Category Archives: Life

The Grass is Greener …

The grass is always greener on the other side.  Or is it?  So many people spend their lives believing if something were different they would be happier.  If I had a — spouse, child, different job, different appearance, etc –, I would be happy.  But would you?

As we enter into our sixth month of the wait, I sit her contemplating happiness.  I want to make sure I (and Darin) am (is) happy with life now.  Our happiness cannot depend on us having a child.  That is too much responsibility for a child.  We need to be happy individually and together in order to be the best parents for our future children.

So as we approach Thanksgiving, I take inventory of my life and realize how fortunate and truly happy I am with the life I live.  I am married to the love of my life and my best friend.  I have a father and daughter who are always with me and watch over me and my family.  I have a loving and supportive family who is always there for each other.  I have friends who have stuck with me through thick and thin.  I have a job that allows me to work when and where I want.  I have a body that, while far from perfect, serves me well and is healthy.  I live in a place where food, water, and electricity are taken for granted and the biggest problem we face is waiting in traffic to get to the new outlet mall.  I have a faith that guides me in my darkest hour.  I have traveled the world and been introduced to many inspiring cultures. I am blessed!

Rather than buying into “the grass is greener on the other side,” I choose to subscribe to the belief that “the grass is greener where you water it.”  I choose to water my grass by being thankful and mindful of all of the blessing in my life.  I challenge you to do the same.

2013 Travel Kickoff: 100 Cruises Under $100/day

2013 Travel Kickoff:  A Little Motivation To Find Your Travel Passion

The Next Journey originally started as a travel log to share updates with friends and family on our career break adventure to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and Bali in 2011.  Since then, the website has been picked up by travelers all over the globe looking to get their questions answered about the region and cruising in general.

We have had the privilege to plan itineraries for friends and family to South America, Europe, Canada and New England, The South Pacific, and beyond, and now it’s time to light the motivational fire in each of your travel hearts and help make travel a part of your journey in 2013.

A lot of people have asked the question, “How can you possibly afford all of the travel you do?”  Today’s post is designed to provide complete transparency into the process of how Natalie and I can travel as much as we do, and how with a travel goal in mind, a savings plan in place, good research, and help from knowledgeable travelers around the globe, we are always ready to continue the journey to see and experience amazing new places, people, and cultures.


Where Can Travel Take You?

One year ago today, I was enjoying my 35th birthday on the rooftop patio of the epic Sydney Harbor YHA and knew more than ever that travel would be such an important part of my journey in life.  Travel is the chance to get away, relax, experience, learn, and introduce yourself and your family to so many opportunities, many of which will leave a lifetime of great memories.

Fast forward to today…  As Natalie and I start to plan for 2013 travel, we would like to invite all of you to consider where your travel heart might want to be in the coming year, and together, we can make those ideas into reality.


Let’s Get Motivated:  100 Cruises Under $100/day in 2013

Cruising, I believe, is one of the greatest, if not the best value in travel, period.  I know that cruise lines, much like every other aspect of the travel industry, have begun to face the realities of nickel and diming to make a profit.  Even with those pitfalls (which can be successfully avoided in most cases), boarding a cruise ship, unpacking once, being transported to unique and enjoyable ports of call, while enjoying a clean and comfortable cabin, eating more food than you know what to do with, and provided with entertainment and activities all the while is truly a great way to see the world.

As Natalie and I travel, our primary goal is to keep our cruise vacations under $100 per person per day.  (To be completely fair, this goal is for the cruise only, and doesn’t include airfare to and from the departure and arrival cities, shore excursions, bar bill onboard, and other required costs…)  The interesting thing about it though was that once we started to find such an amazing array of inexpensive cruise options (nearly half of this list is under $80/day), many of our vacations, even with everything added in, cost less than the $100/day goal.  Think about it…  What would a hotel room, 3+ meals a day, nightly entertainment options, and air or train transport from one city to the next cost you to do the same trip on land?  That’s when the light bulb went on for us and cruising became our go-to travel option.

To prove that cruising is attainable at the $100/day level, we put together a list of 100 cruise options that sail in 2013 on three of the most popular cruise lines (Carnival, Princess, and Celebrity) that are all available (as of September 2, 2012) at a base cruise cost of less than $100 per person per day.  At first, I thought the challenge of reaching 100 cruise options would be nearly impossible, but was not only surprised, but immensely impressed at the different itinerary options, widely available geographic regions reachable, and the variety of available dates to align to nearly anyone’s calendar!

Click To View / Download The Files Here

Google Spreadsheet/Download as MSExcel Version:  100Under100Cruises2013

PDF Version:  100Under100Cruises2013.pdf


The Rules/Disclaimers:  Things You Need To Know

1)  We selected Carnival, Princess, and Celebrity as these are lines we have personally sailed in the past.  There are a number of other great lines out there to cruise, but we wanted to be able to answer any questions you might have about each of these cruise options.  We receive no compensation, kickbacks, goods or services, or other freebies for providing this information to you.

2)  All of the links in the provided spreadsheets are linked to a general Expedia cruise information page.  If you have an interest in sailing on a specific itinerary, there is no expectation that Expedia be used.  In fact, we strongly encourage you to check directly with the cruise line, look at all of your travel booking options, and for any assistance contact us online, drop a comment below, or post us a question on The Next Journey’s Facebook page for a timely reply.

3)  Each entry in the list may have a single date for sailing, or might run dozens of times a year with widely varying prices.  Check carefully!  Prices are subject to change at anytime and I have no control over them…

4)  Most fares below $100 per person per day are for inside stateroom cabins.  This is a personal preference for Natalie and I as we like these the most on our cruises.  Others require a window to the outside world (Oceanview) or a balcony (Balcony) and where applicable, we have identified all instances where these higher classes of cabins are still available for less than $100 per person per day.


Blown Away By The Under $100/day Cruise Options in 2013

As the list started to come together, I was jaw dropped by the number and variety of options that we were able to find:

  • Nearly every available region and type of itinerary made it to the list:  Alaska, Asia, Australia/NZ, Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, Pacific Coastal, Panama Canal, South America, South Pacific, Transatlantic, and Transpacific.  (Still on the hunt for Canada/New England and Africa…)
  • Cruises included on the list run from 7 days to 49 days in length, so find the cruise that works best for your interests and schedules (work, family, friends, etc.)  — Note:  There are plenty of cruises of 6 days or less that met the criteria, but declined to fill the list with 3 and 5 day itineraries since there were so many amazing 7+ day options!
  • We have included the number of port days and sea days in the list, so you can find if you are looking for a rest and relaxation cruise (lots of sea days) or an out and about see the world experience (lots of port days).
  • Start and Finish port locations are included in the list as well.  Consider airfare costs to reach these locations, or you can also focus on a large number of options from ports nearest you!
  • If you choose to download and use the MSExcel spreadsheet format, you can sort and filter the columns by any means you like!  The PDF version gives you all of the information at a glance.


Some Personal Highlights Of This Year’s “100 Under 100 List”

  • 18 Days Transatlantic (Miami to Venice) starting at just $499/pp ($28/day)
  • 7 Days to Cozumel, Belize, and Honduras (Some of Our Favorites!) starting at $329/pp ($47/day)
  • 14 Days in Europe (Italy, Greece, Turkey, and even Croatia!) starting at $749/pp ($54/day)
  • 15 Days to Hawaii (with 4 Port Days in the Islands) starting at $909/pp ($61/day)
  • 8 Day Alaska cruise (Inside Passage, Glacier Bay, and 3 port days) starting at $589/pp ($74/day)
  • 100 Insides, 60 Oceanviews, 21 Balconies, and even 1 Suite Option — All below $100/day!

I want to reiterate…  This is not a sales pitch, far from it.  One of the most common questions we get here at The Next Journey is “How can you travel as often as you do?”  The answer is by doing a lot of research to find the best possible value for our hard earned savings and using it to go to some amazing places!


To Celebrate My 36th:  36 days of your questions in 36 hours or less

As a way to say thanks for all of the many gifts I receive from friends, family, fellow travelers, and so many people we have met along our own journey, I want to make sure that any and every question you have on travel, financing it, destinations, and making it all happen can be answered.  For the next 36 days (now through October 10th), send us a comment (below), a private email, or a Facebook post, and every attempt will be made to respond to it within 36 hours, to get you quick answers and help you put a little travel into your journey in 2013.

Thanks for visiting and hope that a little travel is in your future too!

What A Year: The Next 365 Days & Your Journey…

One year ago, right about this time, Natalie and I slowly drifted off to sleep on an overnight flight, crossing the international date line, and woke up in Auckland, New Zealand to begin what would be an epic, 100 day travel adventure that would change our lives.

Though many people like to tackle new year’s resolutions in the last week of December, only to recommit, alter, update, and eventually let them fail within the first few weeks of January, I figured it was time for something a little different.  Since it has been a year since the official start of “The Next Journey”, I thought it would be a great chance to reflect on what has been accomplished and open the conversation for where the next 365 days will take us all.

In the last year:

  • We logged over 65,000 miles of travel to more than a dozen different countries (travel)
  • Said goodbye to one company and hello to another (career)
  • Got certified as Foster Parents in the state of California (family)
  • Started the process towards domestic infant adoption (family)
  • Set up and saved substantially towards the next set of goals (finance)

In this day and age of instant gratification, where we measure progress and judge success and failure in seconds, minutes, and hours, I am proposing a shift in mindset, a change in paradigm, and a fundamental flip of conventional thinking.

For a long while, I seemed to be caught up in short-term objectives and expectations, and just as they occurred and were achieved, the pride that came along with that seemed to fade just as quickly.  Looking back at the last year though, taking in the realities of an entire year of experiences, opportunities, and accomplishments, the impact was more substantial, the satisfaction greater, and it is just more enjoyable overall.

Rather than focusing on one moment of exceptional joy or one moment of searing defeat, these are neither forgotten or tossed aside, but rather incorporated into a larger running average of all of the experiences that ultimately culminate in an overall successful, memorable, and positive addition to the journey.

So…  What will the next year bring to my journey?  A family friend has reminded me of the importance and the benefits of lists, so I have decided to follow her lead and develop a list for the next year.  Some of the items will be simplistic, while others may require some out of the box thinking.  Others may not be possible to achieve, but if they aren’t even put on the list, they have no chance of happening.  And sometimes, the journey involved even if the item isn’t crossed off, is worth more than the item itself.

My List for Year 2 of “The Next Journey”

> 37 Days of Travel (10% of the year)
(Near or far, the journey will always bring us new and interesting places)

> Read 12 Books
(For those of you that know how much I read, this is a huge stretch)

> Turn $100 into $1000 to support a cause(s)
(Support a cause that is important to me and multiply its impact for others)

> Get fluent in Sign Language or Spanish
(So I can hold an intelligent conversation in some language other than English)

> Answer 100 travel questions via “The Next Journey”
(Had no idea our posts would get read as much as they have!)

> Skydive
(Indoor or Outdoor…  That is the question!)

> Become a dad again
(If its not on the list, it doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell)

> Be in the best shape of my life to keep up with a new kid
(So I can keep up with the sleep schedule and demands of a newborn)

> Find a Ballpit and do this
(And yes, I will say “Bazinga” the entire time!)

>  “To Be Added”
(The brilliance of the journey is that some of the best things to happen are not yet known)

What is in store for you in the next year?
What would you like to include in your journey 365 days from now?
Travel, family, career, challenge, knowledge, wealth, health?

The journey continues… Thanks for being a part of ours…