Half a Year Gone By
Since mid April when we quit out jobs, we have been living out of our backpacks, discovering new countries, tasting new foods, experiencing a lot, and learning more. November 29th marked the date that we have been traveling for 7 months. There have been things we didn’t expect along the way. For me I couldn’t have imagined not doing this now that we have been at it for this long. I would suggest it to everyone and probably will find it to be a center part of my life in the future. The price we pay for this education from long term travel seems far more important than what someone might pay for a college education in The States. I feel like the education from travel, will make us more equipped to take on lives challenges, be more compassionate towards others, strive more for making our dreams a reality all the time, and be able to relate more to others.
What we have Learned:
Traveling this long makes you face your weaknesses on a daily basis. It breaks down your weakness, most of the time overcoming it. Being outside our comfort zone in regards to not seeing friends and family, always working our thoughts out with each other, being forced to make decisions all the time when we are indecisive, always shifting our priorities to strive for our goals, living simply, not buying any material items, sleeping in a different bed every week, meeting different people and that speak different languages, encountering different cultures and food, and so on forces us to grow.
At first we were pretty stoked to tell people we were going on a RTW trip. We were proud. As we talked to more travelers and got in touch with other travelers, we soon took that proud attitude down a notch. We still of course were happy to be doing what we are doing, but we realized that there are many others doing the same as we are, some doing it longer, further, and so on. On the Camino one could be quick to judge others for their “distance”. One of the first questions was where did you start from? The attitude on the Camino was awesome so I wouldn’t classify most people as being judgmental, as everyone realized it is a personal journey and can be done how you want to do it. On the other hand every once in a while, especially towards the end, people started to judge others for just walking the last 100Km, some people were taking a different look at us after realizing we were on bike…and so on. The point is, there is always someone doing more than us. So competing with others on being the “most travelled” or “seeing the most countries” quickly was not important. And in that sense we learned that it is not a race or a competition, and that it is a humble personal experience with no right or wrong answer.
Being humbled is a big thing we have learned. The first month of traveling, this quickly broke us down. We tried to figure out where everything was on our own. Sometimes we would spend such a long time trying to find a park, a restaurant, the bus lines…whatever. Then we started to ask people. Most of the time they didn’t speak english or looked at us with funny faces, but most of the time through hand motions and other means, we found out a lot quicker than figuring it out by ourselves. We learned not to be prideful and think we can figure everything out, but just ask others. They know more then we do, and that is the reality. The worst that happens if they don’t help you is that you are in the same boat you were before. I think this parallels with a lot of situations in life. A lot of the times we act like we know more than we do, but when we are honest with ourselves and humble about what we know, we learn so much more.
We also quickly learned to not push ourselves to do too many things in one day or in a short period of time. Like my grandmother said, it is better to do one thing right and really put your energy into that one thing, then to do 10 things just to do them. In the States we tried to do a lot, our schedules seemed pack with our own agenda. When we tried to fit a lot into a short period of time we never truly experienced those things, just saw them and went on. Seeing and experiencing are two different things. Some days we would be pretty happy with figuring out what bus company we should take to our next destination, and that was it. Simplifying life, makes you slow down to concentrate on one thing instead of fitting 10 activities in your day.
As a Christian, I realized I didn’t need to read the bible on a daily or weekly account to know God, even though I rarely did that before. There is so much to see and expierence in this world, God is all around us. Looking at the mountains I come to that realization pretty quickly. It is not about a routine for me, but more about experiences, and seeing God in life around me. When I am was in OKC working the grind, I mostly thought about what people are doing what and how I performed at work. I was caught up in what people did or petty work situations. When I am out traveling in the wild I think of God. I see the sky every day. I feel the dirt. I listen to the wind.
It is amazing what a smile and wave can do. This quote describes it best, “The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.” While we have been in Africa, we get a lot of stares, you are not sure if they are scared of you, criticizing you, or haven’t seen a white person before. Once you smile and wave, all barriers are broken down. They smile back and wave…most of the time, if they have never seen a white person before they might keep staring.
After getting worn out at the end of our time in Europe I started reading what I wrote before we took off for this adventure and in the initial stages. We have been pretty free, doing everything we have wanted and having an awesome time. On the other hand it has been tough at times, and going from one extreme of working all the time to the other extreme of traveling all the time is a hard switch. Travel can get monotonous just like everything in life can. A lot of what I wrote about was needing a break and experiencing something different. I think we have accomplished that. For us we had to do something different. We were worn down with the go go go of work. Doing something different all the time is kind of engrained in us. It is part of who we are.
We initially wrote about time. We didn’t want to work our whole lives and experience nothing, or not be pushed outside our comfort zone. I believe we have accomplished those two thoughts about time and comfort. We don’t have to do everything right now. We did what came natural and what we are passionate about. And now as time changes we are becoming passionate about the possibility of coming home, which is a good thing. Just like quitting our jobs to travel was something different when we had a comfortable life, doing something different when we are traveling all the time aligns with who we are as well.
We have learned a lot, and now we will go back home with a different mentality of helping others, hosting others, an appreciation for what we have, a gratitude no matter what the situation, and the idea that we can accomplish anything in life, and most importantly follow our dreams and live out our passions. This all comes from our experience of quitting our jobs and traveling full time. We don’t need to meet a certain travel time criteria. One year, two years, 50 countries…and so on. Like I said before, travel is personal, and if we start trying to meet criteria, we are back in the same place we left, with travel becoming like a demanding job.
The question still rings in my head. Why do we work? What is the end goal of working? I believe that the point of working is to follow your passions, whether that is through your work, or through your hobbies, or through other people. One of my big passions was traveling, and working to travel while we are young still makes sense.
We have spent 42 days on a road trip through the U.S, making long stops to visit friends and family. We spent 23 days in Brazil, 23 days in Portugal, 43 days in Spain, 14 days in Croatia, and 17 days in France. We have been in Africa for 37 days now, our fourth continent for our trip. We have changed our itenerary about 50 times. We have lived out of a backpack for 7 months. I have not had close to a worthy milkshake in 7 months. We miss a lot about home. We miss BBQ’ing on the back porch, walking our dog, having wine with our friends, walking over to our neighbors house unannounced, we miss our FOOD, we miss watching thunder games, we miss our families, and we miss our house. We also know that we have had once in a lifetime experiences, seen some beautiful parts of this world, met some incredible people along the way, and will cherish this time together forever. We have spent exactly half our yearly budget in 6 months. Talk about budgeting! I hope everyone reading, has enjoyed it so far, and more importantly I hope that through sharing our dreams and thoughts, we have inspired you to pursue yours, and to think of your dreams as possible rather than impossible.