Mud Volcano in Colombia

There are four things you should know about us right off the bat:

1) We love to travel.

2) We do not have a trust fund nor are rich.

3) We are getting married this September.

4) We are in our twenties.

Mud Volcano in ColombiaIt’s important to know this about my fiancé, Alex, and I because when I tell you we are tracing a path from 9-5 corporate jobs to world travelers, it is without a bottomless bank account, any lack of responsibility, sabbaticals or other tricks up our sleeves.

After living in New York City for 4 years and working at large advertising firms, Alex and I are planning a long-term trip around the world from scratch for 2016. Our trip, appropriately dubbed The Pin the Map Project, will eventually take us from the work-obsessed culture of Manhattan to volunteering with elephants in Thailand, surfing in Bali and trekking to Base Camp One of Everest in Nepal.

Visiting the Ngobe village in PanamaI have read a lot of travel blogs, books and articles and the one thing I cannot seem to find anywhere is a clear path to how these nomads went from little savings and a cubicle job to globetrotting the world. Their exotic stories in far flung destinations are incredible but when they backtrack to the planning phase of their trips, the details tend to get muddied. All of the travel books lay out a formula for long-term travel:

Saving money and living frugally + extensive trip planning = a long-term trip somewhere amazing.


With this formula all the books seem to say, “That’s it!” As though the reader can click their heels together, throw a pin on a map and fly the very next day. Perhaps it is as easy as they say but I have yet to find a travel resource that addresses the hard hitting questions of breaking routine, leaving a job and hitting the road for longer than a month at a time.

BarcelonaPlanning a trip does not start when you pack your bags but rather goes back months—sometimes years—to the inception of an idea and goal to see the world. Whether planning for a week trip to Colombia or a 6 month tour of Asia, people can be deterred by travel because the process of planning is often unclear and can seem overwhelming. Saving money, choosing destinations, picking accommodations and putting your home life on hold are big steps that require more than a few sentences in a travel guide, yet often travel bloggers skip over these details and rush to the destination.

Alex and I started The Pin the Map Project as a way to inspire readers to step outside of their comfort zones and start traveling the world–-one pin at a time. Feeling that there is a gap in the travel space for transitioning from a 9-5 to traveling, we plan to document our journey every step of the way: from saving money, leaving our jobs, packing up our lives in New York to backpacking throughout Asia.

Written by Nikki Vargas (

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