a travel summary
50% of 5050
I could have written this post as soon as we returned to Canada but it has taken some time to re-adjust and digest where we are, what we have accomplished and what we want to do next. It has been a whirlwind couple of years and not without unexpected twists and turns.
50% of 5050. What does this mean? No, we have not decided to go our separate ways but we have tested our relationship by selling our home of 19 years, giving notice to all of our clients, saying good-bye to our two grown kids, our friends and the comforts of a place we knew so well. We set out with the lofty goal of travelling to 50 countries in a span of 50 months. The 50% of 5050 simply means that we reached the half waypoint of our goal when we landed in Thailand in March. It was an important milestone for us as doubt had crept in about what we had done and where we were headed. This blog post will fill you in on our thoughts, reflections and future plans as well as highlight 25 images from the first half of 5050 Travelog. Enjoy!
What is up with the number and why count? When we first started out I had to work on my belief system. I would explain our goal but would often say things like; we will see what happens and not be specific. It was quirky, pie in the sky, just because we both were turning 50. A fun concept hatched over coffee at Starbucks to escape the day to day. We needed a change, a challenge. Once we got on the road and the further we travelled, I felt a change in my desire and a shift in my belief in the goal. We were reconnecting with old friends and cherishing moments of new discovery. The travel experiences and impressions were fuelling my passions and filling my memory bank. How do you count the value of personal connections? It can be hard to quantify for oneself and others. We are not travelling for the sake of a number but it is a way to be accountable to our goal to challenge ourselves and it is rewarding to set milestones and reach them.
It was not easy to get 5050 travelog off the ground. From the time the decision was made in the fall of 2014 until we were on our first flight to Hong Kong a year went by. If this is your first time reading our blog, a noteworthy post would be: Selling our House to Travel.
The worries and aggravations of the planning stages were quickly replaced with quiet anticipation followed by an adrenaline rush as the plane taxied down the runway and lifted off the tarmac in Vancouver on the last day of October 2015. For those who are mentally calculating 50 months forward, we have until January 2020 to visit the next 25 countries.
We want to extend a huge thank you to everyone we have stayed with during "Part One" of 5050 Travelog. There is no way we could have made this happen if we would have stayed in hotels or Airbnb style accommodation the for the entire trip. At the fear of missing anyone, I will refrain from listing names. You know who you are. If we haven't already connected since we returned to Canada, we sincerely hope to see you for a visit at our new home base in Vancouver.
Our mission statement reads: The main goals for our travels are to experience the world as it is today, to photograph the many wonders, catch up with old friends and hopefully meet new friends along the way. So far I think we have succeeded. The most rewarding part has been reconnecting with old friends and family and spending unforgettable time with our grown kids. It has been a privilege to spend quality time together. Not just for a few hours over a glass of wine but sometimes for days or even weeks.
Emma joined us in Paris in the spring of 2016 and spent three weeks with us on a trip taking us to Barcelona, up along the French Riviera, into Italy and back to Paris via Geneva. Emma spent the past year in Copenhagen attending university so it became our favourite stopover location. Mik and Courtney joined us for a week in December for a traditional Danish Christmas.
We have seen amazing places and it has been rewarding, but not without challenges. The photo above from Marrakech reminds me of the health issues we encountered. We did not have a fixed address or a home for 18 months. By choice, we were constantly on the move. The longest we stayed in one place was about a month. There is no vaccine for the stress of travel; a series of highs and lows and constant chaos. The first task when arriving at a new place was to consider and plan our next move. At times it was difficult to simply enjoy and live in the moment. Our bodies and minds had to keep up with the pace and we did not always cope well. Lessons learned.
For the camera crowd out there I cannot have a summary without talking about my gear selection for travel. I have been a Canon shooter for the longest time but wanted a lighter system for travel. Canon makes excellent cameras/lenses and I would not hesitate to buy another one at some point should I feel the need. Having a lighter kit however has been crucial in feeling free and nimble. I sometimes miss the larger sensor and that certain look of the lenses I have enjoyed using in the past but Fujifilm has a great line up of pro cameras and lenses at lower cost and weight.
For the first leg of the trip in Hong Kong 2015, I used my Canon gear. Over the Christmas holiday back in Canada I sold all my Canon gear including four lenses. For the next leg (United Arab Emirates, Prague and France) I took a Fujifilm X-T1, which I traded in Paris after the X-Pro2 was released. The X-T1 was a nice camera but the X-Pro2 is better in many ways. It has 24 megapixels vs. 16 in the X-T1, it is faster, has better AF, more AF points, a joy stick for selecting AF points and the fantastic Acros black and white film simulation. I have four Fujifilm prime lenses; XF 14mm f/2.8, XF 23mm f/1.4, XF 90mm f/2 WR. Last but not least the XF 35 f/1.4, probably the lens I use the most. I had the XF 35mm f/2 WR for a while but traded it for the f/1.4 version. For a six-week stint in South East Asia I travelled with only two lenses, the XF 14mm f/2.8 and XF 35mm f/1.4.
Why do a summary at this point? It is as much for us as for our readers to take stock.
We have three main reason for pressing 'pause', One; It became evident as time passed we were missing a base; a place to call home. We needed the place where you close the door and are yourself, where you practice self-care, where you relax 100 percent. We enjoy the company of friends and family but discovered we also cherish quiet alone time. We needed a base where we can recharge and prepare for new adventures. Second; we must replenish our bank account before deciding on our next travel move. Despite attempts at budgeting, funds disappear quickly on the road. If you are budgeting for long term travel remember to include tedious expenses like passport renewals, vaccines, travel insurance, international drivers license, luggage fees, airport transfers, parking, currency exchange fees and storage fees if you decide to store your belongings while away. Third; we needed a break from taking a break. At times, we experienced an overload of new impressions. To fully appreciate the marvellous places in the world we have found we need more day to day to contrast with the beauty and bounty. We want to enjoy the ride and not be overwhelmed with quantity rather than quality. We will likely opt for shorter periods of travel while maintaining a base. Speaking of the term "break”, I believe many people assumed we were on a constant holiday. Our goal with 5050 as a project is a lifestyle change we are trying to adapt, to experiences more and own less, a minimalist lifestyle. At times it felt like a full time job and despite what people might think, the fancy drinks on endless beaches were few and far between. I hope I am not complaining too much and we did have a very relaxing time in Thailand so please do not feel sorry for us. Just trying to keep it real :)
What is it like to re-enter real life? It has been challenging but we have also enjoyed the process. We had next to no furniture to return to, so the good folks at Ikea were happy to see us. We arrived in Vancouver at the end of April and found an apartment in the West End available for June 1st. Our very good friends Dagny and Philippe came to our rescue and we formed a small commune in their home in Vernon for the month of May. It was super cozy and we are very thankful. We sorted our storage in 100 Mile House (another good story which may end up in a book someday). We donated more stuff, moved the rest to Vernon and went through things one more time to downsize as much as possible.
We have signed a one-year lease and have started working again in photography, web and graphic design. Di secured a three-month full time accounting position. Our plan is working out nicely so far and our long-term goal is to be able to travel for 2-3 months a year. Friends often ask; where to next? We know we will be going to New Zealand at some point and we would most likely do some island hopping in the South Pacific. Australia, Central and South America along with Mexico and Caribbean are also on our radar. With it looking more and more like Emma will be moving to Denmark, I will have a hard time keeping Di away from Northern Europe and Scandinavia. Lots to look forward to. Stay tuned. Twenty-five photos in the post... keep scrolling.