Two years of nothing I expected

Apr 01, 2016

Two years. We have been traveling for two whole years. Its crazy to imagine isn’t it? We haven’t been away from home for two whole years for various reasons both tragic and joyful, but we have been doing the thing we set out to do for two years. It fills me with a sense of accomplishment to look back at how this idea became a reality, and in a way, reflecting on it now I am in awe of the way it has played out.

Jen and I first discussed the idea in 2011 while we were driving up to my parent’s lake house for a weekend. The dialogue centered on what we each wanted out of our futures and how we saw our lives in 20 years. No doubt a common conversation for newer couples to have. When Jen mentioned wanting to travel the world I quickly jumped in with my aspirations do the same and we went from there. At the time, I had already been making some preparations to do something big. I had just begun renting out my house and was slowly downsizing my possessions but, I can’t really say it was this exactly. I knew I was going to do something but at the time, this wasn’t quite at the top of the list.

As the idea evolved, I did what I do best; I put together a plan and started acting on it. I figured at the very least, feeding this idea would put me in a good financial position for anything and make me more flexible to accept change on a whim should I change my mind and decide to pursue something else. We set our sites on a specific date; a trick I learned from past trips that spurs me along, and we committed to leave on that date no matter what. I ran the numbers on our cash flow and we conservatively thought we could come up with about $45k in the time allotted, which we guessed would sustain for at least 1.5 years and allow us to pay off all debts with a little left over.

I did not expect to be sitting at the
"Spiritual Center of the Universe"
(according to the Dalai Lama).

As we carried out our plan we rapidly paid down debt, slashed expenses and tightened our budgets as much as we could. On New Years Day of 2013, Jen and I made a bit of a resolution that this year would be the year of working our asses off until we hit the finish line. We called it the “year of work” and both of us committed to take on second jobs and bust our butts at work. The same year, I was promoted and Jen was given a raise. When coupled with our part-time work and further financial belt tightening, this proved to be a huge impact on our plans. We saved nearly double what we expected, built our resumes a bit and developed cost savings habits that will no doubt follow us throughout our lives.

When the day finally came and we were at JFK airport with Matt and Elissa, I felt like we had made it. We said goodbye to the US when we took off and I watched the familiar coastline drift beneath us; I sort of guessed it would be the last time I would see the US for a few years. As it turned out, that would not to be the case. In January 2015, 9 months in, Jen’s father passed away. Everything abruptly came to a halt and we were on our way home the very next day. We would return home again 5 months later for my brother's wedding. At first, I was a bit disappointed do be headed home with a gap between our arrival and the wedding, but we resolved to make the most of it. We committed to traveling the East Coast of the US a bit and visiting friends and relatives, which we did for 2 weeks. I also wanted to be productive and use the time to help some friends and family. I put a new roof on my friends house and did a ton of work on my parents house, and enjoyed the summer.

Playing "Possum Shooter" at Possum
World. And yes, that is how they spell 
"Possum" at Possum World. 

When we left again following the wedding, I was ready to get going. I enjoyed my time being home more than I thought I would and in the end it seemed silly that I even considered spending a hefty amount to fly home closer to the date of the wedding so we could continue on with our journey. Our journey home was as much a part of our whole adventure as the traveling itself has been. To some degree, it changed my perspective on what our goal was. We originally set out with the stated goal “to travel the world,” but like all goals should, it evolved to be, “to do whatever we want.”

So now, after another 9 months of traveling, we will be returning for another wedding at the end of June. When we left, again I lamented the idea of yet another trip back to the US, but as the time approaches, Jen and I both look forward to it. It won’t mark the end of our adventure but we have no idea what we’ll be doing afterwards. We talk about it daily and of course a number of ideas are swirled into the conversation. Motorcycling around the US, vagabonding around Europe, starting a small business, taking a Scuba Instructor gig somewhere and taking a legit 9:00-5:00 are all on the table. One thing is certain though; we aren’t going to outright commit to anything right away. We’ll probably just see what comes our way and how we feel at the time. With about 35% of our budget remaining (we have underspent by a fair margin), we have some flexibility and could easily travel for another year or more if we choose.

Two_Years_Post-1.jpg Two_Years_Post-4.jpg
Nope, didn't expect to get caught "whippin" with Danish. Or doing one armed handstands (showing off) in this place.

If you asked me when we first set our departure date, where we might be on April 1st, 2016, I probably would have guessed that we would be working somewhere following our trip. In reality, I am writing this post in Hoi An, Vietnam with plans to wrap up SE Asia in a few months and make a few other stops before heading home for the wedding. If you asked me the same question about April 1st, 2017 I would probably give the same answer, realistically expecting that we’ll be working legit jobs again and settling in someplace for a little while. In reality though, your guess is as good as mine. I could be writing a blog post from Sri Lanka, helping you paint your house, struggling with a new small business, sitting in an office or teaching people how to recover their regulators during an Open Water Scuba course. If that isn’t a cool position to be in, then I don’t know what is. No matter what, I’ll probably be a little surprised again at how it all played out.


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