My pre nomadic life wasn’t a bad one. I was content with the path I had taken. I was running a successful business that I enjoyed; I had a great relationship with my husband (although not technically married, after 16 years together and traveling non stop for 1000 days together, ‘boyfriend’ doesn’t quite cut it); And we lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. Life was… nice.
But then tragedy struck. I lost a parent and the grief crushed me. For anyone who has lost a loved one you know how heartbreaking it is. Some days I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
After I was over the initial shock and grieving period (well, that never goes away but does get a little easier) I started to reevaluate my life. As cliché as it sounds I starting asking myself questions like “What am I doing with my life?” and “Will I be happy with what I have achieved once I leave this world?”
And the answers shocked me. I realized that if I died tomorrow (as morbid as that sounds) I wouldn’t be able to look back and be proud of what I accomplished. And for someone who has had success in business, won awards for that successful business and on the outside looked like she had a pretty good life, I know this sounds absurd but the life I was living wasn’t the one I had always wanted.
But it wasn’t until I was an adult that I started to travel. As a child I didn’t have the opportunity to travel, as my family did not have a lot of money. My first overseas trip wasn’t until I was 29. It was during this trip that I knew I had to make travel a big part of my life.
There is nothing like the feeling I get when I land in a new city. The new smells, the new climate, the new people and new cultures. It’s exhilarating! My adrenaline goes into overdrive when I travel and I feel excitement like never before. I forget all my troubles and stresses and I feel genuine contentment. It feels like I’ve come home, even though I’ve actually left home.
Travel has been my only true desire (besides Michael of course). I have never had the desire to have children. I have never had the ‘maternal instinct’ kick in. And the older I get (now 40) the more I realize it’s definitely not a choice for me. Lucky I found a man who has the same outlook… otherwise that could have been messy!
And because I’ve never felt that maternal purpose I have always questioned what my purpose actually is. I believe we are all meant for something extraordinary, the hard part is finding what it is. Some of us are meant to be extraordinary parents, some are meant to have extraordinary careers and some never quite figure it out.
Well in March 2004 I figured it out. I knew that there was a whole world out there and somehow I wanted to see it all. This is when my fantasies of long-term travel started.
I’ve always been a gypsy at heart. We have moved from house to house and even city to city more times than I can count. We averaged about 18 months in each place we lived. I love change and I love new experiences – even if that new ‘experience’ is just 4 new walls. So the thought of traveling from city to city and country to country excited me to the core. It was exactly the life I was meant to live!
We started with yearly trips, most of which were international, and with each trip my longing for travel grew into something more passionate. I didn’t want to just have a vacation once a year, or sometimes we were lucky and it was twice a year. But that wasn’t the kind of travel I longed for. While it was nice and I am so grateful to have had those experiences, I wanted something more meaningful, more permanent. I wanted to live in other countries. I wanted to experience new cultures. A 3 week vacation just wasn’t going to cut it.
But of course, long-term travel takes money, a lot more money than a 3 week vacation, so it wasn’t something I could make happen over night. We needed to plan, budget and save for it. So over the years we continued to work hard, pay off debts and save money, all while keeping my eye on the big picture.
Some times the dream seemed so unreachable and sometimes I drifted off the path a little. But it was always in the back of my mind. This gave me the motivation to work harder, earn more money so some day I could turn the dream into a reality.
And it certainly didn’t happen over night but it DID happen! Exactly 8 years after my first international trip, we were boarding a plan with a one-way ticket to everywhere! Our first stop – A 3 month road trip across the US!
In the last 12 months we have been to dozens of countries and cities, seen amazing sights, met amazing people and have truly had the time of our lives. I have found my home – the world!
We sold our belongings, packed our bags and have been living the most extraordinary life. We have no idea how long we will be on this path so we enjoy every day as if it’s the last.
There is nothing wrong with an ordinary life if that’s the life you desire. But I have always known that I was meant for something extraordinary and after 37 years of ordinary I will enjoy every moment of my new enriched life.
What would turn YOUR life from ordinary to extraordinary?