Why we’re going on our first long-term travel adventure
And why we’re leaving our ‘regular’ lives behind.
I know that loads of people dream of packing in their ‘real’ lives and taking to the road for however long the road will accommodate them. That was us for a long time too. The world has been calling us for a while now, and finally – for a while at least – we’re answering the call.
We’re just about finishing up work, in the process of moving out of our apartment (our first home together), and mid-August will mark the beginning of an adventure that we’ve talked about for a long time. Or maybe – if you count the cleaning up of our ‘real’ lives as part of the adventure – maybe it’s already begun.
I mean, there are really loads of reasons why we’re doing this, but I’ll try my very best to stick to the interesting ones.
Because the world is a big and beautiful place
And there is a lot of it to see. Of course, we won’t be seeing all of it on this trip – not even close. What we are doing is creating an opportunity for ourselves to see a chunk of it, and more importantly, to see it in a way that feels like the right way for us to see it. Whatever that means.
Sometimes we get so caught up in visiting all of the things that our Lonely Planet guidebook or Tripadvisor article suggests, that it all flashes by in a bit of a blur. The idea for us now is that we can take things a bit slower if we want to, and really drink in a destination and figure out what it is all about. And where we might or might not fit into that. I think that’s really exciting. And who knows, maybe we’ll figure out that we like the breakneck speed of cramming everything into a 10-day holiday, and we can do things that way. The point is that we give ourselves the flexibility and breathing space that we need to experience it a way that we want to, rather than the way we feel we have to.
Because we’ve always had itchy feet
We’ve always wanted to see the world, and have always made a point of getting out there and doing so. Whether it’s a day out in the car exploring the North Coast of Ireland, a week travelling down The Wild Atlantic Way, a long weekend in Prague or a very special trip to Iceland, we lap up travelling, exploring and adventuring whenever and however we can. But there have always been limits on how or when we can or can’t do that. Getting time off work, balancing holiday money with paying rent and bills, or begrudging spending three days out of a nine-day trip actually in transit – we’ve recently felt really restricted in how long, how often and just how we travel. I guess this is one way of eliminating that problem. A bit.
“If it’s still in your mind, it is worth taking the risk.” – Paulo Coelho
For a taste of freedom
We want to know what it feels like to be free from the constraints of going to work every day and paying the same bills every month. We want to have more time for ourselves; time that belongs to us, rather than to somebody else, or an organisation who is paying us for our time. Our time is very limited, and while we have it, we want to be able to choose what is best for us to invest it in.
We also want to see what it’s like outside of the typical Western ‘get up – go to work – come home – try to sort your life out – go to bed – get up – go to work’ cycle… Not that there’s anything wrong with living your life that way, but it’s not the only way to live your life, and we want to get to know another way of living. Neither of our jobs were very typical, nor were they very nine-to-five, and we found that we had to invest an awful lot of our time and energy into them. That’s fine – it was our choice to get into that field of work, and that’s just the kind of people that we are, but we don’t want to always be defined by what we do for a living. Chances are we will probably come back to that same way of living, sooner or later. After all, we need to make some sort of a wage to try to fit in seeing the rest of the world… But at least that won’t be all that we have ever known as adults.
If not now, when?
It just feels like this is the right time for us to go off and do a bit of adventuring on our own terms. We got married more or less a year ago. We have no kids and no mortgage. We might do that one day, but neither of us are in a hurry to do so. We have a little bit of money saved up. Our jobs weren’t at risk, but for both of us, it felt like a good time to take a step back from our professional roles. We both loved our jobs – it’s not like we felt that we needed to escape the evil corporate world that we were trapped in. We weren’t. But even when you love your job, it’s still important to find a somewhat healthy work/life balance.
And anyway, you will always find an excuse not to do something if you’re looking for one. We just stopped looking.
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough” – Mae West
To learn and grow, as people and as creative individuals
It’s not very often you take the time to actively invest in yourself; to learn and grow and develop. Of course, this happens through the things that we experience every day, and we often grow by reflecting on the big and small things that happen to us. But I guess we want to be a bit more purposeful about learning a bit more about ourselves, learning about places and people and things, widening and satisfying our curiosities, and being purposeful in our own growth.
We want to learn and grow as individuals, as a couple, and in creative aspects. Grainne is a fantastic artist but doesn’t often find as much time as she’d like to for drawing and painting. I love reading and writing, but seriously, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. This is something we really want to invest in – we want to get better at these things and re-discover, or re-emphasise why we love them so much.
Because taking a risk pays off
No success story ever started with ‘I just turned up to work every day and then this amazing thing happened that turned my life upside down.’ Not unless it involves a lottery win, anyway. And we’ve exhausted that avenue…
And it’s not that our lives need turning upside down; far from it. We are really lucky to live happy, fulfilling lives. But we are ambitious and curious and open-minded, and we want to make the most of that. It would have been easy to stay at jobs that we love, in a home that we love, surrounded by the people that we love. But we’ve always wanted to do this travelling thing, and despite all of the risks involved, we really feel like they will be worth it in some way or another. We hope so, anyway…
“And then there is the most dangerous risk of all — the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” – Randy Komisar
Sometimes life puts things into perspective
We don’t have all the time in the world to sit around and plan and hope and dream about the things that we want to do. Maybe we will live long, fulfilling lives, but that isn’t a given, and we shouldn’t treat it like it is. We are lucky to be relatively young and relatively healthy, and have been reminded of the fragility of life. It’s not something that we should be taking for granted, but it’s so easy to do so when you’re caught up in the day-to-day of everyday life.
Sometimes things happen that make you question the things that you believe in. To examine the assumptions you’ve always made, and wonder about what it is that you really want out of your life. When your world is turned upside down, it’s really up to you how you choose to move forward in that world and what that looks like. Of course, that’s not always as easy as I’m making it sound, and your world will never look quite the same again, but there is opportunity as well as yearning in that. Shape your world to suit you, and don’t let your dreams be dreams.
Because it’s important to be kind to yourself
Sometimes we get into an awful habit of being really hard on ourselves; of never being good enough, or always prioritising things that aren’t necessarily for us. I’m as guilty as anyone, but I’m trying more and more to be kind and generous to myself. I don’t mean having that extra scoop of ice cream (although that too!); I mean taking a pause and appreciating what we have and being grateful for being in a place where you get to go out and make your dreams become a reality. It’s not every day you get to do that in such a magnificent way in which we are here, but self-care is as important as it ever has been (for all of us), and will continue to be so. So have the extra scoop, take some time to yourself, book the trip of a lifetime. We did.