Couple Reuben Tan and Joyce Huang – formerly a software engineer at a startup and a programme manager at Microsoft respectively – quit their jobs in 2014 and travelled 88,169 kilometres around the world in 365 days, for a total of SGD$34,500 (SGD$105 a day). I caught up with them after they returned in February this year, asking them about their freelance work during the journey, the most difficult moments, and the important insights they gleaned from the experience.
Read “88,169 Kilometres Around The World“, and here’s a short excerpt:
1. When did the idea of travelling around the world first emerge? Did you ever have a “I can’t believe we’re actually doing this” moment?
Reuben and Joyce: We met while we were working at mobile development company 2359 Media. As friends, we would share articles of RTW travels with each other. When we finally got together as a couple in 2013 the idea of travelling emerged when we were on a date at Marina Barrage. We decided to each write down all the places we wanted to visit in our lifetime, and compared our separate lists afterwards to get the common destinations. We then toyed with the idea of going to New Zealand for the Silver Fern programme for six months but later decided that since we were quitting our jobs, we might as well travel to all our destinations in one year.
Reuben said that if we were going to do this once-in-a-lifetime trip, he would want to do it before he turned 30, so we started travelling when he was 29 in 2014
We had our first “I can’t believe we’re actually doing this” moment in ION Starbucks, when we booked our RTW air tickets from Star Alliance. It was the start of our beautiful journey together. For 21 weeks we counted down to our first flight to Argentina.
8. What is the most important insight or life lesson you have gleaned through this experience?
Reuben: Even though this trip seems like a big and unknown step to take, it’s actually a series of small steps (like most things in life, such as starting a business, having a baby, getting married). For example, the first step for us is to book the tickets, then find accommodation… as with everything else, from the point of view of an outsider, it looks like a huge leap of faith when it is not. In this vein of any problem feels too big, take small steps to solve it.
Joyce: For me it’s how misguided most goals are in the grand scheme of things. As individuals we try to put a price on everything or claim things for our own.
But some things in life are cannot be claimed or owned: the beautiful mountains, the rising sun, or the stars in the sky. So amidst the mad rush in Singapore to buy stuff, to accumulate wealth… All these really do seem a little pointless when we could spend time exploring the rest of the world or doing something meaningful (to build a company, run a non-profit, chase dreams of being a musician or even starting a family). Travelling isn’t really that crazy or even that expensive compared to living in Singapore. So if you want to do it, do it.
Life is too short to lead it without meaning.