Long term travel has always preoccupied travel agents Dianne and Mike. This year they finally took the plunge, they sold everything, upped sticks in Canada leaving family and friends to travel slowly across the world. A life long dream of journeying to discover the world one country at a time through slow travel, and living like locals in a neighbourhood long enough to enjoy the real way of living, the culture and the people. Housesitting provides the greatest opportunity to live like locals, and to savour the local atmosphere and the way of life. Here they tell us about the final practical steps to preparing to leave, getting on the road to fulfil their wish to travel long term.
Deciding on long term travel completely changed the way we live
We’ve pulled the plug on everything that has to do with traditional everyday life in order to live a life of adventure and explore long term travel. It was a bit trickier than we anticipated.
We’ve thought about this for a long time, and it sounded simple enough, all you need is the desire to go. But we have reached a certain age where if everything goes sideways we can’t just move back to Mom’s basement.
So the process has proven to be a bit more complicated than we anticipated. The great vagabond Rolf Potts once said that the hardest part of travelling is leaving. We learned that there is more to “leaving” than simply closing the door behind you with your pack on your back and the wind in your hair. We spent a small fortune even before leaving. And we lost a lot of sleep. But piece by piece, it all came together.
Long term travel – the beginning goes a long way back
The process started long ago. It was a dream. For most people, it remains a dream. “Once the youngest moves out…” and before you know it, life has passed you by. Our youngest did move out last year, leaving the door wide open for us to do the same. Trouble is, we had stuff. Material possessions collected over the years cluttered what really mattered to us in life. I suppose it’s a choice. Material things, or experiences? Funny how you can get attached to things. A picture is worth a thousand words. Your possessions are worth a thousand words. But experiences are worth a thousand words too.
To achieve our dream of long term travel our plan was to sell, donate and toss absolutely everything, except for photos and a few mementoes. A couple of months before our departure date, we really started losing sleep over the logistics of all this. Liquidating our furniture and things would be a tedious and stressful process to be sure. And that’s the easy bit of this process. We would also need to buy health insurance, travel tickets, create a loose plan, find out about driver’s licenses, could we make money along the way somehow, what clothes would we bring…the list of things to think about seemed endless. And every night when the lights went out those unanswered questions came quickly and relentlessly as we tossed and turned.
Practical steps and preparing to leave
The process of selling everything is a pain. You really need to get into the mindset of disconnecting with your stuff. We had a yard sale, which is code for selling $1000 worth of things that you are more or less attached to for $200. Some things were sold online. I spent a lot of hours replying to countless emails before someone actually showed up with money to buy my guitars, our tv stand, our bed, our kitchen table…. Depending on how much you’re selling online, that’s a lot of time and a lot of idiots to deal with. It’s exhausting.
At some point, after countless sleepless nights, we came to the conclusion that maybe we shouldn’t sell everything. Perhaps we should look into storage for a year. Then if something unforeseen happens along the way (illness, accident) we’d at least have a few things to come back to.
We decided we would keep the car, thinking that we could sleep in it if we had to come back unexpectedly! It took a couple of weeks but we found a reasonably priced location (relatively speaking) to park it. There was just enough empty space around our vehicle to cram what we decided to keep. Once we found our “garage”, we slept a bit easier. But the nightly unanswered questions kept coming. The clock ticked faster as our leaving date approached.
As things worked out, following our move, we stayed with my mother for a couple of weeks and helped her move as well. Moving once is pain enough, moving twice within a month is something else. Piece by piece we got through the whole process. The day finally came. With plane tickets in hand and big grins on our faces we left for Europe.
Mixed reactions to us realising our dream of long term travel
Reactions from friends and family varied from hostility to jealousy to envy. Some wanted us to think this through – as if we hadn’t. We learned that leaving everything for a life of adventure is outside some peoples’ capability to comprehend. Others thought we were brave (or stupid?). Some wondered how we could find the time to put our lives on hold. For us, it’s nothing to do with being brave or putting anything on hold. It’s the course we want our lives to take we have always wanted to explore new countries, new horizons and long term travel seems the best way to do this. We are fortunate that as a couple, we both want this. We’ll have stories to share with each other for years.
We’ve all had to sit through baby pictures. The first few are cute. Then it’s tedious. The same goes with travel stories. Your friends will politely listen to one or two, but they really don’t care beyond that. Traveling with a partner, you’ll always have someone listening when you recall that time in Nepal…
The two biggest costs while travelling are food and shelter. We joined up with HousesitMatch.com a website that helps members match to suitable partners, house sitters find suitable housesits for their experience and homeowners with pets find the house sitters who can help them. It’s one way to minimize the cost of shelter and accommodation while you travel, and you get to live like a local in a real neighbourhood and real homes. I’m happy to report that I am writing this during our very first house sitting assignment in Oxfordshire, UK. As far as that goes, we really scored. We are looking after Hudson the dog, K2 the cat, and a half dozen chickens. Nice house. Great pets. The area is beautiful and the owners even set us up with a car!
We are now closer to the finish line in life than the starting point. We slaved at work all our lives. We’ve raised children who are now adults. The stars have lined up and we are taking the leap to pursue this dream while we can. It’s now or never and it’s all quite exciting. We are looking forward to enriching our souls and experiencing things we have only read and dreamed about. Experiences we didn’t even know were out there.
We’re only limited by our funds and how wisely we spend. We aren’t rich. We have some savings and that’s what we are spending. But we don’t need to sleep at the Ritz every night. In fact to stretch our budget, we’re considering buying a small motor home so we can have a place to sleep and cook our own meals.
The open road will be ours.
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