We are Chris and Danila – travelling the world and volunteering on conservation projects, and we’re writing about our experiences in this travel blog.
How did this come about? About 20 years ago we had this idea that “when we retire, we’ll have a B & B, it’ll be fun!” We’ll buy a place with a few acres in the wine country, have a few vines, make enough wine for us and our friends, have a few chickens. I had visions of tripping out into the dewy grass each morning, greeting the chickens, and collecting eggs to make breakfast for our guests. Of course one major obstacle to this delightful vision is the fact that I’m really not an early morning person.
I still have occasional hippy-commune dreams, but it’s ok, maybe I’ll stay at one for a while some day.
Now instead of buying a house and land, we’ve sold a house and all its contents. Some friends are envious, others have asked how can we possibly sell everything? Are we really not keeping anything at all?
I sometimes wonder how this 180 degree turn came about, but I think it just morphed into being. Sometimes spurred on by reading an article, sometimes by a conversation. Let’s be honest here, we’re both heading into the years of “less time to live than we have already lived” which sounds a little morbid perhaps, but to me it just means that I want to make the rest of the living count! We want to do interesting things and fun things. We’d like to feel as if we’re making a difference in some way. We really want to keep our brains and bodies as active as possible, for as long as possible.
Chris has always been interested in nature, particularly birds and reptiles as a young boy, and my interests have grown more since I’ve known Chris. Following a trip to Costa Rica where I snorkeled for the first time (yes really!) and fell in love with what I could glimpse, we decided to certify as scuba divers. So in 1996, for my 40th birthday, we did the course, and completed our open water dives in the b!*^%y freezing waters of Monterey Bay in California. If anyone tells you the ocean is warm in California, don’t believe them! Then we headed south and east to Belize, a quintessential tropical paradise south of Mexico. That was it, we were hooked, as it were, and from then on our holidays were mostly dive trips.
I can’t remember where the idea came from to try a dive conservation trip. We nearly went in 2008, but didn’t, for various reasons. However, we went in 2012, and loved it. ReefCI operates out of a tiny island in the Sapodilla Cayes in southern Belize. We loved it so much we went back in 2013, and will be there again in January and February 2015.
Having tried one volunteer conservation trip, we started to research this possibility, and discovered many interesting places and projects: turtle projects in Costa Rica, orphan elephants in southern Africa, many different projects in Australia, an amazing trip to the Galapagos, helping to rid the islands of invasive non-native plants. And so we started having more conversations about “the future”.
Chris ran the numbers many different ways, things were looking pretty positive. Then Chris found a travel blog: Home Free Adventures that really inspired us – thank you Lynne & Tim! They seem to be about our age-ish, and have many interests that coincide with ours, and they’re living a Home Free existence that sounds glorious! I’ve devoured Lynn’s posts with delight, and when we read about their budget in an article in the Wall St Journal, that closely matched our numbers, we decided that we’re going to mix in volunteer travel projects, with renting apartments in interesting places, and living as much as possible like the locals.
Part One of The Plan has been achieved: we set off in late November 2013, from San Jose California, and drove across the US, until we reached Florida in April 2014. Our plan was to stay in the south (because of winter!) and the map shows our (approximate!) planned route. We stayed for a few days, or longer, in various places. We enjoyed the different cities and landscapes in Texas. New Orleans for Mardi Gras was wonderful. We enjoyed beautiful old southern towns like Savannah and Charleston. When we got to Florida, we drove the over the water highway down the Keys, and did some diving. Then we turned back to Fort Lauderdale, sold the car, and boarded our first repositioning cruise, heading to England. We then spent some time in England and Italy, catching up with family and friends.
We spent three months in 2014 in South Africa, working on several volunteer projects, as well as touring and seeing some of the country. We’re back in England to spend Christmas, and then in January 2015 we’ll take another repositioning cruise across the Atlantic, and continue our “permanent travels” in central America, and onwards.
After that, our plans are open! We’d like to get back to the US and visit Yellowstone, as we didn’t manage to do that in the 20 years we lived there. We might head back to California and catch up with friends there.
We are NOT dunroamin 🙂
We’ll be writing about our travels and photographing places as we go. Read more about meaningful travel, click below to get our free newsletter. Our promise: we will never sell your email, or spam you!