What started as an idea tossed around while dating turned into the adventure of a lifetime once married. After saving for three years, Faith and Josiah Stull quit their jobs, packed up and embarked on a nearly five month journey to see 20 countries on four different continents. I talked to Faith about how she planned for the trip, her best budgeting tips and how to pack for a journey like hers.
Faith, it’s been so cool following you on social media and all the gorgeous places you’re visiting. Where did this love of travel come from?
My parents took a small world trip before I was born, and as a kid I loved looking through their photos and hearing their stories of traveling. We took a lot of road trips growing up; I’ve been to 48 of the 50 states and am hoping to knock off Alaska and Hawaii next year. My parents always made travel a priority in my life. I always thought that someday I would travel the world, and then when I started dating Josiah (now my husband), I shared that dream with him, and he was 100% on board. We talked about getting married, then saving for a few years and traveling for a few months. Interestingly enough, the reason that makes me love to travel is the opposite of why my husband wanted to travel. He didn’t get a chance to travel much growing up, so for him it was something he always wanted to do.
Five months is a long time. How did you start planning for this trip around the globe?
We started planning this trip when we were dating, talking and dreaming about all the places that we wanted to go. While we were packing up our apartment to leave for this trip, we found an old piece of paper from when we were dating, and we had written down probably 50 different places that we wanted to visit. It was so neat to see what we had dreamed about actually becoming a reality.
In just about the past year and a half is when we really buckled down and started planning. We couldn’t book the flights until February of this year, but by then we had all our destinations decided and the days we wanted to spend there. We started with just picking the countries we most wanted to see. Then I did a lot of research reading travel guides and searching online to see what there was to do in those countries, and after that we both sat down together and decided how much time we wanted to spend in each country based on what we wanted to do and see there.
What was the hardest part about planning a trip?
Planning wise, I would say that the biggest thing that was hard for us to figure out is public transport. It was rather easy to book flights and book places to stay, but it was quite another process to figure out how to get from the airport to our accommodation. Every city we’ve visited so far has been very different, and I’m glad that I did a lot of the public transport research beforehand rather than waiting till I got to the airport to try to figure things out. I find that I took having a car for granted in the U.S.
How did you go about booking everything?
We went through a company called AirTreks, which is fantastic and I would 100% recommend. We sent them our suggested itinerary and the days we wanted to travel, and they sent us a rough price estimate. In order to schedule the flights, we scheduled a Skype call with our personal travel advisor, and he spent 3 hours with us helping us decide which flights we wanted to book and what times. We then paid one flat price for all the flights bundled together, and they sent us all of our flight information, making it so much easier on us to have everything organized.
Another great thing about AirTreks is that they are also available 24/7 for customer support. We just actually had an issue yesterday with our flight boarding passes not loading. I emailed them, and they responded so quickly with exactly what we needed.
That sounds like a dream! I take it that you’re not billionaires — ha! So, how did you pay for this big adventure, and do you have any budgeting tips?
- Save, Save, Save: Something that helped us save was going through our budget and setting aside a specific amount every week that we would save. We made sure that every week we saved that money and didn’t decrease it at all. During school breaks when Josiah was working full time, we doubled that amount.
- The Side Hustle: I also picked up a lot of weekend babysitting jobs, which meant not hanging out with friends sometimes, but it was worth it to be able to travel. Josiah also picked up some side design jobs outside of work, which also helped us save.
- DIY: We were very budget-conscious by not going out to eat more than a few times a month. I love coffee but made my own cup at home every morning. For almost three years straight, we packed ourselves a lunch every day, which is not the most fun thing in the world to do each night, but it saved us so much in the long run.
- Take Advantage: Whenever we got extra Christmas or birthday money, we put that all into our travel fund. Little ways to save can make such a big difference.
It was really helpful that when I wanted to go shopping or go out to eat, I would try to think about would I rather buy this now or have more money to spend in London, or would I rather have a cup of coffee now or a cup of Italian espresso in Rome? These questions made me realize how much better it was to save that extra money for travel.
Since you’re going to so many countries, how did you go about packing for this trip?
We have been doing a few hikes on this trip, which made us pack quite a bit differently than what I would consider the norm. We have a tent, sleeping bags, camp pillows, a cook set and a camp stove with us. When we were deciding what we needed, especially with the camping gear, Josiah did research on lightweight durable gear that was also not crazy expensive. He found some really good options, and so far in the last month, we’ve camped about half of the days, which has been great and helped us save on money too.
For our clothes, we packed basically five outfits. We picked quick-dry, moisture-wicking and odor-repellent clothing. If we need to wear an outfit more than one day, it won’t be super gross. We also have two pairs of shoes: our hiking boots and a pair of tennis shoes. We decided that if we wanted any sandals, we could just buy some cheap flip flops in the warm places that we go to. So this week in Portugal we bought two pairs of flip flops for $5, and then we will probably just get rid of them at the end of the week, which is better than carrying flip flops the whole time when we only need them a couple weeks of our trip.
I’m not a super girly girl as in I don’t really wear makeup, so I only have one tube of mascara on this trip along with a few other small bathroom essentials. That made it very easy to pack for such a long trip since I don’t have a whole skincare or haircare routine. (Nothing against those girls that have those amazing routines, but it just helped me not having to bring lots of beauty products with me.)
I’m sure there isn’t a typical schedule, but what does your life look like?
In the last month, we spent a few days hiking 40 miles in Iceland and camping, then enjoyed a few days relaxing and touring Dublin, more hiking and camping in Scotland and Sweden, and now we are spending a week relaxing on the beach in Portugal. Every week is so different and very exciting. It’s a little hard to get into a solid flow since we are on the go so much, but we are loving finding those moments of relaxation and enjoying all the different cultures.
Great tips, Faith. You’re spending virtually 100% of your time with your husband. How is this trip affecting your marriage?
It’s making me learn how to communicate better. When I only really have one person to talk to, it makes me learn a lot more about how I need to be communicating and what I need to be working on. It’s also just really fun! I think we are growing closer in so many ways and making all these awesome memories that just the two of us are going to have for the rest of our lives. 10/10 would recommend traveling with your partner. It’s such a good way to get to know each other in a new environment and make awesome memories together.
Photos courtesy of Faith Stull