Hey there! Welcome to our Travel Blog. We are Michael and Halef – The Round The World Guys! We are a couple and we are avid travelers who met in Atlanta, Georgia in 2008. We’ve been together ever since and, in 2013, we traveled to New York City to get married! While we’ve both been in the United States for nearly two decades, neither of us is originally from here. I’m Michael and I am originally from Fredericton, Canada. Halef is from Bandung, Indonesia. So let me introduce the both of us and get right into it!
I am in my late 40s – hardly what you think of when you think of someone who wants to travel the world. Usually people my age are settled in with kids, a comfy house, just plugging away until they can retire. That’s not me and I would hate to live that life. While I love kids, I love being able to give them back just as much. I’ve always said that I would never want a child of mine to wonder if she was holding me back from doing what I really want, so I decided I wouldn’t have any. I consider this a selfless form of selfishness.
After getting a M.Sc. (Education) I moved to Atlanta from Canada to work at a private university. Hated it! Since then, I’ve been working for a large telcom in their Learning and Development Department. I’ve been doing this kind of work for 20 years now and love my job. Of course, I love traveling more and this is why I stay at my company – I’ve built up a lot of vacation time and I’ve got 15 years of merit pay increases that give me a comfortable salary. As the saying goes, “Money can’t buy happiness. But it can buy plane tickets and that’s the same thing!”
Currently, I’ve visited about 40 countries – most since 2011. My longest trip has been three weeks. My shortest was a day and a half in Singapore. It was enough. My goal is to see everything. Probably the same as yours! My first language is English; however, I can get by fairly well in French. I do well in Indonesian, and I am currently taking introductory Spanish. My goal is to be fluent in Spanish. When you travel round the world, Spanish comes in handy!
Halef in his late 30s – also not exactly the stereotypical world traveler. As I said earlier, he was born and grew up in Indonesia and moved to Iowa after high school to attend Iowa State University. I never understood how one could leave a tropical paradise for snow and corn, but that’s what he decided. I’m glad he did, otherwise we wouldn’t have met! During his time at Iowa State, Halef had the opportunity to do a study abroad program for six months in Italy. He describes himself as Italian at heart. He even learned to speak enough of the language to get us through a few days in Milan!
Halef has a degree in Landscape Architecture and works for a mid-sized Architectural firm here in Atlanta. He’s been to well over 40 countries and has the largest collection of travel books I’ve ever seen.
If we see half of those countries, we’ll be the ultimate travelers! When he travels, Halef does it with Traveling Cy – the mascot for Iowa State University. Cy even has his own Facebook page. He’s been to more countries than either of us, as he somehow manages to find his way into the backpacks of our friends when they travel, too! I haven’t looked at his countries list, but chances are, he’s been around the world a couple times already!
Travel binds us together
To know us simply from seeing us while we’re at home, you wouldn’t think we had a lot in common. We’re from two completely different cultures. There’s 9 years separating us. Halef is a stamp collector. I work from home all day and I’m just happy to relax on the couch at night and binge on the latest thing I found on Netflix or HBO Now. It’s when we’re on the road together that you finally “get” why we’re together. Halef is a perfect match for me because he is a planner. See, I didn’t travel much before I met him. I didn’t have the guts to just buy a ticket and go. You can’t just go to Sweden without knowing exactly how to get there and what to do while you’re there!
I needed a Halef to make travel a reality for me. For much of our first few years of travel together, he took care of everything. He took that “scary” out of travel for me and now I pretty much can do what I need to do to get where I am going. Well, mostly anyway.
Halef is detail-oriented. I am not. When I travel on my own, I am just happy enough to be where I am. Traveling with Halef is different because there is a plan. We see everything. We do more. And we learn more. Best of all, we do it together.
What you will find here
Our mission is to, hopefully, inspire you to travel more. We’ll give you tips on dozens of travel-related subjects, like:
- Interesting things to include in your travel journal
- Our experience diving on Liveaboards
- Food around the world (for example, Indonesia!)
- Stuff to consider before traveling to remote places
- Quirky stuff, like diving in aquariums!
- Weird places to visit
- and ideas that worked for us
Our round the world mission for 2019
In late 2019, we’re ditching this joint for two years! That’s right, two whole years on a round the world trip. Is two years ambitious? Yup! But judging from what I’ve seen from other travel bloggers, that could end up being a permanent thing.
Why 2019? Good question! Right now, Halef and I are Green Card holders. Halef will have his U.S. citizenship by early 2017. After that, I’ll still have about 2.5 years before I get my US citizenship. The problem with being a Green Card holder is that, unless you get a special exemption, you can’t leave the country for more than a year at a time without losing your Green Card status. We don’t want to take the chance of coming back to the US only to find out that I cannot get back in! So we’re going to wait.
We’ll still do plenty of travel between now and then, but the focus will be on:
- Saving lots of money
- Getting this blog figured out and building an audience
- Figuring out how to make money from it
When 2019 rolls around, we hope to have about $30k saved each. In addition to that, we’ve already paid off our condo, so we will either sell it or rent it, depending on the economic conditions at that time. If we sell it, we’ll have a nice windfall in addition to our savings. If we rent it, we will have a nice steady $1,000 per month to add to our savings.
Where will we travel on our round the world trip?
Another good question. While we love Western countries, Halef and I will likely concentrate on more developing countries. We’ve both been to Western Europe, so we won’t need to spend much, if any time, in places like the U.K., France, or Scandinavia. We’ve already done all that, so avoiding Western Europe should be a big money saver for us!
Our current plan, which changes weekly (or whenever someone who stays with us from Couchsurfing offers alternatives), is to fly from Atlanta to Indonesia and drop off some of our belongings in Bandung. We’ll likely sell most of our stuff before we go, but things like diving equipment we’ll keep, for example.
After spending some time in Indonesia we’ll do the following:
- Fly to India and spend 2-3 months there.
- Next to China and Mongolia for awhile
- Maybe take the Trans-Siberian Railway through Russia
- Down through some of the “-stans”
- Through Iran and over to Turkey
- Fly to Dubai and then to Djibouti for an overland trip all the way to South Africa
- Somehow, we’ll make out way to France and visit friends for a week or so
- Then, fly to somewhere in South America and travel around there for several months
- Up through Central America, through Mexico
- Back to Atlanta
All in 2 years. Or 5-10. Who knows?
We really don’t know what the round the world route will be. But we know we’re doing it. Not a day goes by that we don’t talk about it. And not a day goes by that I don’t get a little more excited about leaving this life for something different. In large part because of who I am doing it with.