The other day I had a realization. I’ve written a lot about my trip around the world with my husband Eric, but we’ve never fully explained why we decided to leave our cushy Southern California lives to follow our dream of surf tripping around the globe.
A few days ago I was answering questions for an interview and a question was: What advice would you give to anyone who’s thinking about ditching the corporate world?
And wow, I had to hold back to resist writing a novel because turns out, unbeknownst to myself, I have a whole lot of “advice” on the matter. Not advice from any kind of expert, mind you, just some thoughts I’d like to share as a friend, from me to you. Here’s why we decided to leave our comfortable lives as we knew them to follow our dream around the world.
From California to Chianti
It’s 2 pm on Thursday afternoon and I’m in Chianti, Tuscany. My husband Eric and I have been traveling around the world for over 10 months and we’ve had an incredible trip, to say the least. From tropical surf breaks on remote islands all to ourselves to hiking in the Swiss Alps the other day, I can confidently say holy shit, life is incredible.
But let’s rewind for a moment and go back to our lives before our big trip. Eric and I had a great life together. We lived in a small beautiful beach town in sunny San Diego, California. We both had great jobs, making good money, and we even had three weeks paid vacation (which, for those of you who don’t know about the pitiful amount of vacation in the US, is actually really good. The standard is two weeks or no paid vacation).
We lived in a beautiful condo on a golf course, and despite busy 9-5 work weeks, lived a happy life of surf, yoga, cooking, and fun.
Even before Eric and I met, we both independently had dreams to travel the world so we talked about it a lot. I had been on a couple of solo longer backpacking trips in Europe and Central America and have always made travel and adventuring a priority, but work, bills, and a busy life always put major time restrictions on long-term travel and faraway destinations.
Eric and I got married and went on our honeymoon to Bali in May 2015 (which was essentially a surf trip disguised as a honeymoon haha)— it was our first time in Asia and we had an absolute blast. We were only able to get away from work for two weeks, which is considered a super long trip for US standards, but after you take out travel time we had about 10 nights in Bali.
We loved our trip to Bali so much, I had this moment where I was like “I don’t want to leave!” I really wanted more time to explore Bali and even more of Asia. For me that was the moment where I realized, okay, we need to make a long-term trip happen!
As soon as we returned from Bali we starting researching, put pen to paper, figured out how much money we would need to save and got serious about our dream trip. So here we were with great jobs and a great home and we started making a plan to leave it all behind.
I realized that I wanted to explore without the seemingly never-ending time constraints. I wanted to have the freedom to island hop for months on end. I didn’t want a job to dictate my life all the time and I wanted to make my own life schedule for a while.
In modern society, it’s almost as if we’re trained to be busy. Schedule upon schedule. As kids we have school and then homework, and college and more homework, and it’s all training us to have jobs where we work and then have homework. And how much is this work, work, work enriching our lives or the world or making us happy or better people?
It’s no wonder people ditch their hopes and life dreams because there often isn’t time in our lives to even think about them or remember what they were in the first place.
Eric and I saw an awesome one-man play called ‘R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe’ which is all about the life and philosophies of Fuller who was an architect, inventor, and great visionary of the 20th century.
The play is about life, death, and everything in between, but it really made me think. Fuller was light years ahead of his time and was truly a visionary in every way. You can learn more about him here… check him out, his work is amazing!
There’s this great part in the play (taken from a lecture by Fuller) about how children are taught to stop thinking in a way. Fuller says:
An enormous amount of humanity are in bureaucracy and not thinking. So this thinking capability we have is not being generally employed, except by little children. And little children spontaneously start thinking and ask the most beautiful questions… And then they get told, “Darling, never mind, you’d better not do that, it’s going to get the family in trouble, etc., etc, etc…. I was continually being told, “Never mind what you think, pay attention.”
He goes on about how school children are taught to sit and pay attention and be busy, and people are so constantly busy they don’t have time to just lay back in the grass and look at the clouds and just be. Let their minds wander. Think their own thoughts. I wonder what people would come up with if they had more time to get in touch with their childlike wonder and allow themselves free thought.
Okay, I’m on a tangent here, but my point is that we’re so conditioned to just accept the status quo and take the standard, or normal, or whatever you want to call it route in life and not think too much about it. Many times we don’t give ourselves that time or space to think about what it is we really want to do and accomplish in life.
So beyond the desire to travel the world and explore new places, I also had a desire to create space to explore myself and how I want to design my life. I wanted to be my own captain, as they say, and create a time when someone else’s schedule (i.e. my job) didn’t dictate my life for a while. I feel like that kind of freedom is an incredible thing to experience, but something we seldom get to do. When’s the last time you made space for some freedom?
My previous life in San Diego was really awesome, but it had become very routine and I wanted to shake things up for a while. Experience a different way of life and face different challenges. Have time to explore things I’m passionate about, time to think, time to not think, and time to just be.
Eric and I have always liked the idea of ‘mini-retirements’ throughout life. Many people wait their whole lives to travel extensively or pursue certain passions when they retire, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But personally, we didn’t want to wait that long. Why not do it now?
You’re So Lucky!
We meet lots of people on the road and when people hear that we’re traveling for a year many people say something along the lines of “that’s awesome, you’re so lucky!”
My response is almost like an infomercial: Well, you can do it too! Make a goal, save money, and do it!
I’m sure people don’t mean any offense whatsoever when they say that we’re lucky because I agree that we’re incredibly fortunate to be able to take this trip and I am extremely grateful. We’re healthy, we’re citizens of a developed country where we have the potential to make and save money… I could go on and on. But I don’t like that word lucky because it almost sounds as if some magical travel fairy godmother waved her wand over us and poof! sent us to Indonesia.
The reality is that we made our trip happen. We made choices, we saved money, we made a plan and we did it. We didn’t win the lottery or inherit money for our trip. We didn’t get a year-long trip handed to us on a silver platter. My point is that we might not be so different than most of you reading this. We’re not special in that we were somehow selected to be lucky and travel the world.
Things seldom just drop into our laps, we have to go out there and get them. Making this trip happen was a lot of hard work, but it has been incredible and one of the best decisions of my life.
If you’re interested in traveling for a year or pursuing a passion or changing up your life in some way, what’s stopping you from doing it?
The Someday Syndrome
Many of us have dreams that we put off over and over thinking, oh someday I’ll do it or it’s not the right time, but the reality is that there might never be that right time.
Many times, the only way for something new to come into your life is if you make the space for it.
You know there’s the saying: “Good things come to those who wait.” I don’t like that saying so much… I think good things come to those who make shit happen and hustle. If you’re waiting for the right time or the right sign, or XY and Z to come together, your dreams might never happen. For our dreams to happen, we need to get out there and make them happen!
If you’re considering making a big change or you want to pursue a dream, what are you waiting for? It has become a cliché, but only because it’s true… life is so short! I’m sure you’ve felt it before… it blows by so fast, and I, personally, don’t want any regrets. Let’s call it regret prevention. The last thing I want is to be at the end of my life thinking, “what if?” Or “I wish I would have…” Do you want to look back on your life wishing you would have done things differently?
And not to be morose, but we’re not in control of when we leave this world. We could live until we’re 100 years old, or we could have another month on the planet. Life is a gift, and it should be celebrated and lived as such. There’s no time to waste! All we have is now, so make it count.
So if you’re dreaming of ditching your corporate job and joining the circus or going on an adventure around the world or starting a business out of your passion, make a plan and do it! What’s the worst thing that can happen?
The only way to prevent the what-ifs in your life is if you get out there and do it. So give it a try! The unknown is a beautiful thing. It’s where endless possibilities live.
Leaving my job and life as I know it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. Life on the road the past ten months has been a priceless experience and has changed my life in multiple ways. I think living outside of a standard routine and comfort zone on a daily basis tends to do that!
Who knows what life has in store for Eric and me in the future, but we know that we won’t be going back to our previous existence. Perhaps pieces of it, but we’ll see. We’re so excited about so many opportunities and possibilities, but we don’t know exactly where they will take us. And we’re really okay with that. Now, more than ever, we’re going with the flow and it feels really, really good.
If you’re interested in how we planned and saved for our big trip, Eric wrote all about it in his blog on How to Leave Your Job and Travel the World.