Our life here on this planet is too short to live with regret. Regret is a burden that can follow you for an eternity, so we strive to live our lives without it. We also believe that things happen for a reason. While it may not be clear to us right then and there, it will undoubtedly be revealed. And sometimes, you need to trust yourself and take a leap of faith, knowing that all will work out in the end. For the two of us, that moment is NOW. And that leap that we are taking is to leave our comfortable lives and jobs here in the States to travel around the world, living and working for an undefined amount of time.
It’s Impossible to See the World With a Couple Weeks of Vacation!
Both of us have always wanted to explore the world, since we were kids. Perhaps the universe knew that when it brought us together. Even though we both had this dream, we got caught up in the expectations of American life. School, work, marriage, home, kids…you know how it goes. And somehow, that dream of being the explorers we wanted to be got pushed aside as we conformed to society.
But it was last year while we were in Cambodia watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat when we realized that we couldn’t contain our curiosity about the world. We want to see and experience as much as we can, and that’s just not possible when we work so much and only get a few precious weeks of vacation a year. We realized that at that rate, we would never have time in our lives to do all we wanted. It was that experience that really made us start to reevaluate our lives and priorities.
A Shared Passion for Exploration
Even though Josh grew up in Georgia and Liz grew up in Idaho, we both share the same passion for exploration and travel. We want to see and touch wonders that we read about as kids in history books. We want to learn foreign customs, and participate in centuries old traditions. We want to appreciate the art, taste the food, and dance to the music. We want to learn new languages and see the world through a different set of eyes. Once you have these feelings of wanderlust, it never escapes you. In fact, in this way travel can be addicting because the more you see, the more you want to see.
As we set out on our around the world journey, we have heavy hearts for what we will be leaving behind. For most, it is unfathomable to voluntarily leave a comfortable middle-class lifestyle, quitting jobs and selling everything, so that you can hit the road with your belongings on your back. We understand that this is not common in America. But what most American’s don’t realize is that many other developed countries in the world give their citizens much more vacation time away from work, and encourage young people to travel.
Other Developed Countries Encourage Traveling, Especially While Young!
In a number of countries it is quite common to take a year or two before or after college to travel the world. Last summer while visiting Toronto, we ran into a young German traveler who was finishing up with a trip all across North America, the USA and Canada. He gushed about all the wonderful places he had seen. On another trip in Italy, Liz met two young girls from Australia who who were on a journey around the world for nearly two years! They too told amazing stories of places they had seen and wonderful people they had met. And whenever we asked why these travelers took on these journeys, they all said that it was quite common where they came from.
The opportunity to travel allows young people to actually see life beyond what they have known, so that they can become better global citizens. It also gives them a chance to explore who they really are and who they want to be. Sure, there may be some rowdy nights along the way, but it’s still a learning experience. Not only is this tradition of taking extended time off to travel here in the States uncommon, but it may even be frowned upon by some who would see a long-term traveler as a “slacker.”
Make Your Own American Dream
In contrast, our culture expects you to go to college right out of High School. Once you have finished schooling and internships, it’s time for the job and family. Then once you have raised the family, it’s your turn to do for yourself. By this time most Americans are in their 60’s and retired from a job that they likely stayed in for at least 30 years, in part to pay off that mortgage and achieve their “American Dream.” But at this point you are in the latter part of your life, with only a small window to be able to see and touch all that 60 years of dreaming have built up. And there are no guarantees that you will even be healthy enough to travel or physically able to do what you want!
We Don’t Want to Wait Until Retirement to See the World
For us, now is the time to go see and do all the things we want. We want to climb Machu Picchu, walk The Great Wall of China, stand with the Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro, climb Mt. Kilamanjaro in Tanzania, dive to the Great Barrier Riff, hug a statue on Easter Island, cliff dive in Hawaii, wake up in Patagonia, ride a camel to The Great Pyramids. These are only a few of the many items on our bucket lists! There is no guarantee that by the time we are retired and well into our 60s that we will be physically able to do these things. So we have chosen to travel now.