The web is wide but also makes connecting with like-minded people very easily. I met Sara e Alessandro aka. Foodmadics on the web and I immediately felt they had something to teach me and that I wanted to share with you their story (with such a cool blog domain, it would have been impossible not love them!).
Ale e Sara are living the dream: they are on a sabbatical year, traveling around the world, and they have been so kind to share with us their experience and suggestions!
What about their jobs? Where are they now? How did they manage to start their trip and what’s next? Let’s discover it together through the next 10 Q&A:
Let’s start: who are the FoodMadics and where are you now?
Hi! We are Sara and Alessandro, we are Italians in our late 30s and we have lived in London the last 5 years of our life and these days we are on a big trip! This is how we have defined our 1 year sabbatical period that we decided to take in July 2017. We are currently in Indonesia at Gili islands not far from Lombok and Bali.
It sounds like a dream! But, what were you doing before leaving London to start your “big trip”?
To simplify, we are professionals in digital, Sara always worked in an advertising agency, while Ale has worked for some Telcos in digital innovation as a business developer. Ale’s last project was bringing a mobile payments solution to Europe while Sara was leading a team to help a US-based company to plan their marketing communications.
Let’s talk about your project: how did you manage to plan your “big trip”?
On the 11th of July 2017, with all our stuff in a storage in the UK and 3 backpacks (yes, 3.. one is for the photographic equipment..) we left London on a plane towards St. Petersburg from where we traveled by train through Russia, visiting Mongolia and China and arriving in Hong Kong mainly by land.
The travel required a certain amount of planning and to be fair, Sara is the master planner. Ale enjoys more letting go and find things to do and explore once arrived. 6 months before the decision, Sara started reading books on these destinations planning the different stops and the VISA required.
In the meantime, Ale was working on creating our blog foodmadics.com, learning some basic photo editing skills, flying a drone to capture cinematic footage and all the non-necessary part of the travel. 😉
You left behind a safe and successful job and your comfort zone. When did you make such a brave decision?
I would lie if I said that we woke up one morning and we took the decision. It took time, we had everything we could desire: 2 good jobs, a brand new 2 bedrooms flat rented in zone 1 in London, we could go out for great cocktails and dinners in the city that we consider the most international in Europe but we were settling and becoming too comfortable, not developing as we were wishing.
That is when we started asking ourselves if we were happy or needed a new challenge. Talking it through every day for 6 months and start planning it, helped us to make it little by little more real until when the wish to dive into this adventure has been stronger than the fear of the consequences.
We decided to take the plunge in April and communicate it to friends and family. That is when it became real.
I guess many other tried to ask you this question: what is the budget needed to make such a long trip?
This is a sabbatical and we are not working on anything other than growing our blog, our social media audience (facebook.com/foodmadics; instagram.com/foodmadics) and ourselves as individuals.
This is the most difficult question to give an answer to. It really depends on the way that you are used to traveling. We are not the kind of backpackers sleeping in a tent and saving every penny by eating peanut butter and bread to skip meals.
We like good food, as you can probably notice by our blog foodmadics.com and decent accommodations (we do not mind hostels, though!) so we had to reserve a decent budget that could also give us a 6 months runway to restart our lives either in London or somewhere else.
The travel will last as long as we will be good at using that budget. And in this budget, we have included everything from insurance, VISA to the flights, accommodation, transport, tickets to attractions and food. Every day since the start of the travel we are tracking every single expense.
To give an answer to your question, we range from 40 to 120 euros per day for the 2 of us with occasional spikes for flights and other expenses. Budget changes mostly depending on the activities you do on the day and by the countries you are visiting (e.g: Russia is more expensive than China – that is part of the planning!).
Not having a house, bills and fixed costs, has helped to bring down all the other monthly costs (remember, we were living in expensive London!).
What was the hardest challenge in order to make your dream come true?
Let go and live the uncertainty of our choice. We are both really responsible and we have been taught to be this way since we were born, we do not rely on other people to make ends meet.
The first month without a job felt like we were doing something wrong and we were both a little bit anxious. Then we realized that we have the luxury of making the most of our time and experience something that is a dream for most people.
We are lucky and we know that we are, we have a clear and sustainable plan so there is no point in getting anxious before it is actually needed. So we are pushing away anxiety any time that it comes back haunting us.
Do you have any suggestion for those wishing to follow your path?
Save, save, save and plan with attention. In the last 5 years, we lived below our means saving as much as we could without knowing why we were doing it. Then, all of a sudden it became clear why we were doing it, to have this year back.
Once you get in the good habit of saving (is that additional cocktail really what you want?) then start planning and make calculations, how much do you need and what is the kind of adventure you want. And then shift your mindset, if you have time, an 8 hours journey on the bus and public transport is part of the adventure and not something to avoid with an expensive flight.
Of course, we understand that there are people who have different priorities and children, so this might not apply to everyone, however, we recommend not to give up on your dream, there are stories of people doing the same with children. It depends on how much you really desire and from your priorities.
You made something lots of people dreams to do but never does. It takes courage! Well, what’s your next challenge?
We have 2 goals: the first is to use this time to build our project foodmadics.com and have the chance to grow it in future. The dream is to offer services in the travel industry and perhaps opening the doors of the real Italy to foreign travelers, helping them to understand the depth and the diversity of our culinary culture.
To move in this direction we have decided to start by supporting the travel business of a young Indonesian with a small sum so that he could grow it and we could partner with him from creating his website to potentially send him customers in the future.
The second goal is, at the end of this experience, to find new jobs with the flexibility to spend more time with the people that we love and traveling.
What are the projects or the creatives that inspired you and finally led you to make your travel project real?
We would not talk about projects but more inspiration from the UK culture.
The UK is not a perfect country as we generally depict it from Italy, however, in the UK there are plenty of people who take this decision every year. It is a lot more normal than in Italy where, if you have a job you keep it until the retirement.
In the UK a job is the source of income to live your everyday life more than a path to a safe retirement. Many people and professionals encouraged us to take this choice, one of them was Sara’s CEO fully supporting the project of a sabbatical.
You traveled a lot, but I am sure you stille have some place in the world in your wishlist. Where would you like to go now?
Now that we have planned our next steps, taking us to Iran, Turkey, Georgia and India, the three places that are still on our bucket list would be:
1. Alaska, the remote state that together with Hawaii is the US adventure you would never expect
2. Svalbard in winter, to experience the fierce north at its full power
3. Africa, as for no specific reason it has been left out so far and we need to catch up!