7 Lessons From a Year on the Road

Cadillac Mountain

One year ago today we set out on a grand adventure. At the time we had no idea how things would turn out. Whether we’d take to the road or return home with our tails between our legs was a complete mystery. Well, a year later we’re still going and have no plans of stopping anytime soon. But as much as we’re enjoying ourselves, no life altering change can happen without learning a few things along the way. Here is my list of the seven biggest lessons from a year on the road:

7) Less is more. Soon after the alarm clock rang for the first time to wake me for a job I didn’t like I realized that every dollar I spent was a claim on my time. Everything we consume, every monthly payment we make, every gadget we need to repair or replace in the future, is an obligation we need to work to support. In that sense, every purchase is a minute, an hour, or month out of our lives. And although each obligation may be small, they can accumulate into Lilliputian bonds that tether us to a job and a place.

Last year we reduced our living space by two-thirds and needed to get rid of more than two-thirds of our things to do so. Are we two-thirds less happy now? Absolutely not. In fact, we’re far happier with fewer items cluttering our life and more time to devote to the things we truly enjoy. Clearly there is no positive correlation between things, and happiness, at least not for us. So why on earth would we spend an hour working at something we don’t want to do to pay for something that doesn’t ultimately increase our happiness? We wouldn’t. I’m not sure why anyone would.

6) Realistic expectations and flexibility are keys to happy travel.The surest way to spoil a trip is to expect too much from it; or to expect it to be something that it is not. We tend to be pretty good travelers in this regard. We try to take destinations for what they are,

If Boston is so great, why did I have such a lousy time there?

rather than what we think they should be. But nobody is perfect. All of our bad experiences basically boil down to our own bad attitudes. We were frustrated with Naples because it wasn’t the Everglades. I was cranky about Boston because I’d traveled there dozens of times for work and wanted our trip to be completely different from that.

After a year on the road, we’ve yet to encounter a ‘bad’ destination. But we have come across many fellow travelers who ‘hated’ this place and warned us not to go to that place. Whenever we probed deeper, the problem was almost never the destination, but a disconnect between what the destination is, and what the traveler wanted it to be.

To get the most out of our experiences, we really need to be open minded and flexible. If something isn’t to our liking, or exactly how we’re accustomed to it, maybe we need to change our likings and our customs. After all, if we want everything to be the way we’re used to, or how we imagined, why bother leaving home? The whole point of traveling is to see and experience new things. To do that, you have to be open to them and appreciate them for what they are, rather than trying to force them to conform to preconceived notions of what they should be.

5) There is never enough time. Before I left my 7 to 7 job, I thought the 70 or more hours I’d gain each week by not working and commuting would be all the additional time I’d ever need. Some folks even cautioned me that I’d get bored with the wealth of free time I’d soon inherit. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I don’t know how I managed to fit all of those working hours into my life before. Where did they come from? More importantly, where did they go?

Shannon and I have had zero problems filling our days. At times we even feel frantic. We have hobbies, and sightseeing, and trip planning, and yes, chores. When all of that is done, we have a back log of things we’d like to do, but never seem to have enough time. The trick is to accept that we are each responsible for our own happiness. If I’m ever bored, I have nobody to blame but myself. Thus far, that hasn’t been a problem. I don’t expect it ever will be.

4) It’s not a vacation. It’s a lifestyle. The frenetic pace of a typical vacation isn’t sustainable week after week. In our previous life, we often came back from a whirlwind trip more tired and worn out than when we left. On vacation, we felt the need to see and do everything because we didn’t know when, or if, we’d ever return. But as full-time travelers we have to be more discerning, with both our time, and our dollars. We simply don’t have the time, energy or money to live every single day like it’s a vacation.

It is not always a day at the beach. Some days, we prefer the pool.

But more to the point, every day is not a vacation. It’s normal life for us. We don’t have hotel maid service to clean up after us. We rarely dine out. So cooking, cleaning, laundry, paying bills and all the other nuts and bolts activities of living a traditional life are still very much a part of our daily routine. Whereas a vacationer puts all of this stuff on hold and steps out of their normal day-to-day activities to go somewhere else, we’ve simply incorporated the ‘somewhere else’ into our normal day-to-day activities. It’s not uncommon for me to go grocery shopping in the morning, and sightseeing in the afternoon. After all, this is not a vacation. This is our life.

3) Spontaneity is overrated. When we first set out, we thought we’d travel as free spirits, venturing here or there on a whim; staying and going as we please. But it turns out, that isn’t a very practical way to travel.  We learned very quickly that scrambling for second-best alternatives after being shutout of our first choice isn’t a particularly desirable aspect of spontaneous travel. There are places we simply had to book far in advance if we had any hope of seeing them. If you think you’re going to roll into Key West in January on a whim and find an empty campsite, you’re going to be disappointed. And it’s a long drive back to the mainland.

This sunset brought to you by significant advance planning

But needing reservations isn’t the only reason we plan ahead, or even the major one. We’ve also found that the seasons are relentless task masters, continually forcing us North or South whether we’re ready to go there or not. If we spend the summer wandering aimlessly and don’t get as far north as we’d like before the weather turns, then we’ll either have to skip that northern destination, or backtrack as much as 1,500 miles the following year. Neither of those options is appealing to us. Far better, in our view, is to plan a logical route that takes us to as many great destinations as the calendar will permit in a single season. That kind of planning is a chore, but there is a whole big world to see and we don’t want to waste our valuable time covering the same ground repeatedly.

2) The path is beaten for a reason: It is possible to take good advice to such an extreme that it becomes counterproductive. I see that happening with the admonishment to ‘get off the beaten path’ when traveling. So much so that a false distinction has become conventional wisdom in some circles: that there is a difference between ‘travelers’ and ‘tourists.’ Supposedly the traveler cuts new trails and finds ‘authentic’ experiences that the guidebook-bound tourist misses. Perhaps. But my experience has been different. While it is certainly good to go your own way at times, it is also important to recognize that the path is well-worn for a reason: because it leads to places that are actually worth going. Our backcountry treks in the Everglades were great, but we saw far more wildlife on the most popular trail. Why would we skip one experience in favor of the other when we can do both?

Going your own way can be fun for its own sake, but often the best sites are found on the most popular trails

You can diminish an enormous swatch of the globe by looking down on popular tourist destinations and attractions. After all, there is very little in this world that hasn’t already been discovered. It’s as foolish, in my mind, for someone to ignore guidebook destinations as it is for someone else to visit them exclusively. Close-mindedness is never a path to wisdom. And that’s true regardless of whether you consider yourself a tourist or a traveler.

1) How easy it is to not follow your dreams. Inertia is an incredibly powerful force. It’s far easier to follow a routine, even a hated one, than it is to do something risky, unfamiliar, and meaningfully different.

We started planning in earnest for our journey at least five years before we disembarked. We talked weekly, if not daily, about ‘the plan.’ We changed our lifestyle to accelerate our savings and basically pulled all the levers at our disposal to get in a position to do what we talked so frequently about. That was the easy part, though. Actually putting ‘the plan’ into practice was terribly hard.

Part of the difficulty arose from the simple logistics of doing everything that needed to be done. We were surprised to learn just how complicated it is to walk away from your life (more here and here). But the greater challenge was simply letting go; to take the risk. So many questions could only be answered in retrospect: Will we like it? Can we afford it?  How will so much togetherness affect our relationship? What happens to a career I spent a lifetime building?  What happens if we fail? The only way to find out was to do it. The only alternative was to forget about doing it altogether.

Harder still was the fact that there wasn’t a single point of no return in our decision making process. Instead we faced a series of steps that gradually increased our level of commitment. It felt like jumping out of an airplane in stages.

Stage 1: Tell our friends and families about our plan.
Stage 2: Fly to Texas to establish a domicile.
Stage 3: Commit a large sum of money to buying an RV.
Stage 4: Resign from a very good job.

Before each decision, we’d ask ourselves, and each other, ‘are we really doing this?’ After each decision, the consequences of backing out grew more severe.

“Sooner or later you are going to realize, just as I did, that there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” – Morpheus

A year latter we can confidently say we made the right choice. But that was never a foregone conclusion. We experienced a fair amount of angst and second guessing along the way that needed to be overcome to make our dream a reality. And even after we pulled the trigger, we still worked hard every day to make our experience a good one (see item six above).

So what advice do I have for someone looking to make a major life change? You may be surprised to learn that it’s not ‘Just do It,’ at least not straight away. While that may be a great product slogan, it’s a fairly reckless way to approach life altering decisions. Instead, I advise reverse engineering the process. Ask the question ‘Where do I want to be? or ‘What do I want to achieve’ and then think very hard about all of the steps needed to get from where you are now to where you hope to go; keeping in mind that not all of those steps are necessarily forward, some may take you sideways or even backwards. This is true regardless of whether your objective is to change careers or change continents.

If you’re realistic about this initial process, you’ll develop an appreciation for the kinds of sacrifices you’ll have to make to achieve your goal. And there will be sacrifices. Everything worth doing requires them. Identifying those sacrifices, and accepting them early, is a pretty important determinant of success. But once you’ve done that, then all it takes is the discipline to walk the path you’ve planned for yourself. If you do it consistently, you’ll eventually arrive at a place where you can make the change you want to in a responsible way.

And the great thing about knowing the path, and the destination, is that there won’t really be any question once you’ve arrived. You’ll know. That won’t stop the second guessing entirely, but it should give you the confidence to look past the inevitable fears and uncertainties. After all, you’ve done a lot of hard work to get prepared. Now just do it.

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171 Comments on “7 Lessons From a Year on the Road”

  1. Sarah April 27, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Really, really nice. Thanks for this, on a day where the comfortably well-worn work handcuffs are chafing more than ever. What a great synopsis of your first year and the necessary perspective to make it happen.

    • Brian April 27, 2011 at 11:06 am #

      Hi Sarah,
      One thing I didn’t mention is the diversity of people we see out here on the road full-time; everyone from old people with disabilities to young people with families. Everyone who is doing this had their own laundry list of potential excuses why they couldn’t, or shouldn’t, do what they wanted to do. In many instances the difference between those doing it and those dreaming about it isn’t the obstacles in front of them, but the tenacity with which they were willing to work to overcome those obstacles. I think that is true in all aspects of life.

      Happy travels,
      Brian

  2. Susan McKenna April 27, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Great Post Brian! I’m considering something similar in the coming years. I’m in the initial stages of planning and my business is all virtual, so I can be anywhere in the world where there’s an internet connection. It’s an intriguing thought.

    Stay safe!
    susan

    • Brian April 27, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

      Hi Susan,
      Great to hear about your plans. We’ve had good luck on the road with internet access using a combination of a Verizon aircard and campground Wifi, when available. Internationally, internet cafes abound, along with hotel/hostel availability. Being able to work virtually is an increasingly viable option for people looking to explore the world. We’re thinking hard about a multi-month trip to Central America over the winter and we’ll need to stay wired during that time. We haven’t worked out the details, but we’re comfortable with the fact that it can be done.

      Let us know if we can answer any questions that will help get you out the door.
      Cheers,
      Brian

  3. grant April 28, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Most blogs suck. This blog does not suck. This particular blog post was amazing.

    This post was an accumulation of hard-core travel wisdom and incredible experiences which liberated you from an brutally oppressive daily grind. An inspiring post – even to us seasoned travelers. Even the most experienced and knowledgeable traveler would remember and contemplate why they travel after reading this post.

    And forgive the snooping! Several months in Central America during the winter? Why have I not heard of this before? If I may make a suggestion for your blog – how about more details about where you will be heading in the future and your thoughts on possible future destinations… Just a thought.

    Enjoy it you two….

    • Brian April 28, 2011 at 10:58 am #

      Wow, thanks for the nice comments!

      Central America is something we just recently started considering. The idea came up after we left FL this past winter and started thinking about where we’d spend next winter. We spent 4 months in FL this year and were delighted to find enough stuff to keep us busy, even with moving every week. One of the things that surprised us is how far south you need to get to really beat the cold weather (RV insulation blows). This year we’ll probably be in Texas, which is a big state, but only the very southern part will be warm enough for us (we’re delicate, hot-house, flowers these days). We don’t think there is enough stuff to keep us busy for the whole winter and we don’t like the idea of just sitting and waiting for the seasons to improve. Instead, we’re thinking of parking the RV and heading a bit further south. Both Central and South America are possibilities, but we’re leaning toward Central.

      It’s certainly possible for us to write some posts about future destinations. We have a good idea where we’ll be through next November, and as you can see from the prior paragraph, we’re already starting to draft plans for early 2012. I need to think about how to make those posts interesting to read, though, and that isn’t immediately apparent to me. If I can come up with a good angle to make them engaging, I’ll definitely do it. After all, we don’t want to loose our status as a blog that doesn’t suck. ;)

      Thanks again for the comments, and for following us on our journeys.
      Brian

  4. Diana May 1, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    Fantastic post – I agree with everything you’ve said, and you said it very well.

    • Brian May 1, 2011 at 10:42 am #

      Thanks, Diana. That is quite a complement coming from someone who’s been doing this for a decade.
      Brian

  5. flyfishnevada May 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    Congrats on your year out wandering! Great post. A lot of your lessons I have also learned and in many cases am still learning after 10 months of being retired. Especially number 7 and 5. Good work!

    • Brian May 2, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, and congrats on your retirement.

  6. Donna Vance May 2, 2011 at 3:41 am #

    Brian, Thank you so much for the wonderful post. We are working through all those steps to be free – seems like getting the house ready to sell will never end. We keep going through all the stuff we have and finding ways to relieve ourselves of them. We have the motor home, it’s in storage and it’s calling to me – we so want to be living in it. We’ll get there.
    I discovered your posts several months ago and have enjoyed them very much, but this one was the best. Congrats on your one year anniversary, thanks for all the lessons learned.
    Enjoy your travels and some day we may see you on the road. We’ve thought about Texas next year as well…who knows.

    • Brian May 2, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

      Hi Donna,
      Getting ready to go seems like such an overwhelming chore, but everything eventually does get done. What follows is pretty amazing.
      See you out there,
      Brian

  7. Heather H. May 3, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    I will try really hard to keep Lesson 6 in mind while we are in London next week! I think about you guys often, especially when the weather is a little crazy. Be safe out there!

    • Brian May 3, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

      Hi Heather,
      The weather has been nuts. Half the state park where we are now in Tennessee is flooded. I guess Lesson 8 could have been “Always have a plan to escape tornados.” Rest assured, we don’t mess around with that stuff. When in doubt, we abandon the RV and head for sturdier structures.

      Have a great time in London. Check out the Cabinet War Rooms where Churchill stayed during the Blitz. It’s a secondary site in London, but I recall it being a highlight of our first visit there.
      Brian

  8. Mike July 6, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Brian & Shannon -

    Wow. I am slightly paralyzed after reading this. I work in high tech and my wife and I have been habitual savers for years. We are at that stage where if we hunkered down we could live and survive comfortably w/o my current job (which leans on the very high demand side). Our reasons for not doing so? An awesome nine year old son and eleven year old daughter and a perception that we are ‘not quite there yet’.

    Our interim step is what we call http://www.peekfamilyadventures.com/ . Our objective is to live our lives as an adventure week in and week out without completely throwing in the towell on work. We have moved to Maui for the summer, RV’d for weeks across the SW US over last winter, do awesome vacations in the Spring, Summer, and Fall and are going to Australia for a little less than a month this winter. My job is global and can be done from anywhere and generates frequent flier miles and hotel points which help offset family travel costs.

    My wife (the super smart one – really!) jumped ship from corporate America May 2010 and is building her own business which can be done from anywhere. My question to you if you are interested in pondering or have thoughts is ‘How do you do both?’ We live the life of our dreams but I more often than not cannot get my mind out of work. It drives me bonkers (major stress) not to excel at my job and I have a million reasons in my head as to why this is so important (livlihood of teams working for me, my professional reputation, fear of job loss for high income job that enables our lifestyle, etc.). You guys have traveled many journeys – both mental and literal. If you have any wisdom or thoughts, I would love to hear them.

    God bless you guys and if you see a brown Bounder RV cruising down the road with a mid 40s guy smiling but looking half stressed honk and wave.

    Mike

    • Brian July 7, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

      Hi Mike,
      Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.

      I think the answer to your question “How do you do both” is that we don’t and, probably more to the point, we don’t try to.

      This may be sacrilegious to say, but I’m not a big believer in the ‘American Dream,’ at least not how it is normally configured – dual income family, with two high-power, prestige, jobs supporting a big house, lots of stuff and expensive vacations. I’ve never met anyone pursuing that ideal who is truly content. The two may even be mutually exclusive. I much prefer balance.

      It was helpful in my case that I never let my career define who I was or let it become a major component of my self esteem. Although it was exclusive, and prestigious, and full of self-importance, it was still just a job. When looked at objectively, it was a really very meaningless pursuit. I think most jobs fall into that category, if we’re really honest about it. And once you see the world that way it becomes increasingly painful to spend the majority of your waking hours working to excel at something that, in the grand scheme of things, is not really all that important.

      I doubt any of this constitutes ‘wisdom’ but it is a line of thinking that has lead me to a place I’m very happy with . . . dare I say content. Your mileage may vary.

      Happy travels,
      Brian

  9. crazy sexy fun traveler October 27, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Right, there is never enough time to do and see everything you would like to! You just gotta leave some things for ‘later’… if it ever comes :D

    • Brian October 27, 2011 at 9:24 am #

      In one respect I’m kind of glad there isn’t enough time to do everything I want to do. I think of it as an embarassment of riches. How sad it would be to have already visited all the worlds places and have none left to look forward to.

  10. Dave White Paintings October 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    Brian, you’re a great writer. This article was inspiring! Thanks

    • Brian October 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

      Thank you for the nice complement!

  11. aparnanairphotography October 30, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    Brian: Not only is this incredibly well-written, I think the content of what you say really resonates with me. I travel often, but it seems that it is with different goals and in a more hurried fashion. I will be subscribing to your blog – I certainly have a lot to learn from your experiences and your incredible ability to reflect on them!! (Also, note that I wrote about some of my thoughts/experiences from my work in photography in my post entitled “Photography – life lessons along the way”. I feel as though you might find this post interesting, if you have the time to take a look at it).

    • Brian October 31, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

      Many thanks for your comments and complements.

  12. missnom November 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    A great post! A realistic but inspiring look at realizing your dreams and grabbing them with both hands. Rock on.

  13. Master's At Travel Blog November 1, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    Wonderful post Brian! Now I just need all our clients at Cruise & Travel Masters to read it! It could really enhance their travel experiences! :) Thanks and keep sharing!

  14. Phyllis November 2, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    A wonderful blog you have here Brian. My husand (of 44years) and I sold our sticks and bricks home in July, gave everything to our kids that their homes could possibly hold and gave away or sold the rest. We purchased a Class A motorhome, paid off two vehicles (one we will sell when husband is retired) and all other debts. We still owe a little on the RV and we have to have health insurance as we aren’t medicare age yet, therefore husband is still working. He would love to leave the corporate world and hit the road but we are and have always been very structured and conservative. The thought of having no insurance or having to pay extremely high amounts for coverage is keeping us from taking to the road. We are currently living in our RV. I read in MIke’s comments that his wife is building her own business that she can take anywhere with her. I would love to have privy to what that business is.I would love to know how to start one for myself that I could do on the road and provide our health insurance needs. Anyone have any ideas on that?

    • Brian November 2, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

      Hi Phyllis,
      Thanks for your comments. You ask plenty of good questions, many of which need more elaborate responses than I can provide here. You might have noticed that today we announced a new “How To” section designed to answer question like the one’s you’re asking. It’s quite lean at the moment, but over the coming weeks and months we plan to touch on topics like health insurance and how to make a living on the road. Stay tuned.

      We agree that health insurance is a major obstacle for many Americans. Health care costs can be so high that few of us are wealthy enough to self insure. Plenty of fulltime travelers go without (mostly younger folks). I think that is a potentially disastrous mistake and is not something I’d ever recommend. If we exclude that as an option, our choices then are to buy an individual health insurance policy or to keep working until we’re eligible for Medicare or a corporately subsidized policy. We buy our own.

      You might consider a high deductible policy if you’re in relatively good health. You don’t say how old you are but considering that you’ve been married 44 years (congrats btw) you probably only have a few years before Medicare kicks in. The health insurance premiums for an individual policy may look more affordable when you factor in that you’ll only have to pay them for a couple of years.

      Good luck,
      Brian

  15. Bama November 2, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    Hi Brian!
    I’m new to your blog, but somehow this particular post caught my attention. After reading it thoroughly, I just want to tell you that I can relate to every single point that you mentioned. Such a wise and thoughtful way to see how travel should be.
    Cheers,
    Bama

  16. greeneyedkiwi November 4, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    This is great Brian – it resonated with me too.

    My thoughts are not to be a slave to the beaten track and embrace spontaneity when you can. All sorts of things have presented themselves to me and if I had hard and fast plans I wouldn’t have experienced or met the people or opportunities.

    Of course having a plan and some bookings in hot spots is great, as well as knowing what you want to see and do.

    Happy wandering

    • Brian November 4, 2011 at 10:11 am #

      I think most hard core travelers agree with you. The idea that travel should be spontaneous and “off the beaten path” is an article of faith for many, which is part of the reason we included “Spontaneity is Overrated” and “The Path is Beaten for a Reason” as lessons learned. We didn’t find that the conventional wisdom of the hard core travel consensus always served us well. As much as people think those things are liberating, they can be constraining in their own right. What we’re advocating instead is flexibility: plan a little, wander a little, see the major sites and explore the uncharted. It’s all good.

      The truth is, though, there is no “right” way to do this. Everyone has to find their own path. Thanks for following along as we find ours.
      Brian

  17. ourweirdandwonderfulworld November 4, 2011 at 12:56 am #

    Hi Brian,
    Some great lessons learnt here, thanks. I wish I’ld met your blog a loooong time ago, but then again, I am not a planner type of person – so I would fall into the ‘reckless’ category you described earlier. I also do not believe in planning as we do not exactly know, for sure, what is going to happen later or even tomorrow. My husband and I did not plan like how you guys fit it, but we just wanted to ‘have a break’ and now we do not know where to go or when to stop! It is so much fun being ‘nowhere’ and nowhere to go next!
    On the crappier side, life continues, and fear seeps through – savings not getting any better and all.
    Just wondering what you guys are up to now? I am keen to catch up (as you can tell I am over a year late) on your adventures…after all, life is a long adventure, or is it? Keep up with interesting blog as if benefits a lot of us reading it.

  18. ourweirdandwonderfulworld November 4, 2011 at 1:01 am #

    p.s. typos…Please keep up with your interesting blog as it benefits a lot of us reading it. ;)

  19. Rick Sanders November 4, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    I enjoy an experience where the wisdom is discovered when you are not expecting it to occur. Each path we take is a decision, and when there is a bit of treasure along that path, we can be thankful and celebrate! Thanks for this article.

  20. Terri M Lorah November 5, 2011 at 12:16 am #

    I am glad I found this blog. Hubby and I have just begun to think about doing some travel for awhile. I have a lot of planning to do and you are so right, I’m sure it isn’t a fly by the seat of your pants thing. I like to have an itinerary although when I travel with hubby, that usually flies right out the window! Thanks for great advice!

  21. Michael Coombs December 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    That was the coolest thing i have ever read
    and its what im doing now just starting but i made it half way across Canada, im in banff right now and loving it so much
    not sure where im going next.

  22. colleenanderson December 21, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    Amen. :)

  23. 茹娴 December 26, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    Great Post, Brian :D I did my RTW on 2010 as well. I learned a lot along the journey.
    Seen many stunning landscapes, experience great food and divers cultures. But one thing that really make my journey a memorable and touched my heart is the people i met along my journey. :)

    • Brian December 27, 2011 at 9:15 am #

      We’re working on our RTW (round the world trip) too, only we’re not going to do it straight through. LOL. More like using the U.S. as a base and jetting off to places for months at a time.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  24. Debra Kolkka December 26, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    This is all excellent advice! The best thing we ever did was buy our apartment in Italy. To enable us to do that we also downsized. We moved form a big house to an apartment, freeing up enough money to buy in Italy without a mortgage. We use it as a base to travel to other places in Italy, either as day trips or as the occasional overnight stay. We rent our apartment to people we know when we are not there to help cover running costs and it has all worked very well. My husband is still working, so can’t spend as much time in Italy as I do, but this will change soon and we will probably end up in Italy for 6 months every year. You can’t JUST DO IT, but you can plan and make things happen.
    Who needs to tie up all their money in a big expensive house??? It is a matter of choice.

    • Brian December 27, 2011 at 9:18 am #

      Getting an apartment in Italy (or France, or ???) is something that is in the back of our minds too. What a great way to explore a culture and a region. We probably won’t buy one, preferring instead to rent. That way we can change bases after a while.

  25. kiwisteve42 December 26, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

    Excellent Post, thoroughly agree with your comments.

  26. ALi Elle January 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Well well well, that was enlightening. One of the best articles I’ve read about “things I learned from a year of travel” etc…. Its not a vacation, its a lifestyle. I certainly concur.

  27. jherai January 8, 2012 at 6:42 am #

    Your post have inspired me more to really seek what I have been waiting for all my life… that is to travel that dirty path with a smile on my face. I have been reading a lot of travel blogs lately and I have been so surprised how hundreds of people are able to do what they love most and just keeping it real to themselves.

    I have been planning lately on what I will be doing next year. Sad to say, yes, I am still stuck with my job but I have the intentions of keeping it and making my travel plans during summer times.

    I do have plans of starting it locally first, like planning to visit every part of my country worth going to.

    Thank you again for that inspiring blog!

  28. Anita Mac January 14, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    You nailed it on the head!!!! Great post! I am struggling with downsizing at the moment. It’s a time thing as much as a letting go thing, but there are too many things in the house that I haven’t used in years – and my mortgage is basically paying for storage! Time to offload! May not pack the job in just yet – but getting priorities straight is important!
    Loved the comment on attitude and expectations too! So true! Looking forward to hearing more as I figure out what my expectations are!!! Full on travel, part time work/travel or contracts interspersed with 3-4 month travel spurts…..plenty to think about out there!

    • Brian January 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

      It sounds like you’re thinking about everything in the right way. I especially like the notion that there are plenty of different ways to intigrate travel into your life. The choices aren’t just between taking off full-time and limiting yourself to two weeks per year. Everything in between is a potential option, and there are almost as many strategies for making it happen. You just have to be a little creative.

      As for getting rid of stuff, we did a whole post on the topic that you might also find worthwhile: http://everywhereonce.com/2011/12/05/how-to-say-goodbye-to-your-things/

  29. Carl Moczydlowsky (@frothylowsky) January 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Awesome… I discovered your blog from a friend of mine from high school… Meaghan O’Brien. Apparently you met her in Belize. My wife and I did something similar last year http://blog.closed-system.com/. Congrats. You are dead on. You two rule. Keep going. We are currently building our new ride for our next trip to S. America.

    • Brian January 25, 2012 at 9:43 am #

      How awesome to connect with people this way: meeting fellow travelers in a far-off place who introduce us (virtually) to other travelers somewhere else in the world. Vive la Internet!

      Van travel through S. America sounds incredible, BTW.

      Happy travels,
      Brian

  30. Mack Hops February 25, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Hey awesome guys…

    Really admire what you are doing.

    Keep on doing your thing.. I know what makes me happy too.

    At least for me though.. you need to give in to the capitalist system just a bit.. you need some funds for the tour!

    Cheers,

    Mac

  31. sustainabilitea April 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Number 6 struck me immediately. I spent almost a year in Europe between my junior and senior years in college (many moons ago) and was struck by how many people (mostly in tour groups, but not all) I overheard saying something along the lines of “Martha/Martin, this just isn’t like home.” Well, duh! If it were, why bother to go somewhere else to see it?

    The other two points that I especially liked were “Spontaneity is overrated” and “The path is beaten for a reason.” I like being a planner who allows for spontaneity and there are so many things that everyone wants to see because they’re amazing/wonderful/stupendous. See them and don’t worry about it!!

    Enjoy the ride!

    • Brian April 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

      Yeah, those last two points kind of run counter to conventional wisdom, and I like that. More importantly, I think they’re true. I got a fair amount of push-back from the claim that “spontaneity is overrated.” The idea that “real” travelers go with the flow and make it up as they go along is so well entrenched it’s almost sacrilegious to point out its shortcomings. But I’m open minded. So after another year of full-time travel I revisited the subject, and concluded that spontaneity is still overrated. ;-) http://everywhereonce.com/2012/04/18/no-reservations/

      • sustainabilitea April 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

        I found it easy to be spontaneous when there was only me or one other person, when we both had backpacks (although wheeled luggage might work and would be less hard on the back!), and when we had rail passes. We could decide it was too rainy/cold/boring/whatever, go to the train station and figure out somewhere else to go. I probably forget to add–when I was younger. :-)

        A well-planned trip provides the bones of the trip around which spontaneous acts can occur. So many places now reservations are a good idea or even necessary and that type of thing requires planning.

        As for not going where tourists go, they go there for a reason. Why miss, say, the Grand Canyon because it’s crowded? Try going at an off-time or season. I missed Venice because it was raining yet again and I was tired of rain. I regret it. I’m not a crowd person myself, so I can understand it. I guess you have to decide if it’s worth it to you or not.

        • Brian April 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

          Venice is wonderful . . . definitely worth it.

          • sustainabilitea April 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

            Maybe another time. I got to spend some time in a number of other beautiful places, including working that winter in the youth hostel in Grindelwald, Switzerland, and spending time on Mykonos and Naxos and near Toulouse, so I can’t complain. So much to see, so little time!! :-)

            • Brian April 23, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

              All solid choices. And yes, too little time.

  32. babso2you April 25, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    Thank you for the like on my blog! I love this post!

  33. Mo May 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Great to visit your blog for the first time and hear the lessons at the one year mark, just as we are getting ready to set off on our own trip.

    Looking forward to reading more and thanks for checking out our blog at mmbzl too.

    Best wishes,
    Mo

    • Brian May 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

      Hi Mo,
      This post is about a year old now, but I think it is pretty timeless. After our second year, and having added some backpacking to our travel repertoire, I still wouldn’t change a word.

      Happy travels,
      Brian

  34. alongthewaytj May 21, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    Awesome post. My boyfriend and I are a year and a half into our big trip – also too old for gap year travels and definitely too young to travel, we keep learning lessons about how to travel better with each successive country, and these are all great tips! Happy trails!

  35. writecrites May 24, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    A love your blog (and this post) and will make it a point to go back and read all your entries while looking forward to the next. What a great way to live your life.

    • Brian May 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

      Thanks. We’re definitely happy with how things are working out after two years on the road.

  36. Compass&Camera May 28, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    Hi Brian,
    What a gift today, to discover your eloquent thoughts on traveling through life. Your blog and words are thoughtful, beautiful and true, and I look forward to reading more from you. Thanks for this particularly insightful entry.
    Kelly (Compass & Camera)

    • Brian May 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

      Wow, thank you so much.

  37. Jaclyn Kader May 28, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    Hey Brian, I enjoyed reading 7 Lessons From A Year On The Road where you certainly shared some amazing insight. I’ve always dreamed about travelling for a living but the way you laid it out brings it home that it really does come down to careful planning. You pointed out some things that I had never thought of but now seem to simply be a matter of common sense. Cheers for that!

    • Brian May 29, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      Hi Jaclyn,
      Thanks for your comments.

      We are careful planners. I have a hard time seeing another way to do things. After all, if you want to get anywhere, you really do need to chart a course. Setting of aimlessly and hoping for the best will get you somewhere, but not necessarily somewhere good.

  38. grenobleadventure June 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Hey Brian,

    I enjoyed reading your lessons from “a year on the road” – especially the part about expectations – so true!

    I look forward to reading more about your around-the-world travels one month at a time!

    All the best,
    Lori

  39. Sylver Blaque June 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    This post completely rocks! Especially…

    “…you’ll develop an appreciation for the kinds of sacrifices you’ll have to make to achieve your goal. And there will be sacrifices. Everything worth doing requires them. Identifying those sacrifices, and accepting them early, is a pretty important determinant of success.”

    Sage travel wisdom!

  40. Mark White June 9, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    Inspiring and useful advice, thank you. We are in the middle of planning two years of volunteering, for the same sorts of reasons. Don’t know where we are going yet, which adds to the interest I think.

    • Brian June 9, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for stopping by. We’ve looked a bit into volunteering ourselves and have been a bit disapointed with the “voluntourisim” opportunities. Please stop back and fill us in about your volunteering experience.

      • Mark White June 10, 2012 at 5:36 am #

        Dear Brian,
        yes I know what you mean about the cheap holiday in other people’s misery aspect of volunteering. We’re going for VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) http://www.vso.org.uk/ which should avoid that. Volunteers are carefully selected on their skills, we are in the middle of a very rigorous training schedule, Higher Education credits in Overseas Development are part of it, along with a great deal of thought about the effects of colonialism, economic power, trans national corporations that sort of thing, (bit too much role play though).
        Countries will see your CV and make a bid for your skills to be part of an existing programme, so that you are not just taking over somebody else’s job for free, or flying in to impose a short term solution, but build something long lasting, we hope.

        • Brian June 10, 2012 at 8:46 am #

          Thanks for the info. VSO looks a bit like the Peace Corps in the U.S., which is something we’ve also considered. Congratulations on committing to something incredible like that. Good luck!

  41. irenium June 11, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    More than a year later, but a timelessly great post. Lots of people dream about this kind of lifestyle so it’s good to hear from somebody who’s actually done it. Someday I’ll be there too!

  42. seekingmonsieur June 11, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Great advice, thanks for sharing. Thank you also for visiting my site and liking, “Ms. Fancy Pants.”

  43. farbolino June 15, 2012 at 3:50 am #

    Great post, but I especially like #2. There is a well worn path for a reason.

  44. janetkleyn June 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    These points are just so perfectly put…no 6 and no 3 are particularly true for my husband and I who are currently road tripping across the States… we try keep our plans up to 3 days ahed…so that changes are not impossible if desirable…. Great blog!

  45. kieranmaynard June 16, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    Great post! I see what you mean about spontaneity. There are so many things that just can’t be done or seen at the last minute that we always need to have something booked at least a little way in advance.

  46. Lisa Brignoni June 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    I love this article. I’ve been on the road for 5 months and couldn’t agree more! Cheers!

  47. NewLifeOnTheRoad (@NewLifeOnRoad) June 17, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    Its really weird but I havent thought much about getting ready for our life on the road – I just jumped on board and did it! But I do believe that saving money is important so that you can travel around and see everything from each place you are staying at. The only thing I wished I had done – was to plan it sooner :)

  48. Kamela Dolinova June 17, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Just checked out this post after you liked mine – thanks very much, and thanks for writing this! I will definitely be reading more about your adventure!

  49. amblealong June 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    Hi Brian! Loved the information you provided about what you learned and the caveats you shared about making such a decision and then taking the baby steps and putting in the time to do it right and build your dream year of travel one brick at a time. We should all be so diligent about investing our time, thoughts, destination “wish list”, and research into such an endeavour.

    My husband and I are currently trying to incorporate two trips annually. We start with a number of ideas for places to go, narrow down the list around Christmas, and then make a plan about what we feel we can reach for… This year it was Florida and northern Italy (Venice, Lake Como). After that, we each select three things that are must see for us in those destinations and then compare notes. We narrow the sightseeing list to three definites and then use the rest of the activities as a backup plan.

    Please keep us posted with your insightful entries! Can’t wait to hear more from you! (And thanks for finding my blog, too!)

  50. Cecil Scaglione June 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    Good thinkin’
    Keep on trekkin’

  51. uniglobecarefreetravel June 21, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    Thanks so much for reading our blog!

  52. Sally and Brin June 22, 2012 at 4:35 am #

    I am going to really enjoy reading through your blog..I can totally understand how you feel about making changes and going for it!..just slowly making mine too and already feeling the relief of not being weighed down by things that just don’t matter…

  53. Bron June 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    Excellent post. The longest I’ve ever travelled in one stint is 5 months (about to leave on another 5 month stint in a couple of weeks) but I totally understand the spirit of what you’re talking about. Especially point 4.

    When my partner and I were planning that first 5 month trip I thought it would get travel out of my system and afterwards I could “settle down”. All it did was get me addicted to long term travel. :)

    Have you set yourselves up so you’ll be able to keep travelling indefinitely? Or do you think you will eventually have to stay in one place long enough to replenish your savings again?

  54. midihideaways June 23, 2012 at 6:10 am #

    Brilliant insights – I love point 6, you have that so spot on!! I wish some of my guests would realise that…

  55. jasonexplorer June 24, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    Point 7 is my favorite. So very true!

  56. klcompren June 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    Thank you for this article. Excellent thoughts and many really resonate with me. Particularly the subject of your travel being a lifestyle, not a vacation and the part about well worn paths. Many people can’t imagine how we can afford to travel for so long but they are thinking in terms of a continuous vacation. That would indeed be too expensive. As for the well worn path, it amuses me when “travelers” can be so derisive about a “tourist destination” and suggest that you simply must avoid it in favor of the less traveled alternative. As you said, often both are deserving.

  57. backpackerina June 29, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    For me oftentimes “Just do it!” applies and works very well for travel and life-changing experiences: ‘just do it’ might refer to making that decision, to start planning, to chose the mode of transportation, or the first country to visit. There’s always that barrier to cross, and after that it only gets easier! Then it truly does become a lifestyle. Thanks for sharing, that’s a really informative post!

  58. kymlucas June 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    Great blog. Don’t really want to quit my job and travel full-time, but I love to hear about someone else doing it.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  59. judlaw June 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    This is a great post, full of good information for full-time travelers and wannabes like us. We already have the e-commerce sites paying for our travels. What holds us back from going full-time? Family obligations — two very elderly mothers who would miss us terribly, and siblings who would greatly resent our not being available to do our share. One day, before our good health and young spirits…:)

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Judy

  60. gottagetbaked July 2, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Brian, I’m in awe of you and Shannon! I love all the thought and planning that went into the pursuit of your dream. What I’ve read so far on your blog really speaks to me – I think a lot of people (myself included) eventually come to a crossroads with life and work. I hope that I’ll have the same strength and conviction to follow through on a dream instead of letting my fears and insecurities stop me. Thanks so much for this wonderful blog!

    • Brian July 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by and for your wonderful comments.

      To help with the inevitable fears and insecurities remember this very one important thing: nothing you’re planning to do can’t be undone. When we realize our choices aren’t really permenent, all the reasons we create not to try new things suddenly fall away.

      Good luck and happy travels,
      Brian

  61. Sony Fugaban July 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Thanks a lot, Brian and Shanon, for opening our eyes to another set of lessons learned from traveling. Reading different realizations from different amazing bloggers makes me want to walk the path more than ever.

  62. Fazimoon Samad.. July 4, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    Great photos and good tips very interesting fsali .

  63. samanthaehlinger July 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    Great advice! I’m impressed with the life you lead.

  64. Happily Homeless July 25, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Hi Brian,
    I loved this post, very insightful and considered. My husband and I have been on the road since May of 2009, after selling our home and most of our belongings, and we’re thoroughly enjoying this gypsy lifestyle. His job consisted of long range planning, and that’s come in handy as we’ve traveled because you’re right, if you want to be where you want/need to be, with warm weather and all the other qualifiers that you might be looking for at any point, some planning helps! There are challenges, same same as living stationary, but the benefits outweigh anything else, for us.

    Our mode of travel is a Ford Escape, and the majority of our monies go towards low cost hotels and available lodging at military bases (husband is retired AF). This way of life doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive, but you have to be willing to trade off creature comforts and the comforts of having a home base. We love it, and we plan on continuing our Happily Homeless lifestyle for as long as we can get in and out of the car by ourselves!

    Happy trails to you~

    • Brian July 26, 2012 at 11:47 am #

      Yup, there are certainly trade offs to this kind of lifestyle. But I think something fewer people realize is that there are tradeoffs in every kind of lifestyle. The folks working to support a big house and lots of toys are trading their time for things. Unfortunately, they may not even realize the sacrifice they’re making. Meanwhile, we not only have different priorities, but a full appreciation for the costs and the benefits of those priorities. If we accomplish anything with this blog, we hope it will be to get people thinking a little bit more deliberately about these things.

  65. martinaagannon July 29, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    Wow Brian and Sarah what you guys are doing is so incredibly brave and exciting! I truly hope I have the courage to one day do what you guys are doing.

  66. alienheartbeat August 9, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

    One area I think you did not cover enough; what you personally gain from it.
    For me:
    1. you meet many great, and very different, people
    2. you learn more about yourself, including some things you might not want to know;
    3. your brain gets bigger (mine needs to).

    I should add I really like your blog. It is only the 3rd travel blog I have followed (and one of them is now defunct).

    • Brian August 10, 2012 at 9:47 am #

      Hmmm, that sounds like a post all of its own. Thanks for the idea!

  67. Marlene Luneng August 9, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    I love this post. It is very inspirational to me as I wish for us to sell everything here and pack our bags for the big wide world. I just need to convince my husband. Thank you for your words, stories and thoughts!

    • Brian August 10, 2012 at 9:48 am #

      Having complete buy-in from your significant other is critical. Send him our way and we’ll help work on him. ;-)

  68. citizen111 August 11, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    Great Advice, Which I probably should have read 6 months ago. But thankfully have found my way to some of it. To be honest, I recieved so much “Your just having a mid life crisis” commentary, that in the end I just stopped asking the people around me. Knowing there is a community out there kinda gives me some hope. Thank You

    • Brian August 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

      We are here to help, with support, advice, and anything else we can muster. And while we can only speak to our own motivations, a crisis isn’t something you meticulously plan five years in advance. Mid-life, yes. Crisis, nope.

  69. BonMinou August 14, 2012 at 12:53 am #

    Yes, yes and yes! Loved this article, excellent advise. We’ve been living this life style since 2001 and you are right about so many things. I couldn’t have put it better myself (which is probably why I didn’t!). I am looking forward to reading more of your adventures and sage thoughts. Wow, I didn’t know there were so many people doing this!
    Minou

  70. Laurie Bain Wilson August 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    great blog, so inspiring, thanks

  71. stunkard August 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Ah, my dream…sell it all and buy an RV. Your post has some really great advice to think about before I sell it all on Craigslist! I have also been warned not to expect to drive everywhere all the time with an RV. The gas will kill you. They have suggested to set up a “base camp” and go out with a smaller vehicle. Something I hadn’t thought about. But, still…I want to do it.

    • Brian August 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      Size matters, or so I’m told. If you’re traveling alone or don’t mind close quarters small camper vans or travel trailers do just fine on gas. If you have a larger RV like ours, you really are going to want some kind of vehicle to go exploring with. The other problem you run into using your RV for your main vehicle is that every time you need to run an errand, you have to pack up your house, un-level, disconnect water and electric, then set it all back up again when you get back. PIA!

  72. themirrenlee August 18, 2012 at 12:37 am #

    Thanks for the Like, and I just HAVE to follow such wonderfully interesting wanderers. I have a bracelet that says, “Not all who wander are lost” (Lewis Carroll). So perfect!

  73. themirrenlee August 18, 2012 at 12:56 am #

    J.R.R. Tolkein said it – sorry, Senior Moment. ;-)

    • Brian August 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

      Definitely Tolkein and definitely true.

  74. Rachael August 19, 2012 at 4:25 am #

    What a delight to find a well-written, thought-provoking, inspirational and thoroughly sensible post. My husband and I have plans to do something similar once our children have flown. I have no doubt your blog will prove to be most helpful, both as inspiration and guidance.

  75. bucketdave August 21, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    There’s real wisdom in this post. Wisdom earned from travelling many miles. I will always remember now that there’s a reason the path is well worn. It’s because there’s something worth going to see on it. Good advice.

  76. Rahul August 22, 2012 at 2:56 am #

    Hii

    I am new to your blog, I just went thru nope i would say read thru your blog, a lot of insight and lot about the fears that i dare not confront, dropping everything and getting out on the road is still scary but something I am working forward to. Great post and great on motivation too

  77. Jane August 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    first of all, a very special thanks for liking my recent post on my India Journal Blog. And thanks for bringing me here. I love what you have written and look forward to exploring further. I too made a very big life change, and have been through many of the experiences you describe here and learned many of things you write about. BUt you have said it all so concisely and precisely that it is a joy to read. I will definitely be doing more reading here as soon as I find the time to get back to the joys of blogging.
    with love light gratitude and JOY

  78. Still Times August 26, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    I’ve perused your blog and have found so much useful information. How ironic to read about the very topic my husband I spoke about just last night. My comment to my husband was that once we get back to the U.S. from China I would like to take a year off and go see the good ole U.S.A, take time to learn and visit the many great sites our country has to offer. Our fear of the unknown has kept us home way to long. China is just the beginning. Thank you for sharing so much! Looking forward to learning and reading a more on your blog.

    Maria

  79. nkh1 August 29, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    Brian, I started my travel blog for my family and you have me thinking about taking more time and care with it for everyone because I see from your writing how much the rest of us benefit from it. The thought processes show the benefit of mindful thinking about one’s life. But I love the nitty-gritty details as well! Thank you!

  80. Quittingjobtotravel August 31, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    “…the problem was almost never the destination, but a disconnect between what the destination is, and what the traveler wanted it to be.” Don’t think it could be said any better. Read this post a couple times now. Great info!

  81. beeseeker September 1, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    Enjoyed reading this reflective post, kinda down to earth and not, well written and quietly inspirational. All good points, thanks for sharing.

  82. yojoburg September 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    I really, really enjoyed reading this. My partner and I are hoping to move to New York at some point. This just reinforced my resolve and made me realise once again that we need to start jotting down our plan of action. Great post!

  83. john g rees September 5, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    Very nice blog. Traveler’s always like to read about the road less traveled! Aloha!

  84. Courtenay Clarisse September 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    Very nice post. So true about spontaneity being sometimes overrated, and about how hard it can be to walk away from your life and routine. Your comments about the “beaten path” also made me stop to think whether I write too many places off for being very popular. Lots of thought-provoking insights in this post. Thanks!

  85. Christine R. September 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    Great post. It really made me think about my decision to move from Australia to the other side of the world to London. I too had a difficult decision to resign from a good job so that I can live and travel in the UK and Europe.

    I agree with your comment about not being reckless when making a life altering decision. There is a need to think things through before you “just do it!”. I think following through with your decision is the hardest part – at least for me it was!

    Thanks for your words of wisdom! I’m going to share this with some of my friends who are thinking of making life changing decisions :)

  86. a lifetime of lessons September 12, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Awww… Fabulous! :) I’m two weeks into a twelve month adventure… I left my job and here I sit, in balmy Thailand. The realisations are rolling in daily. I had expectations, most of them are melting away by the second. Already, everything I expected this to be is being stripped back and redefined. Flexibility is key. I’m committed. And as I face all the fears that come with embarking on a new journey, I’m settling in. You are so right… letting go is hard… but as the old way melts away it allows something new to emerge… what that is, I don’t yet know. We will see. I loved your post! Thankyou for sharing :)

  87. biyahilo September 16, 2012 at 6:00 am #

    Great post!

  88. Mazigrace September 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    Love your style! Thanks for sharing all your adventures. I haven’t even scuffed the surface of your writings but must ask …. have you been to Alaska? It’s something every person should experience. We loved our eight years there and feel the call to go back. Oh, and thanks for the “like”. Most of my photographs are from our Alaska Adventure.

    • Brian September 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by and for your comments. We haven’t been to Alaska yet on this trip. We expect to get there next winter, which is very exciting.

      • Mazigrace September 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

        We lived on Prince of Wales Island, 45 miles west of Ketchikan, US’s third largest Island. Winter in Alaska? I can only say you are brave souls, unless of course, you fancy snow, which I don’t. While living in Southeast Alaska, we saw a lot more rain than snow. The Native Culture is amazing, saw many totem raisings, heard a lot of ceremonial dances and lived a substance lifestyle. Fresh salmon is to die for.

  89. sjkelly1 September 18, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Your thoughts on making a major life change are so true! I’ve been back and forth over the last couple of years, and I too have found that visualizing what you ultimately want is the only way to get where you want to go! Good luck, and safe travels!

  90. otionblog September 18, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    So insightful and inspirational! Thank you for your wise advice, which will help me with my big change!

  91. mskatykins September 23, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    Well I’m certainly in the middle of a huge life changing part of my life and I agree with what you’ve said here. You only have one life, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and go for what you really want to do. Take a few risks, eh? This is an inspiring page – good luck with the rest of your adventures. :)

  92. Russell Cavanagh September 23, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    At 50, with all of my commitments having grown up or left me one way and another, I’ve been thinking about wandering with an RV for some time now. I read your post carefully, and feel myself tipping towards the door of that aeroplane you mention … 8-)

    • ukgardenfiend September 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

      Well we have also often thought of buying an RV and taking off for some months – travelling through India in particular as there is so much more we would like to see there – we have already seen the birthplace – they think of Buddha so my Retreat was not without precedent or reason [http://tiggerrenewing.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/48/
      but we were tied to our schedule. that said, train and local hotels are a great way to see a country – and mostly – the toilet facilities are better than with an RV. Though perhaps not an Indian night train… even the ‘western’ toilet was a bit much! Yes, you’ve guessed it – I like my clean and comfortable toilets and showers – so perhaps the RV will have to remain a dream…. we’ll stick with trains.

  93. perfectlyuncaged September 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Awesome post! it confirms why i live with a one bag policy…makes it easier to lug around all earthly possessions while really living.

  94. Akua October 2, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Loved it!! Great points

  95. travelitaliablog October 3, 2012 at 5:29 am #

    Great site here, Brian and Shannon! and great post..There’s really a lot of lessons to learn in traveling. Wish you all the best in your next travels. By the way, thanks for checking out my blog. I’ve also dreamt of traveling the world. I hope I can make that dream come true in the near future just like you guys did.

    Cheers!

  96. udawesterncape October 8, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    One year on the road? Very insightful for a one year old, you two are. Most certainly old souls. Hamba kale.

  97. thinkingcowgirl October 9, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Glad you’re on your dream road. I’ve also reinvented my life a few times…but I have to say it wasn’t quite as painless as the proverbial leap! More like an idea which gradually became reality after mooching about in the doldrums for a while…

  98. elleturner4 October 9, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Great…I’ve just given up my job to be more creative….scary with my fingers crossed. Thanks for liking my blog :)

  99. grettafitzpatrick October 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Great Post! Love it !True about the beaten path also!

  100. relaxingcooking October 10, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Thank you for the like on my blog. I enjoed your excellent post. I look forward to reading your blog!

  101. awesomeodysseys October 11, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    What a great experience. I have spent my life traveling, but can’t fit all the places I want to see into 4-6 weeks a year. Maybe once my kids are grown I’ll have time to do something like this. Fabulous experience and great tips.

  102. cappuccinokisses October 16, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    What a spectacularly valuable post! Insights gained such as these are so meaningful… Indeed, life changing :) Thank you for sharing.

  103. ripe red berries October 16, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    I so relate to what you are saying. My partner and I traveled around the world for over a year and a half. What started out as a sailing ’round the world tip, turned into a backpacking ’round the world trip. It wasn’t always easy, it wasn’t a vacation – it was a lifestyle, as you mentioned – and it was most certainly something we didn’t ‘just do.’ It was a well thought out planned trip, with a lot of flexibility ‘built-in’ to the plans…good for you and thanks for writing such a wonderful post about traveling as a lifestyle/life choice.

  104. Ksenija October 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Simply brilliant!

  105. Roisin October 18, 2012 at 2:00 am #

    Brilliant article!
    I can especially relate to 1 and 2.

    I did a lot of studying into the history of travel and tourism at uni and it’s interesting to see how ling this battle between travellers and tourists has been going on!

    I’m also planning a big trip and although it’s not a change of lifestyle, the changes I’m going to have to make mean I won’t be able to return to the life I lead now!

    Scary!

    But thanks for the advice!

  106. sjmack October 18, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    I am smiling as I read this. After a spending a year on the road myself, I can honestly say everything you have written rings true. Very very true. Anyone planning to travel should take note!

  107. unpackedwriter October 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Your shot of Cadillac Mountain is spectacular. I love the way you incorporate your philosophy in your blog as well as draw on great sources for quotes and reflective material!

  108. passionforhospitality October 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    Such a great post! Thank you for sharing all your lessons, they are truly valuable

  109. Alz355 October 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Great post! And actually, a lot of good advice even for those of us that don’t have the nadz to do what you guys are doing. I look forward to reading more!

  110. Triggercell HD October 29, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    This is really profound and well written life lessons. I was just going to skip through real quick but the first paragraph got reeled me in to the end.

  111. Joy Felix October 29, 2012 at 5:26 am #

    “Whenever we probed deeper, the problem was almost never the destination, but a disconnect between what the destination is, and what the traveler wanted it to be.”

    Great point! That has usually been my experience as well. A friend of mine hated Bali. I couldn’t figure out why – I had loved it there! In talking with her more though I realized she had gone expecting Hawaii, and was disappointed because Bali is Bali.

    I think a take away of that is to go expecting to learn what the place is rather than with an expectation of what it should be!

  112. snailfish888 October 30, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    Utmost respect to you both

  113. The Earth Beneath My Feet November 8, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    THank you for this brilliant and helpful post. I am at that crossroads where I want to travel but amd hanging onto a job I don’t like. I also scaled down two years ago and am loving the simpler life. When my stuff came out of storage after the remmovations (I rennovated a very old house), I realised that I had lived without most of it and had even forgotten about some of it. Happy travels :-)

    • SoleJourner November 9, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

      At the point I am at right now (the slow, tedious and sometimes frustrating phase of planning and saving to allow for a life of travel), this is exactly what I needed to read to keep me motivated and remind me it will all be worth it. Thanks!

      • Brian November 11, 2012 at 10:21 am #

        Awesome. Glad to help. :-)

  114. The Bounce Magazine November 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Nice read! This is why light travel is the way I go! Nice guys!

  115. confessions-of-a-nomad March 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    Great post and advice! I definitely agree that by planning ahead you’ll most likely get more out of your trip.

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