How will you keep in contact with family and friends?

We have created this website so friends and family can track our progress and share in our adventures. While it may not be updated every day, we will do our best to document our travels regularly. We encourage everyone to check in regularly for new stories. You can contact us by posting questions on the website. We will answer them when we update our tales.

You can also contact us by emailing us at jeff.nwt@gmail.com and nicolafromcanada@hotmail.com. If you use the Contact Us section of this website it will get to both of us. We may also be posting things on Facebook if you are our FB friend.We will also be using Skype and Facetime to keep in regular contact with close family and friends.

Will you be meeting up with friends or family during your travels?

I would suggest that if any friends and family are thinking about joining us, start talking to us about it as soon as possible. There may be some good places to hook up and others that are not so good. We will be planning as if we are on our own unless we hear from others. And if we knew that people were going to join us we might plan to stay in one place for a week or two to be with you.So the answer is, no one yet is coming to meet us… but we are completely open to it.

What we like to say to this question is … we hope so. While we have no plans right now to meet up with anyone, we would love to have anyone join us along our travels. We will keep our plans updated so that friends and family can make their plans to meet us if they want to.

What other big trips do you want to do someday?

Most people would be so focused on this trip that they would never be thinking about future big trips… maybe. But when you have the travel bug you are always thinking about your travel bucket list. Our bucket lists may change depending on where we get… or do not get during this year away. For example, if we are not able to get to Egypt during this trip then it will be on our future bucket list.

We can always go back to many parts of the world and see places that we did not get to or did not see all of. For example, China is so big we could probable go back a couple more times and not have seen it all… me anyway… Nic has seen lots of it. She loves China though and would probably be happy to go back.

Some of the places that I think are easy to say are on our bucket lists:

  • Scandinavia, Greenland, and Iceland
  • Eastern Europe (Nicola has been to some places so Jeff may be on his own for those)
  • UK – Scotland, Ireland, Wales – a return home trip for Nicola – Jeff has never been
  • Eastern Africa – this area is really unstable but someday it would nice to see these countries
  • Russia – Nicola has no desire to go back; Jeff hopes to see Moscow and St. Petersburg
  • Asia – there are many places that Jeff wants to see… Nicola has seen most … ex. Tibet, Vietnam, Laos

Where is your favourite place you have ever travelled?

I guess what comes to mind is what does that mean, our “favourite” place?

Every trip has its memories. We have gone on some very cool trips together and some amazing trips without each other. Last summer for instance we went to Canada’s east coast. Given that we are about to be travelling the world for more than a year, we decided to see the rest of Canada that we had not seen yet. We spent time in Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland. Some of the most spectacular things we did were driving the Cabot Trail and hiking in Gros Morne National Park. Canadian East Coasters are amazingly friendly people. We have a lot of friends from that area and we had to see the places that they brag about endlessly

In the last couple of years we have gone to some pretty exotic places that are quite memorable. Some of the things that I remember fondly are seeing Pigmy Elephants in the jungles of Borneo; climbing to the summit of Mount Kinabalu (about 4700m); hiking along the Great Wall of China; doing the Pablo Escobar tour in Medellin, Columbia; the creepy crawly night hike with Tracy the Bug Lady in Costa Rica; the professional baseball game in Korea (“achieve a home run… whoo haaa”); climbing the Pitons in St. Lucia and getting heat exhaustion; seeing the Terracotta Warriors sight in Xian; bartering in the markets in Beijing;  taking $5 out of the ATM in Bratislava after Nicola had told me what the exchange rate was; shopping for the cheapest beer in Prague; the ruins in Jogjakarta; the Hitler walk in Berlin; and I am sure that I am probably forgetting many that if I keep writing will keep coming back to me. Maybe Nicola can add her memories to this list as well…

One of the coolest travel memories that I have, without Nicola actually, was the few days that I had with my dad in London, England. It was a fluke that he was there while I was in Europe on my own. He has been to England a few times and it was amazing that he could share his favourites with me. In particular, I think about the Jack the Ripper night walk that we did; seeing the Tower of London; Buckingham Palace; and hanging out at Speaker’s Corner. Maybe some of the best times we had were having a good meal and a couple of pints in a pub. I think what made that memorable was just the “dad-time” that I had. An amazing memory.

Hands down though, my favourite place that I have ever travelled has nothing to do with the place itself. It has to do with the memory. In April 2010, Nicola and I went to the Dominican Republic where we had our Weddingmoon. Family and friends joined us from all around the world to witness the beginning of our biggest adventure of our lives… our lives together as husband and wife. I guess I do not think about really wanting to go back to the DR, it is not my favourite place in that way. I think about the coolest experience of my life… celebrating my love for my wife in an exotic location with the most important people in our lives there with us to share the experience. How could that not be my “favourite place.”

Hopefully, Nicola will add some more to this answer… she has seen so much more of this world than me… I do not think I can ever catch up to her… and she has some wild experiences. I hope she includes some of her tales like the hostel she stayed at for 75 cents in Indonesia… I think that is a classic Nicola story.

How can you afford to take a year off of work?

This is one of the first two questions that people ask us… how can we take a year off of work? Are you quitting your jobs?

We have been planning for this for four years. Working for the Government of the Northwest Territories, we elected to enroll in the deferred salary plan. For the four years before our year off, we were paid 80% of our salary and the other 20% went into a savings plan. So, for the year we are off we will draw from this savings and continue to receive 80% of our salary.

Also, we are renting out our house. We have no costs associated with utilities and the rent covers our property taxes. Our costs will be very minimal.

Essentially, we continue to earn the same amount as we have for the last four years but have no costs back home. This allows us to use that money to pay for our world travels.

So, the answer is no we did not have to quit our jobs… in fact it is our employer and our collective agreements that make this possible.

Where do you plan to go for your year off?

Maybe the question should be, where do we not want to go? Our plans are really quite fluid.

As of January 19, 2013, our tentative plan is this:

In July, after we are packed up and ready to go, we will drive down to Penticton, BC. We will visit with Moire Jones, Nic’s mom, and park our car there for the year. We will then head to Welland and Toronto, Ontario to visit with Jeff’s family. We will likely leave Canada somewhere around the end of July.

We may be heading to Tanzania first. We hope to see the Serengeti and maybe go up Mount Kilimanjaro. We are not sure where else in Africa we will go from their but we are likely to spend about a month in that neck of the woods.

Next, we will fly to Morocco sometime around the beginning  of September. Nic has wanted to go to Morocco for several years now. What will we see and do in Morocco? Ride camels, go to Marrakesh, Casablanca, and who knows what else. This could be about another month in Africa.

Sometime around the end of September or beginning of October, we intend to head to India/Nepal. We are likely to spend a couple of months in these areas. Jeff plans to go to Everest Base Camp but Nicola is not likely to go. It takes about 11 days to do the Base Camp hike. Nicola will do some exploration on her own during this time.

That should take us until Christmas. Early in 2014 we will head to South America. In particular, we think we will fly to Ecuador. We hope to get to Galapagos before starting to head south towards Chile. We will visit Easter Island before hitching a ride on a boat to Antarctica. Yep, that’s right… we live in the Arctic and are going to go to the “other” polar region. That will be Nicola’s last continent and my second last by that time. After spending some time with the penguins we will go to Argentina and Brazil. In all, South America/Antarctica is going to be a good two months.

After South America, we will head back to the Africa area… the Middle East in particular. We will visit some places like Israel and Oman. We will leave a visit to Egypt up in the air as it seems a bit too dangerous these days. As we investigate flights though many of them seem to go through Cairo. Very tempting to build in at least a short visit to Egypt. But again, no sense taking risks. Depending on how things are going this may be March and April of 2014 for us.

Following the Middle East, we plan to go to New Zealand for some sun, fun, and some Speight’s beer. While in that part of the world, we also hope to go to Cook Islands and Fiji. This is Jeff’s last continent “Australia and Oceania.” We intend to spend a couple of months in the islands and sun. That should take us until the end of June.

At the end of June, we will be back in Ontario. Jeff’s daughter Emily will graduate from high school in June 2014. We have to be in Elliot Lake, Ontario for that important day. How cool but man does it make me feel old.

After that, we will play things by ear. We may still have another month or six weeks of time off before we need to be back to work. We thought about some areas of Europe that we want to see… Bosnia, Croatia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and more. This may actually give us a bit of time to visit family in the UK… but again we will wait and see.

Have a look at the crazy map we have on the website here… click here to go to it now.