Bonjour, friends. Will and I were having a coffee meeting the other morning and we got on the subject of how people respond to our lifestyle choice of committing to full-time travel. We usually get a variety of responses and 99% of them are super positive, but for today, let’s talk about the, “Yeah, it’s good for you, but I couldn’t do that,” comment. This is always so puzzling to me. My knee jerk response is always, “Why not?” What’s keeping you from committing to full-time travel?
Is it because of money?
Is it because of a partner?
Is it because of a disability?
Is it because of extended family and friends?
Is it because of school?
Is it because of age?
Is it because you have a child with special needs?
Is it because of fear? Ah, there we have it. Is it because of fear?
Today I’m going to share a little secret with you about our family and our journey:
We actually felt the same before we started traveling. It was good for them, but we could never do that. Why? For every reason just mentioned! Even if these weren’t true, we couldn’t help but feel that they were, in the moment.
Once upon a time, we wanted to live in a foreign country. We wanted the lifestyle all wrapped up with a pretty bow and delivered to us on a silver platter. We were willing to take the plunge and live in a new land, but there was a catch. We were only willing to do this if there was no risk associated with it! We were on the corporate expat package route. We wanted a housing stipend, private school paid for, free flights home and much, more. We actually waited seven long years for the promise of the perfect package and guess what? It never came. And guess what else? Our kids got seven years older. Then one day we got the idea to spend a summer in Paris and there the magic happened. We realized that we did not need the whole package with the bow. To be honest, we actually realized that the “whole package with the bow” was never going to happen for us and waiting around another seven years would just be ridiculous.
And so, we came up with the crazy idea of committing to full-time travel on our own, minus the secure package.
We scoured blogs, joined FB groups, read travel books, and stalked anyone who we thought had this slow-travel life all figured out. We knew there had to be some magical equation that we were missing. And what we learned was that “they” could do it, but we could not do it. They were special, rich, smart, void of problems, stress-free, young, fearless, and they had both partners on board. But that was bullshit. Bullshit we created in our heads, rooted in fear. No one has a life that perfect, including us.
Once we began to address each of our reasons for not being able to do this, we realized they were all based in fear.
Was it because of money? Let’s face it, money is the number one obstacle that prevents people from living their authentic lives and pursing their dreams. We did not have a trust fund, loaded savings accounts or anything in the way of passive income. However, we both had a skill. This was key for us, we knew that we could always find work. We did not need a fancy home or the best RV made, but we did need food, a roof (sometimes), and emergency money. When we took a deep look at our ability to earn money and our desire to do what it took to make that money, we overcame this obstacle. I’m not saying we would do anything illegal, but we were willing to work hard to do what it took to put food on the table.
Is it because of a partner? Will was on board with the package on a silver platter, but the idea of doing this on our own freaked him out. He will be the first to tell you that he was worried about money, not the journey. He was always on board for the travel aspect of it, as long as we were able to sustain ourselves. This was a huge fear for him to overcome, but once he did, it was full steam ahead for us.
Is it because of a disability? We did not have any disabilities when we left the US and we still don’t today. That said, we have had some circumstances come up that we’ve had to deal with. It would be easy to run back home, where the resources are plentiful, but as with everything in life, we’ve found a way to work with what we have at our fingertips and online.
Is it because of extended family and friends? Just like the rest of you reading this, we had family and friends who were worried about our decision. We were told that we were committing career suicide, we were told we were being selfish, we were told we were ruining our kids’ childhoods, we were told that the world was too dangerous and much more. We love our family and friends and we knew that their concerns came from a place of love (or maybe fear) so we didn’t lose it on them. Leaving the ones you love to go travel will be the hardest part of this lifestyle and it’s tough for all involved. I can write a whole post about this one subject alone.
Is it because of school? Ah, yes, school. This is a favorite among the critics. Frankly, this was one of the lowest concerns on our list, even though we were venturing into the worldschooling world for the first time. I am not sure why this did not freak us out. I guess because we had done our research, learned a lot, spent time with friends who homeschooled or worldschooled and we were both on board.
Kids love to learn. They have an innate curiosity and when you put them in a new environment, they flower. I can say this now because I have seen the proof, but over three years ago I was nervous. I was scared I would not give them what they needed for college. I was scared they would not measure up to their peers. What I know now is that their motivation to learn, their personal growth (not in comparison to others), and their joy for learning is what’s most important and they have those things.
Is it because of age? Will and I reinvented in our early 40s. This is practically unheard of. We were at the peak of our earning potential. These were our big growing years and here we were behaving like teenagers. Had we completely lost our minds? This was something we should have done when we were younger, had more energy, nothing to lose, etc. See what kind of mind f!@# you can play on yourself. Frightening, right? This was us. I get it, it was good for “them”, but we could not possibly do that. We were, in this case, too old. See how we can convince ourselves so easily that this lifestyle is for someone else, but not us?
Is it because you have a child with special needs? This was pretty much the only one that did not apply to us. However, I have seen first-hand several families who are traveling with multiple children with special needs. It can be done and in many cases the medical care and alternative lifestyle are better for the child outside a “typical” surrounding. Check out the Inion family as an example.
Is it because of fear? Ah, there we have it. Is it because of fear? My favorite. What do all of the above have in common? FEAR! Once we broke down all the reasons why NOT to do this, we realized that the only obstacle was truly our own fear. That’s it. Fear. Quite simple actually.
Folks, we are not superstars or millionaires, we have emotional baggage and obstacles to overcome. We are no different from anyone else who wants to do this. The difference is that we did it. We threw up our arms and said, “What’s the worse that can happen? Our old life is still there if we want to go back to it.” And then we threw caution to the wind, took a deep breath and jumped in.
And just so you know, when you do take the plunge, your kids will still fight. And on some months, money will be tight. Your spouse will still do that one thing (ok, maybe two things) that annoys the crap out of you, people will still give you unsolicited advice, you will still get sick and you will have emotions to deal with. The difference is that you’ll know that you DID DO THAT! This isn’t a life for someone special or gifted. It’s a life for someone who commits to a dream, works hard and brings it to fruition. It is for the person who overcomes obstacles like fear and pushes forward to have the life they always dreamed of.
So tell me, what has been good for them, but not for you? How did you overcome the obstacles? How was committing to full-time travel difficult for you? Was it worth it?