So, another year over, a new one soon to begin. We’ve done so much this year and I’ve been very bad about keeping the blog updated. So here is a quick catch-up on the goings-on with Liam and Brett over the last year (or so) and to give you an idea of what our plans are for the near future.
Most of 2017 was taken up by our big trip around the world. We got up to so much – and also didn’t have enough time for so much else.
October 2016 saw us arriving in Uruguay and then going on to Argentina, where we spent the bulk of the last quarter of the year; the highlights being the Iguazú Falls and then Talampaya/Ischigualasto National Parks. We spent a short while in Santiago, Chile before flying up to the US to spend Christmas and New Year with Brett’s family.
January saw us on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, exploring the incredible Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá, Tulum and others, before moving on to Colombia, where we loved the lush mountains of the Coffee Triangle and the incredible Salt Cathedral near Bogotá. From Colombia we travelled on down to Peru, hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and went on to Lake Titicaca and Lima.
In April, we crossed the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand, where I caught up with old colleagues in Auckland and old friends in Wellington, stopping along the way to bathe in volcanic springs and visit Hobbiton. We then borrowed a car and did a circuit of New Zealand’s South Island, taking in all the natural beauty it has to offer, from nature reserves to glaciers to the most incredible stargazing evening I’ve ever done.
Almost exactly a month after we arrived, we left New Zealand for Australia and spent May travelling along the east coast, again catching up with antipodean friends and enjoying the natural beauty (and a couple of theme parks) along the way.
Our time in most of these places was shorter than we would have liked – particularly so in Australia and New Zealand where you could spend months enjoying all they have to offer – but, with the arrival of June, winter was fast approaching in the southern hemisphere and we had places to be…
Back in March, I had taken the decision to leave my job and set up a business with a friend of mine offering fitness holidays for CrossFit enthusiasts. Before officially starting the business, we planned several informal trial-runs with members of his gym community, and the first one was scheduled for June. Brett also was keen to be back in the UK for a while as he had struggled finding contract work on the road.
Sure enough, within a short time of getting back to London, he had offers to choose from and decided to take up a contract with one of his former colleagues who had since setup their own software developers collective.
We spent the summer between London, Watford (where Brett’s client was based) and my parents’ place in the North of England. I additionally spent a week in Croatia with the first of the fitness holiday trial-runs, which went extremely well. Once Brett had spent enough time in his client’s office to get to know everyone, he was able to start working remotely. In September we headed over to Croatia for a few days break in Split, before he headed up to Zagreb and Budapest to spend time working with his colleagues there.
Meanwhile, I headed off to the second of our two tester trips for a week, before I followed Brett up to Budapest – but managed to see very little of this beautiful city as I spent pretty much the entire week in the apartment, online, setting up our new company, Outside The Box Holidays. We did do a bit of socialising with his colleagues, though, and I saw enough of the city to know it’s definitely somewhere worth spending time to explore. (Another one to add to the “Next Time” list!)
After that we had decided to spend a couple of months in Texas with Brett’s family and that’s where we headed next. However, when looking at the costs of two flights from Budapest, it actually worked out cheaper to pick up a cruise ship that was doing a transatlantic crossing and fly up to Texas from Fort Lauderdale – which is exactly what we did!
I generally like cruising as a holiday option; you unpack once but find yourself in a new destination almost every day. After a year of backpacking around the world for the lowest cost we could manage, two weeks on a cruise liner was quite the luxury break and, compared to the cost of two weeks’ AirBnB, food and flights, was surprisingly competitive. (Transatlantic cruises are necessary for cruise lines to reposition ships, but aren’t popular as holidays, so are often discounted.)
Brett’s brother and his wife very kindly put us up for nearly two months, giving us free run of their spare rooms, so we had our own en-suite bedroom and a room that we used as an office. Brett had a bit of a hard time because, while he can do his work from anywhere, some of it requires his interaction with the team, so he had to be online for most of the European working hours, which meant very early starts. My work, which was mostly business admin, was more flexible, so I got more of a lie-in.
We got to be with the family for the Thanksgiving holiday and we got to see more of Brett’s brother and his family than we normally do on our US trips, when we usually stay across town with his mum or sister. While we were there, we booked ourselves into the local CrossFit box to start getting back in shape. I also had some swimming coaching. (Since I’m aiming to spend most of next summer with fitness enthusiasts on the Adriatic coast, it makes sense to be in halfway-decent shape and confident in the sea!)
At the start of December we flew back to the UK. We’d decided that, although we like following the sun, it was time for a traditional Christmas – and the weather obliged us; we got back just as a big snow-storm was kicking-off across the centre of the country. It made the train journey up from Gatwick extremely picturesque but, luckily, didn’t cause any disruption to our train.
After a week with my parents (where we raided the attic to recover all our stored cold-weather gear!) we took ten days down in London with my sister and her partner. This let us catch up with them, as well as Brett to spend a couple of weeks working with his colleagues up in Watford. We then headed back to the North of England for Christmas and New Year.
Our plans for the future are still developing. We have decided we don’t want to settle back down in one place just yet, but we do want to slow the pace of our travels; constantly moving is not conducive to work, or staying fit, but we don’t want to give it up completely. As a result, we’re aiming to spend the next year in a slower travel mode, spending roughly three months in each place we stop. That will allow us to keep routines, get to know people better and hopefully earn a living.
Once the festive season is over, the cold weather and short days rapidly lose their romance, so we’re heading for warmer climes. Shortly after New Year, we fly to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, where we have reserved a space in a co-living/co-working place for the first three months of 2018. It’s kind of a combined upmarket hostel and office for techies; it’s a modern build where we get our own room but share kitchen and lounge spaces and also have associated office space with a decent desk, chair and internet access.
Beyond March, we haven’t made plans yet. I will need to spend a week each month in Croatia, so that’s obviously a candidate for settling for a while. Going back to Budapest is also under consideration. Brett & I both want to improve our Spanish, so even staying-on somewhere in Spain might be an option too.
So, that’s pretty much up to date. Being on the road a lot and then starting a new business turns out to be quite time consuming. I still have a backlog of photographs to publish which I am slowly working my way through in my spare time – and, who knows, I might even get around to writing-up my notes on some of the places we’ve visited for this blog!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Yule and a Happy New Year to everyone from Liam & Brett