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World Traveled: Shoestring, Part 1

For many, leaving everyone and everything you know behind to travel the world is nothing more than a dream. For others, jet-setting across the world with your significant other is at the top of their bucket lists. For the Shoestring Trekkers, they’ve combined both of these dreams to leave everything behind and travel the world as a couple. Anthony Forlizzi and Breada Potts, two recent college grads, packed their bags and booked one-way tickets to Bangkok, Thailand to follow their dreams. To document their journey, they’ve created a blog, theshoestringtrekkers.com, to share with friends and family back home. 
I’ve had the opportunity to speak with the both of them about their travels so far. In this segment of the interview, I spoke with the two about some of their plans and goals for their trip.
What inspired you to plan this year-long (or so) trip around the world?
Anthony: The first time I ever left the country was 2010. Me and my best friend left for 3 weeks and spend a week each in London, Amsterdam, and Berlin. While we were away we met dozens of people from all across the world. We thought we were the coolest kids around going away for 3 weeks until we met some of these travelers. People away for 4 months, 6 months, and 2 years. It was crazy. A lot of them had just sold their stuff and took off, figuring it out along the way. I was inspired. At the time it was too hard to do something like that. I had a job that I needed and a degree I was (slowly) working towards. I decided though when I finally finished my degree I was pulling the trigger and going for it, and I have no regrets. 
Breada: Traveling is something that has always been important to me, and I’ve always had a strong desire to see the world.  My family never had a ton of money growing up so we didn’t get the opportunity to travel outside of the country as kids, but what little traveling we did do I always loved.  When I was 15 my sister and I got the chance to go to Peru with my godfather and his family, and that really was when I fell in love with traveling and knew it was something I would never stop doing.  That being said, this trip was really Anthony’s idea to start with.  I knew we both wanted to do some long-term travel when we were done with school, but he was the first one to suggest a year.  To some people that would seem crazy, but I was totally on board.  Getting to see the world with the person I care about most is literally a dream come true.  So I guess what inspired us is just the simple fact that travel really is our passion.
What’s one thing you really want to take away from your time abroad?
Anthony: A better understanding of the world and the people in it. Growing up in the US, at least from my perspective, you learn very little about other countries and their cultures. Everything is about us. I call it “Americancentrism” (not quite a word but we’ll run with it). Many of the people I meet know much more about America than I do about their own culture. It drives me nuts sometimes, so I always make it a point when I meet new people to ask them lots of questions about their own home. 
Breada: I want to relax more and really take time to appreciate my surroundings and the people I meet along the way.  Back home everyone is on such a direct path that I feel like it can get very hard to really stop and take a look around now and then.  I want to be more present in everything I do every day and be less dialed in.  I also really want to be more spontaneous, and better about making decisions.  I can be the most indecisive person on the planet and I love to please others so it’s usually just easier for me to say “oh I don’t care,” rather than make a decision.  I want to change that.  So far I’m not doing the best job, but I’m working on it!
What are you most excited for?
Anthony: That’s tough. I’d have to say the food though. I’m a big foodie and trying new foods is one of my favorite parts about traveling somewhere new. Right now we’re in Thailand and I’ve had so many amazing dishes I had never had before. It’s going to be hard to leave, but I know I’ll find new favorites wherever we go next. 
I’m also very excited to do some workaways. They’re pretty much just odd jobs that will cover your accommodation, food, drinks, things like that. We want to try and do one every now and again to mix up the travel, try something new, and save some money along the way. We just contacted a bar in Cambodia about possibly working there for a week. The deal is 20 hours a week and you get a dorm bed, 3 meals a day, and free drinks at the bar. We’re still waiting to hear back. 
Breada: The food.  I love food, I love trying new food, and I think food is one of the best ways to really get to know a culture.  The flavors people use vary so greatly around the world, and anytime I got to a new country I love to observe locals when I’m out to eat. It’s like peaking into a family dinner when you’ve never met the family.  Anthony is Italian and I’m Irish and in both of our families the time spent around the table is so important.  I believe food is truly the center of every culture and it’s the tie that binds people together.  I can’t wait to experience this across the world.
What are you most nervous about?
Anthony: God forbid something bad happening back home. Hopefully something like that doesn’t happen, but that is by far my biggest worry. Other than that I’m really not worried about anything.
Breada: Not having a routine.  I’m not a particularly organized person, but I’ve had the same routine for so long that I’m a little nervous to leave it.  I’ve been serving tables since I was 18, and for better or for worse it’s become a huge part of who I am.  I don’t know what it will mean to not be a waitress.  I don’t like change as a rule, and I’m a creature of habit so that part is really nerve wracking to me.  Like I said though I want to be more spontaneous, and really get out of my comfort zone.  I’m sure in a year I won’t miss my routine very much at all.   
What are your plans (if you have any) when you do eventually return home?
Anthony: Well I’m hoping that won’t be for quite a while. A year is the goal, but one of the goals of the trip is to get our TEFL certifications and get jobs teaching English abroad. If that happens, we could potentially stay away for much longer than a year. I have a small bit of student loan debt to pay off, but if we got jobs teaching I could potentially pay down my loans, save money, and still be able to travel on my days off. It’s like a dream come true.
Breada: Right now we have no plans to return home in the near future.  We both want to teach English while we’re away which would extend the trip even further, and we’ve already talked about how to make this trip go as long as possible. I know eventually we’ll have to return to the real world, but for now I’m really just focused on this trip and what we’re doing right now.  With any luck the blog will take off and we can make money doing that! Boom! Getting paid to do what we love!
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