Guest Post: Living abroad with our bulldog. Thailand and Volunteering in Asia with Our Life Uncharted
Sawadee Krap! We are the Jones family (aka Ourlifeuncharted).
We are currently in Phuket, Thailand. Emily and I are originally from Salt Lake City, Utah.
Before we decided to travel full-time, we lived in a small condo in downtown Salt Lake City with our english bulldog, Winnie.
The three of us have been living in Thailand for the past four months and it has been incredible! It’s truly been a dream come true for us. A year ago we tossed around the idea of quitting our jobs and traveling for a year. I was a business analyst and Emily was a hair stylist. We were pretty content and comfortable with the routine we had created for ourselves over the past 10 years, but we both knew we wanted more out of life.
Then one day we woke up early, ate breakfast on our patio before work, and just talked. We lamented about how much of our lives we spent around coworkers and strangers instead of with the people we cared most about, our family. We talked about how amazing it would be if we could go on vacation for 4 weeks, no, 5 weeks! Can you imagine, a five week vacation?!
Now we can! We’ve been traveling Southeast Asia full-time and documenting our adventure on YouTube for the past 4 months and so far have ZERO regrets.
How we made this adventure a reality may not work for everyone, but we’re happy to share how we got here and where we hope to end up:)
About a year ago we made a plan to pay off our debt and student loans and save up as much money as we could for 12 months. We had about $5,000 in credit card debt and another $12,000 in student loans. So we put our noses to the grindstone and started saving. We love traveling but during that year we didn’t go on any big vacations or make any large purchases. Neither of us were totally sure that we would go through with quitting our jobs and leaving, but we thought, “hey, if we don’t end up leaving it all behind, at least we’ll be out of debt and have a savings”. From that year of saving we were able to pay off our credit card, student loans, and save up about $10,000. Once we saw what we were capable of accomplishing, we decided to go all in. We sold our car, almost all of our furniture, and most of our belongings. We made about $8000 from selling our car and our stuff. We then found a full-time renter to rent our condo. The rent covers the mortgage and adds about $400/month into our travel fund.
When I quit my job for the company that I worked for over the past 10 years, I had accrued some stocks which we sold. Stock sales added about $27,000. When the dust settled, we had about $45,000. At first glance, this may seem like a lot of money to travel with but the equation gets a little more complicated when you throw a sailboat into the mix.
I have always dreamed of living on a sailboat and we both agreed that if there was ever a time to try it out, now would be it. So shortly after arriving in Thailand, we bought a sailboat.
Our plan is to spend the next 6-8 months living/traveling by sailboat and documenting our successes and failures on YouTube. Neither of us have extensive sailing experience but we both share an enthusiasm and optimism for adventure that we hope will compensate for our lack of experience.
We chose the name OurLifeUncharted because we truly don’t have our course charted out or planned perfectly. We are learning as we go and are constantly making changes to our plans.
Initially when planning this adventure we decided that we didn't want it to just be a year of vacation. We wanted to find opportunities to serve others along the way since service has always been something that brings us a lot of joy.
So before leaving the States, Emily found an orphanage in Pattaya that seemed like a great opportunity to do some volunteer work. About two weeks after landing in Bangkok we trekked to Pattaya and talked with the volunteer coordinator. She confirmed that there was a need at the orphanage and that she would gladly accept us as volunteers. We ended up volunteering for about 3 months. We taught english, Emily cut hair, and we played and loved on the little babies. Volunteering at the orphanage provided no income for us but the friendships and the memories we made will last forever. We rented a condo in Pattaya for about $500/month and scootered to and from the orphanage everyday. We both loved our experience there so much that we’ve agreed that if we sink the boat(cross our fingers we don’t) we’re going to go back and volunteer again. It was by far the most fun and rewarding part of our travels so far.
A few ways that we’ve learned to travel Thailand on a budget are: 1) Renting accommodations for a minimum of one month ends up being a lot cheaper than nightly/weekly. While at the orphanage in Pattaya we rented our condo with a pool for $500/month. 2) Renting a scooter monthly as your primary means of transportation. Most places have scooter rentals for $300 Baht per day but a monthly rental end up costing between $100-150 Baht per day. 3) Eating out. Surprisingly eating out at the local markets and small restaurants ends up costing less than buying our food from the grocery store. This is especially true for fruits and vegetables.
We’ve had so many ups and downs since we’ve been here we’ve lost count. But some of the ups that stand out in my mind are: the day we bought the sailboat, everyday we interacted with the darling orphans was a major up, and meeting other people along the way who are doing the same thing we are. We are both so surprised by the number of couples(and individuals) who have given up the conventional lifestyle to explore the world and fill their lives with experiences that will last a lifetime.
Downs include: finding out the sailboat we bought is WAY more expensive to own that we thought, saying goodbye to the adorable orphans and not knowing when we will be back, and almost losing Winnie to heat stroke on one of our flights from Bangkok to Phuket. The later being the lowest point so far.
The beauty of living a life uncharted is that we get to make plans and then change those plans whenever we want. It has been an incredibly liberating feeling to decide how we want to spend each day of our lives. We know this won’t last forever (as we’ve only budgeted to be gone for 1 year or until the money runs out) but we are taking advantage of our time here and have been loving every minute of it! Our future plans include, swimming with dolphins in the wild, fishing for our next meal, and climbing a coconut tree on a remote island only accessible by sailboat:)
For anyone interested in following our journey, find us on YouTube and Instagram @ourlifeuncharted.