31 Jan Was it All a Dream? The Start of a New Chapter, Which We Didn’t Expect.
No, we didn’t fall off the face of the Earth. Even though we haven’t posted much on the blog for a couple months, doesn’t mean we haven’t been traveling about. In fact, we’ve been all over the place the last few months (if you’ve been following us on Facebook or Instagram, then you know).
The end of 2016 was quite the rollercoaster for us, and we are still trying to adjust. Not only did we leave Asia for the first time in 2 years, but we’ve landed in a new city, working awesome jobs, and are looking forward to some new and exciting adventures this year.
All of this was completely unexpected. But we can’t help but be amazed at how taking a risk to leave it all behind years ago led us to where we are now.
Our Crazy Travel Schedule the End of 2016!
As you may know, we sold it all and left the States for a life of adventure and travel back in August 2014. Since then, we’ve had some amazing adventures, including exploring New Zealand, most of Asia…and damn near every corner of China – even making our way up to Mount Everest Base Camp!
We swam with Sting Rays, starred in a Thai TV game show, played under waterfalls, took overnight trains, and mastered the art of riding a motorbike. We even lived out a dream of teaching English in China for 18 months and even becoming legal residents of China.
Since finishing our teaching contracts in China in April 2016, we spent the ladder part of the year traveling extensively and working furiously on our online businesses. We were living visa to visa, bouncing around different countries in Southeast Asia.
Between August – January We’ve Traveled:
- Shanghai, China => Bali, Indonesia
- Bali => Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- KL => Phuket, Thailand
- Phuket => Kuala Lumpur
- Kuala Lumpur => Bangkok, Thailand
- Bangkok => Beijing, China
- Beijing => Denver, Colorado
- Denver => Orlando, Florida
- Orlando => Atlanta, Georgia
- Atlanta => Asheville, North Carolina
- Asheville => Denver, Colorado
- Denver => Beijing, China (again)
- Beijing => Denver!
Phew. And yes, it was as exhausting as it sounds!
Nomadic Living is Fun…but Do We Want This Life Forever?!?
Don’t get me wrong, the two of us have enjoyed having the freedom to travel and live a nomadic lifestyle. Ever since we got rid of our “stuff” in the States to travel, it’s been such a freeing experience. After all, we have enjoyed getting to see more places in a short time than most people get to see in their entire lives.
We cherished the experience. And it felt exciting not to know where we were going next.
But, we’d be lying if we told you that being nomadic doesn’t have it’s downsides.
We were living visa to visa most of 2016. Every 30 days or so, we’d hop over to another country (which is quite easy in Southeast Asia). But it really felt like we were always on the move.
While it was exciting to travel so much, it started to get exhausting. Every time we arrived somewhere new, it seemed like we only got a week or so to enjoy it before we needed to start thinking about the next destination. Between trying to find good Wi-Fi to get some work done, and exploring…we felt like we never really got a chance to settle in to any destination.
We were more than a tourist, but we weren’t residents. So we just felt a little stuck in the middle.
It got to the point where we really started to dread the “moving days” – when we had to pack our backpacks and start lugging them around again. With each move, it felt like the bags were getting heavier. This led to another problem. During our excursions, we would find so many cool things to buy – but we didn’t have space to haul it in our backpacks (or didn’t want to make them heavier!).
Plus, since we sold everything in the States, we technically didn’t even have a home to put it in!
Sure, we had sent a number of souvenir packages back home to family to keep safe for us until our return, but we certainly couldn’t go on like this forever. These little things started to add up, and it was starting to take the fun out of it for us.
We even discovered that we were taking our camera less and less. We were getting jaded. Oh another temple. Another airplane, another stamp in our passport. We didn’t want to lose the excitement of traveling, but it was starting to feel that way.
Staying in hostels and guesthouses is fun, but we found ourselves missing having our own space…a couch to lay down and watch TV for a day. We discovered that if we weren’t out exploring, we were attached to our computers – working all day. And when we weren’t working, we felt like we needed to go explore.
It seemed like there was never really any downtime to just hang out. You would think that traveling the world with no set schedule is full of lazy days…but it wasn’t. In fact, we were busy all the time — never having much time to rest at all!
But one thing that stuck out for us was that we loved our time house-sitting in Shanghai and Bangkok. It felt good to relax in a home setting, and even take care of animals. It was a nice change, and we noticed that we did better at balancing a life at home, taking care of pets, working online, and exploring our neighborhood during our time off. It made us start to realize that we missed having a home…to a certain extent.
We started to wonder if we were ready for the “nomadic” life to be over, at least for a while.
Maybe We Just Suck at Being “Homeless”
Many people dream of giving it all up to travel the world indefinitely. And we were so fortunate to be living the life we always wanted. But at this point, the two of us really started to feel like we were sucking at it.
We felt like we weren’t being “good travelers” because would often forget to bring our camera, we weren’t doing our research…and we were just tired of sightseeing!
And working when you are constantly on the road is extremely tough. We had been trying to set up a few different online businesses, and when you have spotty Wi-Fi, and are constantly moving — it’s tough to keep a good routine and feel like you are being productive.
So with all of this, we really started to wonder if it would be better to have a “home base” somewhere again. Not that we wanted to go back to our old lives in Atlanta — because we totally didn’t.
We wanted the best of both worlds.
Somewhere we could live that is ours, where we can relax and recharge ourselves. Unpack our bags for a bit. Display some of the cool things we discovered on the road. Then when the time is right, re-pack (lighter bags) and set out on another adventure. And yes, we still wanted the freedom of working online.
The Initial Plan for Holidays in the States
It seemed the Universe was on our side. We were offered a housesit for 4 months starting the beginning of January back in the States. This sounded great because we could swing by to see friends and family back in the States over the holidays, then settle down for a few months to rest and get caught up on some projects.
We figured that after our house-sit (around April), we could kick back into travel mode — possibly heading down to Mexico or Central America for a few months. But things have a way of working themselves out…differently.
Life Takes a Total Turn! New Jobs…and a House in Denver!
Long story short, things took quite an unexpected turn! Right before we left Asia for the States we got a call from Josh’s former school that he taught for in China. We had always kept a good relationship with them because we have some popular blog articles about our experience teaching in China.
And as a part of PoP Digital Media, the consulting company that we launched, we were doing some contract work for them to help with their digital marketing and social media. They invited us to come to Beijing for a last minute meeting with the CEO to talk about some ideas.
As it turned out, they had some big plans for the future. After a 4-day trip to Beijing, we left with 2 full-time contract job offers! Their only request was that we no longer be completely nomadic. They wanted us to at least have a home-base in the States, for business purposes.
That was okay with us, because we had kinda wanted to stay put for a while anyway. And now, we had a contract that would give us solid income to rent a home.
Being a digital job, we could really base ourselves anywhere. So we chose Denver, Colorado because we have tons of friends here (including some of Josh’s very best friends from childhood). It’s also conveniently located between Atlanta (Josh’s family) and Boise (my family).
Plus, Denver has an amazing vibe that we love — combining incredible outdoor activities, and a laid-back lifestyle (oh so many dogs everywhere!). There’s great beer wherever we look, concerts at Red Rocks, and lots of professional sports teams to watch (football, basketball, baseball, and hockey!).
Denver ticked all the boxes and then some.
Peanuts or Pretzels in 2017?!?
After visiting with friends for the holidays, we drove a car full of Tupperware bins from Atlanta (all we kept from our old life) to our new place in Denver. We were fortunate to rent an awesome house in one of the best neighborhoods in town. Everything is within walking distance, including many of our friends. Working from home and being in such a great location, it’s everything we could have asked for!
However, we didn’t even have a chance to settle into our new Denver home before we were called back to Beijing for meetings. So back we went to freezing Beijing for most of January! We only recently returned to Denver, and can finally finish unpacking and getting used to our new lives in Denver.
It’s been a crazy end to 2016 and even busier start to 2017. But we are really looking forward all that the coming year will bring with all our work in Beijing, and the occasional business trip back and forth.
But we also plan to continue doing what we love with Peanuts or Pretzels.
We Actually Have Time to Catch Up on our Writing!
Peanuts or Pretzels is our passion. We thoroughly enjoy traveling and being able to help others with their travel planning. But over the last year when we were on the road so much, it was actually really hard to keep up-to-date with content on the blog.
We were traveling so much, we didn’t have time to write it all down for our readers!
So now in 2017, we’ll be able to catch up on all the travel we did. In fact, we have just finished our Disney for Adults eBook (yay) and plan to release a few more eBooks later this year.
We also plan to build more comprehensive travel guides to some popular destinations, revamp the Peanuts or Pretzels website for a better user experience, and continue to build our other online business ventures too.
I know this sounds like a lot, but this was our long-term plan all along.
Our goal was always to build Peanuts or Pretzels into something much bigger than just a blog. But we were struggling to to grow it the way we wanted with just the two of us working on it. And now, we’re actually in a financial position to build our team so that we can grow and provide our readers with all the content they are looking for to help plan their trips.
Lesson Learned: Trust Yourself and Go For It. It Always Works Out in the End!
So it’s an exciting time for us. And when we think about it, we couldn’t have planned it out any better.
Josh and I left our comfortable jobs, and took a risk to travel the world and pursue our dreams. We had the experience of a lifetime, challenged ourselves, learned a lot, and built our own online businesses in the process.
Now we’ve returned to the States with better jobs than when we left, and have a lifestyle we truly enjoy. We have an awesome “home base” which we love, where we can store all the cool stuff we’ve collected along our travels. Plus, we still have the flexibility of online jobs so that we can continue to travel when we want to.
It’s crazy to think how things work out, but they do. Even though this wasn’t the exact plan we had, everything turned out pretty darn amazing!
So here’s to 2017. And to taking risks, because nothing happens in life if you don’t just go for it!
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