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You have to dream big they say, and our travel plans were certainly ambitious.
Having lived in South Australia for a long time, we had hit a rut. As a family we had reached a point where we needed a change.
You become dull to your surroundings once they become the norm. You no longer have that sense of wonder when you’re visiting your favourite restaurants or destination for the millionth time. It just seems like you’re seeing the same thing day to day.
We were craving some new scenery. New places to explore. New foods to excite the taste buds. And different ways of life to experience. Basically, we wanted something different. And it just so happened to be the perfect time for a change.
My work contract was due to end in 2 months. Changes within the department meant it was unable to be renewed. Unemployment was looming.
The house we were renting was also booked in for a much needed face lift. Renovations would begin in 2 months time and we would have to vacate the premises.
Instead of being upset or stressed about having to find a new job and house at the same time. We decided it sounded like the perfect time to make our move! Lets use this as a catalyst to make our big change.
We began brainstorming and hatching some travel plans. In the end we came up with two options.
Option one was obvious. Mieka with her teaching degree and my love of Asia, we would try our hand at Teaching English somewhere in Asia.
China being the biggest market for English language teachers was the obvious choice. We set our sights on beginning the journey there.
The plan was to try and move every 6-12 months from one country to another, picking up work as we went along and exploring when we could.
Mieka would be the breadwinner. Earning money teaching English and I would remain as a stay at home dad, spending my days adventuring with Ronin.
We both loved the idea of introducing Ronin to new cultures, different ways of life, unique foods and experiences and homeschooling him along the way.
Option two was a little closer to home. Nothing quite as dramatic as moving to China to teach English, but still a place we wanted to explore more.
Two years previous, we had visited and fallen in love with Tasmania.
We had discussed moving to Tasmania on many occasions ever since that first visit there.
We had fallen in love with everything this island had to offer. Lush green forests, gorgeous flowing rivers and waterfalls, and the stunning mountain scenery.
The friendly people and delicious local food certainly helped with the decision as well.
Our two options were vastly different, but we were keen to explore both.
Picking an option was one of the hardest decisions made as a family.
Asia was calling me back, I wanted to spend more time in Thailand and definitely couldn’t wait to visit Cambodia again.
But convincing Mieka was a little bit more difficult. Having never visited an Asian country before, she was a little hesitant.
The overprotective mum in her was in full force, and issue like tropical diseases, Ronins allergies, drowning and any number of natural disasters caused some concern.
These same concerns played over my mind as well, but I knew it would be worth the effort if we could just make it work.
Asia did offer a few benefits though that couldn’t be overlooked. The cost of living was cheaper, Mieka would be working less and therefore spending more time with Ronin.
Add in the beautiful scenery, delicious and cheap street foods and I eventually convinced her that Asia might be the right decision.
One morning, much to my surprise, Mieka agreed with me. I was stunned and a bit surprised, but we finally had some travel plans, now we just needed to implement them.
THE SPANNER IN THE WORKS
Travel plans don’t always go as expected. Unknown to us, we were just about to hit our first bump in the road.
Getting out and adventuring on the weekend was something we always tried to do. Ronin is definitely an outdoors kid who loves hiking and hunting mushrooms.
We usually ended up going hiking somewhere. Spending the day exploring the great hiking regions around South Australia.
After those long strenuous hikes, its normal to feel a little tired and sore for a day or two.
But for Mieka, that day or two was becoming three or four days of tiredness and soreness. Eventually becoming sore, tired and in pain all the time.
We knew something was wrong, but we didn’t know how wrong or what was causing it?
After what seemed like endless doctor visits, scans and blood tests. Mieka was diagnosed with arthritis.
We finally had our culprit, we just needed to know how bad it was? We figured Arthritis had thrown a spanner into our travel plans, but had it?
Numerous consultations with the doctor later. She advised it still should be possible to travel. It would require a bit more planning and effort, but still possible.
If we could get the medication balance correct and the pain levels under control. There was nothing stopping us.
This is exactly the news we were hoping for. We still had to visit the specialist to find out what type of type of Arthritis Mieka had. What damage had already done. And the best way to manage the condition. But our Asian travel plans were still looking solid.
The only thing not looking solid was time. Time definitely wasn’t on our side.
With only 2 months before the due date to leave the rental house and my work contract finishing. We needed to make travel plans and quickly.
TEFL qualifications was high on our priority list. We knew we had to complete 120 hours of online learning in a 2 month time limit. All while working full time and raising a boisterous child.
I trawled the internet for online courses. Eventually limiting our option to around 4 companies that looked and sounded legit.
I sent off emails asking a few questions that I wanted answered to these 4 companies. 2 companies decided that they just didn’t want to reply to my inquiries at all.
The 3rd company replied, but didn’t really answer any of my questions. They just told me which package I should be purchasing off them. Needless to say, these 3 companies didn’t get my business.
The 4th company (myTEFL) got my business. They replied the next day, answering every question with clear and useful information. Even suggesting some additional countries to teach English that would be better for our family. They suggested Vietnam might be a better place to teach than China based on our families requirements.
The added bonus, they also were running a discount on the course for that month. They had impressed me with their response and insight into our needs, they got our business.
We continued with the travel planning. Our original plan was to become backpackers. Living our new portable lives on the move. Our possessions travelling with us in our trusty backpacks.
A few test runs scrapped the backpacking idea. Mieka just didn’t have the strength to be lugging around a full backpack for long periods of time anymore.
We didn’t want to be using suitcases though. We wanted the flexibility that a backpack provides.
After a lot of online searching and review reading, we eventually found exactly what we required. The Osprey Sojourn seemed to covered all our bases. A visit to the local camping store to see the Sojourn left us impressed. We returned home with some sexy new luggage. It put a bit of a dent in our travel budget, but this luggage was to be our new home.
We sold our big household items and cut down our clothing dramatically. Anything that wasn’t going to be useful or practical to travel full time had to go. Eventually we managed to fit everything we thought we would need into our baggage. Life in 60 litres or less.
Forms, photos and a couple of injections meant our passports and vaccinations were up to date. Vaccinations of course weren’t as simple as I make it sound. Live vaccines couldn’t be used due to the immunosuppressant side effects of the Arthritis medication. Some tips on how to manage and avoid the illnesses Mieka couldn’t be vaccinated against would hopefully see us safely through without issues.
A $2500 dent in our travel budget later and our travel plans were coming along nicely. Excitement could felt around the house.
Even though everything was looking positive, doubt started to creep in. Could we actually pull this travel plan off?
Continue to Part Two