This is our blog. I can finally post about what’s going on! Stick with me, it’s a good story:
Back in January, my husband Matt and I had been thinking that it’d be a fun thing to go on a trip to Thailand to celebrate the massive debt that we hoped to pay off in late 2015. We had started on it shortly after getting married and knew that it would take almost a year and a half to slay it if we lived on one income. Having that not hanging over our heads any longer was a huge goal for us. It was around this time that Matt read The 4 Hour Work Week.
Time out: If you’ve read this book, or even heard about it, you probably have a lot of opinions about what Timothy Ferriss says. He’s a fascinating personality, and both of us have our opinions on his motivations and goals; some good, some slightly critical. Nonetheless, it’s a great read, it gets you talking, and it gets you thinking. Even if that thought is, “I have no desire to do anything this guy says”.
The 4 Hour Work Week got Matt thinking about the concept of working remotely. He’s in such a unique situation, even within the realm of IT, where he has never met his boss in person (he was hired over the phone) and he works remotely four days a week. He heads over to his friend and mentor’s house once a week to get some face time, to collaborate and to learn. As an extrovert, that is crucial for him. But because of this setup he’s in, he started asking: why just 2 weeks in Thailand? Why not 2 months while working remotely in Thailand? Why not a year? Why just stop at Thailand? What if we just moved our lives overseas for a while? He told me: “Elizabeth – you were thinking you would like to try to be a stay-at-home mom some day – why don’t you just quit your job a year early and travel first?” Initially it sounded fun – in theory – but as he started using his engineer brain to figure us how to get from point A to point B (and I was still stuck at Point A, daydreaming) I started panicking. The implications on my career and resume, our friends, our family, and future plans (kids, house, that kind of stuff) made me think this all sounded extraordinarily foolish. We set the discussion aside until April so we could both think about this more. Okay – it was really just to give me more time to think through it. Matt was already ready to go!
After giving it a lot of thought, prayer, and asking myself what I would do about work, kids, house, savings, and everything else my brain automatically runs to when I am tempted to make decisions rashly, I talked to a few friends about it. One friend Raelyn brought up the idea of using this time to take a sabbatical from work and figure out what comes next. This didn’t have to be a stereotypical “find yourself” journey. It could be a chance to step back after a sometimes challenging couple years at work, after almost 10 years in the industry, to think about what fuels me, what drains me, and taking time to journal, trip plan, volunteer and meet people along the way. I’m all for work. I think that one of the things we were designed to do was work. I think it can be meaningful but you know what? Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s monotonous. That’s okay. It’s good to just work and earn money for your family or to do a noble thing like support your children or pay off debt even when the job isn’t sexy. But we are in a really fortunate spot of being in a healthy place financially after a lot of work to get there; we own both our cars, we don’t own a house, we don’t have kids, our parents are still healthy, and Matt can work anywhere. The chance of pressing pause on a career that I have thought I belonged in since I was about 14 was terrifying but also kind of exciting. I’m good at IT. I can always continue to do it. There’s also nothing shameful about stepping back to raise a family, whether it’s full time or also working in a part time job to have a place to interact with adults and get some extra cash. But this gives me a chance to figure out what’s next.
So in April, we decided to go for it. “More than a week, less than a year”. That was our decision. We have friends in Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe and Mexico. Raelyn had suggested alternative methods of living besides just AirBnB or hostels: couchsurfing, house sitting, WWOOFing. Not sure about that last one with some of the implications, but the whole exercise got me thinking outside the box of “travel is always expensive”. It doesn’t have to be. Traveling more slowly, cooking for ourselves and not treating this like one long vacation would help us save money as well as help us to meet locals, see life from their perspective and find a local church and other groups to become a part of. Our combined skills give us a lot of opportunities for local interest meetups. If we were to just float around the world undetected and unnoticed, it would be a very self-aggrandizing trip (and I’m sure yield some lovely photos) but it’d have a flat dimension compared to the potential of making new friends and being better off for it. We’ve been planning a lot since April. There’s a lot to do when you leave for an undetermined amount of time: vaccines, what to do with our stuff, our mail, our insurance, figuring out the best way to use a cell phone overseas, preparing to file taxes, things like that. But we’re almost there, and on January 12th we leave for Japan as our first stop. Besides friends we want to see, an itinerary in Japan through the end of January and a commitment to a couple that we will arrive on their farm on the north island of New Zealand in May to pet and house sit for them for 6 weeks, we are free. Matt just needs a wi-fi connection, and I *would like* a kitchen, but we’ll be just fine. I’m hoping to find other house sitting opportunities to fill our time, although that is less popular in Asia than it is on other continents. Thankfully Southeast Asia is a cheap place! We have a list of about 50 countries we’d like to see, and we definitely won’t make it to all of them, but the benefit of being so flexible is that we’re hoping it takes us to some exciting places.
Okay – so here the gist of it. You NEED TO SUBSCRIBE to our emailing list. I (Elizabeth) will be suspending my Facebook account once we leave, and Matt rarely checks or posts on his. Once you subscribe to our emailing list, every time I post you’ll get an email.
Our site also supports RSS feeds but I’ll be honest, most of my friends and family don’t use that. This makes it easier, unless you don’t have an email account, and then I can’t help you much beyond the occasional postcard.
So that’s it! We like you guys a lot. This blog will be the place to find out how we’re doing, make sure we’re still alive, and see (hopefully) super cool pictures of all the things we’re experiencing and people we’re meeting.
Til later, friends.
Elizabeth and Matt
Categories: United States