Everything Steven Trickett and Jess Foley have in their lives is stuffed in two economy-sized backpacks.
It has been five months since the young couple took the plunge to spend a year globetrotting and seeing the world. They sold their home, took a leave of absence from their jobs and left on an airplane bound for parts unknown.
Steven, a Harbour Grace native, was a human resources consultant for a global company, while Jess, originally from St. John’s, also worked for a large company as an accountant in Burlington, Ont.
In the four years they lived in Ontario, the pair’s typical idea of fun was heading to Costco on Friday night. Steven was usually on the road with work, and when he was home there was even more work to do looking ahead to the next week. It was the same situation with Jess and her profession.
“All we did was work,” said Jess. “We thought there has to be something else out there.”
With that in mind, the pair started researching what it would take to plan an around-theworld excursion. They poured through pages of online travel blogs and any other information they found.
Travelling the world, they say, was “always in the back of our minds,” but they thought a window had closed. Taking a year off to see the world was a young person’s game they thought.
That was not the case at all. After reading the blogs, they found people travelling who were just like them — in their 30s with a job and a home. So, they went for it.
“There was never going to be the perfect time to do it,” said Steven, who spoke with The Compass via online video from Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand. “It was probably the best time.”
The couple sold the home where they got engaged, packed up their things and drove across the province. They spent some time with family before departing from St. John’s on July 28, en route to Dublin, Ireland.
“My parents were super supportive,” said Jess. “My mom wanted to come with us.”
“It took a while to convince mine,” added Steven. “They came around to it quite a bit after.”
Since leaving in July, the coupe have crossed two continents and visited 15 countries in Europe and Africa.
Here is a rough list of where they’ve visited so far: Ireland, Belgium, Spain, Hungary, France, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa (Cape Town), Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Cambodia,
“It’s been an great experience,” said Jess. “Croatia was absolutely amazing.”
Making your way around the world involves knowing how to operate on a budget and being flexible enough to deviate from the plan if the money takes them in a different direction.
“Luckily, my wife is an accountant,” said Steven with a chuckle. “We’ve always been savers,” added Jess. The pair took a portion of the money they received from selling their home, along with some savings and drafted a budget. Steven had 30 hotel nights saved up through his work, and the rest of their accommodations were found on lodging rentals website Airbnb, allowing to to book top-notch places at a quarter of the price.
“Europe was more expensive,” said Steven. “We’ve had to be smart about it.”
The pair love coffee. Wherever they go, they carry a tin of Nescafe instant coffee with them. Sometimes they’ll splurge on a cup of joe at a local café, but for the most part, it is always instant.
“You’re going to laugh when we tell you we have a bag full of coffee bags from hotels,” said Jess. “The same goes for shampoos and soaps.”
Tenting with lions
As they describe it, Africa was “mind blowing.”
The pair spent 26 days travelling through a host of countries in the east and central parts of the continent. They touched down in Nairobi, Kenya on Oct. 11 and from there made their way from the Serengeti to Cape Town.
Along the way, they camped on the shores of Lake Malawi (Malawi) and Lake Tanyanika (Tanzania), swam with great white sharks and saw Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall located in both Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“There is a pool at the edge of the falls called Devil’s Pool where you are sitting looking out over the falls,” said Jess. “It was probably one of favourite moments in Africa.”
It was in Cape Town where Steven had one of his favourite moments of the trip so far.
“We did a morning hike (of Table Mountain) and took some pictures,” he said. “Then … we went swimming with sharks. We did a shark cage dive.
“I was down in the cage and I had my hands on the bars, just holding on. A great white came swimming right towards me with its mouth open. I had to pull my hands away from the cage because I thought he was going to bite my hands.”
A humbling experience
A common theme for a journey such as this is learning and experiencin life a world away from where you grew up.
Cambodia offered a dose of a differently reality for the couple. It’s the country where the Communist Khmer Rouge regime slaughtered between one-and-half and three million people from 1975-1979.
The couple visited the Killing Fields, which consists of 20,000 mass grave. sites
“I was angry because I had no idea of the brutal history there before we got there,” said Steven. “To find out what those people had gone through. It makes you appreciate how fortunate we were to be born in Canada.
“Just to see how much opportunity we have just because of where we were born. We can do whatever we want in life, and some of the people we’ve met … are happy-go-lucky, they appreciate what they have and make the best of their situation.”
While they have a little over six months to go before they return to North America “homeless, but with a job,” they still have plenty of travelling left to do.
The pair hope to hit Vietnam, and they’re still toying with the idea of travelling to Myanmar (Burma) and the Phillipines.
“It all depends on the budget,” said Jess. “Myanmar has some pretty incredible hot air balloon rides. “We were living before, but now we feel alive.” In the meantime, the they're trying to figure out what’s the cheapest country to fly home from. Their initial exploration has identified Shanghai, China, as a possibility.
To keep up with the couple’s international exploits, visit their travel blog at www.finelinetravels.com or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/finelinetravels.