A Year Of Travel Planning . . . And A Whole New LifestylePosted on Mar 15, 2012 | 43 comments
This is all that separates us from a lifetime of travel.
We just have to stick to what we've learned, sell our condo, and then it's off to Mexico - and everywhere else.
Recently I was putting together a list of blog archives from the past year and I realized just how much has changed for us since we started planning this adventure.
A year ago there wasn't one person following this blog. We knew nobody in the travel community. We had about $50,000 in debt. We thought we were going to go live in Sweden and Australia. We had no idea how to make money online or even travel the world. We were scrambling in every direction. We had a condo with a basement that was full of crap. We had too many bills. We were overworked. And - in general - we were exhausted.
The process of planning for travel has changed us completely. Everything is different. The way we think. The way we act. The way we plan on traveling. And we never saw it coming.
I started this site back in late January 2011. I had never blogged or written before, but I figured I would give it a shot. Both Heidi and I knew we wanted to travel, but we really weren't sure how to do it. We just knew we were done with working 9-5 gigs and we wanted to spend more time with our kids.
I'm going to break down all of our changes in a bit, but first I want to show you some things I learned from the archives.
- I almost gave up 3 times. Looking back, I can see posts where my frustration with doubt and fear almost made me cash it in. I'll admit, things seem pretty easy for us now, but they weren't. Not giving up was the right call.
- We changed our plans about 5 times. First we wanted to go to all the best places in the world, then we wanted to cycle to Argentina, and at one point we even wanted to go straight around the world without flying. Now, all we want to do is travel. It's OK to change your plans, just don't change your goals.
- Doing is everything. Doing is what makes change happen. The blog, the debt, the doubt - they didn't just take care of themselves. You do, and when you stumble, you get up and do again. And again. And again. Doing has been the difference.
There is no manual for this thing. There are no rules. You just keep going and changing and going and changing. And if you keep at it eventually, you'll find yourself in the place you want to be.
What Life Was Like For Wannabe Travelers A Year Ago
Travel: We would talk about travel constantly. We would sit around the dinner table and tell the kids about our "trip around the world" and all the places we were going to go. We would lay out routes. We would plan everything and search for travel gear on the web. We would imagine walking the streets of Paris. We wanted everything.
Work: I would work constantly. I would go to work til 6, and start blogging at around 8:30. Most nights I wouldn't stop until 2 AM. Then I would get up at 6 and get the kids ready for school. Plus, I was going to school part-time and Heidi works a full-time job as well. We were strapped, but I didn't see any other way in doing things. I thought the blog was the key to making money and starting a career around travel that would give us a chance to travel forever. Working my ass off was how I would make it happen.
Doubt: We had so many doubts and questions. I remember I would often try and convince Heidi that we needed more money and we weren't thinking realistically. I was convinced we needed to secure a stream of income before we left. I also thought it was stupid to give up on what were becoming solid careers. I would say things like: "Why not wait 5 years?" and "What happens when the money runs out?" Heidi had doubts as well, but I was the ringleader on this one.
Savings: Oh man - we saved so hard. We saved ever bit of money we had. We sold everything and we were so focused on simplicity. We were cheap, frugal, stingy. The problem was we were still carrying debt and some expenses. As hard as we tried, the savings just didn't add up.
Life: What was life like a year ago? Busy. Exciting. Overwhelming. Chaotic. Frustrating. Exhausting. Unsure. New. We knew what we wanted, but we had no idea how to get there. We spun our wheels. We went back and forth. Things were uneasy.
What Life Is Like Now For Soon To Be Travelers
Travel: Actually, travel has become less and less of a topic around the dinner table. We're more realistic about it now. Our plans are to head to Mexico and see what happens. It really doesn't matter where we go, as long as we make sure we go. The greatest thing about long-term travel is the freedom it offers. I was chatting with a friend about how we might drive to Panama and take a cruise from there to Europe.
"But what about the car? What will you do with the car?"
"Hmmm . . . Give it away I guess. Or just leave it."
"What?!?!? (thinking pause) That's awesome!"
It doesn't matter. I don't get caught up on the little details anymore. We make sure we have money, legal stuff (passports, documents, insurance), and that's about it. We don't need guidebooks anymore. There are hundreds of experienced travelers out there who will give us great travel advice in about 30 seconds, and we didn't know any of them last year.
The focus now is on enjoying the places and enjoying the work. We hardly ever think of travel planning anymore.
How often do you think about waking up and going to work? Or where you're going to sleep?
It's a travel lifestyle. Once you get used to it, it's just like getting the paper or walking the dog. It's easy.
Work: I worked like an idiot before. I was obsessed. I worked hard and stupid. Every little thing I did was the most important thing in the world. Not good.
Now, work is easy. I wake up everyday at around 4:30/5:00. I grab a coffee. I write for 2 hours if I'm lucky and the kids sleep. As soon as I hear the kids, I shut the laptop until the evening. At night I do emails, social media, reading, etc... I try to go to bed early 7 days a week.
It was a hard adjustment. At first, I hated the idea of getting up early, but it has made a huge difference.
It makes sense to wake up early and do your work. Your mind is fresh, you get the import stuff out of the way, and it really clears up the rest of your day. Why carry the pressure to get something done around with you all day? What used to take me 6 hours to complete, now takes me 2. I'm just working smarter.
Wake up. Knock it out. Enjoy the day.
Doubt: Any doubts we had are gone. It's weird, but they're just gone.
I feel as comfortable with the idea of traveling the world and working from a laptop as I do with brushing my teeth. It's a great feeling.
I think the change for us came with education. The more you know, the less likely you are to feel insecure about it. Our education came mostly via travelers on the web. Meeting so many great people that travel has made a huge difference for us. When in doubt, we have knowledge sources we can ask for help. Building a strong network of travelers was a big help for us.
And killing our debt helped calm our nerves as well. If the money runs out, it helps to know we won't have anybody hunting us down!
Savings: Saving is easy now. The debt was killing us. We made an effort to knock out the debt and we did it. Now it actually feels like we're making money. We can actually see our savings adding up each month. We can grasp the idea of traveling on a budget with the savings we now have.
We also cut some big expenses. Cell phone data plans. Cable TV. And all those tiny monthly subscriptions we had - they're all gone. Didn't need them, and don't want them back.
I don't recommend anyone attempt this lifestyle while holding debt. It doesn't work. It pulls against you. It holds you down.
You'll never know what you're really capable of unless you clear that debt from your life.
Life: What's life like now? Calm. Consistent. Exciting. Fulfilling. Hopeful. Secure. Clear. Life is so different than it was a year ago. We have made so many changes and they're working for us. We just kept tweaking until we started getting things right, and now we're going to tweak some more. You never stop tweaking things. Never.
The Big 3
One year can make a huge difference. For us, the change came down to working on 3 big things in our lives.
1) Changing The Way We Do Things. Waking up early. Cutting the cable TV. Getting rid of the phones. Living Simple. Really making family the priority. All of these changes have made a huge impact on our lives.
2) Killing Our Debt. It doesn't matter which debt guru you follow. Find someone you like and listen to them - then pay off your debt.
3) Surrounding Ourselves With Travel. Educating ourselves on travel and meeting other travelers has secured us. We now know what the world is like. We know how to travel. We're all set.
Our lives are completely different now. Everything seems easier and less rushed. Everything has its place. We're working smarter, living with more purpose, and staying away from the noise in life. No more worrying about bills, deadlines, and having to get this and that done. I read so much more now. I exercise. I have much more time with the family. We are all just more aware of what we really want, and we have so much more knowledge on how to make it happen.
Knowing we are going to be able to travel the world is great. We're all excited about that. But knowing how much we've changed and how simpler and easy life has become for us is even greater. We never saw it coming.
The change has been the real adventure.
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