Let’s start this blog off by answering the most popular questions Steve and I have been asked over the past few months while getting ready for our trip.
WHO is on this trip, anyways?
If you are reading this, you probably know that newlyweds Steve and Janan are!
WHAT are you doing?
Hmm, a good question. I tend to ask myself this daily…lol. Kidding aside, Steve and I have just started a 1-year+ trip through Asia and Australia. We are living out of our backpacks, staying in hostels and guesthouses, eating local food, and taking local transportation. I plan to pick up some freelancing again along the way and work on some web-related projects that have been on the backburner for a while.
WHERE/WHEN are you going?
Our rough plan is:
June-July: Hong Kong and China
July-August: Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) with my brother Ashraf
WHY are you doing this?
I think it’s safe to say most of us have a ‘bucket list’ of things we want to do and see before we kick the can and Steve and I are no different. Some of the things on our list are common and others are independent of one another. The decision to go on this trip started from our shared goal of driving around Australia. The main obstacle was money. We couldn’t justify doing such a time-consuming and expensive trip at this point in our lives without being able to work to support ourselves along the way.
Then, early in 2019, we found out that Australia and Canada had extended their working holiday visa scheme up to age 35 and we were both eligible. The website said the process could months and that various types of information could be requested throughout the process. We decided to initiate our applications and were honestly shocked when we were accepted almost overnight! Once the visa is granted, you have one year to enter the country or else you lose the opportunity and you can’t re-apply. Plans started to take shape quickly at that point because we had already planned a trip to Shenzhen, China in April to visit my brother Ashraf and his partner Aneta. Rather than buying another set of expensive flight tickets later that year, we decided to extend our Asia travels with a plan to head to Oz after their winter (September-ish).
Items from our individual bucket lists have since been added to the plan. For Steve, it was climb to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. For me, it was visiting the Taj Mahal and the Punjab region where my dad’s family is originally from. We will figure out the rest when the time comes!
HOW are you doing this?
Yes, we did have to quit our jobs and pack up our apartment to make it happen. We are lucky to have families that are graciously storing our things for us until we get back. We are also savers by nature and don’t have any financial or material obligations right now. We didn’t plan to go at exactly this time or in this way but we did make choices throughout our relationship so that we could actually do this if or when the opportunity presented itself.
The logistics of planning such a big trip are slightly less daunting for us since we have both travelled via backpacking in the past. We know the types of places we like to stay and when its worth it to pay for comfort or convenience. Most people who know me know that I have had some pretty unforgettable life experiences when I haven’t made a plan and was open to the opportunities that came up. I know from experience that it gets easier to trust your gut the more you do it.
We have also maximized our stays with family and friends. We will have two free weeks of accommodation in Shenzhen, China thanks to a perk from my brother’s workplace. Once we get to Australia, we have family and friends in Sydney and Melbourne who have space for us to stay while we get our bearings and find the perfect camper van, so that’s reassuring. We are most interested in finding work in Western Australia, rural areas or the Outback and we’ve heard employers are always looking for workers in these hard-to-staff areas so we optimistic that things will work out when the time comes.
Finally, we look forward to telling you more about HOW we are doing it as this blog unfolds!