Big news: we’re going to be full time nomads! After months of preparation, we’re nearly ready to depart on an open-ended travel adventure to the other side of the world. Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand – we’re looking at you.
Since early this year we’ve been hard at work selling nearly everything we owned, including our house, furniture, clothes, electronics, tools, and most other material possessions that we’ve collected over the years.
We both recently left our jobs.
We’re ready to embrace the simplicity and freedom of the travel lifestyle.
Ok, so this is actually kind of a big deal.
We’re checking out of the 9-to-5 (or more realistically 7-to-7) corporate jobs and American Dream life that we’ve both worked basically our whole lives to achieve.
Why are we doing this?
We worked hard, got good grades, and went to good colleges. We got degrees in science and engineering. Then for good measure we got more degrees.
We worked for big companies internationally known for excellence in their respective fields.
We bought and renovated a lovely home on a spectacular piece of land in a desirable suburb with highly rated schools.
We had twins… the most perfect, charming, wonderful twins the world has ever known.
We bought a minivan.
But still something wasn’t quite right. Somewhere along the way we started living every day in the future. Always figuring out the next step. Making plans. The passion for life in the moment was too often missing.
We didn’t send much time in our lovely home. We worked all week and jammed life into the weekends. But after errands, housekeeping, and bill paying there wasn’t much time left for friends, family, hobbies, exercise, or even just reading a book.
On top of all that we were both working all the time to earn enough money to pay someone else to watch our kids just 3 days a week. The other two days? Yup, Kat pulled out her Hermione time warp watch and did both simultaneously.
We were stretched thin and feeling the strain. It occurred to us that travel might be the cure.
We’ve always loved to travel. We’ve made travel a priority for as long as we’ve known each other and now we love to bring the kids along for the ride too.
We felt like we were bucking societal norms by taking “long” vacations (by American standards).
We traveled as a family to Ireland with the kids in 2012 for 3 weeks, and New Zealand and Rarotonga for a month in 2013. Kat and I went on several trips of two weeks to a month in duration before the kids too.
When we were in New Zealand we met several travelers who were on the road for a year or even longer. Suddenly our month-long trip seemed rushed.
One English gentleman we met had recently spent several months driving a campervan around the US and was in the middle of doing the same in New Zealand. He intended to be away from England for over a year.
We envied these long term travelers but without questioning we initially assumed such an adventure was something “other people” could do, but not us.
If only we were so lucky to be able to do that.
Realizing that assumption – that only other people could travel long term – was wrong was a huge step, and it took some effort.
Over the winter between 2013 and 2014 Kat and I alternately raised and dismissed the idea of quitting our jobs, selling everything, and traveling.
We noticed during this time of debate that nearly all of the photos in our annual Christmas letter were from those 3 or 4 weeks each year that we traveled. Most of the rest were from weekend getaways, special events, and family gatherings. Almost none depicted what we did on a daily basis.
Why were we spending 11 months out of 12 not living life as fully as we wished we could?
Early in 2014 we came to the conclusion that if we wanted to do it, we could do it. It was our life and the choice was in our hands.
Of course would have to sell or rent the house…
…and quit our jobs…
…and sell most of our stuff…
…and we would need to save like crazy…
…but we could do it.
We started moving in the direction of long term travel by selling and donating the things we obviously didn’t need. Old clothes and items we never wore. Baby stuff we weren’t using anymore.
We sold at tag sales, listed items on Craigslist, and hosted our own yard sale.
It took several months before we totally committed and listed the house for sale. We’ve been picking up steam since then. The house sold quickly and moving out gave us even more incentive to simplify.
So what’s the plan?
Now we’re in the final countdown.
To be completely honest we still don’t know for sure where our first stop will be. We will book flights in the next several days and we’ll certainly post an update when we do.
We’re currently considering the Philippines, Bali, Thailand, and Vietnam as first destinations. In any case we plan to make a stop on the west coast of the US first to visit friends on our way to Asia.
Our rough plan is to travel slowly through Southeast Asia, followed by some time in the South Pacific (Fiji? Vanuatu?), Australia, and New Zealand.
We have no time line or itinerary. We have no reservations.
We’ll buy one-way tickets and move from one place to the next when we feel like it. We’ll come home when we are tired of traveling or when we run out of money.
Or maybe we’ll buy a beach house in Thailand.
How do you prepare for indefinite travel?
Start to finish it’s looking like about a 9-10 month process from when we first seriously considered the idea to getting on a plane.
Given the years that went into building the life that we have almost completely dismantled, that actually feels alarmingly short.
We’ll be writing more about what’s gone into the preparations over the next several weeks. We’ll get into budgeting and funding for long term travel, selling your stuff and simplifying your life, and lots of travel planning logistics.
How can you afford it?
Right now, we’re pretty good savers. We’ve been thrifty and made travel a priority for years. We’ll write a lot more about this strategy.
It’s also a lot cheaper to travel in most parts of the world than to live where we lived in the US. We will leverage this fact to stretch our savings.
Going forward, we’re hoping to make some income as we travel. We have lots of ideas of how we might make that happen so we’ll see how it goes and share our successes and stumbles. If we can keep money coming in we can travel for longer and just give ourselves more options.
Let the adventure begin!
We’re taking a big leap into the unknown, a leap towards a reinvigorated life. We want to share that with you and hopefully give you the confidence to make your own leap.
Follow #twintrek for updates about our travels.
Please also leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you!