Quitting our jobs to become long-term travelers is by far, one of the best. things. we’ve. ever. done. I mean it.
I know they say “never say never,” but I’m going to say it anyways: I never want to go back to normal life back home ever again. I like this new life we’re building from the ground up so much better.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that everyone back home is “stuck”. But I felt stuck back then – stuck in a life that wasn’t the one I really wanted to live.
Way too much time I could never get back was being eaten up by things I didn’t want to do. Was it the life I was expected to live? Yes. Was it the life I truly wanted, deep down, in my heart of hearts? No.
Has leaving fixed that? Yes.
I know becoming a long-term traveler isn’t everyone’s dream, and that’s cool. But it’s always been mine. And I’m reveling in being able to choose what projects I spend my time on. Finally.
Prior to embarking on this trip, I read Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek. When I read that part about excitement and happiness for the 1st time, I thought “Yes, that’s it EXACTLY.”
Who doesn’t feel really good when they’re excited about something, right? And I thought “I bet if I can live a life with more excitement, I’ll be even more happy.” Yet one more reason to add to the list of why we were planning to permanently exit the rat race and become a vagabonding family of 4.
I can safely say that it’s proven to be true for us.
There is a lot more excitement to be had living this way – every few weeks or months, we move on to a brand new place – we get to discover new sights that make me sigh in awe that we are actually standing right there. I breathe. With a ridiculous grin on my face. Taking it all in. Can’t believe I’m here. How lucky am I? I often feel overwhelmed with happiness to be doing this. Massive doses of excitement for the win!
Before we left, people would say things about our travel plans like, “Well, you’ll have to find out if you like that lifestyle…” with great doubt in their eyes. Or the one person who said, “I’ve heard stories about people quitting their jobs to travel, it ends badly, and they end up with nothing…”
People had so much doubt and fear for us.
They couldn’t fathom us “throwing it all away” to do this. It was unthinkable that we’d have no regrets. As far as they were concerned, it was too much to hope for that it could actually work out.
But I’m telling you, as difficult as it was to extricate ourselves from our old life, to do the complete opposite of what everyone else we knew were doing with their lives, as difficult as it was to say good-bye to everyone we cared about back home, to wade against the tide pulling us back, it was worth it.
And the interesting thing is, the further down this path we go, the more we see how much opportunity to sustain this lifestyle is out there.
Finding the Courage to Do What No-one Else Around You is Doing
I’ll be forever grateful to all of the families who came before me and blogged about it. I don’t think I’d have had the courage to pursue this lifestyle as vigorously as I did, let alone go through with it, if it weren’t for them. Because without them, I’d have thought I was the only one who wanted this. That there must be a screw loose inside my head to want to do such a crazy thing. With my kids of all things! And I’d have worried a LOT more about what would happen after we pulled the plug on normal life, and made the switch to becoming a long-term traveling family.
You know how they say you are likely to become whatever the people you surround yourself are?
Well, surrounding myself with the words of people who were living the life I wanted was my way of helping the process along. If I couldn’t surround myself with nomadic families in real life, at least I could surround myself with their words.
Long-term Family Travel Blogs That Inspired Me
And also Erin Holmes-Bender’s old travel blog (you can now follow her at Explore With Erin).
Challenges of the Nomadic Family Life
The biggest challenge I’m finding is trying to fit everything in. Between homeschooling, online projects, and sightseeing, we manage to keep pretty busy. I’m also dabbling in getting word out about the blog – we have a couple of interviews coming out soon which should help get more traffic here. I was so chicken-sh!t to suggest myself as an interview subject – so now I can strike that fear off my things-I-want-to-get-over list. It feels good to be over it. 🙂
The thing that I learned from my travel site is that getting organic search traffic takes a looooong time – promoting the site through other means is important too. And with this site, I really, really want to get the message out that it’s easier than you think to escape the rat race and do what we’re doing. I know, not everyone wants to, but those who do need to know that they can do this!
Ok, I get that there are exceptions. Like being bedridden for example. Or having someone back home that you absolutely cannot leave behind, yet can’t bring with you either. I’m sure there are other reasons too that I haven’t thought of, but truly, most people out there living in suburbia could do this if they wanted to. And that’s all I can speak of really, people living in suburbia. I can’t speak for people living in developing countries, or people who live in places that other countries don’t want as visitors, and loads of other people. But the surviving-in-the-rat-race-living-in-suburbia crowd? That, I understand a lot about – because I was living that life. Once. Until I left.
The odds are high that if you are living the average suburban life, and want out to do this, you could. (Can’t figure out how? Use the contact form on this site and ask for help – maybe if we put our heads together we can figure it out.)
Another challenge is that once you go nomadic, you lose out on all the chats and in-person get togethers with friends and family. I’d like to get some of that back in my life.
So while there is nothing I can do about my existing friends and family back home who are perfectly happy to stay as they are, I thought maybe I can build a community of people like us online – you know, the digital nomad crowd 😉 So about a week ago, I started a forum for digital nomad families, couples, and singles. I’ve made a separate section especially for nomadic families too, since our needs and travel styles are usually a lot different from the child-free.
Apparently 3600 people per month search for the term nomad forum, so apparently I’m not the only one who wants to find a community out here.
I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with the term digital nomads. I can’t put my finger on exactly why that is. But the term does serve a purpose since pretty much everyone who is one, knows they are one and “gets it”.
With the ability to work remotely being open to pretty much anyone, I think there will be more and more people who choose to go nomadic, and maybe some of them will want to join our tribe on the forum. 🙂
UPDATE: DECEMEMBER 2015
I took down the forum… the sound of crickets was deafening lol It appears that Facebook groups are a better place to connect with other nomads. Over the past year and a half of traveling, we’ve met up with a lot of other traveling families that we’ve met via that platform. Yippee! 🙂
Experiments in Earning a Living Online
For these first couple of years or so, we’re going to experiment to figure out a) what we like doing and b) what methods of earning a buck work best with the time we have to put into it.
I’m playing around with freelance writing for web content, starting a kindle book biz (I’m 22,000 words into my first non-fiction one, with plans for several more if things go well), and the travel site. Paul is experimenting with freelance graphic design (he’s a specialist in logos for one thing!), illustrated children’s books for kindle, and stock photography.
So far, the quickest way to earn a buck has been freelance writing for websites. It’s super easy to get going, as long as you have a good handle on the desired language, English in my case. You can literally be up and making money in less than a week.
I’m not sure if I want to scale that up to be our main source of income though, since it’s not passive at all. But at least if we needed to asap, we could turn that money tap on fully and cover 100% of our expenses, working part-time.
Why are we Doing Work? Did You Think This was One Long Vacation?
Although there are decent odds we can sustain this lifestyle long term without working, IF we stick to a crazy strict budget, I’d prefer to have more options. More cash flow will bring that. The goal is the generate multiple streams of income, preferably most of them being passive eventually.
We found that the only way to fit everything in is to, horrors, make a schedule and stick to it lol
Our Daily Routine
So, 5 days a week are work/school days, the other 2 are vacation days. The reality is that Paul and I have trouble not doing any work at all on our days off – there is soooo much stuff that we’re both dabbling in that it’s hard to turn it off and just stop.
Despite the schedule thing, our life here is way less hectic that our old life back home – having 2 entire days a week where we can all be off work and do whatever we want together is unreal. Back home we went through spells where we’d have only 1-2 days off a month as a family. Then I cut back my weekend shifts at work and we’d have 4 days off a month together. That wasn’t nearly as good as what we have now.
Plus, we have been able to incorporate daily time for Paul and I to work out – this is a luxury we didn’t have back home, unless we wanted to get up before the kids to do it, or were able to muster up the energy to do it after they kids were asleep for the night.
How much do we actually work now?
We each get 2 hours per day, 5 days a week, to work uninterrupted while the other one of us is taking care of the boys, plus we squeeze in little bits of work here and there when the boys are occupying themselves. So all in all, we each get in about 10 hours of productive work time in each week. This is much better than the combined 60 hours of work plus wasted time commuting that we had in our old life.
How Else is Life Different Now
We eat out a lot more. We do a lot more together as a family. We have almost unlimited flexibility to choose our schedule. All great changes that I’m happy with.