03 Aug #10for10trip: Something new for our 10th year of marriage
Yes, it’s true. We celebrated our 9th anniversary this June, so we are now in our 10th year of marriage! (On top of that, we’ll both be turning 35.)
What is this about?
First, a little background. Let me take you back to January 2016.
We’re staying in the charming city of Cuenca, Ecuador – city of eternal Spring, up in the Andes Mountains. Jedd’s language teacher is taking the two of us on a tour of the city in slow, simple Spanish. We nod, ask questions, admire the beautiful buildings… Finally, he pardons himself for switching to English for a moment.
“I just have to ask you,” he says, with a look of deep concern. “Could Donald Trump win the presidential election?”
Fast forward a bit to November 2017.
It’s dusk, and we’re browsing a lively night market in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We see a lady at a small stand selling mango salad in cute little cups made out of folded leaves. We buy one for about 25 cents, try it, and immediately go back to her for a second cup.
“Where are you from?” she asks, probably her go-to question for tourists. But when she learns we’re American, she immediately says, “What do you think of Trump?”
You see, as world travelers, it is very apparent to us that the rest of the world is affected by what happens in the U.S. These are just two examples, but we’ve encountered countless more. People all over the world – even the young couple in a tiny village of coffee workers in Nicaragua who don’t own a TV – know all about our current events.
They’re paying attention and they have an opinion. Because it impacts them.
So let’s vise versa this… What do we, as North Americans, know about what’s going on in these other places?
If we hadn’t been to Bangkok in November and seen every single person on the metro dressed in black day after day, would we have any clue how monumental the passing of their beloved King was? Honestly, no. I don’t think his death would have even been on my radar. And yet it rocked the world for thousands of Thai people.
Unfortunately, it’s easy for us to live in a bubble. We’re not directly affected, so we don’t really have to pay attention.
Why does this matter?
Well, as we survey the current state of affairs in our own nation, we see a lot of division. We hear rhetoric that puts up walls and separates us from things we fear. We are factioned, each side hearing completely different stories that color our views of reality.
We are disconnected.
And it’s causing major problems.
Making the Connection
Our goal on Intentional Travelers has always been to inspire and equip more every-day people to pursue transformational experiences in other parts of the world. We believe it’s a powerful thing to witness, first hand, what goes on outside of our bubbles. It undoes that disconnection.
But we also know that it’s not always possible for everyone to travel and have those cross-cultural experiences first hand. So we wanted to do something about that as well, to help bridge that connection. We wanted to be more intentional about sharing the lives and hearts of the people we meet abroad, with people back home.
10 Countries. 10 Stories: The Global Neighbor Project
The Global Neighbor Project is about connecting people who live a world apart by side-stepping the barrier of distance. It’s a story-telling project. We want to uncover the similarities that we share with others who have led distinctly different lives. We want to turn strangers into neighbors.
To do this, we came up with a set of questions that we want to ask people in each of the countries we visit. Many of you contributed to this list of questions, which includes things like:
– What makes you happy?
– What do you believe all citizens of your country should aspire to?
– What do you wish Americans knew about your country?
Here’s a brief trailer video to help you get a feel for the project:
We plan to highlight micro-stories on social media, share more in depth through blog posts and videos, and in the end, create some kind of culminating thing – video, book, published article, still to be determined.
The truth is, we don’t know what exactly will become of this. We don’t know what themes will emerge, and we don’t know how people will respond. But we’re curious, and we know we’ll learn a lot, and we want the impact of this project to reach beyond ourselves.
#10for10trip: Travel details
So we have our mission to collect and share stories, getting better acquainted with the lives and hearts of people we meet. This goes in tandem with our goal to celebrate our 10th anniversary (and our 35th birthdays) with more travel.
If you’re wondering: What? More travel? Allow me to explain… Even though we’re digital nomads, over the past two years, we’ve had commitments that have kept us coming and going to our home base (Oregon) when we’d prefer to spend more time abroad. Also, we would like to start investing more in a “home community” in the near future. (Let’s not say “settle down” because that will probably give you the wrong idea. We want our own place, but we also want to rent it out for a good 5 months of the winter so we can continue going abroad.) So we’re looking forward to our biggest year of travel yet, before we start scaling things back a bit.
Since returning from Peace Corps, our longest trip has been three months and we usually get to about 5 countries in a year. Compared to our lives six years ago – yes, it’s already a lot of travel. Compared to other digital nomads we know, it’s not. For this anniversary year, we plan to be abroad for more than 10 months and visit at least 10 countries. We’ve never been to Australia/New Zealand or Africa, so we’d really like to see at least one new continent as well.
Here’s our itinerary. Blue means it’s already booked, green is planned but not booked, and yellow represents options for our stretch goals. (Click on the icon in the upper left corner for a more detailed itinerary.)
How are we paying for this?
As many of you already know, it’s cheaper for us to travel slowly than to live in the States. All our big overseas flights are booked with miles earned through travel hacking. We’re staying in places where the cost of living is low – and if not, we’re arranging for cheap accommodations through house-sitting, staying with friends, or work exchanges. And as always, we’ll continue to work for our freelance clients as we go. In other words: we’re not really incurring extra expenses, it’s more or less business as usual.
We do have a lot of this trip already booked, but we’re leaving the last part of our itinerary open-ended. That “business as usual” I mentioned in the last paragraph only gets us to the blue and green dots on the map. Depending on funding, we hope to visit our stretch goals of New Zealand and/or Africa. We’re pitching some content creation partnerships to brands and organizations to see if we can get that extra financial backing. If not, we’ll revisit some tried-and-true favorites that are more in our typical budget, like Mexico and Canada.
How you can jump in
– We’ll be inviting our fellow travelers, expats, and bloggers to join us in asking questions and sharing stories from around the world. Let us know if you’d like to partner on the Global Neighbor Project as a digital story-teller!
– If you know of a company that would benefit from some fresh photos, videos, or blog posts of their product in various parts of the world, please send them to our media kit!
– If you have connections to locals, accommodations, tour operators, etc. in any of the destinations on our itinerary, we’d love to hear about them! (Also, there’s a list of specific needs if you click the blue button about 2/3 of the way down our media kit page.)
Please use our contact form to get in touch.
Thank you for your interest in this new project of ours. We hope you’ll learn and grow alongside us through our discoveries – and share them with others, too. Your support means the world to us!
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