July 4th is recognized as the day America declared its Independence. The date represents freedom, which can be described as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In 1776, the founding fathers of America gathered to sign a document that would change the course of all human lives forever. The likes of Franklin, Jefferson and Hancock were part of a group who stood up to declare freedom from British rule. Fast forward 240 years, on Independence Day 2016. We made a pact that would alter the paths of our very own lives forever. In approximately one year we would give up our current lives, including comfortable jobs, routines, habits, friends and family in exchange for our own idea of freedom; a journey around the world.
We both are somewhat up to date on our vaccinations, however the travel bug is something that there is no vaccine for. There are no remedies to relieve the longing feeling for travel. There are no cures for the urge to explore. There is nothing available to alleviate the passion to meet new people with different outlooks on life. You have a burning desire to experience new and wildly contrasting cultures from that of your own. Once the travel bug is in you, much like a scar or a birthmark, it is there to stay.
The travel bug hit us after a 2013 trip to Amsterdam. Our minds were opened to how big the world really was, and how little of it we had been exposed to up until that point. That led to exploring the landscapes and scenery of Utah’s national parks. Not long after that, hiking and enjoying the outdoors of Oahu in Hawaii. In the fall of 2015, island hopping and soaking in the sensory overload that is Thailand. Finally, our most recent trip brought us to Scandinavia. The relaxing charm of Copenhagen was sublime. The otherworldly scenes of Iceland were awe inspiring. The nature and beauty that Norway had to offer just made our thirst quench for more.
All of our recent travels had a couple of things in common. First, all of these excursions were limited to a maximum of 15 days, which was the most our employers would allow us to run off for. Second, we would meet new and interesting people on each of our adventures. We would listen to their stories, wishing we could somehow live the way they were. Whether it was the stories of traveling for the past 3 months through South East Asia. Or the group of friends who had been traveling the world for over a year, working along the way and not even able to recall the last time they saw “home.” It seemed for every one of us “vacationers”, there were 9 or 10 “travelers.” There is a distinct difference. We would be envious that they could just give up a job, and not be concerned about attaining a new job once the party ended. This was a dream, a fantasy for us. Something out of the realm of possibility. We would need to hit the lottery in order to live this life. After the 15 days were up, it was back to reality. All we could do was think about the next 15 day excursion 4-6 months down the line. That was the only way to travel for us.
Change is scary, and most people will go out of their way to avoid upsetting the apple cart. Change, despite how intimidating it can be, helps us grow. Change takes us out of our comfort zone and challenges us to adapt. Change allows us to experience new things. Change gives us new perspectives. Change opens and expands our minds. Closing in on the age of 30, we both felt we were ready for a change. Our jobs were not really careers, and they were no longer challenging to us. We both were ready for something new, but weren’t sure what. What we were both sure of was one thing, we needed new jobs.
Then after our Scandinavia trip, something changed. We were sick of being the in and out travelers. We yearned to be able to book a trip with a one way ticket, where returning was whenever we felt like it (or more realistically, when we ran out of money). We no longer wanted to vacation. We wanted to travel and do it right. One in Colorado, and the other in New York we both were independently researching RTW trips, unbeknownst to each other. Being on the same wavelength is something that we are used to, it’s why we’ve been best friends for 26 years, and why we travel so well together. A few weeks later on the 4th of July we set up a video chat, as we often do to catch up on things and discuss future travel plans. Only this time, something seemed to click with us. We both knew we wanted new jobs, and we both had this dream to travel the world for an extended time. This is where the light bulb went off.
We are both single, young men turning 30, with no one depending on us at the moment. We both have this dream to travel the world. We both are looking for a change in our lives. We both plan on meeting the woman of our dreams someday and going down the path of marriage and a family. If this is not the best time for us to embark on this adventure, then when is precisely? If we are looking to leave our jobs, why not take this opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream? There will always be another job. Will there ever be such a golden opportunity? And who knows, perhaps we find new careers or different paths along our journey. No one knows what the future holds.
During our video chat, we figured that if we spent the next 12 months cutting expenses, selling anything we could get a buck for, researching, planning and working towards this goal, and saving as much money as possible, that it was absolutely attainable. We will need to sacrifice for one year, to live a dream for a year. We would be able to save a decent amount over the next 12 months and we both had modest amounts already saved. We set a goal to last at least one year on the road. This will mean working along the way, which we will spend the next year researching and preparing for.
So, on Independence Day in 2016, we made a pact that we are doing this. And we will not look back. We understand that some of our closest friends and family will think we are nuts. Some will think we are throwing our lives and our futures away. Others will say we are acting irresponsibly, or that we should be settling down, starting a family and buying a house. We know that they will not all understand, and even though we wish they all would, we don’t expect them all to. This isn’t for everyone, and we understand that. But, it is for us. We have declared our freedom.