Vagabonding Case Study: The Eatons

On April 15th, 2016

Caroline and Josh Eaton of Traveling 9 to 5

Age: 26

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Quote: “If you have considered or even dreamed about taking a long-term trip, start making changes in your life NOW to get you toward that goal.

How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful?
I originally read about Vagabonding on Tim Ferris’ blog. I was interested in the book but didn’t read it until after we had decided and started planning our RTW trip. My sister was the one who urged me to read it after hearing about our plans. Vagabonding helped confirm our plans, assuage our fears and get us excited to travel and explore.

What is your job or source of travel funding for this journey?
Josh is a consultant with Deloitte Consulting. Caroline is a personal trainer and nutritionist in Chicago. We have been ruthlessly saving for this trip, cutting out extras in our day-to-day spending and selling things that we don’t need or won’t miss. It is a combination of saving and realizing that traveling isn’t as expensive as everyone first assumes. After budgeting, it looks like our total budget is around what we would have spent only on rent over the next year!

Do you plan to work on the road?
The plan is there, learning to balance work and play will be one of our first hurdles.  We both have a strong work ethic and of course would love to make some money to support our trip.  Luckily we know that the money we have saved is there so work will not be a necessity, but if we do pick up some extra work it might mean an extra safari in Africa or a splurge at a nice restaurant/hotel along our trip.Josh is a talented technologist.  He hopes to pick up odd jobs working with WordPress and building and managing websites.

Caroline hopes to maintain some of her current clients and program for them and continue to meet with them weekly via skype to ensure they are sticking to their nutrition/fitness plan. Caroline is also the main writer for our blog at Traveling 9 to 5.

What was the reaction of your friends/family/colleagues as you planned your trip?
Reactions varied greatly. We told friends who were overly excited and asked a million questions, some of whom have already started planning their trip to visit us while we are on the road.  We told some who didn’t understand why we would risk leaving a debt-free life with great jobs to enter a life that is unknown. Others we told have no desire or interest in travel, so telling them about our trip was an unemotional and anti-climactic experience. They simply didn’t care (but still supported us). Many have expressed jealousy, or wish they could do the same thing. We used to feel the same way and we hope to inspire others who think, “I could never do this” that its not as difficult, expensive, or dangerous as anyone makes it out to be.

Mostly we got to hear fabulous stories about a friend or family member they know who had traveled RTW, or their own trips to exotic destinations.  They all offered great advice and support.  It is amazing to see the light go on when people who love travel get to talk about their adventures, the excitement and passion in their voice easily shows through!

Any tips or lessons learned from the travel-preparation process?
If you have considered or even dreamed about taking a long-term trip, start making changes in your life NOW to get you toward that goal. We were in pretty good shape to take a year out of our lives and we still had to deal with: getting out of our two year lease (dumb decision), moving twice, and finding ways to tell clients and bosses that we were leaving. Even knowing that, we’ve also learned that there’s only so much you can plan for. The best planning is just being prepared to be patient and flexible. Things are going to go wrong. As long as we are ready to deal with what comes along, we will be fine.

How long do you hope to spend on the road?
We are leaving at the end of January and we plan to return around mid-December. We are trying to make it home for the holidays, after 11 months on the road.

Which destinations do you hope to visit?
We booked a OneWorld award through American with our AA miles, so we had to pre-pick our major destinations and then we can change around the dates once we get out on the road.  We plan on starting in Southeast Asia and seeing Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.  We will fly to South Africa for a month and then spend a quick week in Madrid before flying to South America.  There we will visit Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

Which experiences are you most looking forward to?
I really want to eat Thai food in Thailand.  That is first and foremost what I am excited to do. I hesitate to answer this because although I am very excited to go on a safari in Africa and learn to tango in Buenos Aires these experiences probably won’t be the ones I will remember most.

I know from previous trips that the experiences that I fondly remember are when I walk into a random local cafe and end up having a great conversation with the owner, or walking down the street I see a street food vendor and try the most salivating dish (or stick) I have ever had. These are the experiences that are unknown, but I know they will inevitably happen and that’s why I am looking forward to them the most!

What are you packing for the journey?
We are each bringing a 36L Osprey backpack for the trip and only bringing the essentials.  We will document on our blog what specifically we are packing so stay tuned in January!  Basically it will be a couple outfits, workout clothes, tennis shoes, walking sandals and toiletries.  Lightweight laptop computers, Kindles, a DSLR camera and spare lens and a flip video camera.  We have long debated on the amount of gadgets we are bringing but we can’t see doing without them right now – maybe that will change!

Do you have any worries or concerns about the journey?
Dare we say we aren’t sure what to be worried about yet?

Since this is such uncharted territory for both of us we will approach every situation with a sense of newness and adventure, trust and hope!  There are the obvious safety worries of where to stay and what we will eat but somehow I know that these will all work out.  We will come across a lot of new experiences that I can’t even imagine yet.

I won’t lie…the bathroom situation for the next year does more than just worry me!

How can we best follow your adventures?
Follow our blog Traveling 9 to 5 and leave comments! We are inspired by others who have either done what we are doing or are in the process of planning/dreaming/wishing. We want to hear your suggestions, thoughts and support!

Read more about the Eatons on their website, Traveling 9 to 5.

Are you a Vagabonding reader planning, in the middle of, or returning from a journey? Would you like your travel blog or website to be featured on Vagabonding Case Studies? If so, drop us a line at and tell us a little about yourself.

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Image: Reinhard Link (flickr)