Or: The Story of How I Got Greedy
NB: The info here is from early 2008, as part of the series on my 2008 RTW trip.
I didn’t start by planning to go ‘Round The World (RTW). When I moved to Indonesia, I had thought that I would be able to take short breaks and cover South-East Asia. However, several things made this impossible. Firstly, I used most of my vacation days to go to India to meet my family and secondly, there was a steep “exit fee” that residents had to pay when leaving Indonesia (about 100 USD). While not exactly bank-breaking, it did threaten to make any weekend jaunt into Cambodia quite steep.
A quick hop around South-East Asia
By 2007, I had made up my mind to return to India by the end of the year and thought of spending a couple of months in South-East Asia on my way back. After reading about the region and spending endless days dreaming about travelling there, I discussed it with my employer, and was told that taking a break between contracts would be impossible. I would have to join back in India and take a vacation after that. However, a vacation was not what I wanted. I wanted a break. The “quick jaunt” was not feasible.
A few months’ sabbatical between jobs
So it was decided for me. If I wanted to travel I would have to quit my job. Although the idea scared me at the time, it was also exciting as it opened up a whole new world of opportunity. I didn’t need to restrict myself to a couple of months. I could go as long as financially feasible. I was now thinking of travelling for 6 months! No one I knew personally had ever done such a thing. I was apprehensive but at the same time the idea really turned me on. But surely I wouldn’t spend 6 months in Asia! Time to think bigger.
But where? I didn’t want to go to Europe. Firstly, Europe is expensive and secondly, there was a good chance that my job would take me there someday. There was however, absolutely no chance of my job taking me to say, Burkina Faso. I had already started learning French, so West Africa seemed attractive and feasible. I started reading more, and discovered several of the blogs that I mentioned in my last post. The term “RTW” had just entered my vocabulary.
A year-long career break
Towards the end of 2007, time had come to decide. With a rapidly beating heart I approached my boss and told him that I wanted out. Until now I had kept everything to myself. But now I started talking to my friends and family about it. I was expecting some grief from my parents but almost everyone was immediately supportive. My only concern was that it might be difficult to find another job after getting back, but reading about others’ experiences gave me some courage.
Around this time I discovered UK’s “Working Holidaymakers Visa”. It was a 2-year visa that allowed you to work for up to one year. No questions asked, no points system and no tie-in with an employer. I figured that could be a backup plan. If I ran out of money too soon, I could always head to the UK and look for a job. That way I would still be “travelling” in a way and still maintain continuity in my CV. My skill was in high demand and I felt invincible.
I still had no Indian predecessor (that I knew of) but I kept the faith and plotted on. I cut down on a lot of my expenses; I reduced eating out and partying. I stayed at home on a lot of weekends and attacked my Playstation with a vengeance. I was saving money like never before. Emboldened, and thinking that I will “never get a chance like this again”, I made my decision.
I would take a year to travel around the world. And I had an end date. March 5, 2008 would be my last day. Ah, springtime; perfect for travelling!