aboutWe are Akila and Patrick. Ourminds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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TheRoadUnleashed.com
writing down dreams + giveaway winner

Fluffy clouds

A retirement coach recently gave my parents a homework assignment: before they consider retiring, they need to build a list of 25 items they want to do once they retire.  She warned that many retirees become bored and inactive, eventually leading to sluggishness and illness, because they don't have concrete goals set out for their retirement.  Retirement is not the end of working but rather a change in life and work, she explained.

That is also how we describe our round-the-world trip.  At first, we treated it like an extended vacation; we hopped from city to city and location to location to spend our time sightseeing and discovering the culture.  Six months into our trip, we have learned that this trip did not end our jobs but rather changed how we view life and work.  Now, we place more emphasis on experiences rather than things because we have lived for the last six months with only what we can carry on our backs.  Work is still important to us and, even while we are traveling, we carve out several hours a day to exercise our minds.  At the same time, we are less career driven because we are happier and healthier without working 60 hour stressful weeks.

But, we have never created a list of things we want to do on our travels or even a bucket list of places we want to see.  We are goal-less.  And, if we don't create goals, will we eventually get bored and irritated even if we are surrounded by amazing sights and sounds?  Travel is, by its nature, unsettling so we internally create structure and order out of the chaos.  In fact, several long-term travelers recently called it quits because they did not like the constant movement, uncertainty, and chaos of travel. 

Tuscany

We are lucky because we have never felt burnt out or rushed --- and when we do feel rushed, we slow down and do nothing.  Even still, I worry that this lifestyle is making us complacent and unmotivated.  This, of course, leads to another problem: how can I make long-term goals if I don't know what I am going to be doing next year, next month, or even next week?  (Does anyone out there have this same issue?)

Nonetheless, I am going to give it a go and let you know five of my goals for the next two years:

1.  Spend a month in Tuscany and learn how to make fluffy gnocchi like those Italian grandmothers make.
2.  Visit Egypt and dive the Red Sea. 
3.  Honestly respond to the question "What do you do?" with "I am a writer" instead of "I am a lawyer."
4.  Learn to drive manual shift.  It is ridiculous that I can't drive most of the cars in the world.
5.  Be with our dogs as much as we can.

Y'all, on the other hand, seem to have your act together because when I asked for your bucket list destinations in the Lost Girls book giveaway, I loved that there was such a diversity of answers.  Danni wanted to sail the South Pacific and Candice and several others wanted to travel to the Greek islands because of its "sunshine and warmth.  And cute Greek men."  Greece - yes, I want to go there, too!  I loved Katya's answer: "I want to go horseback riding through the amazing Australian outback and discover this continent and ride off into the sunset as a lost cowgirl."  I can't speak to being a lost cowgirl, but the Outback is amazing and was one of the best parts of Australia.

Melissa won the The Lost Girls book because she was lucky #2 to answer the question of what is one destination on the top of your bucket list.  She wrote:

For some reason, maybe it is the struggles with my infertility, maybe it is facing turning 30, I have a very strong underlying desire to not only travel, but to MOVE to another country. I would have to say that Thailand is on my bucket list, but I will be checking that off of my list this Summer (assuming things don't get too crazy over there). So, after checking that off, I would really like to visit ANYWHERE in South America or Africa!

Congrats Melissa!  Hopefully, things in Bangkok will calm down soon and your trip to Thailand will be a good one.

05/21/2010 13:31
This is a very nice post. I applaud #4 on your list: I think everyone should know how to drive a stick-shift! We didn't make any goals for our around-the-world-trip, although a few years ago we wrote down some goals, and traveling to India, Turkey and Greece were on the list and we can now check off all three! It's fun to write down goals and then not look at them for a while. You'll unconsciously start working toward them and then after a while you'll realize you've completed them. At least that's how it's worked out for me. Anyway, thanks for the nice post, and good luck with your goals!
Asa's recent blog post: Good-bye Turkey, Hello Greece
05/21/2010 16:44
I'm going to share this post with my recently retired father. I agree that goal-setting is important and for certain types of people it can be very difficult (yours truly). Funny that driving stick is on my list too!
05/21/2010 18:49
Call me a typical type A personality, but one of the first things I did in planning our year RTW trip, even before deciding where to go, was to sit down and make a list of personal and professional goals for the year that Amy and I both agreed on. Having the goal list helped tremendously in making the rest of the decisions, like where to go much easier. Our goals have provided us direction and structure to ensure that we focus on what is important to us and not get caught up in what is less important.

I can say that diving the Red Sea is AMAZING. I was a little spoiled by getting my PADI open water certification there, as the rest of my diving has been compared to those first colorful and crystal clear water experiences. I would recommend Deep Blue in Dahab, and specifically Ibrahim as an instructor. He was excellent.
Keith Sutter's recent blog post: Out from Chinese Censorship
05/23/2010 17:45
Thanks Asa! I hope that writing these goals will result in our unconscious efforts to make them happen.

Keith, great! Writing down goals is actually much harder than it sounds (at least for me).

Keith, we did something kind of similar in that we created a "must", "would like to," and "definitely no" list of countries. Unfortunately, most countries in the world ended up on the "would like to" list and there were very few that were on the "must" list and practically none on the "no" list. We built our itinerary based on the "must" list but we still had more time. So, hopefully, this round will be a little more organized. I can't wait to dive the red sea! Your pictures of that area were amazing.
05/23/2010 20:25
Having no goals for a fixed period of time can be liberating. I think sometimes we focus too much on setting goals, making plans and having some direction that we lose touch with some of the basic enjoyments of living in the moment.

No 4 is becoming quite a priority with travel. We can't drive a manual car(that's what we call it) and we keep postponing it with every trip!
Gourmantic's recent blog post: Tasting the Mediterranean
05/27/2010 19:54
I received my copy of the book today! Thank you so much, again, for hosting this give away. It arrived at the perfect time - today was my last day of work for the Summer, so I get to catch up on my reading!
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