What Have We Learned in a Full Year on the Road?

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A year ago today, we landed in Iceland on Chad’s 41st birthday and began this new phase of our life: full-time travel. One of the interesting parts of this experience is how it has impacted our perception of time. For most of the year, time has slowed way down for us, as we were having new experiences all the time (there is a lot of interesting psychology behind the perception of time). While not one of our stated goals, this was something we wanted, because our life at home working all the time and being busy-busy-busy every day made the weeks and months zoom by. But even with the perception of time moving slowly, it is still hard to believe a full year has passed.

It is safe to say that this has been our longest and best year ever. We love this life of travel. We’ve already decided to extend the initial three legs we had planned when we left, moving the timeframe from “13 months” to “indefinitely.” We’ve figured out our travel plans through the end of 2020 and currently have Airbnbs booked through a year from now. And we committed to a two-year extension with our wonderful renters (who I am so grateful for; having reliable renters we have grown to trust makes staying on the road so much easier).

So, after a full year of travel, what have we learned?

Lesson 1: We Can Do This

Even with all the planning I did upfront, we really didn’t know whether we would actually be able to make this work financially. But, we have. We’re actually better off financially now than when we started out a year ago. Although my business is growing more slowly than I’d like and we’re not always getting consistent work, it is more than enough to sustain our lifestyle, especially with additional passive income from two films now that The Experimental City has been released and we control more of the rights for The Pruitt-Igoe Myth. This is a welcome relief, especially as we’re starting production on a new movie, which always comes with added costs. We feel very grateful and lucky that we’ve been able to make our professional lives work while on the road to earn enough money to stay on the road.

Lesson 2: We Love This

The other big question mark when we left a year ago was would we really like this, traveling all the time for extended periods of time, missing family and friends. We suspected (strongly) that we’d love it, but we’re both close to our families and have close friends we were in the habit of seeing regularly, so we knew it would be hard.

And it is hard. We miss everyone a lot (especially our dog!). Our two month-long visits home were whirlwinds of trying to fit as much quality time in with people as we could. We’ve missed out on opportunities, such as Chad attending the an important screening of The Experimental City in Rotterdam. I’m very sad that I’ll miss my cousin’s wedding this summer. And, I’m not as close to my honorary nieces and nephew as I’ve been in the past, and they are growing up so fast.

But, we really do love this lifestyle. We have seen and done amazing things over this past year, but we also just love our general day-to-day life together on the road. We’re constantly learning and strategizing and understanding more about the world. We love it so much that the tradeoffs are worth it. And, we’re adapting our schedule to allow for a little more time at home in 2020, planning for two-month trips back rather than the one-month trips we’d initially built in.

Lesson 3: Visioning and Goal-Setting Actually Work

We set out a year ago with three goals in mind: 1) less stress, 2) more time together, 3) see more of the world. By using those three goals as our guiding principles in decision-making over the past year, we have certainly achieved them. Though I still have anxiety sometimes, it is far (FAR!) less than I experienced on a daily basis in our old life. Chad and I are now together pretty much 24/7, whether we’re sitting side-by-side on our laptops as we’re doing right this second, or in adjacent rooms each working away, or going on walks and sightseeing and eating all of our meals together. We’ve never been closer as a couple and I wouldn’t trade all this time together for anything. Of course, achieving the third goal is inevitable if you travel full-time and we’re balancing it with the “anywhere not everywhere” mindset. But we have visited a lifetime’s worth of places in just these last 12 months, and there are many more to come.

If you are reading this and wondering how you can make the shift to a similar lifestyle, whether it is more travel or full-time travel, my best advice is set goals and create a vision board (every single thing on my last vision board came true in 2018 and my 2019 vision board is already working). And feel free to reach out to me. I’d be delighted to help someone else achieve this dream of being able to travel as much as you want. It’s a pretty great life.

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