A lot of people have asked about the background details of our trip, so I figured it was time to provide some info! :)
Nicole was sort of the brains behind getting the Meserve Reserve website up and running. Originally, we purchased a Squarespace account and the domain name as a means to sell candles that Nicole had been making. But as we were getting that running, we decided to take our extended trip. So, as the entrepreneurs say, we "pivoted" the website to be something fun for us to do while we are away.
Nicole loves photography and I love to write, so we figured we would do that. Three weeks into it, we're having more fun with this than we would have imagined! But since I jumped right into blogging about the trip, as stated above, it's time for some background info for anyone interested. Hence the who, what, where, when, and how that follows:
This is captured within the About Us section of the website. Regarding Meserve Reserve, back in the day we started referring to our small wine collection as the Meserve Reserve. Then, when Nicole started making candles, she designed a logo using the M and R, so the name sort of stuck.
After living in New York for seven years, Nicole and I decided to take an extended overseas trip. That is currently the focus of this website and blog. Prior to leaving, I left my job, Nicole was able to go on sabbatical at her work, we gave up the lease on our apartment, put our things in a storage unit, and took off!
Our trip includes stops in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Bali, Thailand, Finland, England, Spain, and France. Nicole has provided our itinerary under the Travels section of the website.
Once we knew we wanted to take an extended trip, one of the biggest and hardest decisions was figuring out the Where. To keep the budget down, we knew we couldn't be zigzagging the globe, but would need to focus on a few areas. Otherwise all of our money would go to transportation costs. Nicole had always dreamed of spending an extended amount of time in France, so we knew that would likely be one place. The rest we figured out over months of research and talking it out. Originally, we were fixated on renting a camper van for a long stay in New Zealand but after digging into the research it seemed that between the van rental fees and paying to park it at campgrounds, the cost would put us over-budget. Plus, I wanted somewhere with a little more culture shock (for whatever reason, my favorite travel experiences have been to places like India or rural China that are very different than what I'm used to). We were also sort of influenced by an Anthony Bourdain television episode where he explored Hue, Vietnam. After looking into it, we figured Vietnam would be an exciting place to spend an extended amount of time and the low cost would balance out the higher cost of France. After settling on Vietnam, we decided to add a shorter stay in Bali just to see another close by place.
In Vietnam and especially France, we've focused when possible on longer stays in places that have a kitchen (such as an Airbnb rental or the like) so that we don't get burned out from being on the move and eating every meal at a restaurant.
After that, the rest of the stops on our trip had more to do with where we could get the best deals on plane flights or had layovers. The exceptions are our time in England and Spain. Some of our good friends are getting married in England in July so we were super excited to be able to attend. This also gave us the chance to arrange to see some of our other good friends who live in Manchester prior to the wedding which we are pumped about. We added Spain in after learning that some of our good friends from New York would be vacationing there this summer which gave us the chance to meet up with them.
We stopped working in early April 2017, spent a week and a half moving our things to a storage unit and tying up a lot of loose ends (this was a much more exhausting week and a half than we had planned!) and flew out of the U.S. in mid-April.
Of course, taking an extended trip required some advanced planning and money to sustain us while we are not working. For the past seven years, I worked as an attorney at a law firm in New York and Nicole as a consultant at a big four accounting firm. During those seven years, we lived in a cheaper fifth floor walk up apartment, didn't own a car, and I did things such as cutting my own hair and wearing used shoes to work that I bought on eBay because I am a super-cheap guy! :) So as a result, we were able to put away some money over the years to make an extended trip possible. Nicole also had some airline and hotel points saved up that we have used here and there for a few of flights and overnight stays.
Our plan from the outset was to be a bit unplanned on the trip to allow us flexibility. So when we flew out from New York we only had our first ten nights' accommodation booked. We figured we would book as we went in Vietnam and then sometime along the way we would reserve places to stay in France since we knew we were travelling during the busy season there. Upon getting to Vietnam, we quickly realized that the types of places we wanted to stay booked up quick! So we decided to give up some of that flexibility and book things further in advance and, in hindsight, I'm glad we did this.
So that was a much longer post than I'd originally intended, but now everyone has the whole story! :)
Like this post? Want to read more about Travis and Nicole's travel adventures? Check out What's This Trip Cost? How Much We Have Spent Travelling Through Vietnam For One Month.
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