Our journey from Seattle to Ho Chi Minh City took all of 24 hours. We live in a pretty damn amazing world, don’t we? I watched three Best Picture nominees, ate a couple in-flight meals, jogged across Seoul Incheon Airport to make our tight connection, and woke up as we landed in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s largest metro area and the country’s commercial and financial capital. Until 1976, it was known as Saigon, a name that’s still used colloquially in reference to the central districts of the city. Saigon isn’t at the top of every traveler’s must-see list for Southeast Asia, but it did happen to have the cheapest round-trip flights when we booked our travel a few months ago. Knowing we’d be spending the spring working our way all around the region, it wasn’t important to us where we started. Vietnam it was!
This is the fourth installment in our series in which we share our cost of living as we experiment with different FIRE adventures and travel to destinations around the world. Previously, we’ve shared our experiences with #vanlife (parts one and two) and backpacking in Eastern Europe.
We had a blast traveling Mexico for practically the entire month of February, visiting Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, and Mazatlán before our brief return to the dreary Pacific Northwest winter. Here’s the financial breakdown of our trip.
We didn’t expect to be in Mexico in February. We had been planning on heading to southeast Asia shortly after the holidays. Then Daniel’s brother gave us four free flights on Alaska Airlines – with the catch that they had to be used by the end of March. Hey, we can’t resist a good deal.
We arrived in Puerto Vallarta at the end of January. We boarded a public bus just outside the airport, fumbling with our newly withdrawn pesos and looking for a seat that wasn’t creaky or broken. I couldn’t stop smiling. “This is what we’re supposed to be doing,” I told Daniel, beaming. Traveling in the U.S. is great, but getting out of the country is just the best. We love the new experiences. We love pushing our comfort zones.
Three hundred sixty-five days ago, Daniel and I did one final check of our possessions, started up the engine of our van, and pulled out onto the road. We’ve been gone eleven of the twelve months since.
I liked the poetry of starting our travels on the spring equinox. The end of winter and the beginning of a season of life and light felt like an apt metaphor for this new season in our own lives. We’ve watched sunrises and sunsets in forests and deserts, slept under the stars, hiked among ancient cultural wonders, and trekked through towns and countries I couldn’t have pinned on a map.
By no means has every day been perfect. Approximately three seconds after we first pulled out of the driveway, I looked in the rear view mirror and watched our newly purchased five-gallon water carrier go flying off our storage platform, bouncing off the bed before settling against the driver’s side sliding door. There were still a few kinks to work out. But in spite of a few little mishaps, it’s been the longest year of my life in the best way possible.
This is the third installment in our series in which we share our cost of living as we experiment with different FIRE adventures and travel to destinations around the world. Our first #vanlife trip in the western U.S. came in slightly under budget, while our backpacking trip around Eastern Europe was a bit more expensive.
We spent another three months on the road in our van this fall, reaching 25 states and 3 Canadian provinces. It was a great adventure, and we loved seeing new places and returning to some old favorites. I can’t say I’d recommend such a brisk pace (or van camping in the northern states late into autumn), but seeing our friends and family around the country was well worth it. If you have the flexibility, though, leave in spring!
Our trip started with a cold but gorgeous few weeks in Montana and the Canadian Rockies, took us through Yellowstone and Grand Teton, and hauled us all the way out to the Midwest for a good friend’s wedding before we took the long southern route home.