Personal thoughts and feelings about traveling long term
Traveling long term has proven difficult. It is difficult when we don’t get to hang out with friends and family on a regular basis like we used to do. We feel like we are falling out of touch and it brings us down on occasion. Thus, we have been researching ways to meet people along the road - although we haven’t yet started looking.
We have considered moving back to the United States to find work again and work on Eat Wander Explore in our free time. We pondered the idea for a few weeks even, but our decision is to move forward toward SE Asia instead. SE Asia is a home-base for many permanent travelers, but we have never really been there before. The reason it works is because the costs to live there are so much lower. For example, we are cutting our budget by 44% in our second year of traveling. It’s not really because we want to, it’s because the money that we saved for year one made up that 44%. We don’t have additional savings for year two. Plus, we are adding a baby to our family. The only place we can drop our budget by that much while adding a baby is SE Asia.
So, we’ve put together a list of places that we could go to based on the best months for weather in those areas and it looks like we’ll be headed to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia (Bali) over the next 6 months… and then maybe heading up towards South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan before going through the Philippines to Australia for the end of the year. Let’s keep our fingers crossed to see that we have enough funds to make this year a reality!
Eat Wander Explore business update
Initially, our plan was to spend the first year getting our blog to the point where it could generating enough income to make up that 44% completely in year two. We can honestly say that, after 10 months of working it, the income still isn’t coming in. That isn’t because we are terrible at it or that our blog isn’t good, it is because it has taken us 10 months to figure out how to really treat this as a job and learn the things we need to do in order for it to get traffic, convince people to return, and stop slacking.
We have recently been focused and trying new things. Our weekly page views have gone up 400% and we feel that it wouldn’t have been difficult to get them to go up 800%. However, when we were averaging only 1,000 page views per month to begin with, our now 4,000-6,000 page views is still under the minimum 10,000 per month that we need to sign up with the smallest ad agency. Once we have ads on our website, we will get paid a little bit for each ad that is seen (they don’t even have to click on them). So, our income should start to increase at least a little from that point.
We have been working on the SEO (search engine optimization) for our most popular blog posts because that will hopefully bring them to the first page of many Google searches - which means more traffic to our website. For the blogs that aren’t so popular, we have been sharing them in Facebook groups to increase visibility. Once they pick up enough attention we can work on the SEO for those ones as well. Currently, about 75% of our website traffic comes from people clicking on our blog posts on Facebook - and we have less than 350 Facebook followers at this point. About 15-20% of our traffic comes from Google searches. The other 5-10% comes from social apps such as Instagram and Pinterest. We also have a YouTube page, but we have less than 30 subscribers there and it brings us almost no traffic at this point.
Additionally, we have signed up with iStock to sell some of the pictures that we have been taking along the way. We have over 25,000 of them at this point, so that only makes sense. However, even those require us to edit and upload them all, then we have to place hashtags on them so that people can find them. Even if they find them, they are not really professional grade photos as we haven’t been using any high-tech pro-version cameras. So, we’ll see where that goes too.
Our Family update
If you don’t know by now, Jenny and I are going to be having a baby boy in only a few weeks! That is super exciting for us, but it also means we likely will slack a bit more on working. We have already went out and purchased most of the essentials that we are going to need for our son, but we are both have limited experience with tending to the needs of a newborn. Luckily, Jenny’s parents will be flying out here to Cape Town, South Africa around the time he is born to help us out for a few weeks. We are really looking forward to that!
Additionally, we had to buy bigger suitcases as we have only been using the small cabin-luggage sized bags up to this point. We now need additional room for baby gear, so we’ll both be upgrading to large sized luggage.
While our hospital had been pre-paid for and our doctor appointments had been going well, we were beginning to get the feeling that our doctor was just looking for reasons to switch us to a c-section and/or perform an induction to get the baby out sooner. At one point during our last visit with her, she told us we had to consent to many things that we didn’t want to do (unless a serious emergency required it), but we had to do it right then or “you could find another doctor”. We did sign, but then we decided to find another doctor anyway and contacted a Midwifery instead. So, we are now on our 3rd hospital within our 3rd trimester… just wow! Anyway, our initial consultation and first meeting with the midwives both went amazing and we are really excited to go down this route instead of the previous route as we feel a lot more secure that “routine” emergencies won’t come up. We have been a bit stressed about this though - as Jenny is now past 38 weeks pregnant and we still aren’t 100% confirmed with the newest doctor (a retainer and acceptance is required) nor are we pre-admitted at the newest hospital. That should be happening early next week.
I am a bit worried that the process of getting the birth certificate from the “Department of Home Affairs” may prove to cause some issues on timing. We have to get that certificate as soon as possible so that we can bring it to the U.S. Consulate in Cape Town to get a passport for our son. The baby is due early February and our appointment with the Consulate is early/mid-February. I’m not sure how long the Consulate will take on getting the passport, but I do know that our 90-day visa expires in South Africa on March 2nd! I’m crossing my fingers!
Other Random updates
We have been cooking more since we arrived at our 2-month home in Cape Town. We baked some Oatmeal Craisin cookies (our traditional Christmas cookie of choice), some Belgian Liege waffles, and even some vegetable noodle soup. It’s been nice to settle-in for a period longer than 2-weeks!
We’ve just finished watching Season 3 of “The Flash” on Netflix after finishing up on “Elementary” in Egypt. It’s was getting really hard to understand at the end though. Also, I did manage to watch “Bird Box” on Netflix the other night after Jenny fell asleep - but, it seems to me to just be a really simple movie that doesn’t require much thought past the premise of a “judgement” type being. Not really my cup of tea, but I had to see why everyone was talking about it.
Thanks for keeping up to date with our lives! Please let us know if you have any questions :)