Have you ever seen the movie Groundhog Day? Remember how Bill Murray's character kept reliving the same day over, and over and over? Well that's how we felt after working in the corporate world for seven years. Since we were living in Colorado at the time we took many trips to the mountains to ski or hike but we knew that deep down we wanted to explore the greater reaches of our world and meet people from cultures vastly different than ours. We were also quickly approaching the age at which most people are making significant life decisions-like settling down and starting a family. To the dismay of our parents our internal clocks were ticking a different tune-one that chimed of distant lands, exotic food and strange faces. We knew we had to find a way to make our dream a reality and it was time to get on with it.
Like most kids, we came out of college with debt. At 22 you don't worry about "getting ahead" but at 27 or so you just want to be free and clear of all of it. There had to be a way to live simply and still have fun. The first step to gain financial independence was to work our butts off. What? Did I just say work?? Here we are discussing the pitfalls of working 40 hours a week and now I'm telling you we doubled that some weeks?!! Yes, it is true, but like any goal we knew that our hard work would pay off so we took those extra temp jobs and happily wrote out a larger payment to our car and student loans every month. Achieving our goal also required discipline during those times when "one more round" seemed like such a good idea while out with our friends at the bar. We also realized that we had to stop renting and buy a place of our own if we wanted our money to work for us. After months of searching and coming home in tears due to the exorbitant home prices we finally found the perfect house located in the Highlands neighborhood. The house had been on the market for over 5 months, so we took the seller's agents recommendation and threw out a low offer. Assuming our offer wouldn't be accepted we didn't give it too much thought. Surprisingly, they accepted and we were soon the owners of a 1908 bungalow in desperate need of a facelift. Fast forward to October 2004-after two and a half years of continual trips to home improvements stores, declining offers of dinners with our friends and weekends full of all-day projects we completed the major renovations and listed it for sale in October 2004. It took three weeks for the house to receive multiple offers and for us to have a mini-freakout due to the disbelief that the plan was really falling into place.
After handing the house keys over we found ourselves homeless by December 2004. Craig's company allowed him to work remotely through the end of the year so he headed back to Iowa with our two pups in tow. Meanwhile, Tina stayed an additional month in Denver to close up business with her employer. In early January we reunited and the planning began in earnest. What started as a three month trip quickly turned into six, then nine and we finally returned home two days short of one year on the road. Obviously during the planning phase we included countries which had always piqued our interest and some that weren't on our radar at all until we had done some reading. Along the way some countries were cut (Netherlands & France) due to extreme costs and others were extended (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) because our dollar went much further. Of course there we many countries which didn't make the first round of travels, but after one year we were ready for the conveniences of home and to see our family, friends and two furry kids.
This was a hard pill to swallow. You can read more about our initial thoughts here.
It's been some time since we've returned and we're back in the grind. Not a day goes by that we don't think of our trip and recount the good, bad and ugly moments. We know that this won't be our only long-term trip and we're working hard to make another dream come true. On our short list we hope to make a six month trip around Central and South America happen within the next few years. Hey-no one is getting any younger right?!!
Hopefully we've convinced you that if we can make this a reality surely you can as well. It takes lots of sacrifice, dedication and belief in yourself, but anything is possible if you want it bad enough. We wish you all the best! Now get out there and learn something about yourself and the world around you. Safe travels!