before I reach 65, the retirement age here in Canada.

What changes am I going to see in those 37 years? I can imagine moving into a larger house, then moving repeatedly every 5 or 10 years as I advance my career. I’ll probably start working more hours as my job expectations continue to advance, and I’ll eventually lose touch with the once held notion that there are things I enjoy doing and I could be doing them if I weren’t working so much.  All in all, not too much left to work towards except retirement.

The theory of relativity.

In super simple plain language here’s my layman’s interpretation of Einstein’s theory of relativity: The world, the universe, and everything is only as big, small, detailed, or simple as you personally can perceive. You can’t experience anything more, only guess at what more there is based on your perceptions.

What’s that mean? It means that the kid who spends his whole life locked in a closet has no idea what he’s missing out on. Sure, he can guess at what the world might be like, he knows his food comes from somewhere, but he’ll truly have no idea. Worse yet, what’s outside the closet won’t matter to him because he hasn’t experienced it and can’t comprehend what he’s missing out on.

Having been in a closet before, I know quite well that there is a heck of a lot that I’d be missing out on. The same thing applies to the world in general. I don’t know what I’ll find traveling, but I know there’s more there than I’ve experienced, and I want to make as much of it count for me as I can.

In closing.

Travel makes me happy. I’ll have 100% of my waking day to do what I want to do. I can hike, relax at the beach, or even try and get a job at my leisure. The important part is it’ll be on my terms. 37 years is a long time to spend working for someone else. Taking a break isn’t going to set me back significantly in the long term, and I’ve got a few years before I’m too old to have kids. It’s a big world out there, and I can’t wait to see it.

Ashley went through this same exorcise, you can read all about it here -> Why Ashley Wants to Travel.

By , May 5, 2011 8:16 pm

Pat LePoidevin & Matt Sarty

Pat LePoidevin & Matt Sarty

You don’t have to quit your job and leave the country to experience new and interesting things. Or to delve into a new and different “culture.” You just have to look in your own backyard. Or maybe a neighbour’s backyard, as we recently discovered.

In July 2010, we attended the Dawson City Music Festival and came home with about 16 CDs from artists we had never heard of before but fell in love with. One of these artists was Pat LePoidevin – a young Canadian musician who performed magic with his voice, a ukulele, a guitar, and a loop pedal. We have been listening to his CDs ever since and were stoked to find on his MySpace page that he was playing a house concert in Regina. A house concert? we wondered. Like in an actual house? Is that really a thing? After emailing Pat, who directed us to Erin (who owns said house), we found out that yes, house concerts are an actual thing. This particular one would cost $10 a person and they would be having a potluck beforehand for anyone that wanted to partake. I naively asked if I needed to buy tickets in advance, or would I be sure to get one at the door? (I still hadn’t figured out the whole house concert thing yet).

So there we were at 5:00 on Easter Monday, standing in front of a strange house holding a dessert, not sure what to expect from the evening. We were the first guests to arrive and we were instantly made to feel at home and offered a glass of wine. We sat on one of the benches in the varied array of seating set up outside in the backyard, and before long Pat LePoidevin and Matt Sarty (the musicians) came out to join us. We sat and talked for a while as more and more guests started to arrive. This is when we realized how great this evening was going to be. How often do you get to hang out and chat with the musicians before a show? Eventually, a delicious meal of roast lamb, potatoes, and various salads was served. After dinner, Pat and Matt set up their gear in the backyard. It was such a beautiful evening everyone decided it would be best to hold the concert outside.

Beth and Erin (Organizers)

Beth and Erin (Organizers)

Matt set up a drum set and Pat played guitar and ukulele with the loop pedal, using a little amp. He kept the amp turned down fairly low, so he could sing over the music. The concert was magical… a fire was lit, blankets were brought out to keep us warm, and the music was fantastic. Pat’s set list was mostly from his new CD, Highway Houses, but he played several of our favourites from his other albums. The atmosphere was very low key due to the intimate setting and there was a lot of storytelling and audience interaction. One of the highlights of the evening was the final song… the title track from “Highway Houses.” Pat put down his guitar and ukulele and plugged a microphone into the loop pedal. After commenting on how much he hates holding a microphone, he started into the song. With his powerful voice and the aid of the loop pedal, he repeated the few verses of the song again and again, harmonizing with his own voice on each loop. It was a perfect end to a wonderful evening of music.

I hope to have many more interesting evenings of great conversations and music with new friends on our upcoming RTW journey. The Pat LePoidevin house concert was a reminder that you don’t have to cross country borders to experience something new and unique.

If you have never heard of Pat LePoidevin, he’s definitely worth checking out. His songs are built up carefully layer by layer, in such a way that you’re instantly drawn in. His passionate, poetic lyrics and sheer musicality draw you into an ethereal world for as long as you listen. You can access his music on his MySpace page or check out the videos below.

Highway Houses

Pat LePoidevin | Myspace Music Videos

Pat LePoidevin’s “Fire” – I really like this clip because the quality of the recording allows you to hear the power in his voice

Pat LePoidevin’s “Moonwolf Departure” – Love this song! It shows some of what he can do with a loop pedal.

By , May 4, 2011 6:30 pm

It’s official today.  All the conditions are lifted, the deposit is paid.  Our house has sold.  We’re super relieved that it sold before our trip.  Looks like we won’t have to worry about renting after all.

Time to start moving, the official handover is May 27th, at 9am.

But tonight, we celebrate.  We’ve got a bottle of Champagne chilling in the fridge.