I didn’t think I’d have much to write this month because we spent most of it quietly preparing to go home in six months and working away on our side projects. And yet, somehow this post turned out to be quite lengthy!
Start here to follow my year of travelling journey if you’re new to this site and you want to read about my previous highlights.
Be careful what you wish for!
Remember how I mentioned in the fifth month highlights that I miss being around Canadians? Well, we discovered during our last weeks in Chiang Mai that our building is FULL of retired Canadians (and a few awesome Americans too)! We weren’t expecting to make friends during this trip and yet by the end of our stay in Chiang Mai, we had people throwing us a goodbye party.
okaaay, it was initially for the other people who were leaving Chiang Mai, but the organizer did include us as part of the goodbye group.
75% of the month was spent on “errands” in Chiang Mai and experiencing “the last” of everything
You know, the last time we visit temples, the last time we eat the best khao soi in the world, the final goodbyes, and so forth.
We grew close to one of the staff members in our apartment, and he made sure to be around to send us off. It was sad to say goodbye to him because he took good care of us during our stay and felt like an uncle to us. He asked if we’d come back next year, to which we said no – we felt so sad because we don’t know if we’d ever see him again.
On top of all the emotions of saying goodbye to the place that became home and the people who became friends, my first dog passed away this month
I was stunned at how unrelated triggers would leave me in a fit of tears. Even though I told myself that I may not see him ever again before I left for this trip, having him die while I am gone is still very painful.
I’m ok now because he found a way to let me know that he’s in a happier place. Also, thank you, readers and friends, for sharing stories about how you grieved over the death of your dog.
The first few days of Australia was a bit of a struggle for me because I missed Chiang Mai so much
I remember looking out to the most beautiful view in Sydney and thinking about how much I missed Thailand.
The culture shock was real, and despite how I’ve been talking about moving to Australia in the past, I realized now how my heart has always been in Asia.
Month 7 | Modern nomads life summary
Dates Travelled: January 19, 2018 – February 18, 2018
We were tracking well on budget in Chiang Mai. That’s changing very quickly because we are now travelling to expensive countries. We are currently in Australia where everything is much pricier than Asia (think, $2 meals versus $12 budget meals!). We are definitely over budget for food because… I love eating too much to make that sacrifice!
Remember how we assumed that the weight for carry-on luggage is the same for all airlines? Well, it wasn’t, especially for Asian budget airlines and we were overweight by 4-5kg. We decided to ship some stuff to Taiwan in July because we thought we’d be in Taiwan by December (month five of our travels). The items we sent were for our New Zealand trip, which was supposed to happen after Taiwan, and as you all know, we never quite made it to Taiwan!
Sooooo…. We had to go out and buy some clothes for our New Zealand trip since the ones that we packed for New Zealand is currently in Taiwan. Luckily, I budgeted $200 per person for clothes. Now, the next geeky budget question is… should this be included in the budget or not, because we will still be wearing our clothes after our travels…
Side note: We have a higher weight allowance on our carry-on since we are no longer travelling on budget airlines. Lifechanging, I tell ya
Places Visited: Chiang Mai, Sydney, Melbourne
Items Lost: I forgot to remove my insect repellant from my shoulder bag and had it taken away at the airport security since it is 118ml. Whoops
What I Wish I Packed: An international driver’s license! We found out that we will need the license to go-kart around Tokyo but luckily, we are meeting our friends in Japan and they’re going to bring our licenses with them!
About Packing For A Year
I will take this moment to also talk about my packing strategy for our year of slow travel. One of the biggest things I stocked up on our trip was sunscreen and insect repellant. I read online that the specific brands I use are harder to source in Southeast Asia and so I brought my own to remediate the problem. I will mention that I overpacked on these two items (Gary didn’t use as much sunscreen as I expected him to!), which was one of the reasons why our bags were so heavy.
- Flew from Chiang Mai to Sydney
- Then flew from Sydney to Melbourne
What I Miss: My hygienist. My teeth are starting to feel slimy, and they are in need of a clean. TMI, I know… but hey, that’s one of the truths about long term travel!
Scariest Moments: Having my passport inspected and being interrogated like crazy was scary. But it all worked out in the end
Memorable Moments: Visiting Doi Inthanon National Park and eating the BEST khao soi in Chiang Mai!
Meeting an inspirational woman who has travelled to almost 100 countries! I met her two days before I left Chiang Mai and we managed to spend a whole afternoon talking right before I left Thailand! When I meet mentally tough people who are not afraid to be vulnerable, I feel less…alone.
Remember during my second month highlights where I mentioned how I met some great people in Thailand? Well, we met one Australian while in Sukhothai and made plans to meet in Australia. Fast forward to five months later, and he and his wife met up with us in Melbourne!
Yucky Moments: We had to deal with so many ants in our Chiang Mai apartment! It was so annoying! I also found a maggot again in my food.
Thoughts and feelings as modern nomads
The initial culture shock in Australia was real
Now that we finished our Southeast Asia travels, I am trying to find ways not to forget all that I learned while in Asia. Specifically, to be grateful for all that I have and to put first world problems into perspective. Being in Asia reminded me of this adage: I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.
I love every minute of my travels, but I love my friends and family more
Some crazy stuff happened to my loved ones back home this month. It’s so hard to be a supportive friend when I’m on the other side of the world.
I met so many people who have crazy travel stories
Most of the people I meet while travelling has visited over 100 countries (YEP, you read right). Others have gone on multi-year excursions. Some have lived on a boat, or have gone sailing for months at a time. They all have crazy adventures. But they worked hard to have this life, because let’s face it, no one drops everything just to travel. There’s a lot more planning than you think.
“This year of travel – it will set the framework for the rest of your life”
Learnings during our seventh month as modern nomads
Save money, spend only where necessary
Money was a hot topic this month. Every single person I talked to said the same thing over and over – don’t fall into that trap of spending more than you make. They talked about how to look at wealth differently and ways to build wealth through many different income streams. Funny enough, all these concepts were taught to me at a very young age by my dad.
Most of the people who retired early seem to fall into these buckets:
- Entrepreneurs (surprise, surprise)
- DINK (dual income, no kids)
- Employees of companies that had a defined benefit plan *crying now for leaving TWO jobs that had defined benefit pension plans*
Funny enough, of the 15 or so people I’ve met in this building, two of them retired from the same company I worked at for my first job! We were all in the same department too! And I heard there’s a third guy who comes back every year who also retired from the same company!
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
In talking to the residents (I should call them my Chiang Mai mentors), many of them commented on how they’ve been planning their lives in 20-year timespans. More than once, one of them kept reminding us how important it is to know what we want in 20 years.
Buy a good suitcase that will sustain some beating
We were at the Sydney airport watching pieces of luggage come off the conveyor belt. So many of them opened during transit thanks to broken zippers. We even saw another lock fly off a bag while on the conveyor belt! A powerful reminder of why it’s so important to have a durable suitcase.
My phone is super duper slow, but I can’t reset my phone
My phone needs a reset, but I’m scared to go down that route because I might not be able to log into any apps afterward. Why? Because everything that comes out of Thailand/Asia seems to get blocked or flagged as fraud! Make a payment via credit card, flagged. Log into your email account, flagged. Log into social media – doesn’t matter if it’s facebook, twitter or Pinterest – you will get flagged. Receive an ETF, flagged.
The downside is that these accounts are linked to my old number, which is currently not active. Changing numbers on a monthly basis doesn’t help either. I can only request a security code either through text or through a phone call, which I cannot access.
Something to think about if you do long term travel…
Photography progress during our seventh month as modern nomads
Nothing too exciting about this month with regards to photography. I didn’t learn anything new, and I didn’t take as many photos. I’m also super behind and didn’t have the chance to finish all the video-editing that I was hoping to make for you guys… boo…Sorry guys.
I can see improvement in my photography if I look at my progress in years. Take the Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) for example.
The thing about travelling is that it’s hard to get a good photo if you’re handing your camera to a tourist.
Case in point:
And this is why we bring Tree with us during our travels. You can almost never trust anyone else to take the photo for us even if we frame it in advance for them. I don’t even know what they are thinking when they took the photo!
What’s next for our eighth month of travel
We are visiting the Great Ocean Road before starting our 33-day trip in New Zealand! Expect lots and lots of landscape photos!
Read Next: Month 8 Of Our Nomad Life In The Aussieland & New Zealand
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Hard to believe seven months have gone by already. Time flies!
Look forward to the NZ pics, I’m sure they’ll be amazing!
I know, so crazy how time flies!
New Zealand is crazy beautiful – we took soooooo many photos! I’ll share some in my next monthly highlight 🙂
Gina Gomez | Migration Expert Australia says
This is like reading a story, it is really interesting. Thank you I enjoy reading it.
I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Gina 🙂
Urban Vyaas says
This isn’t the nomad life, but a sabbatical year off before going back to the 9 to 5 rat-race, having kiddies, a mortgage,…A nomadic life isn’t about hopping around the world in one year, although maybe a couple of times in one life. Not on some savings, but making your money where you happen to be for at least three months.
Hey Urban, I’m so glad you’re pointing this out and I hope you come back to share your thoughts on my future posts about the nomad life. You’re pointing out one of my concerns when putting together these posts, which is why I made sure to avoid calling these blog posts “digital nomad” and simply referred to them as the “nomad life“. I thought about calling it a gap year, but I’m way too old for that. I also considered calling it a sabbatical but the truth is, I didn’t have a job lined up for when I came home so there was no paid leave for me. So, the nomad life seemed to be the easiest label to explain to others what I’m doing.
I get what you are saying about making your money where it happens…but then does that mean your job is location dependent? As well, you may also want to read up on the importance of getting proper visas while working as a digital nomad in these foreign countries since it’s a very grey area if you’re working there while on a tourist visa. On that note, I would love to hear your thoughts about the people who are FIRE and are travelling the world. They call themselves digital nomads without actively spending their time to make money.
Not sure where you get the three-month rule from but for the record, I did stay in Chiang Mai and Taipei for three months at a time in each place.