Year: 2014


Long time, no ski 🙂

Having been a cross-country skier in high school and college, I typically enjoyed Minnesota winters. But if you don’t get outside, the weather can leave you longing for spring.

So in an attempt to stave off a bout of cabin fever, I dusted off my ski boots and hit the trails at Elm Creek Park with my dad and his friend Gary.

Here is a video of me from my dad’s point of view. It was taken with my new GoPro camera.

Preparing for Launch

Empty condo

My place looking very empty

Since I had ample time to prepare for my trip, I am now about as prepared as I could be or would want to be. Here are some of the major logistical items that I addressed before leaving:

  • Rent my condo
    This involved finding a property manager to take care of “landlord” things while I am gone. Fortunately, I found a good one who made the process of finding a renter and moving out virtually painless. I also revoked homestead status on my property with Hennepin county so I won’t have to pay state taxes while I’m abroad.
  • Move out
    This was less difficult that I expected. Since my condo is fairly small (~750 square feet), it took around 3-4 days of 2-3 hours of cleaning, packing, and getting rid of my stuff. I gave away my couch and bed and threw away or donated everything else that I didn’t need. It actually felt really good to eliminate a lot of my stuff. Luckily, I am also able to store some things at my parents’ house, which is where I’m living now for the month of December.
  • Get travel shots
    It turned out that I didn’t need any shots, just some typhoid pills. I also got some malaria pills to take in case I travel to any rural areas that are malaria zones.
  • Travel insurance
    I went with World Nomads for this. They provide basic health and emergency coverage. It cost around $1,000 for the whole year.
  • Other insurance
    I canceled my car and health insurance and switched my homeowner’s insurance to renter’s insurance.
  • Renew passport
    Since it had been over 10 years since my first passport was issued, I needed to get a new one.
  • Get Visa for Vietnam
    Like other countries such as Brazil, China, and India, Vietnam requires a visa on arrival. So I got a 90-day, multiple entry visa. I used VisaHQ, which took about a week (non-expedited) and cost around $220.
  • Transfer title of car to mom
    I decided to “gift” my car my mom so I have a ride if I need one when I get back to the states.
  • Cancel memberships/subscriptions
    Some of what I cancelled or need to cancel are my Internet (Comcast), co-working (CoCo), phone service (Verizon), and CrossFit (TwinTown Fitness).
  • Buy stuff
    The major purchases I made were a backpack, cell phone, and laptop. I also bought smaller items such as a travel towel, filtration water bottle, earplugs, and some clothes.
  • Have mail forwarded to my parents’ address
    I notified USPS to send all mail from my previous address to my parent’s house so I won’t lose any mail.
  • Cancel and organize credit cards
    I cancelled all but one personal and one business card that carry annual fees. Over the past few years, I have signed up for numerous credit cards to get frequent flyer miles and points with different rewards programs. But next year I plan on using just one personal card (Chase Sapphire Preferred) that has no foreign transaction fees. I will also keep a backup card or two.
  • Open a checking account
    I opened a Schwab checking account because they reimburse all ATM fees, both domestically and internationally. I plan on putting a lump sum of cash in there before I leave so I can track exactly how much money I’ve spent throughout the year.

That’s pretty much the entire list of what I did to get ready for long-term, indefinite travel. Not so bad when you think about it!

Setting Sail

View from Groveland Terrace Rooftop

View towards downtown Minneapolis from my rooftop

Last December I decided to travel around the world.

I decided to keep living in Minneapolis for 2014 and then become a “digital nomad” throughout 2015 (and perhaps beyond). Having lived in Minneapolis for the past 5+ years, it felt like time for a change of scenery. At first I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. And quite frankly I wasn’t too concerned about it. I just knew that I wanted to see some different parts of the globe. Fortunately, since my schedule and location are both extremely flexible due to the nature of my work (Internet-based), I didn’t have to make any huge life sacrifices to make this possible.

The question in my mind was always where to go and when – not if. Over the course of 2014, I considered various destinations. Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Germany, Eastern Europe, and several countries in Southeast Asia made my list of possible countries to visit. In the end, however, I picked Southeast Asia as my home for 2015. I think I was drawn to the unique and somewhat “exotic” cultures of the region as well as other factors such as the low cost of living, food (I hear it’s really good!), warm weather, and community of other digital nomads.

After some basic research, I decided on Hanoi, Vietnam as my first stop. So I bought a one-way ticket from MSP to HAN that leaves on December 31. As of now, my plan is to stay there for a couple of months and then probably head to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in the south of Vietnam for up to one month. But I don’t have a concrete plan or route.  In fact, I expect to change my mind (probably several times) about where to go.  Any suggestions are welcome!