November 1, 2013 marked our one-year travelversary. We celebrated by taking a 12-hour bus ride across Turkey.
In the year since selling our house and leaving our hometown of Portland, Oregon we have traveled halfway around the world and have visited some amazing places.
After leaving Portland a year ago we visited family in the states of Idaho, Utah, and New Mexico before flying to Paris, France for a month. After Paris we traveled to South of France, Spain, Morocco, Ireland, England, The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, and we are currently in Turkey.
We have tried to travel slowly to stay on our budget of $100 USD a day average. Western Europe is expensive and most budget travelers avoid it. Our plan was to try it out, and if we could not stay on budget, we would leave for someplace cheaper. But we have found that slow travel allows us to stay on budget, except for Italy. Italy is not a good place to visit if you are on a budget! We have also chosen to stay in most of the touristy locations in the off-season, which is much cheaper.
Not Always Fun
Although our list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites that we have visited is impressive and we have visited places we have always dreamt of seeing, it hasn’t always been fun. The truth to long-term travel is that it can get rather boring at times.
There are just so many museums, churches, and historical sites you can visit before it all starts to look the same. On many days our big activity is to just go to the store to get groceries. In most places we don’t have friends or family and are stuck with each other 24/7. Luckily, we all get along pretty well and we have all found ways to entertain ourselves. But still, our 9-year old daughter, Sydney, really misses her friends and gets really lonely at times and wishes she had friends her own age to play with. We try to take her to playgrounds where she can play with kids, but it doesn’t always work out the way we had hoped.
We are traveling as tourists, but try to live like locals. Most of the places we have visited don’t speak English and we have struggled with the local languages. Just as we are starting to understand some of the words after a month long stay, we move to a new country with a new language and start all over again. The language barrier has been really hard on Sydney, as some kids will refuse to play with her at the playgrounds because she does not speak the local language.
Homeschooling on the Road
After a year of homeschooling Sydney on the road we finally feel we are now in the groove. It started off a little rocky, but it now works pretty well and Sydney absorbs everything like a sponge. Kerri and I both have a new appreciation for teachers and feel they should be paid a lot more. We have no desire to continue homeschooling once we stop traveling, and Sydney really wants to go back to attending school with other kids. She has attended schools in France, Czech Republic, and Bulgaria, but it was only for a day and was more of a novelty.
Change In Attitude
Before leaving to travel we had this secret desire to keep traveling forever. We estimated that our travel funds would last 2 years and after that we would need to stop traveling to earn more money. And if we could find a way to become location independent and to be able to earn money to support our travel habit, all the better.
But after a year on the road our desires have changed. We no longer want to travel forever. We miss having a home and being part of a community. We miss our daughter having friends and having stability. When the travel funds run dry we want to resettle. We need a permanent home.
We have also come to the conclusion that we need to change our previous lifestyle. Before leaving we were so busy with work, school, classes, and other activities that we had no time to have a social life. We now know that we need friends and to be part of a community.
Long-term travel also makes you appreciate the minimalist lifestyle. You truly learn how little you need. Happiness does not come from what you own, but from what you get out of life. Even though we thought we were minimalists in Portland with our small house, we have promised ourselves that we can do better. Having to sell everything we own showed us how much useless crap we had. We don’t need a large house, a brand new car, or a closet full of clothes we don’t wear. Happiness comes from within.
We still have another year of travel and the other half of the world to explore. It will be interesting to see what our hopes and dreams will be after another year of full-time travel.