The Long-Awaited Birth of our Sabbatical Travel Itinerary–oh, the places we’ll go!

When we first decided we wanted to take a sabbatical, to leave our jobs for a full year and LIVE FOR A LIVING, we weren’t yet clear on where we would go or what we would do or exactly when we would do it.  And to be honest, we are still planning to leave lots of room for flexibility and spontaneity in our year, because FREEDOM is important to both of us.

Related: How we decided to take a sabbatical and live for a living

My husband and I have both traveled a fair amount around the U.S., especially metropolitan areas, so in our stateside travels we want to focus primarily on places of natural beauty that we haven’t seen yet, including in our home state of Colorado.  That means a lot of state and national parks, which works out great since we will be on a budget.

The process by which we are creating our itinerary is actually more important than the itinerary itself.  It’s bringing us closer and building a shared anticipation for this year-long adventure.

The itinerary we are creating is organic and fluid and is going to grow up and change as it matures. And the love and care we put into its conception gives it a foundation for being awesome, no matter what it looks like four months or a year from now!

Our process was to meet each other with an open mind and a willingness to put the other’s needs and desires right up top with our own.  We took some sticky notes and just started writing down things that each of us are looking forward to on our sabbatical: places to go, activities to do, people to see, things to experience.  Turns out we agree on 99% of those things.

And we discovered that for each of us it is much less about WHERE we go, but rather what we do and see along the way. Most of the things we listed could happen at or on the way to any of the possible destinations on our list–camping, hiking, meeting new people, small town festivals…

Below is our very rough draft of where we might go over the course of the year.  We won’t get to all of these destinations, but we will have adventure and fun on the way no matter where we end up.  And that’s the goal!

Note:  We reserve the right to change our minds!

So, what do we know so far?

  1. We will spend the first 6 months in the U.S.
  2. We will travel to lots of places in the United States, especially state and national parks and places with beautiful natural surroundings.
  3. We will spend about a month in Texas with family.
  4. We will spend the second half of our sabbatical, November 2017 through April 2018, living abroad in Thailand.  We made a list of places we were interested in living abroad to experience the culture, and then we looked at the relative cost of living and value of the dollar in each place. Thailand rose to the top of our list, above various places in Mexico, South America, Europe, and a few other Asian countries.  We really wanted to experience something new and out of our comfort zone.

Draft Itinerary (think of this as the “kitchen sink”)

For the most up to date version of our itinerary, visit the itinerary page on the main menu.

May 2017

  • May 1st will be our last day at work if all goes according to plan. We have to work a day in May in order to maintain our benefits through the end of the month.
  • We plan to spend the first month of our sabbatical mostly unwinding and getting used to a new routine of no routine at our home in Denver, hopefully testing out our yet to be purchased used pop up camper on some trips closer to home before loading up for a long haul.  Some of the destinations we are considering:
    • Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, CO:  this is where we got married, and we simply can’t get enough of this place!
    • Steamboat Springs, CO:  We have only made it to Steamboat once, and it was beautiful.  So much more to see!
    • Lake McConaughy, NE:  Commonly called Big Mac, this is Nebraska’s largest reservoir with 30,500 acres and 76 shoreline miles.  I’ve never found a whole lot of reasons to go to Nebraska, but I hear this is a great summer time destination,  with boating, sunbathing, water sports, and nature walks.
    • Grand Junction, CO:  We have never visited the vineyards on the Western Slope of Colorado, so I think it’s time for some WINE!
    • Buena Vista, CO:  Lots of camping options in the laid back Collegiate Peaks!
    • Grand Lake, CO:  We have been here before and we love it, and there are as many people as dogs, so what isn’t to love!Grand Lake morning 2016.jpg

June

  • Four Corners Road Trip:  We are planning a week (or so) long road trip with my in-laws to visit the Four Corners area where Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona meet.  Along the way, there are so many beautiful sites in and around Colorado, and my husband and I may just decide to continue on to Las Vegas!
    • Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO8eaddb13-1dd8-b71b-0b43ffa9be6a3d82
    • Telluride, CO
    • Durango-Silverton Railroad, CO
    • Pagosa Springs, CO (I love a good soak in the hot springs!)
    • Cliff Dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, CO
    • Ouray, CO (home to Red Mountain Pass and the Million Dollar Highway, one of the most amazing and dangerous roads in the world, which I’ve driven in a white out blizzard, and look forward to driving in the light of a summer day!)redmountainpass1
    • Four Corner National Monument (CO, NM, AZ, UT)
  • Las Vegas, NV:  Ok, I know this isn’t exactly natural beauty, but we both really love to play poker, so we may do it just because WE CAN!  Who knows, maybe we will fund an extra month of sabbatical!

July

August

This is a list of possibilities that would take us back east, where we both spent several post-college years in Massachusetts and have fond memories and lots of friends with whom to stay if we decide to make this part of our sabbatical!

  • New York (Upstate and the City)
  • Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, PA
  • Boston, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, MA
  • Acadia National Park, ME

maine-acadia-national-park

September

This seems so far away and there are so many people and places to visit!  Some of the things we have talked about so far:
  • California:  Los Angeles, Napa Valley, Pacific Coast Highway, Antelope Valley (so many options)
  • Great Smoky Mountain National Park , NC and TN
  • Blue Ridge Parkway:  Virginia to North Carolina
  • Just stay home and enjoy fall in Colorado!
  • Pack for Texas and for Thailand–we will be driving to Texas in October for family time and flying to Thailand from there in November.

October

We knew we wanted to spend time with family in Texas during our sabbatical.

My sister lives in Dallas with her husband and three little ones (ages 4, 2, and 8 months), and we decided to offer to keep those three little monsters for two weeks so that my sister and my brother-in-law could enjoy a much-needed vacation, and we could spend some quality time with our two nieces and nephew, who we usually only see once or twice a year.

In exchange, my wonderful sister agreed to keep our two fur-babies for six months while we travel in Thailand.  They’ll mostly travel with us during the first six months of sabbatical.

My husband’s sister also lives in Dallas, and my Mom, brother and his two kids live in San Antonio (5 hours south), so we will spend a full month in Texas, hopefully planning some unique adventures while we are there.

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November 2017 thru April 2018

  • Thailand:  There is too much to say about Thailand in this little post.  Check back later for a more detailed itinerary for our six months in Thailand.  We are still in the research phase about where to go and what to see.

     Come back as our sabbatical start date nears to see how our plans firm up!


4 thoughts on “The Long-Awaited Birth of our Sabbatical Travel Itinerary–oh, the places we’ll go!

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