Today marks 6 months since we left Minneapolis for our adventure abroad! Leaving home that day, we had no idea what the future would hold, and the surprises continue to come at every turn we take. It has been a journey of opening ourselves up to new and unexpected experiences, and allowing the flow of energy in our lives to take us forward.
After 6 months in 9 different countries, here are a few of our takeaways:
Taking the leap is totally worth it!
Had we not gone through the fear and discomfort of the unknown, we never would have left, and would have missed out on all of the amazing experiences we’ve had in the past few months. I am sure we would have been happy living our lives at home, but we didn’t want to look back and ask ourselves, “What if…?”
“Taking the leap” does NOT have to mean quitting your job to travel as we have done. It could be committing to anything in your life that you feel called to do. It’s scary, but just do it! If you don’t take the leap, what are you going to lose, give up, or miss out on in your life?
Travel: the true test to any relationship!
Bill Murray once said, “If you’ve found the person that you think is The One, take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world, and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And if when you come back to JFK, when you land in JFK, and you're still in love with that person, get married at the airport.”
Well, we’re already married, but until 2 weeks ago Taylor and I had not spent more than 3 hours away from each other at any given time in almost 6 months! That’s a lot of husband-wife time, and the miracle is that we still like each other! It’s encouraging to know that we still enjoy and value each other’s company.
We’ve naturally learned how to work better together as a team, know intuitively what the other needs, and trust each other for planning and moving forward. With that said however, it’s been easy to take our time together for granted. We’ve had to remind ourselves to “date” one another and purposefully carve out quality time together.
Travel is hard work!
If you’ve followed our journey over the past 6 months, I’m sure that some of you are jealous or envious of what we’ve been able to do and where the adventure’s taken us. From the outside I know that I would be.
As fun as our time has been however, you also need to know that it has been really challenging, exhausting, and a lot of work! I hesitate to say that in fear of sounding ungrateful for this opportunity to travel (I promise I’m not!), but I want you to know that the photos and stories you see, or the picture you imagine in your head, aren’t necessarily the complete truth, or whole picture. I wouldn’t trade our adventure for anything; the stress and discomfort has been completely worth it. Yet the lifestyle of a true extended traveler is laden with unknowns, unexpected, fears, stressors, discomforts, and frustrations. It’s a lesson that the most challenging things in life can also be the most rewarding.
Traveling the world is do-able and accessible!
I never thought that the world was that big and scary, but I did expect travel to be more difficult and expensive than I’ve discovered. Don’t get me wrong, it CAN BE difficult and, at times, expensive, but just not AS much as I imagined it would be. With our funds, we’ve been able to do more than I ever thought possible. As one of my mentors, Marie Forleo, says all the time, “Everything is figureoutable”. I’ve found this to be just the case. We’ve learned a lot of different ways to save money while traveling on a budget. If you have a will and desire, there is always a way to make it happen. You just need to ask different, maybe better questions, and look in unknown, unexpected places to get yourself to where you want to go.
Taylor and I left 6 months ago with $13,000 in our checking account. We’ve been able to travel and do more than we ever imagined, continue to pay off student loans and contribute to savings, all without going into any debt! If we can do it as an Apple employee and yoga instructor, you can do it too! You just need to create a plan and with discipline, follow through.
The world is full of incredibly nice people!
None of what we’ve been able to accomplish would have been possible without the kindness of friends, family, and complete strangers! The generosity of the people we’ve encountered has been absolutely amazing and incredibly humbling.
This past 6 months has taught me a huge lesson in how to give and receive, and how that changes form through different seasons of our lives. At home I was much more comfortable with giving. I loved inviting people into my home, cooking them food, making them tea, etc. While traveling we haven’t had a home, and I have had to learn how to give in different ways with different resources. I often felt that I could not give back what I received from another person, and have learned to accept that and be ok with it.
People love to give. I believe it’s what makes someone truly happy. I learned to let people give to me when I couldn’t repay them with the same gesture. They have instilled in me an infinite passion and desire to serve and give to others when I have the resources again someday. I know how much it means to be shown love when you are away from home.
New places offer new perspectives!
As you open yourself up to the world, your mind simultaneously opens to new thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. It’s been really exciting to see how we’ve grown and changed through the experiences that we have had in different places with different people. There is no one way to live, and it has been really interesting to see how different people live and conduct their lives. It’s helped us form a better idea of what we want and do NOT want for ourselves.
When you leave home, your comfort zone, your normal, you open your eyes more to what’s around you. You’re more attentive and alert. I’ve watched us try and do new things that were always possible at home, but we simply never did them because we fell into a habit of a certain way of life. It’s been refreshing to see the world and my life in a different light, grasping opportunities that I’d never said yes to before.
Say YES to new opportunities and get curious about the unknown!
Most of our favorite and most memorable experiences have been because of our willingness to be vulnerable and put ourselves in uncomfortable situations. I cannot tell you how many times we’ve been offered an opportunity, NOT wanted to go and take advantage of it because it feels very uncomfortable and/or unnecessary, but have gone and done it anyway and LOVED it.
We’ve been reminded that travel is LESS about where you are in the world, and more about the PEOPLE you share EXPERIENCES with. It’s rarely comfortable or ideal at first, but putting in the extra effort to put yourself out there in the world, is always worth it because of the invaluable relationships and memories you share together. That’s what life’s all about after all.
Go with the flow!
I like having a plan and knowing the plan; I think it’s good to have a plan, BUT you have got to learn to go with the flow! That’s where all the good stuff takes place, and where the magic really happens, in travel and in life. We’ve learned to make plans and prepare, but be open to completely throwing them out, changing them, and knowing that it’s ok.
There have been plenty of things that haven’t gone according to plan or been what we expected, but that doesn’t mean that this trip’s been a failure. It’s just been different than expected. Some experiences haven’t been what we intended, but others have been more amazing that we ever could have dreamed or hoped. When you’re living your life with purpose, and going with the flow that God intends for your life, things you never could have imagined fall into place in ways you never would have expected. It’s the gift of life, unknown, raw, and beautiful.
Life is a gift, uncertain, short, and precious!
In just 6 months we have had more heartbreak and turmoil than we wish to say. We’ve faced frightening physical and mental health concerns in our family, frustration and devastation in unanswered hopes and prayers, and the loss of 3 people we love to suicide.
I know this got real very quick, but I tell you this to remind you how much your life is a gift not to be taken for granted. There are no promises, and we need to live as best we can each day. If there’s something that you want or need to do, please do it. If you are in pain or feeling lost, please get help. I promise that with all things, this too shall pass, and better brighter days are ahead…
You are in charge of your destiny!
This one is last on the list but certainly NOT the least! I’m so excited about this lesson because it is SO TRUE: only YOU are in charge of your destiny. You may think that circumstance, or someone else is in charge, but really it is you. Anything that you have in life you have chosen it, consciously or unconsciously. And if you’re unhappy with something, you can consciously choose to change it at any time.
There are no have-to’s or should’s other than the ones you allow yourself to believe. Whatever it is you want in your life, it can be yours. Commit to finding clarity around what that is, and open yourself up to let it happen. As I mentioned above, having a plan is great, but you also have to be willing to get a little creative in your execution, go with the flow and allow it to open up new perspectives and opportunities. It’s easier (soul-sucking, but easier) to stay comfortable where you are, but let’s be honest, that’s not why you were created or who you’re designed to be. Get out of your comfort zone, make some changes, and take control of the power over your life that you most definitely have. The only thing holding you back is yourself.
Until next time,
Sarah + Taylor