Posts

BEING FLEXIBLE

HOW TO PLAN FOR 12 MONTHS OF TRAVEL

Being flexible when you travel is SO IMPORTANT! Your flight is delayed by 6 hours. Your reservation for accommodation “went missing.” The bus takes 8 hours instead of 4… All these things can happen and more and as frustrating as they can be, being flexible is key.

– Episode #10 – Being Flexible

Next Video:

If you like watching us make fools of ourselves and want to continue learning more about “How to plan for 12 months of travel” …

Check out our next video: People’s Reactions

Like Our Stuff?

If you like our videos, please visit our YouTube Channel and subscribe…. AND if you want to be notified when we release a new video, click the bell beside the red subscribe button and tick the box: Send me all notifications for this channel

You can also follow us on FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM

COUNTRY PLANNING

HOW TO PLAN FOR 12 MONTHS OF TRAVEL

How about these questions: Are we just going to wing 12 months of travel? Figure it all out when we get there? Nope, doing the research ahead of time is the best part! We share how we’ve decided WHAT to do in each country, HOW LONG we planned to stay in each country/city and HOW we kept it all organised!

– Episode #3 – Country Planning

Next Video:

If you like watching us make fools of ourselves and want to continue learning more about “How to plan for 12 months of travel”.

Our next video has Kristina’s dance moves… HA! There is also some good info on setting goals for travel. As you are aware, 12 months is a LOOOONNNGGG time on the road; therefore, we had to make sure we kept ourselves focused on our GOALS. Check it out! Week 4 – SET GOALS.

Like Our Stuff?

If you like our videos, please visit our YouTube Channel and subscribe…. AND if you want to be notified when we release a new video, click the bell beside the red subscribe button and tick the box: Send me all notifications for this channel

You can also follow us on FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM

The Journey of the Love Birds

How We Were Bit By The Travel Bug

Every couple has something unique that brought them together in the first place.  For us, it was travel. We both became travel obsessed before we knew each other. We loved to listen to each others’ stories and adventures and it made us thirsty for more.

Check out our individual journeys about how we were bit by the travel bug.

For Kristina…

Guatemala circa 2007 was where it all began

I was the ripe age of 18 on a service learning trip in high school, with open eyes and a naive mind about how I was going to make a huge impact in this world.  We spent 2 weeks volunteering with children from Camino Seguro (Safe Passage), a school near the Guatemala City dump.  We helped in the classroom and with the lacrosse program, making a tiny drop in the bucket of change.

Teaching lacrosse and that girls can play sports as well in Guatemala City.

As we peeled away from the school and headed for the airport, I knew that this experience had changed me more than it likely impacted the children.  The pros and cons of voluntourism I guess.

Culture, Community, Food & People

Fast forward several years and I was thrilled to spend a semester studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.  There was admittedly very little studying and more traveling than my bank account could keep up with.  It was an incredible change from the ordinary university experience I had known in the United States, which consisted of going to class, studying, taking part in clubs, sorority life, and my friends.

It was a time of freedom, of exploring Europe and relishing in the bliss of fast travel.  These 4 months were filled with adventure, meeting new people, building new friendships, and constantly putting yourself out of your comfort zone.

Overlooking Copenhagen with new friends; one of these girls remains a dear friend to this day.

When I returned back to university in the cold North Country region of update New York, I found myself surrounded by the same old ‘college kid’ routine of going to class and to parties.  I wanted more.  I wanted culture, communities, different foods, people who were completely different from me.

The Seed was Planted

So I decided to go to Kenya for a second semester abroad.  This was unusual for my university, but I figured if I was going to spend the same amount on tuition, I might as well have it be an incredibly different experience.  I had grown up with stories of Africa from my parents who lived there before I was born.  The seed was planted early.

These 4 months consisted of rural/urban/Masasai homestays, expeditions with traditional hunting & gathering tribes, and an internship in a school in Kibera (a slum in Nairobi) for the last month.  The experience was mindblowing and completely shaped me to be the person I am today.

With one of my girls from the school where I interned in Kibera, Nairobi.

Together, Guatemala-Denmark-Kenya were the trifecta that laid a foundation for a passion of travel and nurtured a bug inside of me that knew there was so much more out there for me than my own little community.

An innate desire to explore this beautiful and unpredictable world was ignited and remains burning strong.

For Michael…

After graduating in 2007 from the University of Windsor in Ontario, I randomly decided to visit friends in a small town called Antigonish, in Nova Scotia (East Coast of Canada, also known as the Maritimes). My intentions were to stay for 2 week and make my way back to my hometown of Cornwall in Ontario. Instead, I ended up living in Antigonish for 12 months.

20150802_194502

Pomquet, Nova Scotia – 15 minutes outside of Antigonish

While moving to the east coast of Canada, a mere 13 hour drive away, would not be considered long distance travel, you would be surprised at the differences between Ontarians and Maritimers.  The people, the culture, the food. It was like a new world to me. Unknowingly, this began the obsession…

Have you heard of the land down under

In 2010, I was accepted to graduate school in Sydney, Australia. I spent several weeks analyzing the cost-benefit analysis of moving to the other side of the world, paying $120,000 (tuition + living costs)  over a 2-year program, but I landed on my decision. I committed. I was in.

During the 3 years that I lived in Australia, my obsession with traveling blew up in front of me like a water balloon hitting me in the face.

andrew-mclaughlin-169

Snorkeling near the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Cairns, Queensland, Australia.

While it was unique to see the differences between two areas of Canada, moving to the other side of the world and immersing myself into another culture, was a shock. It was exhilarating! I became more and more enthralled. I wanted more.

More, More, MORE

From 2010-2012 I was able to travel throughout eastern Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

p1010003

Ankor Wat Temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia with some of the best people I know.

The thrill that you get when arrive to a new country or city; the challenges that you have to face; the experiences that you get to experience; the people you meet and the relationships you form. Your mind becomes open to more than the small town that you grew up in. There is no feeling like it; and it is addictive.

In late 2012, after graduating and becoming registered to work in Canada, I returned ‘home’. I was excited to be home. To visit see my family and friends. I felt good. I felt at ease. That lasted about 2 weeks until, suddenly, I felt unsettled. I felt off. Something was wrong. Something was missing.

During the 2013 year, I did not travel anywhere. I found a great job back in my hometown, slowly chipping away at my debt. I was settled in. I felt comfortable. I felt safe. It wasn’t clear to me at the time, but even though I felt all those things, I was not happy. I did not realize that I had seen the light, and decided to live in the dark. I needed to get out again.

Time to make a pact

In late 2013, I moved to Canada’s Capital, Ottawa. I made a pact with myself. I promised that I would plan and organize a trip to at least 2 new countries or places each year. After creating that mindset, the rest followed suit.

In 2014 – Peru (2 weeks) and Ecuador (2 weeks)
In 2015 – Costa Rica (2 weeks), Romania and Italy (2 weeks)
In 2016 – Costa Rica (1 week), Nicaragua (1 week), Belize (1 week), Guatemala (1 week) and Greece (2 weeks)

The metaphorical travel bug had bitten me… and bitten me hard! I became travel obsessed.

– Michael

 

If you want to get an idea of where we’ve traveled to date, check out our Travel Map

 

How we are financing our lifestyle

Finance your nomadic lifestyle

“Can I ask you a question? How are you funding this?” This is the curious question that most people ask when they hear of our anticipated adventures.

While we wish there were some family roots in royalty or some hidden trust fund out there for us, we’re just humble folk undertaking an adventure that is entirely self-funded.

The social worker in the dynamic duo likes to point out the privilege we were born into; a university education, a solid support system of family and friends that encourage and accept our lifestyle, and debt-free finances.

1460231105196

But there’s also more to it. We are both extremely frugal and committed to living debt-free which helps.  We are serial-savers and money savvy.  We’ve worked hard for several years to stash away every little extra from our paychecks, pay off school loans, and downsize our living to cut our monthly costs to a fraction. Kristina is working part-time at a community health centre while doing her graduate degree and Michael is working full-time as a physiotherapist. Every paycheck goes to the bank.

And we have made a commitment.  We’ve prioritized travel over buying a house, going out for nice dinners on the weekend, and acquiring the small luxuries of life.

So how will the money keep coming in once the savings are done?

At the end of this year, we will have saved enough for a full year of travel.  There’s a French expression that says you can’t survive off of love and fresh water.  We know.  Our love is endless, but the savings will run out eventually.  So we are looking into a couple sources of income to fund our lifestyle including small-scale income properties and online businesses. We are looking into ways to utilize our skills as a social worker and physiotherapist to make alternative forms of income as well.

Yes, mom. There will be contributions to our retirement and savings in case of an emergency.  Well… eventually resumed.  Our goal is to yield enough monthly income to live a subsistence living while saving enough for the “what ifs” and “later on”.

In due time our goal is to get to a point of financial freedom/location independent lifestyle.

 

,

How we became Minimalists

Ever thought you could get rid of most everything you own?  Your beloved sofa that’s perfectly moulded to your comfort?  That really unique dining room table that you refinished yourselves?  Or even that amazing fireplace that you found on the side of the road?  We couldn’t.

Before this year.

Anyone who knows Kristina knows her love of antiques, particularly a red barn door that’s been threatened to be used as firewood many times.  While the barn door and other irreplaceable antiques and travel memorabilia are in safe keeping in our parents’ basement, everything else is gone.  We are now minimalists.

We’ve sold all of our belongings for a one-way ticket

As we sat in our hammock one evening in August, we talked about our departure date in 2017.  If we were really going to do this, we were going to commit now. Commit to making a change in the way we were living this next year.

Both of us were doubtful we could make anything happen in the two weeks before the next month’s rent was due.  But what we’ve learned about our dynamic duo is that when we set our focus on a goal, we make a beautiful combination of calculated and impulsive decisions to make it happen.  No excuses.

_dsc2563

We thought it was funny that our landlord seemed so personally invested in what he believed was a tragedy- “why would you ever want to get rid of all this stuff and leave our safe jobs? You have benefits!”  He saw it as a loss.  We see it as an opportunity.

In the matter of two weeks, the kijiji-queen went to work (a website where you can buy and sell used items, rent apartments, etc.) and piece-by-piece, our apartment became empty.  With every item that disappeared, an incredible thing happened.

We felt lighter, freer, and we could breathe easier.

What we’ve discovered is that we so often fill our lives with material things that consume us.  And the bigger the living space, the more we seem to accumulate.

So we purged, we sold, and we gave away endless amounts of stuff that no longer held meaning to us.

Living a minimalist lifestyle has been a liberation; with less stuff, we discovered we gained more time.  Sounds a bit crazy?  It isn’t. We’ve discovered that having less, offers minimized distraction.  Less time dedicated to meaningless things around the house and more time for us.  We now spend more time reading and nurturing ourselves as individuals, and as a team.

minimalist1

As we closed the door to our first home together, we saw our empty apartment as the end of a chapter and the beginning of an exciting adventure.  A focused goal which brings us closer to living a lifestyle that is unconventional.

So what’s the plan for the next year?  We now only own a bed, a dresser, a desk, and the essential belongings to get us through the next year in Canada.  Oh and one set of wheels.  We will be living with family (an amazing couple and their 9-yr old son) who have graciously welcomed us into their home.

Sell all our belongings?  Check.  Minimalist life?  Check.

One step closer to living in a backpack.

Our Leap for an Unconventional Life

The Unconventional Life

This blog officially begins our journey.  Our Journey to live the unconventional.  To toss the bowlines and set sail into the unknown of a life of adventures.

Not quite sure what we mean?  We’ve committed to selling all of our belongings and starting a journey that will take us to all the corners of the world.  We aren’t exactly positive about what it will look like. What we do know, is that come September 2017, the adventure is truly underway. We can’t show you the blueprint and that’s part of the fun of it.

_dsc3087

Why are we doing this?  We have tasted the rugged beauty of this world, lived a simpler lifestyle, and have fallen in love with far-away communities. We know we are not meant for the lifestyle we are living.

Our souls have been filled with adventures for years and it becomes harder and harder to work and live the 9 to 5. We have respect for our loved ones that do and we do not judge.  And we have learned that it is not for us.  Not right now. Potentially never.

The most exciting thing was discovering that there is a community of people doing just what we want to do.

We’re not naïve to think it won’t be hard. That there won’t be struggle and real times of doubt. What we do know is that we want something different.

Let the adventure begin

As we begin our journey, the Journey of a Compass, we hope you will share in our adventures, our stories, our passion for travel, and the never-ending beauty that this world has to offer.

The Journey of a Compass is one that never truly settles; it is a never-ending adventure seeking to discover the raw beauty of a mountain, the colours and sights of a small village, and a community of people in all the corners of this world, allowing us to reconnect to what is truly important.

_dsc3019

This world is made up of 7.5 billion people, separated by borders, but united by humanity. The Journey of a Compass seeks to bring joy and connection into people’s lives in hopes of spreading love and compassion. We hope you will join us on this wild Journey.

Curious about how we’re going to fund this Journey?

 

Who is Journey of a Compass?

joac_logo_title_black-01-01-01

Who are we?

We are a travel couple set out to live the unconventional life.

Why the Name?

Journey of a Compass. A name that seems to tell a story. And that’s what we love about it.  Our story is the adventure we have chosen to live. Guided by a compass and direction to see the world.

It’s a mission and a mantra to stay true to who we are.  To live a life that is guided by experiences, rather than things.

I used to think home was a place.  That it was the comfort of coming back to your apartment after a long day, to settle down with a glass of wine and a movie.  We had a sign in our apartment saying “Home is where the heart is”.  For the longest time, I thought that was my apartment.  Until I felt endlessly restless at home.

Since Michael never felt any true attachment to one place, that’s when we realized our home was travel.  Together as a team, the world becomes a playground.

_dsc2477

As a traveler, home becomes the world. Home becomes you and the people you are with.  A state of happiness, a state of being, that allows you to find comfort in your surroundings.  Whether you find yourself at the top of a mountain in Nicaragua or in a chaotic market in India, home becomes the familiarity of that high.  That state of pure bliss. 

Yes, I do get homesick.  But a couple of things make it easier.  The connections we make along the way, the communities that we discover, and having a travel partner who complements me in every way.

12593969_10205783065920847_6859445621756348755_o

We are never truly at home any one place I go.  This is why the Journey of a Compass is who we are.  An adventure led by our hearts, taking us to all the corners of the world.  Whether it means hitchhiking in the far East or Van Life in North America.

Who knows what our Journey entails and that’s what we love about it.