ABOUT this adventure:
When I was a child, my parents took us on the road—full-time, and frugally. Words cannot express what a gift that was. So after attempting to adhere to a conventional life off the road, I'm so happy to be roaming free once again.
I love supporting global health and sustainable wellness, so I’m focused on being as mindful as possible while we venture. This includes tracking down plant-based and (due to really having celiac disease) gluten-free fuel.
Settling in a location for a month or more—in apartments, house sits, or on a certain someone's boat—I love sharing experiences and resources that help us sustainably thrive along the way. Just in case it helps someone else, too.
om | a mantra...used in contemplation...
venture | to go somewhere that is unknown...
They Thought It Was Crazy
When I was a child, family and friends thought it was crazy that my parents wanted to take us on the road full-time. They were convinced that we, the children, would be deprived of an education, friends, and of watching television (I’m still trying to comprehend those thoughts).
Yet, my parents figured out how to exchange what they had for what they wanted. They saved money, had a small sabbatical stipend, and they planned to work odd jobs on the road (as well as stop to complete some PhD classes).
We stored our possessions in the basement of our home, behind a locked door. The rest of the house was rented out.
My parents hooked a 16-foot travel trailer onto the big blue station wagon…and off we went, rolling down the road.
We saw every historical site possible. We formed diverse friendships with other children (which we never could have experienced in our hometown). And we learned that the giant box in the living room need not be so giant.
Over the years, my parents also tossed us into the wilderness for weeks at a time, and eventually overseas to be with family.
Taking us on the road was one of the wisest decisions my parents ever made. It was the best classroom ever. We thrived in a world of healthy excitement.
I remain forever grateful to have been exposed, at such a young age, to the world out there. I wanted much more of it, and for human growth, I can see why one needs much more of it.
Then There Was a Glitch
Humorously, as I grew up, my own travel gear and plans often felt chaotic. After extensive planning and packing, I'd arrive at a destination and continue to spend endless time sorting through my things, only to feel lost and unprepared for what was ahead.
I realized: I had acquired too much stuff (and it was cluttering up my ability to think and proceed smoothly).
Immigrant Grandparents to the Rescue
Thank goodness I’d witnessed my immigrant grandparents living simply, owning minimal personal belongings. Their example reminded me that it was okay to keep things simple and to be free of so much.
This was such a relief to reflect upon, because after living in a variety of homes, I could see that acquiring things—the homes/items we’re taught to idealize—never brought me lasting fulfillment. In fact, all I really wanted was to be free of those obligations, and to have my bag perpetually packed, ready to roam.
So I Slowly Simplified/Downsized
One of the first steps I took on this journey was to focus on eliminating junk mail. It seemed like a small step, yet it was ecologically important to me and something I could work on each day when I sorted through my mail. (It felt cathartic.)
Then I began to slowly sell/donate items from my closets, drawers, and cabinets that I didn’t absolutely love. The more I cleared out, the more I wanted to clear out.
Near the end of this simplification process, one of the most difficult challenges for me was clearing out my two storage units. I’d had them for more than fifteen years (and through several moves) because they were holding items that I just wasn’t sure what to do with. Each time I thought about these storage units, I felt a heavy weight on my shoulders and a little sick to my stomach. Emotionally, I truly couldn’t decide what to do with everything. Then, once I realized this situation had cost me more than $20,000 in storage unit fees (which I thought was a complete waste of money), I started to want to “just take action.” So I…
determined the number of days I thought I’d need to travel to, sort through, and distribute everything in my storage units
predetermined all service facilities I’d need each step of the way (storage unit staff, mobile shredder truck, auctioneer, non-profits, the dump, shippers, movers, etc.) and their hours of operation
reserved flights, rental vehicles (SUV/moving van), hotels, and assistance
stocked up on food and supplies each day before heading to the the storages units, so I could spend as much uninterrupted time there as possible
realized it would be wise to take beautiful photos of every item I loved (so I could look at the photos, if ever I missed them, in the future)
gifted beloved/family items to family (shipped one box, dropped off 5-10 large boxes)
auctioned off/sold all remaining items possible
gave away items to individuals who expressed love for them (but who couldn’t afford to buy them)
donated items that didn’t/couldn’t sell
took items to the dump/scheduled items for trash pickup (that were too worn/broken/unwanted)
Then I sold my home and auto.
I cannot begin to describe the sense of gratitude that all of this brought. Gratitude for no longer feeling that weight on my shoulders or that sick feeling in my belly. Gratitude for no longer having to worry about having (sorting, organizing, cleaning, protecting) all those “things.” Deep gratitude that others actually wanted my things. And incredible gratitude for those who could not afford to buy these things (like the inner city kids who were my movers), because they were so utterly happy to select and take home free items to their families. It still makes my heart welleth over. Nothing more could make me feel so good inside.
This experience has brought a sense of freedom that I have longed for…for as long as I can remember.
Financing a Travel Life
Thankfully, witnessing my parents finance full-time travel with a limited income showed, first hand, that this is possible.
A cautious child, my early habits (working, budgeting, saving) also reinforced that even with a small income, one could do nearly anything. And that later, when one has a more substantial income, it's meaningful to live beneath one's means.
For me, this means I enjoy:
researching extensively (to determine all possibilities one can choose)
planning carefully (to find the best rates)
respecting the math (to remain fiscally responsible)
For instance, I like to travel slow and lodge by the month (if a monthly discount is not listed, I always send a message, asking if a monthly discount is available). And monthly lodging in destinations like Stockholm, London, or Paris can actually be more affordable than the monthly expense of living in North America (one just has to add up all expenses to verify).
Such choices can make it easy to venture free and experience new cultures, which can bring so much meaning to life.
I spent my youth caring for children and elders, working as a summer camp counselor and in boutique retail. I later produced national events in the tech world and volunteered in public television, radio, and in community journalism. Yet, I’ve felt most grateful when able to assist others on a deeper level.
It all started while witnessing others experience emotional and physical struggles in work environments, just as clearly as what we witness in our personal environments. As one might imagine, most never discussed these struggles, and people visibly suffered.
Realizing that none of us are alone in this, even though we can feel alone, I was motivated to train as a Certified Trauma Specialist, Certified Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advocacy-Based Crisis Counselor, Certified Peer Counselor, Mind-Body Medicine Professional, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction/MBSR Teacher, Personal Wellness Facilitator and Health Coach, and earn a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition.
This training made it possible for me to volunteer with mental health practitioners and assist clients experiencing crisis, as well as volunteer with medical doctors and assist patients in need of making critical dietary and lifestyle changes.
These experiences touched me deeply and remind me of how rare it is to find someone who isn't in need of such support at some point in their lives. Everyone has their story, everyone has their trauma, and nothing is perfect regardless of where we're located.
Thanks to the skills taught throughout my trainings, I'm still in awe that when I take mindful action in a challenging moment, the calm it brings allows me to handle the next moment with more ease. And when I forget to do this? It's my reminder to practice (I'm reminded to practice a lot).
When Something Still Goes Wrong
It can be a difficult feeling, planning for a very special experience and instead suffering through something unforeseen. And, sometimes, I don’t process things mindfully enough to feel as good as I want to feel.
In these moments, I try to look for the meaningful lesson/s that the experience has taught me.
And if that doesn’t help me feel better, I have fun telling myself that the very thing that went wrong could have been some kind of universal intervention, ultimately protecting me from something far worse that could have crossed my path...or allowing something far more special to cross my path.
A realigning of the stars, if you will. Then I thank my lucky stars.