Take a year off. Travel the world with our kids. How did we get to this point?
I cannot give an exact time, but I feel the idea begin to grow after we graduated from college. With visions of grandeur we set off to live the American dream. New home, cars, sushi and wine every night. While my job was a set salary, Ryan’s was more promising – he was in a great position with a small firm where he had unlimited earning potential. We put in 50 plus hours a week, our debt was on the decline, we bought the house with a pool, new cars, and enjoyed eating out with friends. We were living the good life.
But then our life began to take a whole new direction. We started to realize that the promises being made from Ryan’s work were not going to materialize. We were going to have a baby and we had bitten off more than we could chew. Then most shocking of all, Ryan’s father Ralph was diagnosed for the second time with cancer.
Over the course of a year, we helped Ralph through surgeries and chemo as well as radiation. We also had a baby, sold our house and downsized, moving Ralph in with us.
That period of time would teach us more about life than we had ever known. We raised our baby boy and watched Ralph gradually slip away. Ralph taught us that life is not about possessions or even your career, but about living. Live now, because you never know when it is going to be your turn.
After Ralph passed away, Ryan and I started looking seriously at our lives and what we thought we were supposed to be doing. Does being responsible mean that you work in your field for 40 plus years, save for retirement, and then retire to do all of the things you have always wanted to do? Does it really matter how many cars you have or how old they are?
What is important in our lives?
Over the next couple of years, we welcomed another baby into the world and continued on with our lives, but these thoughts continued to brew.
I took a year off to stay home with the two kids.
We realized now would be a great time to move to a city where international travel would be much easier and living close to other family would mean getting to see them more often, instead of just on vacation.
So, we sold our house, packed our stuff, and moved to Plano Texas.
Even with that change, however, we realized our life still was not what we wanted and the conversations began again.
Why are we so desperate for a change? What does it mean to be in charge of our lives? The answer always came back to Ralph. We want to live our lives now.
One of my favorite quotes from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden says it a little more eloquently:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
We want to live our lives deliberately.
Now the question became how do we get away from this house in the suburbs?
How do we let go of all that we have obtained and worked so hard for?
How do we convince our kids that this is something they want to do too? HOW?
The answer came after a discussion in our kitchen one evening. I was lobbying for saving money to take summer vacations while Ryan maintained that it was not possible with our current lifestyle. Two days later, he came up to me and said, “Lets take a year off and travel the world.”
“WHAT? How do we go from trying to save for summer vacations to taking a year off to travel the world? If we can’t afford summer vacations how in the hell can we afford a year off?”
His response was simple, “Well, I have been reading about it.”
The next thing you know, I am reading about it too. I started with a book, A Year Off, by David Elliot Cohen. I then moved onto to blogs such as Almost Fearless, So Many Places, Nomadic Matt, Great Family Escape and Six in the World. After researching, reading, trying our hand at an Internet business, and starting to save, we are now in full Round the World Travel mode.
Estimated date of departure, August 2013. Cable is gone, the new car is gone, my salary is going straight to savings, I am trying my hand at blogging, and we have started to clean out the house. Next on the list: Where to go and for how long?
Stay tuned, we could always use your help.