This post is going to serve a couple purposes.  I want to update everyone on our travel “situation” (especially those who don’t follow me on Twitter or on Facebook).  And I also want to shed light on a tough crossroads that Courtney and I have found ourselves.

For anyone who doesn’t know, we are currently back home in Indiana. We’ve been home for a couple months now.  Undoubtedly, this yields two questions…

  1. Why did you decide to come home?
  2. When/where are you going to go next?

Unfortunately, neither of these questions have a single sentence answer!  (I know, right)

Why we decided to come home…

From the beginning, we had designed our initial overseas adventure to last a year.  In the end, we cut it a couple months short of that when we chose to leave Thailand early and fly back to Indiana.

Our decision to come home was prompted by two factors:

  1. A private issue in our family that, while it didn’t require that we come home, encouraged it.
  2. The fact that we were incredibly burnt out.

It would be convenient to say that #1 played the largest role…  that it was out of our control.  But that’s not the case.  The reality was that we were burnt out and looking for the first justification we could.

Our international travel has been divided up into three distinctly different experiences.  When we first arrived in Australia, we had no clue what we were doing and were frequently changing locations.  We were running on pure adrenaline, having just set forth on something we had previous thought to be impossible.  There was stress, but everything was new and interesting and compelling.

As the weeks wore by, we started to encounter our first real troublesome set of problems with visas and finding jobs.  In other words, it only took a couple weeks for our new fairy tale to turn back into real life…  it happened quickly.  Admittedly, we lost some of the “living in the moment” attitude in our quest to make the lifestyle more than a month long vacation.

As many of you know, our search led us to New Zealand where Courtney landed a teaching gig.  This entered us into the second clear phase of our travel.  We spent right around 6 months living in one location in downtown Auckland.  Courtney worked the 9-5, as I played stay-at-home-dad and poured nap time and evenings into this blog.

This was our true first taste of living abroad.  Really living.  We were spending less than we earned (while stationary) and if we had wanted, we could have stayed indefinitely (Courtney was offered to stay another two years at the school).  It felt good to know that we had “accomplished” a big part of our goal, but it was far a fairy tale.

After saving a little bit more money, we then entered into the third phase.  We spent two weeks driving the South Island of New Zealand.  To be honest, this was my absolute favorite part of the entire experience (I think Courtney’s too).  We had spent 6 months rather stationary and were ready for another adventure.

But we didn’t stop there. Looking back I don’t regret our decision to head to Thailand.  Part of me may have chosen to either stay in NZ or come back home for a pit stop if I had to make it again.  But missing out on Thailand would have meant missing out on a lot of new experiences and growth, not to mention missing out on meeting several amazing people.

For starters, we found out that Thailand really wasn’t for us.  We didn’t dislike our experience and it seems like an amazing fit for a decent portion of people.  It just didn’t speak to us.  We didn’t connect on a deep level.

To be honest, the cards were stacked against Thailand. We were on more limited funds by this point.  We had just spent two weeks camping and driving.  We had unreasonable expectations on what it would be like (and how cheap it would be).  On top of that, we were experiencing a new “phase” with Milligan.

When we started traveling, Milligan was just 13 months old.  She could walk, but wasn’t interested in that form of transportation for too long.  When it was time to nap… she napped, whether that was in a hostel, a backpack, or a bus.  Most importantly, she hadn’t yet realized that screaming in a foreign place, surrounded by strangers, got her a boatload of attention very quickly.

Towards the end of our stay in the apartment in New Zealand things were different.  She wanted to walk everywhere.  She only liked her backpack about 20% of the time.  If there were cool things going on, she’d want to be up and exploring… not napping (missed naps are never a good thing).  Oh, and she quickly realized that screaming on a completely packed, completely silent rail train in the middle of Bangkok got everyone’s attention… quickly.

It wasn’t all bad, though. Most of the time in Thailand was actually spent in a private, pool-side Bungalow, across from another location independent family.  Milligan quickly made friends with the all female staff and genuinely had a blast.  But the on/off nature of her journey into the “terrible twos” weighed on Courtney and me.

Looking back, I don’t think that Milligan was the problem.  I think that self-generated stress on my part clouded my perception of what was going on.  Under stress, I only concentrated on her tantrums and not the 80% of the time she was smiling, running around, and saying Thai phrases like “thank you” and “bye-bye”.

I think my short comings were in my failure to be fully present, because of the stress of this blog (specifically monetizing all my hard work) and the stress of ongoing travel.  I think very little of it had to do with the environment or our schedule, both of which found decent grooves.

Whatever the cause, we were presented with an opening to come home… and we took it.  It wasn’t a snap decision.  We thought out the pros/cons and just decided there was nothing wrong with cutting the trip short a few months.  We did incur extra cost, but were able to mitigate a lot of that by finding a deal on airfare.

We ended up dipping into our emergency fund to make it home (on the flights), but it was a decision that we deemed worth it.

Since coming back to Indiana…

After two pit stops (including a weird one in Hong Kong) we finally landed in Chicago a full day after we boarded the plane in Ko Phi Phi, Thailand.  As we went through customs, I handed our passports to the guy working the incoming arrivals section.  He scanned all three passports, checked our faces against our photos and then looked up at me and said…

“Welcome home.”

We still had a short flight from Chicago to Indianapolis, but I actually teared up after hearing those words.  It may be hard to understand the situation and I fully realize there are thousands of people whom spend much more away on much more important causes (military, international volunteers, etc…).

At the time we were under plenty of stress, had minimal sleep on 24 hours worth of flights, and knew our families were waiting for us after our 35 minute flight to Indy.  I just felt… relieved.

After a couple weeks of staying with family, Courtney and I reevaluated what we wanted to do.  We knew we needed a break, but weren’t about to sign a year lease somewhere.  A year just seemed way too long to commit to anywhere on the planet.

Ultimately, we found a three bedroom house for rent and negotiated no deposit and only a 6-month lease.  We knew this would give me time to finishing launching a product that had been in the works for months and months and would let us weigh some of our future options.

Well, we’ve been here going on 2.5 out of 6 months now. As you know, I finally did finish and launch Unautomate Your Finances (thank you again!).  Courtney decided to take a two-month maternity opening at a local school (actually one we both attended in elementary) and for the first time in her life Milligan is going to daycare with a local homeschooling family.

So that’s the update. It’s not as sexy as some of the past, but we are already feeling recharged.  It’s awesome to have the support of our family and I know they enjoy having Milligan around.  I’ve been able to make some big strides with turning this blog and my writing into a full-time business.

Coming home was a fantastic decision.  That said, we are itching at what to do next.  We are at a crossroads.

What’s next…  where… when… how long…

We don’t know.  We don’t know where.  We don’t know when.  We don’t know for how long.

Well, we do know we have a little over 3 months left here at least.  Courtney will be finishing out her temporary teaching gig in 5 weeks and I’m diligently working on product number #2 (“Sell Your Crap” guide).  :-)

But in 3.5 months we have a really, really big decision.  One that has been weighing on us.

First, I firmly believe we could do anything. That’s a good feeling to have, but at the same time, not one that helps with the decision making process.  We’ve consider going to South America, RV’ing around the U.S., staying in Indiana for another year, and even staying permanently and having babies and houses (I know, right).

To be honest, there is no clear choice.  Both Courtney and I feel that it still isn’t the right time to plant our roots.  And even if it was, neither of us is fully comfortable with Indianapolis as the choice.

The only reason in the entire world we’d stay in Indiana is our family.  Problem is, that’s a big reason.  We are really blessed to have an overwhelming amount of support while we are here.  Not a weekend goes by where we aren’t visiting family in some fashion, sometimes 3 or 4 locations every weekend.  It’s something we really missed while traveling.

But is family, and only family, reason enough to stay in Indianapolis? It’s tough.  Every other day I waiver, but it doesn’t feel right.  At least not right now.

The longer we stay here, the more the area is drawing us to make it permanent.  We are accumulating more and more stuff, despite trying to keep things minimal.  Courtney is slowly being pulled to consider a more permanent position and I’m even having thoughts of real estate and property management again (part-time).  It’s like an unidentifiable life force that gets stronger and stronger each week we stay.

But we just spent the last 2 years fighting against a very similar life force that was taking us down a path we didn’t necessarily want.  In fact, the core of this blog… the core of our philosophy and journey has been not to allow those life forces to pull us in a direction we didn’t want to go.

As it stands, neither Courtney or I want to stay in Indianapolis longer than another year.  We’ve decided that.  But staying another school year (until next summer) has a lot of benefits.  Courtney could get a full-time position and with the projected success of my business/writing income over the next 3-6 months, we could likely attack a BIG portion of our student loans.

At the very least we could once again buckle down and save tens of thousands of dollars if we wanted.  It’s not only possible, it’s likely… if we chose to stay another year.

But I’m scared.

I’m scared that staying that extra time will generate even more excuses.  I’m scared the life force will catch up to us and we’ll have a mortgage, and a bowling league, and a big screen t.v.

In addition, staying a year, but knowing you are leaving is tough.  We’ve done it the last two years in different spots.  You want to join a church, but know you will be leaving.  You want to deepen relationship with local friends, but know you’ll be ditching them in less than a year.  There are countless activities where you say…  well, this would be nice to do if we weren’t leaving.

So you end up living a half-assed, gimped life, because you are scared of entering into an experience that will keep you tied down.  Too much thirst for not being tied down, means you suddenly find yourself living with single-serving friends, in single-serving social settings, pursuing single-serving passions.

I’m not sure there is a way to have both.  I’m not sure there is a way to live “in the moment” and as passionately as if you planned on doing something the rest of your life, but then pack up and leave it.  Lots of “lifestyle designer” and “travel hackers” claim to have found it.  But I’m not sure I believe any of them.

I know one thing.  We are neither “lifestyle designers” or “travel hackers” and we certainly haven’t found the sweet spot.  And honestly, the spot is going to be different for each and every person/family.  A female solo-travler, a male solo-travler, a young couple, a retired couple, a young family of 3, or a family of 8 roaming the countryside.  They aren’t even all fruits, let alone the same fruit.

Ultimately, I think that we still want to have travel as part of our permanent lifestyle. But I think it looks different from our first trip out into the world.  I think it involves having a home-base (wherever we decide home is) and traveling for 6-month on/off.  Maybe 3 months in one location, 3 months in another.  Staying in one place and really getting to experience one culture.

Let’s get an apartment in Argentina for 3-month and then hop over to a cabin in Alaska for another 3, before returning home for the summer/winter.  Something like that.

We’ve not even touched 95% of the world and I’m not o.k. with getting hit by a bus tomorrow and knowing that.  The older Milligan gets the more of the world I want her to experience.  That’s the real priority for me.

So here we are.

I know there isn’t a right answer.  And I know a lot of you may not be able to relate to the specifics.  But our journey, both the ups and downs… the impulses and the hesitations, are a core part of this blog.  And sharing our experience, not only captures it, but helps me reflect on it.

I don’t want “do what you love” to just be a saying in the banner of this site.  Courtney and I both deeply believe in it and want it to be a core principle of our life.

But how can you “do what you love” when you have no idea what you… love?

Heck, maybe I’ll just throw up 10 options and have you all vote on it.  That seems unlikely to backfire…  o.O

Note:  If you made it this far…  thanks.  I’m pumped to have you along for the ride!  :-)

photo by monkeywing

{ 137 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason D Barr April 27, 2010 at 10:29 AM

Baker, for me, I’ve come to the realization that what I love is my family (specifically my wife and son). I know that, whatever I do, I choose to do at that point in time because it’s what’s best for the three of us. So, maybe I don’t get to do what I love because I don’t really have anything that I’m passionate about… at least I get the satisfaction of knowing that I’m constantly looking out for what’s best for the people who are most important to me.

There are certain things I’d like to do, regarding where I live and work, etc. However, I know that, for me, drawing identity and/or satisfaction from the method of making money that I have isn’t nearly as important as providing great experiences for my son and doing something (anything!) that makes him proud to have me as a dad.

Just my 2 cents.

Reply

Jacob April 27, 2010 at 10:33 AM

Great article, Baker.

I’ve actually come across a situation that is similar, but with different circumstances. I’m not on a mission to travel the world, at least at this point in my life, but I have a big decision to make about where to live.

I came to DC to be closer to my family, but I left behind a life I had cultivated where I went to college. I love my family, and want them to be close. At the same time, I want to be able to do my own thing, and live my own life.

The trouble I’m having with my decision is that I always put other peoples’ happiness before my own, and I think I will have the guilt of feeling like I’m abandoning my family again to move back across the country. But I also don’t want to live an unfulfilled life to be closer to my family to make them happy.

Keep up the great work. I love reading your blog.

Reply

Erica Douglass April 27, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Great post! (These are always the type of posts that get the most comments and attention on my blog…so be prepared ;)

It’s weird how many blogs, etc. make the “travel lifestyle” seem the most appealing. For me, that was never the most appealing thing. Sure, traveling for a week or two a year is awesome. But I wanted to find a place where I could put down roots, have a house–a “home base” as you call it–and make permanent friends.

For me, this is San Diego. I lived in the Bay Area for 10 years and in my last house for 5, and only then was I ready for a change. But I like it here, and despite my grumbles about our fiscally-incompetent state government and high taxes, and vague threats to move to Texas, San Diego is an awesome place to be.

In your shoes, I’d probably do a road trip around the U.S. and find a place that “speaks to you.” For me, the first time I came to San Diego, years ago, it spoke to me, and when I flew out here two years ago for a conference, I immediately felt like I was at home. Having been most everywhere in the U.S., and in several other countries, this was the only place that did that.

I think that’s what you and your family need to find. It may be in an unexpected place. But I can tell you from reading this that it’s not in Indy.

-Erica

Reply

Four Pillars April 27, 2010 at 10:52 AM

Great article – travelling with little ones can be tough. We did 3 weeks going around Germany with a 2 month old and a 2 year old. Guess which one caused the most grief? :)

You couldn’t pay me enough to travel with my kids again until they are a LOT older!

Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with staying in one place. You can still travel after all.

Reply

Joel April 27, 2010 at 10:59 AM

Baker,
Right there with you. I’m not sure if I want to give up the freedom & enjoyment of travel for a long, secure job. I actually enjoy my job a lot, it’s just I miss traveling so much. I’m renting a place, but don’t want anything long term [commitment phobia].

Good news is, I’m down in Indy. Maybe we can get together for coffee & commiserate. I’ll buy =)

Reply

Britt Neal April 27, 2010 at 11:08 AM

Your honesty is inspiring!

Reply

RJ Weiss April 27, 2010 at 11:08 AM

Interesting update.

Just curious, do you only option to travel long-term? I’m trying to work towards a situation where I’m traveling for two weeks at a time, every two months. Might be an option for you.

Good luck, with whatever you decide.

Reply

Virginia April 27, 2010 at 11:14 AM

I’m sorry to hear you’re not into Indianapolis. Did you grow up here? My husband and I moved here two years ago and really love it. I’ve lived in Florida, NYC, Los Angeles, and Bloomington and even with those experiences, I’m enjoying life in Indy. (This is the same person who said if I ever moved to Indianapolis I’d probably have to have a bunch of babies just to deal with the boredom.) Our family is nearby, too, which I hadn’t appreciated until I lived a five-hour flight away.

Perhaps there is another city not too far from family that might feel more like home? I’ve always thought Bloomington would be a great place to raise kids while living a progressive life.

Reply

Erica Douglass April 27, 2010 at 11:52 AM

I lived in Indiana for 18 years, and you’re the first person I’ve ever heard saying she loved Indy.

Most of the people I grew up with still live there, but it’s mostly inertia and family holding them there. And cheap housing.

-Erica

Reply

laura@movetoportugal April 27, 2010 at 11:15 AM

I fully understand wanting a home base and I personally would always want one.

With the lifestyle {I think} you and Courtney are working towards, there is no reason why you can’t travel and also have a home base in the US. I like Erica’s idea of a road trip; places, like houses do speak to you and you’ll know when you find the right one

Good luck :-)

Reply

Evan April 27, 2010 at 11:31 AM

I feel like I have been following your journey for a while, but I never really heard anything about what happens with Milligan turns 5 or 6 and needs to go to school? It is going to kill this travel lifestyle, so it may be worth it to do it up now. Just a though

Reply

Jessica April 28, 2010 at 9:36 PM

Milligan reaching school age does not have to kill the travel lifestyle! Some of the most interesting, well-adjusted people I know grew up with a “home base” in some small and rural but interesting community (you might check out Port Townsend, WA; Moab, UT; Eureka, CA; I’m sure other people can suggest more) but traveled for long periods of time. A friend whose dad was a travel writer went to school in Mexico until she was 8, then did a combination of homeschooling and attending public school in their “home base” town until college. She spent probably 6 months out of every year in a different country, but still had roots in one U.S. town. I’ve known several people with similar experiences; and they grow up with such a different perspective from those who think kids have to be raised in only one place. They’re more resilient, aware of different cultures and ways of living (and of earning a living), and they don’t say things like, “oh, I could never do that.” They also have good financial habits, in my experience, because their parents valued experiences and family time more than stuff, and taught them how to scrimp and save half the year in order to travel the other half. Bravo to you for wanting to give Milligan that kind of gift!

Reply

April May 12, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Just to echo Jessica–YES and YES. I met a friend like the people she describes who had a home base here but traveled extensively. She now speaks at least five languages fluently, travels the world, designed her lifestyle without ever falling into the 9-to-5 trap I’m in, and has had some incredible experiences. She just believes all of these things are possible. She, too, is good with money (yet generous). Her grandparents offered to buy her a car as a graduation present, and she declined, preferring stocks instead. She has friends all over the world.

She was my inspiration to go to Italy. I had talked about it for ten years, secretly thinking it wasn’t possible. I didn’t really know anyone who just jetted off to Europe like that.

I am determined that if I have kids, I’ll find a way to make travel happen. It’s the best education you can give them. So don’t listen when people say you can’t travel with kids, or not once they turn X age–let’s just ignore them. :)

Reply

Gholmes April 27, 2010 at 11:34 AM

What a year Baker, looking foward to the next.

Reply

Jeff @ sustainablelifeblog April 27, 2010 at 11:37 AM

Great post.
I’ve definitely felt these same thoughts before, and have talked to people who also have similar feelings. While traveling constantly, you’re always on the move, looking for the next thing to do or place to go
I’ve thought that this leaves a person without a “home base” as you call it. Somewhere to go and relax, be with friends, family and the like, knowing you wont have to constantly do things new so you have updates when friends ask how your travels were. A simple “Im just relaxed” would be a fine answer for a question posed on activities at “home base”
Im sure seeing the country or world will be enjoyable for your family for generations to come, but having a sense of place (a home) is something important to consider as well. Keeping grounded never really hurt anyone.
That being said, enjoy wherever your next trip takes you!
Jeff

Reply

LM April 27, 2010 at 11:41 AM

Tough decisions Baker. You might want to spend some time pondering whether your “life dream” of traveling and living abroad is really what you want now that you have experienced it. Especially now that you have experienced it with all of your other major life concerns (your wife and daughter). You and Courtney should be really honest with yourselves and make a decision that resonates with both of you. I had a career that was my “life dream” and discovered after working really, really hard to achieve it that s wasn’t at all what I imagined it to be and not at all what I wanted. It took me a long time to admit it to myself because I was most afraid of letting everyone else down who had given me so much support. Your readers are here for your honest journey and will journey with you no matter what.

I for one wouldn’t travel with a 2 year-old – not for any other reason than I know I wouldn’t enjoy it… at all. My daughter is 12 and we are just now starting to consider that she might be ready to get the most out of travel. But it’s different for everyone.

Reply

Jen April 27, 2010 at 11:43 AM

This a great post. I was particularly struck when you said this,

“So you end up living a half-assed, gimped life, because you are scared of entering into an experience that will keep you tied down. Too much thirst for not being tied down, means you suddenly find yourself living with single-serving friends, in single-serving social settings, pursuing single-serving passions.”

I agree. I’ve been living in a city I don’t love in a job I don’t like very much for the past several months. Because I knew I had no intention of settling here, I’ve been petrified that I’ll be tied to this city and job forever if I engage. But like what you said above, I started realizing how half-assed I was living and how much that actually made it worse. So, I just came to terms with the circumstances, engaged with my world, and decided to live knowing that thriving where I am for now does not mean I’ll stay forever. When it’s time to uproot/change again, I will. We have to tell ourselves the truth about what we really want and act accordingly, rather than being sucked into apathy. Having a slight shift in my perspective has made all the difference in my experience of where I’m living (I still don’t like my job, but I don’t hate the city as much anymore).

On a different note, I really enjoy this blog, so thanks!

Reply

grace b May 2, 2010 at 4:05 PM

Hi I’m just de-lurking here to say that a) Baker I found your honesty refreshing and touching and b) Jen this is some great advice and reflection that I will setting aside for myself. I’m hoping to travel after I graduate college (spring 2011) but fear connecting too much to one place and being afraid to leave. But then I remember how miserable it is to be living somewhere and not experiencing it. Definitely not the better option! It’s a tough balance but I aim for living in the moment and keeping the future in the back of my mind.

Thank you for this insightful post Baker! Best of luck and looking forward to any future updates.

Reply

Lakita | Personal Finance Journey April 27, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Thanks for sharing your thought process with us. It’s easy to envy your lifestyle, but as you have shown…traveling…while a rewarding and awesome experience…comes with its share of factors that have to be weighed.

I’m sure whatever decision you make is going to be great for you and your family!

Best wishes to you!
Kita

Reply

Nathalie Lussier April 27, 2010 at 11:52 AM

I can definitely relate. As someone who did the whole “no one place to live” for a year (went to china for 4 months, etc) I totally get it. Honestly I was happy to settle down for a little while… I missed gardening and some of the other things you can only do if you settle for a bit.

That being said, I love traveling. My boyfriend and I had a long discussion about our next trips, and we discovered that we both value travel in a completely different way. I think I’m more of a home body, and I can handle travel if it’s for a given period of time. But not so much if it’s indefinite.

Thank you for sharing so openly. :)

Reply

Benny the Irish polyglot April 27, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Very touching article Baker! I can tell you for sure (after 7 years on the road) that I certainly have NOT found the balance you mentioned… what you said about starting relationships and getting into communities while knowing that in a few months (in my case) you will be completely out of these people’s lives, is something I can certainly relate to. It’s a frustrating aspect to the travel lifestyle that people are simply not aware of.

The way I see it, if you feel you can do it, travelling and getting to know the world, while accepting that you can not have very deep relationships during this time is a sacrifice worth making, especially when the ultimate burn-out comes and you do settle down, you can do all of that then. It’s not ideal, but this way you get the best of both, one at a time. Then again, you have Milly and Courtney and that makes a world of difference that single travellers wouldn’t have access to.

I hope your reflecting brings you to a decision that ultimately helps you find the best path for you! We’ll all be here to cheer you on no matter what that is :)

Reply

Misty April 27, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Deciding where to go and/or put down roots can be a very tough decision. When I moved to Florida to be with my fiance, I was having difficulties with my family, so I figured it would be good to put some distance.

After a year and a couple months here, Sam and I are slowly making friends (he didn’t have any local friends before I moved here), but I feel a pull to move closer to my family in Minnesota. I don’t know if I want to be there for the snow, but definitely closer than the 30-hour drive we have in front of us right now.

I think the travelling you have done has been beneficial, and will definitely help you as you go on to your next part of the journey. Thank you for being so transparent with your thoughts on this. It helps knowing there are others who aren’t sure what they want with their life.

Reply

Lea Woodward April 27, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Really interesting thoughts, Baker. Both Jonathan and I sensed you guys had had enough as soon as you arrived in Phuket – we know how tough the travel thing can be, especially with a little one (Mali hasn’t quite started walking yet, we’ve still go that joy to come!!) and you guys had done some pretty, cool stuff before you arrived…camping with a toddler??? Huge kudos :)

We’ve pretty much arrived at a similar cross roads to you actually (it’s only taken us 3 years to get there – what can I say, we’re slow learners!), especially as Mali is about to turn 1 and we’re about to try a different strategy for the next year which will be an interesting experiment.

I think we’ve come to the conclusion that our needs & wants as a family will change as we all grow up/grow together – if we can stay flexible and free enough to meet these needs, then we’ll move to wherever/whatever we feel is right at the time.

Look forward to seeing your next moves :)

Reply

Jonathan Drake April 27, 2010 at 12:17 PM

We, my family and I ( Wife, 3 yr old and 3mo old) decided to travel the country in an RV looking for home. It landed us here http://www.HeartwoodCohousing.com and while we still travel the day to day could not be better. The part I realized we all need is to be connected to not only who we are but where we are. In cohousing you get that if you want it. Looking forward to keeping in touch…

Reply

Tyler Link April 27, 2010 at 12:17 PM

Great post Adam. I think you’ve hit on that tension that most lifestyle designers feel, that of being torn between the benefits of developing meaningful long term relationships that require face time and the urge to roam free and see as much of this world as we can while we’re lucky enough to be here. Let me know if you find a good solution to that problem :)

As with all things, travel requires trade offs. I’m inclined to think that one should do a round-the-world trip to get it out of their system and by that time you’ll be so travel weary that you no longer wish to be on the move all the time. It sounds like your idea of a base camp strikes a good balance.

Reply

Doug April 27, 2010 at 12:22 PM

Hey Adam,

So my wife and I are on the 6/6 plan. We live half the year in Mexico and half the year in Portland, OR. We don’t have kids, but we know many down here (Mex) that have kids and are on the same plan as we are – so it’s very possible. Right now I truly feel at home at either. We both work in both locations – although very little in Mexico and usually quite a bit in the US.
Because it has taken the last 4 years to “dial it in” we haven’t had the opportunity to travel much beyond these locations (but living in Mexico for six months calms that desire some). But, if all goes well this summer, I think we will be able to start doing a month or two a year traveling to other locations.
I think something similar may suit your needs also. It is easy to get complacent in one place, so I really recommend trying something like this so you can get your “foot in the door” Good luck!

Doug

PS My wife and I are working through Unautomate Your Finances and loving it! We thought we had it all pretty figured out, but we are learning and applying a lot. Thanks for the good work.

Reply

Jen April 27, 2010 at 12:32 PM

While I am no where near as independent or location-independent as you guys are, I’m facing the same question: What do I love? What do I want to be doing that will not feel like work, but will pay the bills? It’s a tough question!

So, when and if you figure out an answer, I’ll be looking forward to reading about it!

Good luck with your decision, and your path over the next year. It sounds challenging, but so interesting and exciting at the same time!

Reply

Shannon April 27, 2010 at 12:36 PM

So happy to read this update and had wondered about it ever since you came back to the US.

I’m very attracted to LIP people but have also known that full-time LIP isn’t for me. Coming up with a good compromise for my family is the goal.

I would disagree that you aren’t a lifestyle designer. Anybody who thinks about every aspect of their life and doesn’t live their life according to a playbook is a lifestyle designer and this post shows you definitely do that.

Reply

Lou Mindar April 27, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Baker — I know exactly what you mean. Life offers us many choices. Even when the choices are all good, it still requires that we turn our backs on some opportunities to take advantage of others.

In my mind, I have never equated lifestyle design with world travel. Sure, it’s an option, but not the only option. I view lifestyle design much more as finding a way to achieve personal happiness. If traveling the world makes you happy, then go for it. But if not (or if not right now), that’s fine too.

I really like your idea of spending three months in South America, then three months in Alaska, then “home” for six months. That type of lifestyle speaks to me. But only you can decide if it speaks to you.

Thanks for taking us along for the ride,

Lou

Reply

Christine Gilbert April 27, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Bravo on making a hard decision and doing what was right for you and your family. I think there is little difference between living a traveling life when it doesn’t fit and being stuck in a cubicle working a job that you hate. If you’re not loving it, what’s the point?

I came back to the states last year to have a baby and we’re planning on going back on the road in July (the baby will be 4 months old). We’re doing a similar strategy to the one you’re proposing: 3-6 month stays in each location as a home base. Because we traveled with the dogs before the baby was born, we had to adopt this strategy and let me tell you, it’s a much different mode of travel.

I have backpacked and taken long bus rides and stayed in hostels, but having a flat or a small house and getting to know a place seems like a much better way to go. There is definitely travel burnout with backpacking and I can only imagine it’s worse if you’re traveling with a little one.

Good luck with everything! I’m sure you’ll find the balance that works for your family.

Reply

Chri April 27, 2010 at 12:45 PM

Excellent post, Baker! You’re grappling with huge issues here, and I have to say I think that is awesome. So many people go through life on auto-pilot, then when they’re 80, sit back and wonder why they never lived the life they wanted. You’re going for it. With that come all the hard, twisty, keep-you-up-at-night decisions and considerations. But is there any other way to live?

Reply

Richard Riley April 27, 2010 at 12:50 PM

I guess I never really realized that you were from Indianapolis. I live in Bloomington, Illinois so it’s neat to know that, after reading your blog for 6 months, you’re only 3 hrs away. It must be a mid-west thing – wanting to travel the world. I’m the same way, perhaps its because there’s nothing to do here?

I really hope that you can find what you love to do. It’s definitely not easy and it seems that the more options there are open for a person, the less happy they are. I think it has something to do with always wondering ‘what if this’ and ‘what if that’ and never knowing what could have been. However, you guys have a great opportunity in front of you. The only thing that I would personally be afraid of is saying, “oh…we’ll get around to it next year”. Then next year comes, and another year, and pretty soon you’re looking back on life wondering what kept you from seeing the world. It sounds like the one thing holding you back is your connection with family as opposed to money. It seems that the concept of having your wife get a good teaching job in Indianapolis makes it easier for you to decide to stay.

However, if a good job was the biggest concern then you guys would probably have stayed in New Zealand when your wife was offered to stay on for another two years. But you guys were too curious of the world to stay in the same place for too long. Once you came back to the states and saw your family – that’s when you decided that sticking around long term in Indianapolis might not be a bad idea. The one thing you’ll have to decide is: how can I combine my love of travel with my love of family? No easy task.

Wow. Sorry. That was kinda a rant/psychoanalysis! Didn’t mean to do that, but hope it helped : )

Reply

Nancy L. April 27, 2010 at 12:51 PM

First of all, I’m willing to overlook the knock against bowling leagues…though if you ever come out this way, I *may* just have to take you to some lanes and school you about how learning to conquer the mental blocks in bowling can actually apply to so many more aspects of life.

Secondly, speaking from the vantage point of recently turning 40, I don’t think that buying a home and settling in one location = just giving up and getting ready to die. I do think, having experienced it myself, that the adventures you will *desire* as you get older will change and evolve from the types of adventures you seek now. For example, I used to LOVE to spend all nighters waiting around to get into GA concerts. Now that I’m getting older, it’s more of a physical drain, so I’ve become more creative about finding ways to either avoid the wait, or to make sure I’ve got options (i.e. a nearby hotel room) and waiting partners, so that I don’t personally have to endure the entire wait myself. It doesn’t mean I’ve shut adventure completely out of my life–as a matter of fact, I’m going to be learning how to scuba dive this summer. It just means that, were I to look at my current life from the vantage point of how I felt and thought at age 25, it would definitely seem like I’m not doing “as much”.

I don’t see why travel has to be exclusive from settling down somewhere. It sounds like you *do* want some roots–local friends and organizations that you can feel a part of, but there’s no reason you have to sacrifice travel entirely to achieve that. Given that much of your work seems to be done from home and Courtney’s schedule as a teacher is conducive to either open summers or taking on specific assignments with clear cut end dates, it doesn’t seem like you’d be nearly as trapped by your jobs as many other people might.

Finally, as a side note regarding Milligan’s tantrums. My son has Aspergers, and continues to have tantrums even now when he is almost 9. The best tip I’ve gotten is that a tantrum is really a child that feels that something is wrong, but they don’t know how to identify it to even begin to tell you. It’s taken a long time for me to recognize that my son has problems in over stimulating environments. We used to think he was just being bratty when he threw fits, and it frustrated us that even when we were incredibly strict parents, he continued to have tantrums and fits, but now we’re learning that he was just unable to tell us that the busyness around him was bothering him. So we can start to take proactive steps to help circumvent the elements that were causing the tantrums. In Milligan’s case, if you look at the situations where the tantrums have been occurring, you might actually begin to figure out ways to avoid reaching that point. Like maybe they happen when she’s tired, or hungry, or like my son, just feeling overwhelmed.

Reply

Kevin M April 27, 2010 at 1:00 PM

@Baker – I think it was pretty obvious to consistent readers the point where your experiment to live abroad starting taking its toll and wasn’t the dream you thought it would be. I’m sure it was a hard decision to come home knowing your life is very public and some readers might be turned off, so kudos for making the tough decision for your family.

I happen to disagree with Erica above. To me, it sounds like you DO want to put down roots in Indy, but are scared you might stop traveling. I see nothing wrong with being near family and settling down. Honestly, I think you are still getting sucked in to the whole “lifestyle design” culture (grass in greener on the other side) and how sexy it is portrayed by the Tim Ferris’ of the world. You sure don’t come across as very excited when talking about your travels, so what is it you really like about it? Isn’t traveling to collect experiences just another way of gathering “stuff”?

That being said, your last line speaks to me – I’m older than you and still trying to figure out what I “love”. My best guess is it’s an ongoing process.

Reply

Tyler Tervooren April 27, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Really great post, Baker. Thanks for being so open and honest with us about how you approach these kinds of decisions. We all face this kind of stuff on a regular basis, but it’s not something we spend a lot of time talking about, so you rarely get a good idea of how other people handle it.

I’m really grateful for this kind of transparency.

Reply

Tyler Link April 27, 2010 at 1:10 PM

@Kevin M – “Isn’t traveling to collect experiences just another way of gathering “stuff”?”

You make a good point and I think this is a question that is not asked enough. However, there are a few distinctions between experiences and stuff. For one, memories grow fonder with time.

When you’re old and grey (and even when you’re not) you can reminisce with friends and family over shared experiences. These memories strengthen relationships which, in the end, is what life is all about. As your memory fades you find yourself forgetting the hardships of travel and focusing on the good parts.

In other words, experiences, travel or otherwise, are an asset that continue to grow in value, whereas most physical assets (stuff) tend to decline in value over time. As a personal finance blogger, I think that’s something Baker can get behind.

Reply

Genna April 27, 2010 at 1:19 PM

I think as long as you are both being true to your ideals and principles, then there is nothing to worry about. Shit happens as they say, and you guys, more than most, are fully aware of where you DON’T want to be [back following the usual rat race ways] so take deep breaths, make it work and keep happy. You are an inspiration no matter what path you take, I wish you, Courtney and Milligan all the best.

You’ll rock it, no matter where you are in the world, I have no doubt. And I will keep reading!

Reply

David Damron April 27, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Hey—

Adam, you are not alone. While I was with my girlfriend in Auckland and then back in Sydney last summer, it got to the point where we both just wanted a ‘home’. We should have pursued a permanent residence sooner and that is completely my fault. Hostels aren’t home and airports aren’t home. trust me, I love both, but it is nice to know you have a base to go back to. I think your 3 months home 3 months away plan is awesome.

Good luck with whatever you decide and keep us updated.

David Damron
The Minimalist Path

Reply

James Schipper April 27, 2010 at 1:34 PM

We all have to do what’s best for us. There is no right or wrong way to do life.

We aren’t traveling near as much as you, and have a home base for now. Being down here in Florida, we know all about the “Snowbirds” who live down here during the winter months, and go back North when the snow melts. Corbett does his long stretches down in Mexico like the Doug commented above. There are so many options, you can make yourself crazy trying to figure out what is “best”. But there are always options.

My path has veered and changed more times than I can even remember anymore (4 years is the longest I’ve ever had the same address). But it always takes me someplace wonderful, even if it means I am not going anywhere. Try to learn to enjoy each day, and it seems to make the figuring out what to do next less stressful.

Reply

Roblynn April 27, 2010 at 1:36 PM

I love this post because it really addresses where we are at in our travels right now. Though our kids are six and sixteen they are still huge factors in our decision making process right now. When we moved to Central America we had a five year plan. Well our five years is up in a short time and no one wants to go back.
The best for us that we have decided is six months here and six months in the U.S. That way we still get to spend time with family there as well as friends and family here.
We thought about the rv thing and decided that was way too much moving around for us and did not really sound like it would be fun. We like to have some roots.
Good luck with your decisions and know that you have won half the battle, awareness!

Reply

Susan April 27, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Great post Baker! I applaud you for your transparency with this subject- one a lot of us can relate to. My husband and I find ourselves in somewhat of a similar situation, and it can keep us awake at night mulling over decisions we have made, or choices we have yet to make.

In my case, neither of us enjoys being tied to our house and all of our material possessions. We’ve stayed here for the past decade because my family is here and frankly, we haven’t figured out where else we’d prefer to relocate. After three months on the road this winter we didn’t encounter any one specific place that called to us enough to want to settle there. And then there’s my fear of being unhappy settling in any *one* location. I don’t want to pack up and move only to feel trapped by my surroundings again.

I have a thirst for travel, and like you, there are far too many places I want to visit yet and I won’t be satisfied until I see them. On the other hand, constant travel can make one weary and yearn for some normalcy. After 2 1/2 months of constant on-the-go travel I was ready to come home. Not to this house necessarily, but somewhere to relax, be comfortable, and see family and friends. Sadly, 4 or 5 days after returning I was yearning to travel again, and was back to feeling weighed down by my lifestyle here.

I don’t know what the answers are, but there seem to be a lot of us currently going through this sort of issue. Have previous generations felt this way? Are we just now hearing more about it with the convenience of the internet and social media/blogs, or is this a new phenomena?

My brother always accused me of living with too much of a “grass is greener on the other side” philosophy rather than making the most of where I was at the time. However, I don’t think that’s it at all. I just don’t want to settle and get so wrapped up in living the lifestyle that everyone else thinks I should be living because “that’s what people do”, that I miss out on all the rest that this world has to offer.

We’ll be tuning in to see how it all unfolds for you. Wishing you well with all your decisions~

Reply

MAB April 27, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Such depth Baker. This post was so naked, so honest in a way you fleshed out the complexities of a life worth living. You truly are a writer.

MAB

i don’t know if this will help but I think a lot about that saying, “wherever you are is exactly where you are suppose to be.”

Reply

Wayne K April 27, 2010 at 1:57 PM

A very thought-provoking article.

It’s clear that you and Courtney have spent a lot of time and energy sorting out your goals/options. One consideration I haven’t seen above is how things change when Milligan is older. By that, I mean 10-12 years from now. She will want to have a home in one place and have the same friends and schools from year to year. So, it seems to me that you may want to use your travel time away from your “home base” to explore places between now and then with the goal of setting some roots before or by the time she will very likley want them.

Your travel related articels always insire me. So far, I havent made any significant movesd to break free from my current life. I live in DFW, have a mortgage and my wife and I have jobs that are 100% tied to our location.

Good luck!

Reply

Heather April 27, 2010 at 2:19 PM

It sounds like you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself to figure out a life plan Right Now. You might be better off just figuring out the next year. For example, you decide that Courtney will get a teaching gig for next year and you’ll stay where you are for that time. You have time with family (which I am jealous of – my family is awful to be with), you have money to pay down loans, you have a place to let Miligan grow out of toddler-hood.

When it’s getting time to sign another teaching contract, or when you feel antsy, or whenever, then think about what’s next. But if you’re constantly worried about what you’re going to do next, you never enjoy what you’re doing now. Will it matter if you see the whole world if you don’t enjoy any of it?

It seems to me that it’s ideal that Courtney is a teacher. It gives you the opportunity to take two months on the road every summer while still maintaining a steady income and home base.

It seems to me also that the thought of being settled somewhere scares you. What if it’s OK? Just because you’re settled doesn’t mean you’re settling or that you’ve sold out or that you can’t travel. Really, you could make the same argument for getting married and/or having a kid.

Just my $0.02.

Reply

Bruce April 27, 2010 at 2:24 PM

Your blog is new to me, but me and my wife traveled for a year before settling down.and having a bunch of kids (our 5 year plan, founded on a beach in oz)…. but now my internet businesses are starting to take off, I am starting to think we can dig out of debt, and we are once again thinking about some long term travel with the kids before they start school.(in a year or two)… You might have not noticed it yet, but you went away and lived 5 years in 1, and most everyone you know has lived not at all. It will become apparent after a couple of months or years that you see things differently… and the feeling to move will hit you hard.

have you read bumfuzzle.com It has been an inspiration to me… if only I could get my wife to get on a boat with the kids and hang around Florida.

Reply

Sharon April 27, 2010 at 2:25 PM

There’s always a trade-off, isn’t there, Adam? However, when you examine what’s important to you it’s easier to make plans for the next move. From what you say, your time traveling so far has taught you a lot both about what you want and don’t want, so your next trip will be more strategically planned, even if it takes some time. I don’t think there’s any shame in spending some time to recharge and decide on the next move. Thanks for sharing this other view of location independence.

Reply

Cherie @Technomadia April 27, 2010 at 3:13 PM

There is always a balance to be struck. And you lay out a lot of the reasons why perpetual travel can be difficult to be sustainable.

For us, we’ve found that domestic RVing is a great balance. We can roam between our various communities of family and friends, having much deeper quality time with them than a typical vacation would afford – and go out and explore. All without ever leaving ‘home’ or packing up.

We’ve had the pleasure this past weekend of gathering with 16 other RV nomadic households in Texas at the NuRVer’s rally (www.nurver.com – great community of ‘non traditional RVers). Many of them raising kids on the road. Establishing connection with other nomadic folks has also given us another valuable outlet for community – and seeing how well the kids quickly adapt to making new friends, and building friendships with other nomadic kids as they travel and rendezvous is also encouraging.

Our offer is always open should you guys want to pick our brains about this style of living. Next month, we’ll celebrate our 3-year Nomadiversary together, and we see no end in site.

All our best !

Reply

Peter April 27, 2010 at 3:22 PM

I think the situation you’re going through is one a lot of us struggle with from time to time. The need to put down roots, create connections and relationships in our local area, vs. seeing the world, traveling and seeing new things. Family can have a strong pull, but the need to see new things and experience different cultures can be strong as well..

For my wife and I we have often dreamed of living in a warmer climate (we’re in Minnesota), but at the same time we both are close to our families (who are based here), we have close friendships, a church family we are close to, and a variety of other connections to our community. We also love Minnesota 6-7 months out of the year.

For us the compromise has been to have Minnesota be our base of operations so that we’re close to our loved ones, and at the same time we travel several weeks every year. Before my wife got pregnant with our first child we had been able to travel all over the continental U.S, Hawaii, Spain, Italy, France, Greece and a couple of other smaller countries.. While traveling is fun we’ve both realized that we love having a home to go to – and as such we’ll probably always have a place where we put down at least semi-permanent roots. I know it’s not for everyone, and it sounds like you’re still feeling out the ideal situation for your family, but it will come.

Reply

Meg April 27, 2010 at 3:26 PM

But how can you “do what you love” when you have no idea what you… love?

I’m still trying to figure out how to build a life that allows me to do what I love, haha. It’s…. Not easy, at all.

And the big part of it is knowing we don’t stay in one place for too long. Little Rock’s been home for three years, but those have been some pretty rough years… We don’t belong here, at all. Next up, Spokane, WA, which I think is going to be a better fit for us. Honestly, in my young 21 years I have yet to live in any place that I feel like I fit in. (But Cambridge, England…. Now that was a place I felt like I could belong.)

For now, we just go with the flow I guess… No kids makes it easier, but baby number four’s coming into the picture for us soon. :) (Car, of course!) It’s hard to move with three of them, four’s gonna be even worse…

Reply

Joe D April 27, 2010 at 3:36 PM

This has been my favorite post of yours so far, because it sums up so many of the things I think about everyday.

Perhaps, just as there was a push to stay at home, put down roots, and live the normal American lifestyle, there was a similar push to do all those things that rebel against that lifestyle.

What I am saying is, there is pressure all around us. You felt as if the world was drawing you to a place that was not of your own choosing. Cul de sacs. PTA meetings. Minivans. Permanence and routine. Your reaction to this lifestyle was decidedly non-traditional. Traveling the world with a minimal itinerary and your life in your backpack is a radical notion in this day and age. But is it possible that the same sorts of pressures which forced you toward and repelled you from the traditional life, also soured you on the sort of bohemian, seat of your pants lifestyle of the past few months? Lots of people say they want the front lawn and flat screen. How many of them want this lifestyle after six months, a year, or ten? Lots of people want to travel the world. How many can balance the demands of a family while trying to fulfill themselves in Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand?

We are told we want to put down roots, or we are told we want to discover ourselves in foreign countries. The fact of the matter remains that we are told these things. We rarely decide them for ourselves. This trip helped you to decide something for yourself. For that, it must be considered a success.

You may be no closer to deciding what it is that you want. But you already know of a few things that you don’t want. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced. Our lives have nothing to do with the places we visit, or the homes we own. Our lives are about the people we love, and the love we get in return. If we can have those things, we can be happy just about anywhere.

Cheers, and good luck in the future.

Reply

Diane April 27, 2010 at 3:36 PM

Wow! Thanks for the update, Baker.
Worth. Waiting. For.
I was labeled a “gifted” child in school. I gleefully accepted the label, as it got me out of regular classes and into a lot of interesting and varied experiences. The downside, is that I still hear that voice in my head of teachers saying “You’re so smart, you can do anything you want in this world”. To this day, I find it incredibly paralyzing. This statement, along with my natural perfectionist tendencies, combine in an almost lethal manner. I always want to do the most perfect thing, therefore, I often do nothing. I’m 50-ish, have a good job, 1+year EF, decent 401k balances, 2 homes, no CC debt, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. The solution as I see it is just to DO SOMETHING! As you learned with this trip, there are a lot of possible successful outcomes, not just one right way. Congratulations!

Reply

Joel April 27, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I’m assuming you read Seth Godin’s recent article?
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/04/the-paralysis-of-unlimited-opportunity.html

If you haven’t, its right on topic.

Reply

Diane April 27, 2010 at 11:32 PM

Thanks for the introduction to Seth. We must be kindred spirits. Nice to know I have lots of company out there.

Reply

Joel | Blog Of Impossible Things April 28, 2010 at 1:40 AM

Glad you liked it =)

Reply

Rebecca April 27, 2010 at 4:23 PM

I’m loving this authentic, “we’re still figuring things out” account of how you’re trying to design the next phase of your life. Because all the stuff you’re going through is what lots of people are thinking, but are afraid to talk about. Taking time out to consciously plan and craft a life is crucial to long-term satisfaction. Instead of just following what everyone else is doing (accumulating stuff, buying a house, etc), you’re carefully considering all the alternatives. Good for you!

Also, I completely relate to nearly crying at US passport control. Every time I’ve been abroad for an extended period of time, those two words “Welcome home” are the sweetest music imaginable. So welcome home, indeed, and I look forward to reading about your continuing adventure!

Reply

Jenn April 27, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Family is so precious…not everyone has a supportive, loving family; you and your wife are so blessed. I know your heart wants the ability to be free as a bird, but couldn’t you have the best of both worlds? If you work your own flexible hours with your web business, and she as a teacher (with vacations and summers off), could you not still travel frequently, yet still have a solid family life with a home and more kids? And just because you have a home and kids doesn’t mean you have to accumulate boat loads of crap either….keep it to a minimum and strive to be NOT like the Jones! I don’t think you need to decide between either or.

Reply

Tom @ Canadian Finance Blog April 27, 2010 at 4:54 PM

I’m another one that has (so far) chosen to stay near family. While there are better places to live than Edmonton, Alberta… for both weather and job opportunities, I wouldn’t want to be too far away from our family.

Reply

Colin Wright April 27, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Great to get a full-blown update!

Congrats to you and your family for taking such a giant leap and then not being afraid to take a breather before the next one.

Reply

Marc April 27, 2010 at 6:26 PM

Wow, Adam – you really are the king of transparency – thank you for sharing!

All I can think of to add is that you’re certainly not alone. Almost every family I know (ours included) that’s done extended travel overseas has “hit the wall” after 10 months (or less). I can totally empathize with everything you’re feeling – sometimes it feels like “the Matrix” is pulling you back into the life you’ve been fighting hard to transcend.

We’ve been struggling to find that “sweet spot”, too – and I agree that being able to see unlimited opportunity is a bit of a double-edged sword.

Be patient, and keep sharing what you learn – it helps us all!

Reply

Meredith April 27, 2010 at 6:55 PM

@Baker – Your post conveys lots of stress – is it all around deciding what you want to do? Or is there added stress from worrying what other people will think? Maybe you need to come to terms with the fact that no matter what you do, it’s OK, it’s your decision… you don’t have to justify it to anyone. And, I’m pretty sure that you won’t let anyone down if you decide to ‘grow roots’ for what that’s worth. There is something to be said about community and security and home-ness… (I’m biased though – I can’t imagine traveling for extended periods of time – it would stress me out beyond belief I think).

Come on up to Madison (WI) and try it out… I fell in love with this place as soon as I got my feet on the ground here. Super family friendly – and only 6 hour drive to see your fam :) When the snow gets too deep – you can hit the road.

@LM – your comment really resonated with me – I’ve worked really hard to get where I am today – and I still wonder if it’s what I really want to do – or if I just continue to do it because I’ve worked really hard to get here (and I don’t want to let anyone down). Lucky lucky lucky are the people who have figured it all out.

Reply

Suzan April 27, 2010 at 7:05 PM

Hey Baker and family,
Sounds like a big adventure. It is really great that you are committed to getting out of debt and traveling as a young family. I can understand about coming back to your family for a while and regrouping before making any more plans. Reading your blog and those of other world travellers, I spent the better part of my twenties stomping around the states and abroad, but you were much more responsible and directed than I was.
These blogs have me fantasizing about doing it again in a few years. I have always wondered about how someone older people would handle the decision to travel like you do. Other family and life events that generally occur when people are in the their 30′s – 50′s younger people sometimes do not consider in their life plans. ( Lord knows I didn’t) For one, you slow down a bit and start finding it more important to develop relationships and a more introverted piece of mind. Sometimes that’s a good thing.
The second is that your children start getting older they start developing opinions about their life that my not coincide with yours. Again this is inevitable in all families, but totally negotiable.
Finally, you start hearing about more and more people that you know developing chronic health problems. This also happens to your the older members of your family, which require support and attention. (This may be what you are experiencing now) Due to the aging of your parents as you approach middle age, you find that the family support that you enjoyed as a young person Is now your responsibility to provide to younger members as a middle aged person.
I’m not saying that it’s impossible, but what I am saying is that you are smart to do it now while you have those support networks in place and the vitality of a young family. Good luck with everything.

Reply

Carmen April 27, 2010 at 7:17 PM

Huge applause for having the balls to be real about this on your blog. As a fellow blogger, I so often struggle with that – do I write about my doubts, my troubles, the things that might not motivate people? It’s a really hard thing to do. You’ve done it so well here.

Remembers ( I know you said it – but REMEMBER it) the right lifestyle is different for everyone. There is no shame in any decision you or anyone else might make about which way to go. And also remember that any decision you make now is not necessarily permanent. It’s right for you and your family at the moment. We’ll also be heading back home soon with no plans yet about the future. So far for my family it has worked to keep our permanent base in Austin while we do our nomading (we rent the house to offset our travels). That way I really do feel we have the best of both worlds (even though you might not believe me!). But that’s what works for us and it works for a variety of reasons that are unique to our family. Relax and follow your instinct. Guts never lie.

Reply

Griffin Stewart April 27, 2010 at 8:17 PM

Baker,
Thanks for the honesty and openness as always. I can relate to what you are saying about the fear of settling and regretting it later. After college I worked and saved for a year and then went on an amazing 7 months round the world tour visiting over 25 countries and 60 cities. I share that to say that it was an amazing experience and had an amazing impact on my life, but when I returned home I was glad to be back.
I felt the same tension you are describing about starting back into relationships and Church etc., while knowing in the back of your mind you will probably not be there long. I was planning to stay home for about one year, save back up some more money and then head out again. I ended falling in love and staying just short of three years while I dated, got engaged and then married my amazing wife. (We left right after our wedding to go on a 3 week honeymoon and then arrive in South Korea to teach and live which is where we have been ever since!) During those three years I did approach friendships half heartedly at first knowing I would be leaving soon, but after the first couple months I realized that true friends will be your friends no mater where you live in the world. True friends don’t feel anger or resentment towards you for pursuing your dream even if it means leaving them for months or years at a time. True friends encourage and support and carry you as you pursue your dreams and passions in life. In fact, many of our friends follow along on our blog and through facebook and twitter because of the fact that we are living a life beyond the norm. Many of our friends have shared how inspired they are by what we are doing with our lifes and all the travel and amazing places and experiences we have had. Even our parents are very supportive because they love us and know that we are doing something that is different and something that makes us come alive.
I would say try to get back involved and do join the Church and try not to have the mindset of it won’t matter because we will be gone soon. Who knows, maybe in the short time you are there you will develop a new lifelong friend or at least grow closer to the ones you love, even if for just a short time.
Another thing I would encourage you on is whatever decision you make, make it for yourself and your family. Do not under any circumstances make a decision because you think you will let down your friends, blog reader or fans if you don’t. After three months of traveling on my own I was starting to get homesick and I really wanted to go home and see my family. I took a week off from hoping from city to city and spent the time relaxing, praying and evaluating my motives. I realized that I had originally set out to travel because it felt like a great opportunity and is a passion God gave me, but I had started to travel because I felt like my friends and wanted me to. If you are going to stay or move do it because that is what you want to do, don’t do it because that is what you feel like other would want you to do. That is no way to live and your passion and excitement will quickly burn out if you make your decisions based on the imagined desires of others.

Reply

Adam @Duty Free Living April 27, 2010 at 9:34 PM

Look, at the end of the day, you do whatever you want to do. Don’t feel guilty about going against what you’ve believed in for the past couple of years. It’s OK to change your mind.
Travel can be extremely unsettling! Finding the right groove for you may take a few trips to discover – but it will come.
The last point is that if you decide to go back to a ‘normal’ lifestyle, make sure you always keep a check on whether you are living the best life you can be!

Reply

kelly April 27, 2010 at 10:04 PM

Great post and your honesty is really appreciated. I can help but note that there is almost a tone of apology in your post, as though you feel you are letting people (your readers, travel friends etc.) down by returning to stay in one place for a while…or maybe you feel let down yourself. Regardless, I think you should look back at your past few years and feel an amazing sense of accomplishment at what you have achieved and the lives you have touched. You deserve a break and time to decide what is best for you and your family. I look forward to reading about what you plan next…even if it is buying a home and being close to your family and building a community. People who think that you have to “go somewhere” to find adventure, contentment and happiness may be missing some of the great stuff that is right out their front door and in their own community. I like to travel and see new places and things too…but it doesn’t always have to involve a 20+hour flight. Oh…and when I do travel, I find that the planning and anticipation are half the fun! So be sure to enjoy the process!

Reply

Ouida Vincent April 27, 2010 at 10:08 PM

Baker:
I have a feeling that I may be one of the older folks who comments on this blog. I have played things pretty conservatively and I have accumulated a lot. A flood at my home helped me realize that accumulation for accumulation’s sake really ain’t all that. I am looking back over my shoulder and questioning my choices. You are moving through life right now eyes wide open. not shut. And that is truly wise. Question now because questioning later is really, well it’s really too late. At the age of 26 you and your young family have accumulated experiences and you understand the value of family. Too many people never have experiences they are truly proud of and never understand the value of family. Going forward, you are on the right path. Keep it non traditional, because tradition for the sake of tradition sucks!

Reply

Erin Wilson April 27, 2010 at 10:26 PM

Your words “So you end up living a half-assed, gimped life, because you are scared of entering into an experience that will keep you tied down.” really struck me. Not sure if it’s possible, but I couldn’t help thinking of some friends who have done short-term missions, taken a Gap year, or volunteered with Katimavik (not sure if that exists outside Canada…). They all know that they’re in a place for a relatively short time, but somehow manage to forge deep ties with the community. Some have developed friendships with local folks here which endure more than a decade after they moved on.

I’m not really sure it’s possible to do that in your home town. But it might be worth thinking about.

Peace

Reply

Brittney April 27, 2010 at 11:24 PM

Thanks for your honesty. My husband and I are rockin’ the suburbs while we’re both working and going to grad school full-time. I read your and others’ blogs and think we are just doing everything wrong, but I know these decisions are hard for everyone, and that we all have unique circumstances that don’t allow us to do everything all at once all the time :)

Thanks again.

Reply

Diana April 28, 2010 at 12:03 AM

Hi Adam,

I read your site, but don’t post often, but I had to respond because this post really spoke to me.

I came to South Korea a little less than three years ago for that “one year of travel location independent lifestyle” (god I really hate those terms–they sound made up, don’t they?) and find myself preparing to return to the states after having made a home of South Korea (enough so that I married a man from this country–wow–totally not expecting that). I am worried about getting “stuck” back in America as I prepare to return home (for family reasons, not entirely by choice)–especially now that I’m married and we plan to start our family withing a year or two.

When I moved to Korea, although I planned to stay for only one year, I was determined to immerse myself in it. I figured, why bother living any place at all if you don’t REALLY live there? The devil-may-care attitude that many location independent people have towards relationships is rather disturbing when you really think about it. I understand not wanting to be tied to a single place, but not making meaningful, lasting friendships is a recipe for rather unhealthy misanthropy. I know people living in Korea who stay here, year after year, never learning the local language or making any friends except other “location independent” expats who float in and out of their lives. These people end up stunting their own experiences more than if they’d never bothered to travel in the first place.

Although I’m afraid of becoming “stuck,” I know now to just throw myself into whatever I’m doing now. Sure… six months from now my interests may change. My life circumstances may change. But if I don’t pursue what I’m doing now, how will I really know that I want to change?

My motto now is to have a plan, but to keep my mind and heart open to opportunities, in whatever form they present themselves. If that means staying somewhere longer (or shorter) than planned, so be it. You’re already doing this. The emotional stuff is a natural side effect. Try not to let the fear part rule you–as I am trying the same thing.

Good luck to you, sir. I will keep following your journey as I continue my own.

Reply

steve April 28, 2010 at 1:47 AM

I have been following your blog for some time now and have always thought it to be somewhat mediocre. I am not saying this to be mean but only honest. I am 32 and my wife and I also have a 2 year old and a 5 week old. We, like you want to travel and live our dreams and at the same time struggle with permanence and of course like you, now that we have kids, we truly appreciate the value of family. I want you to know that this is really the first blog post you have ever made that I thought felt completely 100% honest. And as a reader of your blog, you have gained a fan. It is hard to admit and say the things you said, but this is the kind of writing that really sticks. I wish you luck in your self reflection, I want to thank you or your honesty, and as someone who can identify with your dilemma I look forward to hearing what you decide, maybe it will help me to do the same.

Reply

Jessi April 28, 2010 at 6:00 AM

Hey Baker!

First of all – big decisions you have made and thanks for updating all of us. It’s hard to know when to quit traveling.

As I semi-spoke to you before about it, I moved back from Israel to the States (today) to my hometown where friends and family are, but I’m also in a bit of shock. I experienced living abroad and also, like you want travel to be a large part of my life, but I get the whole “life force” part as well. I too am scared.

But know that whatever you decide, you will always have a passionate following in all of us that comment and we’ll support you and give you ideas along the way – especially me since I know how you feel.

Oh and I also teared up at the “welcome home” – it’s ok. It happens. :)

Give your family a big hug, they are your number 1 supporters and Courtney and Milligan seem amazing – you’re a lucky guy!

Reply

Jonas Goldman April 28, 2010 at 8:00 AM

hi there, u have a very interesting post and cant help thinking of having that kind of lifestyle design. well i guess i have to learn it myself and stop traveling too one of these days. goodluck to you!

Reply

LobotoME April 28, 2010 at 11:01 AM

hi adam & courtney – great blog post and glad to hear more about your decision to cut the travels short and come home…. we too struggle with that balance of having a home & feeling a part of a community, while traveling a lot for work and trying to be in another country for 1-3 months every year for fun. we are expert packers and love our travels & adventures (and sure hope our kids will lovingly remember the places & cultures we’ve taken them to exposed them to)…but still i always end up saying…”the best part of traveling is coming home.” looking forward to seeing what adventures you have next…. cheers, jenny :)

Reply

Franny April 28, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Bottom line, your lifestyle isn’t necessarily about traveling forever, it’s about having the freedom to do *what you want to do*. Settling down, buying a house and having kids isn’t evil on its own accord, it’s only something to run away from if that’s not what you want. And you are completely allowed to change your mind, buy that flat screen TV (because face it, it’s a nicer picture than the 12″ in your rented apartment), and be completely happy that way for a while. Ain’t no shame in it. And guess what? In 5 years, or 10, you get to re-evaluate and change your mind again. That’s the beauty of being free. Good luck!

Reply

Kosmo @ The Casual Observer April 28, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Yes, the twos can be an interesting age :) Our two year old daughter is actually pretty well behaved 95% of the time … but can throw quite the fit when she is frustrated or overly tired. I can’t imagine traveling the world with her.

On the plus side, she likes her baby brother, so we don’t having the whole sibling rivalry thing to deal with (yet).

Personally, I’d love to see the world. I’d love to see the pyramids, more oceans and mountains, etc. It may indeed be a midwestern thing, as Richard Riley mentioned. Hey, Richard, think of me the next time you east at Monical’s. I lived in Bloomington for 5 years working for, um, the “major employer” in town :) Still work for them, in fact, just remotely now.

Reply

Roderick April 28, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Wonderful post, thanks a lot!
I think it great to read a bit more of a ‘negative’ story. I don’t mean I’m happy you struggle, but the fact that you just usually don’t hear these stories.
I haven’t been reading your blog for to long yet, but I totally get what you mean. I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately about what I love (or would love to do), and haven’t figured it out yet (still got about a year left to get my masters degree, so still got some time left).

After doing an internship abroad, I’m also infected with the travel virus. Although I do intent to travel a lot, I think having a home base (like you mentioned, 6 months of travel, 6 months at home) seems like a very good option.

“But I’m scared.”
Boy, do I know that feeling… biggest problem with these kind of decisions still is that there is basically nobody that can help you make them (even though some people might try).

Reply

soultravelers3 April 28, 2010 at 4:45 PM

Kudos to you for sharing your truth! It’s so true that there is no one right way & life is long, so you will continue to find many ways. Just follow your heart and you will make the right choices.

YES, it CAN be done!! We’ve done it for 4 years now and love it so much that we have no plans to stop. We are living examples that it is ABSOLUTELY possible to have a joyous, fulfilling international traveling lifestyle as a family and it ABSOLUTELY is the BEST possible education for our children who will be 21 Century global citizens.

BUT, we had a few advantages that you did not. I think it is MUCH harder doing this with a younger child and you gave perfect examples as to why. We lived in one place for the first 5 years of my daughters life, near family.

We traveled with her starting at 2 weeks, but did no international travel with her until our open ended world tour when she was 5 and a very good reader because we wanted her to remember all of her international travels and start to become extremely proficient ( reading, writing, speaking like a native) in the 3 languages we worked hard at giving her from birth. ( No easy feat as we are monolinguals but there are many more international opportunities in most domestic environments than most know & that few take advantage of).

We also had no debt and had a very frugal life, well under our means, for many years so had savings and investments. So I’d encourage you to keep going after your debt as it is a huge key to freedom. I think it is horrible that so many young people start out in such debt for education and hope more will bypass this route in the future.

Travel can be very exhausting and I think even 3 months is too short to really know a place. We really enjoy our 6 months of slow travel and 6 months in the same village. We just spent our 4th winter in a tiny village in Spain and we have deep roots here, including participating in yearly festivals & my daughter learning flamenco with a master. It will always be a home to us and we cherish our friends here and all that we have learned. We know Spain and Europe like very few travelers do. Yet, we are not expats, but travelers, but there is great value in returning to places repeatedly. We’ve been to Barcelona 8 times and that is a home for us as well, with good friends waiting to meet again soon.

We stayed an extra 2 years in Europe than we had first planned & despite knowing 32 countries well now, we will still return to Europe for summers for a while because we love it and want to stay connected to our “family” here.

We hope to make the same kind of connections & have the same thrills as we circumvent the globe this year ( for our first time) and start wintering in SE Asia, so my daughter can immerse in her 3rd language, Mandarin like she has done with Spanish. We’ll see.

By combining travel and deep immersion, we feel we have the best of all worlds. We didn’t know when we started how it would go or how long we would enjoy it, but figured we will just keep doing it as long as it works for us.

I also had lived abroad in Italy for a year when `I was in my twenties ( modeling..believe it or not), and that experience was both wonderful and hard ( very lonely at times). THAT experience really helped me prepare well for THIS one, as did my 6 month road trip across the US that I did in my 20′s too. We also planned our journey for many years and did nothing BUT plan it & prepare for it, the year before we left. Good prep helps a LOT.

So you have learned MUCH these last few years, so just give it some time to sink in and reflect. That will help greatly when you plan your next step. It is good to be home and it is good to go and find “homes” around the world.

“The journey is my home.” — Muriel Rukeyser

Reply

Erin S. April 28, 2010 at 5:58 PM

Home and family will be great for Milligan. It is good to take time and figure out what you want to do. Being a parent is your most important job right now. Think about how much you remember before you were five years old. The travel you do with her a little later will be more significant in her life. Hopefully she will have wonderful memories and time with grandparents and great-grand parents. That is a beautiful gift for her at this time in her life and a gift for them as well.

Reply

Siddhartha April 28, 2010 at 6:24 PM

What a great post. I like the honesty about life overseas, it seems a requirement for people to talk about how wonderful everything is without talking about the stress. Yes, there are wonderful moments but it’s not all a bowl of cherries and it’s nice to hear about the down side as well.

I have to applaud your willingness to go on the road again with a young child. That’s a bold move but it can be done, and will benefit all of you in the long run. You can’t put life on hold because it’s inconvenient.

Reply

Andrew April 28, 2010 at 9:11 PM

Admittedly, I’m a gardener and a family man, so roots are important to me. My family arrangement is very similar to yours, as I understand it (young couple, 17-month-old daughter). To say “eventually you need to settle down and stay in one place” seems reductionist and absurd, given the incredible things you’ve accomplished over the past year or two. But there is something to it, to having somewhere to belong, to come home to, to really have the honest feeling of home attached…

I’m not even smart enough to make a pronouncement about the things I really love (outside of my wife and daughter), much less the things you love. But take awhile and decompress, if you want my honest opinion. Whatever you decide afterwards, the time of rest will re-crystallize your true loves. Whatever they may be.

Peace-

Reply

Kristin April 28, 2010 at 11:20 PM

For what it’s worth… a year goes by really fast; I doubt you’ll have too much trouble paring down and packing up again if you do decide to move (even if you do accumulate quite a bit in the meantime); and it’s good to get your bearings and re-assess before tackling another adventure – whatever that adventure may be. There’s nothing wrong with having a “base camp”.

Reply

Susan April 29, 2010 at 12:42 AM

My husband and I went through a very similar sort of experience. Went to Europe for awhile, came back, then almost immediately went on what we now refer to as ‘the sabbatical from hell’ by subletting our place in NYC and road tripping around. Stayed with family, wrote a travel guide. Endured family drama.

I think you either truly do not like Indy, or just don’t like what it currently represents for you. Here are some options:

Courtney takes the job, but make a commitment to travel all summer when she’s off, 2-3 months and sublet out your place in the interim. Or do a housing swap of some kind. If you end up in a house, what about one with an apartment in it? Email me if you want to know about pilot and flight attendant crash pads as rental income, you can make much more money with less commitment and landlord regulations.

Do more slow travel, staying 6 months in different countries or cities. Courtney can tutor or offer photography services. My feeling is she doesn’t think she’s ready for that, but I bet she is farther along than she realizes.

You and Courtney collaborate on a ‘nomadic baby’ project. An ebook on how to travel with a kid long-term. Include videos, interviews with other families doing it.

You teach a continuing education course on debt, finances, etc. I’m thinking of a place like The Learning Annex.

Do more videos, you’re onto something, and you seem to love it.

Write an ebook on how to do videos.

Most of the ideas can be done whether you stay or go. I know how confusing and unsettling it is to search, but in the end it will be worth it. My husband and I finally figured it out and I couldn’t be happier.

Reply

Andrew April 29, 2010 at 1:20 AM

I’ll add my voice to the “truly awesome post” camp. It sounds like you did manage what you set out to do. There is no shame in making different decisions along the way. In fact it is a strong thing to change from a rigid plan and do what you actually want to do and not just what you’ve planned for yourself.

Keep your eyes on what you think is important. If there are doubts about what this is, figure that out first(or at least take a good stab at it). Remember that very few decisions are irreversible. If you make a decision and later decide to make another decision in a different way, good for you. Sure there are consequences to look at, but change is the core of life, even some decisions we would like have permanent won’t be. I find that if a decision is really difficult, it means that either choice will have good things to be found there.

You make some interesting points about the value of home while traveling. I have a few post-drafts on that sitting for the next few weeks at my blog as well.

Reply

Robbie Mackay April 29, 2010 at 7:10 AM

That was one hell of a post…
Great to see I’m not the only one who gets really scared that if I wait too long, or take this job ‘for a year’, or whatever it is… that life will return to normal and I’ll never really do what I love.
and not knowing what it is that I love too.

Seth Godin just wrote a great post that ties into this though: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/04/the-paralysis-of-unlimited-opportunity.html

You may not ever find the ‘right’ choice… but doing something is always better then doing nothing :)

I’m flying off to the UK (from NZ) in June and starting my own adventure (or continuing it really).. I haven’t found a job there yet, and I’m not entirely sure that I want to.

Keep doing amazing things, either at home or travelling. Either way just be awesome :)

Reply

Jolyn@Budgets are the New Black April 29, 2010 at 9:02 AM

What an intense, thought-provoking post. I could say so much, but one statement you made about the value of deepening friendships knowing you’re just going to leave really hit me hard, as that is what I have done all my adult life, and I am considerably older than you are (39). We are a military family and three years is the longest we’ve stayed anywhere; we’ve moved some eight or nine times in 15 years — and we’re getting ready to move again.

So — I have never, ever regretted investing in friendships. What I have found is that, the more we’ve moved, the smaller the world becomes. I actually have friends here in Ohio that I first met several years ago when we both lived somewhere else. I have met dear friends who were introduced to me by friends I was leaving. We’re getting ready to move to the exact place in California where we actually met and started dating! We actually though we had another year in Ohio still, but once I got over freaking out that we need to sell our house NOW, I’m finding I’m excited about another adventure. I’m more concerned about the day we finally settle down… ;)

Our moves have always given us the excuse of travel. And yes — it is truly exhausting with young children. I really don’t know how we did it, but I know exactly what you were going through with Millie, and I feel for you! I promise you, no one on that train cared as much about her tantrums and outbursts as much as her parents did :)

I also promise you that won’t be the first time you feel self-conscious about your child’s behavior! But it DOES get easier to deal with as you gain confidence and experience, both as parents and with traveling as a family.

I guess my point is — friendships are always, always worth it, even if they don’t last. You will never find the nuggets if you don’t dig.

Just another side note — I’ve come to think the ultimate lifestyle set-up w/be to have one very small, permanent, furnished abode where you could not only keep mementos and important documents, but also one you could always return to that felt like “home”. But it wouldn’t be high maintenance or expensive to upkeep. You guys are in a perfect position in a place like Indianapolis where you have family and a low cost of living, to find such a place. Yes, it would be best to own it outright and just have to pay taxes and such… Perhaps storing important things with family in the meantime when you travel while you save up w/b an option.

One more thought – You guys are also in the perfect position to maintain a transient lifestyle, with your wife’s teaching and your ability to homeschool wherever you are if you so desired. Teaching courses online at some point might be an option, which w/free you up to travel during any portion of the year and not just the summers that she has off.

I’m done now.
;)

Reply

Sarah April 29, 2010 at 9:57 AM

Wow! Agreed that this a great post! Me and my husband did something similar, and honestly, when you embarked on this trip, we had a bet that you would not last the entire time! I think the best way to react to these types of things is to laugh about them and remember that although they did not go according to your plans, they were still great experiences.

I totally agree with Kevin M’s comments that you have still very much “bought in” to a certain vision of life but that you don’t actually seem very excited about it! I also feel like this this post really show’s the disappointment that you feel in yourself. I think maybe its time for you to disconnect from that lifestyle designer world and do some self-exploration.

Also, I will chime in that you don’t know how Milligan’s going to develop as she matures. While some kids may thrive in a world of international travel, my BF has had hundreds of problems completing college and adjusting to life (he’s been in school for 6 years and hasn’t graduated) and he grew up overseas attending international schools where his family worked. So for him personally, a more stable environment would have helped him. So all I’m saying is that it may be too early to decide that Milligan is going to thrive in a life of international travel. Maybe, once you wait until she is 7 or 8, you will have a much better idea of her personality.

Travel is not for everyone. I have the opportunity to go on study abroad in the summer with students and that is something that works out perfectly for my family. We get to stay in a flat and are gone for just a few months. And the school pays for it all! And I get paid! Maybe Courtney could seek out a school with these opportunities? For us it works out great!

Reply

Lou Mindar April 29, 2010 at 7:40 PM

I just had another thought. I don’t know if it will help, but I hope it does.

For years I had dreamed of taking my family around the U.S. in an RV. I loved the idea of it; the freedom, the chance to spend quality time with my wife and kids, being out on the open road.

In December 2007 we set out on what was to be a six month RV adventure. Within a few days I knew I had made a mistake. Traveling in an RV long term takes a guy that is fairly handy mechanically. I’m not that guy. I was constantly confronted with situations I was not cut out for. It was frustrating and I was constantly disappointed in myself.

After a few weeks of this, it would have made sense to give up the RV lifestyle and go back home, but I couldn’t. It was my dream (or at least one of them) and I couldn’t give up on it so easily.

I suffered through the experience and my family suffered through having to put up with me. They were having a better time than me because they didn’t have the same expectations as me. It was my dream, not theirs. They were willing to go along with it, but it was also fine with them if we quit.

After a few months, my wife got an unexpected job offer that was too good to turn down. We had to come in from the road and I was saved from having to be responsible for ending my own dream.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have pushed the RV adventure so far. There’s nothing wrong with giving up on a dream if it turns out not to be the dream you thought it would be.

Maybe that’s what you are doing. You had this dream of traveling the world. It was good for a while, but now you’re feeling guilty for turning your back on your dream and instead preferring to be “home.” Don’t feel guilty, Baker. You want what you want and there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re still in control. Do what makes you and your family happy. Don’t get caught up in some idealized version of what you thought life should be.

Reply

Jan April 29, 2010 at 8:32 PM

I hate to tell you- my children do not remember much of their 18 months in Hong Kong (5&6 yr olds) and nothing of DC (birth to 18 months) and the four places in between. Memories of Hawaii (3rd/4th grades) and Saudi Arabia(5th and 6th) are much stronger. In some ways I really wish we had stayed home near family for those beginning years. I could have had a steady teaching position and they could have been poured over by our family.
It must not have been tooo bad for the kids though- they both live away from us. Now we are expected to be there at the drop of a hat if something happens:>) WE LOVE IT. We plan on traveling out of our Kansas home base for many years to come- as they see the world and we follow. So far 34 countries—–Only three continents to go!

Reply

Master Dayton April 30, 2010 at 1:13 AM

I think it’s an interesting balance. It’s much easier for me from the stand point that I’m single, enjoying being such, and so don’t have nearly the same concerns that families would have when trying to balance travel, stability, and responsibility. My personal thoughts are that it’s important to always enjoy the little things in life, and while you should take risks to go for your dreams, there’s no problem with changing plans depending on what the reality turns out to be or simply with your changing priorities. And finally, welcome home ;)

Reply

brian April 30, 2010 at 6:45 PM

Your problem is the problem that MANY people have when they finally do come ‘home’. Your case is complicated a little more by having a family but the core issue is the same – What do you do with yourself after your mind has been expanded by your traveling?

No good answers and I think part of the answer is going to be going out, doing something, realizing it is not for you and then doing something else. Unfortunately you can’t learn from someone else to avoid making mistakes. This is something only you and your family can do.

Reply

Caroline April 30, 2010 at 7:42 PM

You have a way of expressing yourself that is uncanny…

Reply

Eva & Jeremy Rees May 1, 2010 at 12:22 AM

Hi Baker! Thanks for sharing all your thoughts. They really resonate with us right now. We just found your blog and thankfully so — it’s nice to share some similar concerns :) We very recently got home from a big RTW, and we’re completely in limbo. We sold all our belongings before we departed and now we’re blissfully free… but also a bit directionless. On one hand we feel extremely lucky to be in a place where we can peacefully make just about any choice that jumps out at us, but it’s also a lot of responsibility to try and figure it all out now. We’re taking advantage of our family’s hospitality and staying with them while tapping some unused funds in unemployment (thank you Obama for all your extensions!). For now, we’ve booked some trips around the US to check out cities we’ve always been curious about, but abroad also beckons….

Anyway, we’re thrilled to hear your thoughts on the limbo life, and we can’t wait to hear about your next steps. We’ll be right there with you!

Reply

Strawberry Fields May 1, 2010 at 12:45 PM

Do it because you want to – not because you feel you should or you feel you might be missing out on something. Milligan will be fine – she’s wanted and loved and if she feels she is missing out on something she can always travel when she is older – you can give her some good pointers! All you need to succeed in life is self-belief- she’ll have bucketloads courtesy of her parents :)

If you want to stay put and close to family there is nothing else that compares. You can blog about anything, anywhere, live anywhere – you need to remember you have the right to make a choice that is right for yourselves. Travel if you want – stay if you want. Think less – just do – is my motto :)

So long as you are all enjoying life and enjoying each other – that is all that matters.

Reply

Andrea | Learning to Live Small May 1, 2010 at 9:16 PM

I haven’t read through all of the comments, so maybe someone has pointed out what seems obvious to me.

If your wife is working as a teacher, and if you can do something flexible (like writing), you can plan to do whatever you want for almost 3 months out of the year. Heck, you can leave the day after school is out and not return until the day before.

Plus, you can write about your adventures and likely get paid for it.

My suggestion would be to not get hung up on trying to get it all figured out *today*. Recognize that you’re still young with your lives ahead of you and you’ve already taken more risks than most people do in their entire lifetimes!

As my dad recently told me, using a basketball analogy, sometimes you’ve got to let the ball come to you.

Reply

JimT in Buenos Aires May 5, 2010 at 3:24 PM

But Andrea, I’m 57 and STILL haven’t figured it out!? Am living this 6 months in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I deal with similar difficulties engaging in local relationships and entrenchments. I think it goes with the territory of this kind of (long-term) travel, and partially offsets all the positive aspects.

Baker, absolutely spot-on post! Keep up the good work, and think about writing that book!

Reply

The General May 2, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Baker,

This is one of the most inspiring posts that I have read. Your return to Indiana adds a “human factor” into your blog…it shows that you aren’t invincible. Most travel hackers try to act like they are not human and have absolutely hardships when traveling, so this aspect of your blog is refreshing. Your blog also hits me on a personal factor, because I think a lot like how you think – afraid to settle down in one place, balancing financial goals with personal goals, etc.

I’m currently working in corporate finance but am lucky to move to a new place twice a year. Moving around is the only part that keeps me sane. I am about to pay off the remainder of my debt and can build a nice travel fund in the coming here. Commitment absolutely horrifies me. I have come to realize that my time as a young, single guy with little to no commitments is very limited. Sure, I am career minded, but I have aspirations to indulge myself in different cultures, see the world, and live the life that I won’t be able to live in 10 years. Leaving a well-paid, secure job is tough to do…but sometimes (maybe usually?), you just need to live for now. This is why I absolutely love seeing updates from you. Seeing the way you live your life for now is truly inspiring…and I thank you for helping shape my views to live a better life!

I look forward to following all of your future endeavors!

Reply

Nick May 3, 2010 at 11:32 AM

The reality of Living the Dream is fascinating. It sounds like it all comes back to who you are and not where you are. I am not saying contentment and happiness is not a well-developed trait in your family, just that if you are not one for bumming around the world like Jack Kerouac, well, that’s ok.
You give a very interesting perspective on what life can become when one has the ability to do whatever they want. Thank you.

Reply

Kellie May 4, 2010 at 5:35 AM

Just remember all traveling doesn’t need to be done right away or all at once. Although I do understand the if I get hit by a bus tomorrow theory, and love getting out there and doing stuff (I am currently traveling around the UK doing supply teaching), taking time for things and making lasting connecting relationships is just as important and rewarding.
Reading this post and peoples comments makes me think of my Grandparents, who did some traveling when they were younger and with their kids, but did several huge long round the world type of trips once they had retired. They had a blast! I remember getting postcards presents and phones call from around the world (which is part of what inspired me to go traveling myself) My Grandfather is now 80 and still loves to travel, 6 months ago he came with us on our trip to Sydney with our family and friends, but like taking a toddler it took some thinking and patience from all of us to make it work but it was worth it!
I’m not trying to say that you should wait until you retire to continue your travels, just that don’t feel like you have to have everything you ever dreamed of in one moment. Its ok to take some time to enjoy your family and friends and set up a home base for however long you need. Being able to pack up and travel isn’t going to stop being an option just because you have lived somewhere for a year, or 2 or more.
I think designing your life style is about continually thinking about and making choices about what is going to be good for you at this moment.
I’m sure no matter what you choose you will be living life to the fullest.

Reply

chacha1 May 4, 2010 at 6:39 PM

Hi Baker, “welcome home.” I would have gotten a little teary-eyed myself!

fwiw I totally sympathize with your fear of getting tied down, but you three are very, very young still. There is a whole lot of life ahead. If it were me, I would take the year in IN to solidify those family connections and your finances.

Don’t buy a house, though! That would produce too much of a rationale to stay. Buy a digital projector instead and host movie nights at your (rented) place. Invite the family. You won’t be tempted to get a big-screen tv anymore.

And satisfy the travel bug for a while by learning to cook different ethnic foods. Take language classes. Study ethnic arts. Travel in your head.

If you get hit by a bus tomorrow you have still had a measure of success, a great adventure, and a loving relationship – which is not a bad tally.

Reply

Kendra May 5, 2010 at 9:45 AM

This was a great post and more specifically I could relate to it because of the idea,

“So you end up living a half-assed, gimped life, because you are scared of entering into an experience that will keep you tied down…”

I’ve struggled with this myself all through college because I knew I wanted to move out of the Midwest. It was always hard to explain this frustration to others and you did such a great job of it. On the flip side (after graduation a few months back), I was mere inches from staying in the Midwest just to please my family and be close to them (which has obvious benefits to me as well, but wouldn’t ever lead to fulfillment).

It’s a struggle that has been on-going for me for quite some time, and reading your blog was like flipping on a light switch in my head, I’ve never had anyone else I felt understood this sentiment of living “unattached” because you knew your living location was temporary, and this blog was really great for me.

Just wanted to let you know that you will figure it all out, and don’t ever settle to please someone else. Yes, you want to make others happy that you care about but in the end you do them a dis justice if you aren’t living full out. You are at your ultimate happiness and growth levels nor are you living the life you know you desire. How you can tell them to chase all of their dreams when you just gave in and settled? If your going to settle somewhere, do it for YOU, not anyone else, even family. You can still visit, call, email, ect. :)

Reply

JKC May 5, 2010 at 11:55 AM

Being self-employed and married to a teacher is great! – I speak from experience here. I really enjoy my wife’s long vacations in the summer, winter and spring. We frequently travel during those breaks – although I wouldn’t consider myself a nomad or lifestyle traveler. It seems that you may be able to “have your cake and eat it too” so to speak. If Courtney enjoys teaching, why not do it for a year or two. Then, you could focus your efforts on planning to make June, July, and August your (second) “trip of a lifetime”.

Brilliant and heartfelt post. Thank you.

Reply

schmei May 5, 2010 at 1:18 PM

I’ve only been an occasional visitor – now I feel like I need to go read all your archives!

“The only reason in the entire world we’d stay in Indiana is our family. Problem is, that’s a big reason.” Yup. I came to Chicago for what I thought would be three years. Wellp, it’s been 10, and I’m still here. My brother moved up here when I’d been here a year. Then I married a guy whose whole extended family is from Chicago. I keep wavering between wanting to move somewhere – ANYWHERE – else and being so glad that we’re a 30 minute drive away from his grandparents.

Family is a huge reason. And at this point I think family is going to alter what I thought were my life plans. So the question is: is that really so bad? We’re still planning to do some very cool travel, but we’re probably not going to live the life I’d envisioned for myself (namely, somewhere OTHER than the Midwest).

But I also never envisioned getting to watch these baby cousins grow up, or just spending a random Sunday afternoon with the grandparents or with my brother. It’s the opposite of the single-serve relationships you mentioned.

You don’t want to settle to please someone else. But, like you, I’m really not sure what would please me at this point. And I do know that I’m loved and supported here, which is huge and not to be taken for granted.

Good luck with the decision-making process…

Reply

SarahB May 5, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Enjoyed this post and really appreciated your honesty about how things unfolded, because though many don’t share it, your experience is much closer to what many people encounter when they go “traveling.”

I truly hope you don’t feel guilty that things did not work out as you’d hoped or planned. The very fact that you undertook something of this scope deserves kudos. So many people only think about it, wish for it and do nothing. You gave it a shot and for whatever reasons, it did not work as you’d expected. Plan B…

Life is about trade-offs and but it isn’t necessarily an either/or proposition: Either be able to travel or be tied down.

I know this because I know people who do travel and who do have connections and friends (all over). No, they don’t have mortgages, and lots of material stuff. But that allows them to pick up and go as needed. Most important, they have work/careers that though they lack the stability of a “regular” job (whatever that is anymore)–although no job seems to be stable these days–they are willing to live with that situation.

There are sacrifices because very few spouses are good with this and if you have kids, that’s a whole other thing.

In rereading this, my real question is what really is beneath your concerns. You seem strongly in need of a very “rooted” community/family existence. Nothing wrong with that. Yet you seem to equate that with a lack of freedom. I don’t know how old you are, but let’s say you get two weeks a year off and you take that to travel.

I don’t know how many places are on your bucket list but you could still see a lot of places.

Now, if you really wanted to live abroad, you’d be thinking about work/career that included those options. (There are plenty of expats all over the world working for large companies and moving around the globe.)

It seems as if you’re saying you can’t choose, when it actually seems as if you do not want to choose, because it seems to close the door one one option while choosing another.

Here’s the thing; If you get involved with life and people wherever you are, for as long as you are, you’re living fully. Yea, you may end up moving and leaving people but that is no rationale for not committing to experiencing a full life wherever you are.

Nobody ties us down. WE do that to ourselves with our choices and our belief system.

For some people, family IS enough reason to stay somewhere. For others, it is not.

It’s not clear who is missing whom the most, you or your family. But if you want to travel and live somewhere else, and you have thought it out and can do it (self-supporting), then do it now. While you’re young.

FYI: Children also get attached to people, places, etc. especially as they grow. However, depending on how they are raised, they can get used to moving around as well.

I’m not sure traveling is really the issue here at all; suspect it’s something deeper. This feeling you are missing something by not being “out there” and exploring.

The bottom line is, are you really someone who likes a somewhat nomadic existence? And do you really need that to explore the world?

Lots of people live in their daily lives and then, several times a year, leave it to explore other worlds.

You DO know what you want; you just have to really come to terms with it, and the sacrifices it may entail. Cause that is the issue. Every choice in life has “price” no matter how much pleasure it brings. Every choice includes change and things you can’t anticipate.

Trust in yourself and your ability to adapt…but also, be honest if your spouse and child are not as into this as you are.

Reply

Cindy May 5, 2010 at 9:07 PM

So happy to have run across your article! I’ve been plotting about how to take a year off to experience other cultures with my husband & boys. My job is much more portable than husband’s, though, and he’s not so into the idea as I am. I can’t wait to catch up on all your older posts about the experience. Good luck with your next steps!

Reply

Nora - The Professional Hobo May 5, 2010 at 10:18 PM

Good for you for allowing your travels to evolve along with your life, and to continue evaluating what you want and how to get it. That’s what life is all about!

Reply

enza May 7, 2010 at 8:20 PM

I enjoy travel from time to time, I really do, but mainly because I have a fully paid up house to come home to. I got my own house by sticking at something for years and years and years. A templated life – I guess you could say. It’s been such hard work. Many would see my life as boring and unimaginative. But you know what – I always thought travel was the easy way out and I know so many people that “front loaded” all the high consumption goods times in their 20s and 30s (and travel is nothing but consumption no matter how one dresses it up) that their 40s are depressingly austair.

Reply

Josh Tremblay May 8, 2010 at 3:48 AM

Wow! Baker, you had me on the edge of my seat until the final sentence. I feel like I’m right there with you. These are hard questions to be asking. Their answers will be worthwhile. I am excited to learn about what you decide in the upcoming months.

Reply

Colin Burns May 8, 2010 at 9:10 AM

Hi Baker,

Wow, that’s a truly open post. I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with changing your mind. You tried it, you didn’t particularly like it, cool then change it! If you worked in a job you didn’t like you wouldn’t feel bad about changing that job would you?

The only thing I would say is that perhaps the mode of travel was the difficulty. We re currently travelling around SE Asia and hopefully I’ll get to meet some of those same lifestyle designers you are talking about in Bangkok as well when I get up there. We have a 2 & a 4 year old and you are absolutely right. Some days are down right horrible with them when you are travelling. But you have those same days at home too.

We have been on the road now for almost 3 months and have the next 3 months of travel through Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos organised. We’ll then settle down somewhere for 2 or three months.

I promise I am getting to my point soon…

RV around the US. It gives you the permanent home that is important to young children, you have the same freedom to spend time with your young child (and have more if you want) and work on your blog or work on creating more products to try and monetise.

Don’t stress about not know what you want out of life, only a luck few really know exactly what they want (most don’t even want it once they get there). Just ride the wave and work towards setting up your life and finances to be able to roll with the punches.

We head home to Australia for Christmas (the Grandparents wanna see the kids) and then we’ll head to the US for a couple of weeks snowboarding before buying a car and heading south to Central and South America.

We’d love to RV through the states and hopefully we’ll get there later in the year.

Good luck and maybe we’ll catch you on the road in the US or Central America. If we rent a place in Costa Rica you and your family will have to come down and visit ;)

Regards,
Colin

Reply

wendy May 12, 2010 at 9:11 AM

what a great post! we are about to embark on a (planned) year-long exploration of the western USA, working our way on organic farms. we hope to learn the skills it will take to operate our own homestead and be able to live on as little money as possible. your blog has been very inspiring, and we look forward to blogging about our experience.

Reply

Jessica Bosari May 13, 2010 at 11:16 AM

This is an incredibly emotional post. You have shared so much. I have sort of a similar thing going on. I spent seven years trying to figure out a way to work from home and finally stumbled onto writing for a living. After 1.5 years I am finally at my goal income. But I still feel this need to continue striving and growing. So I’m left floundering a little for the next step. What exactly is the next step?

I believe the next step will reveal itself. There is no need to worry about settling…your life’s purpose will reveal itself. Just as you made the decision that you would pay off your debt and start traveling, make the decision that you will find out what the next step is. Don’t be afraid to settle in and embrace the support of your family. Part of living life fully is embracing now, and letting go of it just as easily to pursue something else. Stay flexible, determined and watch out for the spark. You’ll know it when you feel it. It’s the same spark that sent you to New Zealand!

Good Luck!

Reply

Jillian May 13, 2010 at 11:16 AM

You know what? There’s a very real difference between traveling or living far away from “home” before you have children and doing it after. Before you have a baby, it’s all about you, the world is your oyster, and exploration and adventure are an exciting, seducing luxury.

But after you have a child, it’s all about them. Logistically, no one can help you. Would you trust a stranger with your firstborn child? Not easily. You are completely on your own in a strange and now difficult (not so exciting) environment.

But more importantly, there’s no ‘Grandma’s house’ for your kid. There’s no one that feels the connection of family with your child, and children need that. And you need it, too. You need to see your daughter’s face light up when she sees your mom, and hear her say new words you didn’t even know she knew until you see her tell your brother about a recent adventure.

My family is also back in Indiana and our two (almost three) kids have been born and raised in DC. Not quite as far, but still not a quick drive away. Ever since I had my oldest I’ve been aching to go home and give my kids the family time I was lucky to have when I was young.

I’m happy for you that you’re doing it! I think this is a time for Congrats for you and your lovely daughter :)

Reply

Russ Reynolds May 20, 2010 at 8:42 PM

Hey..

I love your blog. I almost never post on blogs but this post really spoke to me. I am an internet marketer from Canada living in Mexico – been here 3 months now. Most people think that is pretty cool – to be able to work from anywhere – and it is. I am a family man too – here with my wife and daughter who just turned 8 here.

But it kind of gets weird too.

I mean I almost feel a panic thinking that there is no way I could travel everywhere I want to in the world and still experience the culture properly. I mean, when is it time to move on to the next place?

Do I love the thrill of travelling more than actually living abroad?

I am not always sure of the answers to these questions.

I thought once I got to this point that everything would be cool but perhaps I still have not truly discovered my true love – travel may be a symptom rather than the solution.

Anyway – if you guys like the sun, I highly recommend Cabo San Lucas Mexico. Pretty much everything is wonderful here.

We are considering Buenos Aires next – I will have to try your travel hacks though as the full price fare is horrendous.

Thanks for the insightful post and thanks for the Internet that allows us to do this.

Cheers,

Russ

Reply

JimT in Buenos Aires May 21, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Hey Russ, I’ve spent the last 5 months in Buenos Aires and I can tell you it’s also got pros and cons, like everywhere. Was considering… Cabo San Lucas.(JK)
PM me for more info.
Saludos,
Jim

Reply

Mama Bird May 21, 2010 at 4:37 PM

Hey Baker, I haven’t been to your blog (or blogged myself) for a while, but found myself here today. I had to stop reading all the LIP blogs, frankly, because it started making me feel bad about myself and the fact that I am not there, and might never be. But, I also realized that I don’t want to be location independent in the sense that I don’t want to travel all the time. I LOVE my community. I love that I know my neighbors and the people who work at my local library call me by name and that I can’t go anywhere without running into a friend. I love that I am surrounded by people who know and will watch over my kids…it takes a village after all. BUT, having said that, I also miss our family in Australia and although we were just there at Christmas, I would LOVE to be able to see them again. (Although, with our youngest would prefer they visit us rather than take that flight again anytime soon).

So, I guess what I’m getting at is that family IS important. And there is no reason why you can’t be location independent in Indiana and travel when you get the itch. I don’t think establishing roots is the bad guy, but instead it’s being forced into something you don’t want. You can CHOOSE to stay in Indiana, but with a more flexible way to produce income that allows you the freedom you crave.

Good luck.

Reply

Brooke May 22, 2010 at 4:38 PM

Hello Baker:

I can’t thank you enough for this post, which was so honest and thought provoking. I read it as my family and I wrestled — as we have been for months now — with extending our own international adventure. Our situation is slightly different — kids are older (10 and 11), financials are a little less of an issue, we are already established in a community back home that we like, etc. — but your words provided great fodder for discussion we tried to reach some sort of consensus.

We too struggled with the fear of returning to the US and falling back into our old life, parts of which we’ve realized we didn’t necessarily like. At the same time, we were daunted by what it would take to stay on the road for another year — all the planning both here and at home, the risk of homeschooling both kids effectively for another year and keeping them away from their social networks, our son’s heartache over being away from the familiar, and yes, even the fate of the family dog.

In the end and after hours of discussion, our family decided that it was time to go home for now. When we actually did the math and tallied the pluses and minuses, we realized that going home made the most sense. We agreed that we would rather “go out on top” and not try to kill ourselves and ruin the remaining months we have on this trip with trying to cram in the work it would entail to make for another successful year on the road.

We also concluded that — as hokey as it may sound — there are ways of extending one’s journey, even from the comfort of home. That will be our challenge as we return and take up our lives and careers.

Travel will always be a part of our lives and we can set up our new post-this-trip lives to facilitate that. We will go home and continue the process of down-sizing that we began last year as we prepared for the trip. We will re-consider purchases. We will think twice about so over-scheduling our children and ourselves such that we don’t have time to think or enjoy the process. That is our goal anyway. We’ll see how it all transpires. We still have ten weeks of this trip (and homeschool) to enjoy so we’re focusing on that.

I wish you and your family the best in sorting out what lies ahead of you. What struck me in reading the comments is that almost everyone struggles at some point, some repeatedly, over what lifestyle, career or travel box to be in. The answer hinges on too many variables to count and ones that are different for everyone. That is what makes life so interesting and yet so challenging at the same time. Try to enjoy the process (she says as she tries to implant the same mantra into her OWN head.)

Reply

Todd May 23, 2010 at 7:19 PM

I recently spoke with a friend of mine concerning the “nomadic life” they have with their 4 children as they travel the U.S. by RV – everyone gets what he calls “the itch to hitch.”

Give it time, let Milligan grow a bit, instill some self-discipline in her and then when she’s able and you feel she’s more fit – hitch the wagon and head out to your various points of destination…

We are looking to launch our blog and then launch our family into full-time traveling throughout the U.S. by RV with our family of 5. It takes time and you will get there “Grasshopper” – patience and timing… It’s hard to catch the fly with your chopsticks (a la Karate Kid & Ralph Machio) the first time.

We got the “itch to hitch”, but nothing to hitch to!!! Now, off to master that chopsticks and fly thing….

“Fair winds and following seas…”

Reply

Leigh May 25, 2010 at 5:18 AM

Ah yes, the sweet spot. I’m finishing my 6th month living abroad in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The first 3 were pure bliss – the honeymoon phase. I’m doing awesome work (launching a socially based business) and met awesome people. I have friends and a community. The fourth month was when I realized, dude I LIVE here. Homesickness started to take root. The fifth month is when I realized how transient an ex-pat community can be – some friends went home for good, others went home for 3 weeks or the summer. But, I’m still here. It’s hard, very hard, to live in the moment when you know the moment is limited. Time is ticking. I don’t have a magic answer, but I’m trying to find my way. Accepting that right now is hard, but trusting that it won’t always be. Good luck to you on figuring out what you want to do next!

Reply

Nicole May 28, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Well… comment number 118 here.

I think you can settle in one place, save up, then take year long sabbaticals before moving back to home base. At least… that’s what we’re doing this year and hope to do in another 3-6 years, then again in 3-6 years. Life is long and it’s ok to take breaks from stability or from adventure. There’s new experiences at every age … and there’s nothing wrong with a mortgage if you can find renters or it’s cheap enough to pay from savings. Don’t feel stuck whatever you choose to do next, because (if you’re careful) you never really are.

Reply

J Brown June 2, 2010 at 6:55 PM

Let me know when you figure out the answer.

This has been our issue for the past 15 months. We have spent 5 yrs overseas in Europe. We know that our now is not meant to be, but looking forward has been hard. We are just about ready to sell the house, but not sure where the next house should be. It could be in AUS or NC! Again, anywhere, but here. The main problem with anywhere is that it is too vague. We have tried to scope anywhere, but -it- expands back into just about anywhere. We too have a family and consider moving closer to extended family. On days, we feel that this is the best thing, other days we feel it is not.

Truthfully, I was expecting your post about environmental changes to talk about this topic. I think I need to force my environment change and see where I land. The catch here is that I is really an Us, family of 5. The risk is greater. At times, it is easier for me to consider the -not- in the arguement than the yes. So I ask, why not live in IN? why not travel in an RV for 6 months?

Reply

Lori June 8, 2010 at 11:53 AM

From the perspective of my mid-forties…

I think your 20s are really about building .. building a life for yourself, a career, a community, maybe a family. (We waited until our 30s to start our family.)

I understand the desire for travel and adventure to be a big part of your life, but I wonder if you aren’t jumping the gun just a bit and would be happier putting down some roots and building yourself a community, then using that as your home base.

You can still live lightly on the earth .. live simply .. etc.

We built in our 20s, branched out in our 30s, and retired in our early 40s. Now we can see that travel and adventure will be a bigger piece of the pie as our children leave the nest. (We have continued to travel throughout.)

Maybe it’s oversimplification, but I do believe in life “phases”. Or maybe, because I spent my 20s building something and my 30s expanding it, I feel completely happy with retiring in my 40s.

Reply

Justin July 3, 2010 at 10:35 PM

Great Post!

I have been following you for some time and have great admiration for what you have done. The honest approach is refreshing.

Like many of the others, I have been there. Literally did the same thing as you about 8 years ago, just packed up and went home. And at the time it was fine, but I settled in with my wife, the kids and it happened. I never got the big screen TV, but pretty much got stuck.

You have a great, mobile business working for you and seem to have your family’s interests at heart – most important. But man, you got to keep moving. It only gets tougher I am afraid, wait until you daughter starts school and makes some friends. And the second kid, OH MAN!

But Indiana can be a stop-over just as with the places you wish to travel. My wife and are looking for a CHEAP home in a summery, tourist destination where we can live as well as creating a mobile business. This way the kids can attend school during the year and we can all travel on vactions and throughout the summer. Maybe even homeschool the kids for semesters here and there, but at least they will still have their home base.

Don’t regret your decision, but don’t become content either. You have raised a militia – you don’t want them coming over to kick your ass for you.

Keep searching – you have come this far which is much farther than most, you will find a way.

Reply

Melissa E November 4, 2010 at 12:35 AM

What an inspiring story. I’m probably 10 years older than you and Courtney, but I completely relate about being from a wanting to get the most out of life, wanting to get out of debt, and not being clear on what to do. What you really do have going for you is that you have a wife & daughter that you love and more extended family to share your lives with. Whether you stay put or roam around, you’ll always have these great relationships to treasure. Somehow in my moving around, I missed that part and am still looking for it, and that gets harder and harder as I get older.

The “short” version of what I’m saying is that I think you’ve got the most important part figured out already. For making sure that you have great experiences, there are lots of options. If you do stay put, maybe you could host international exchange students when Milligan is older. It will help her connect to her larger world and maybe she’ll make some friends that she can go visit on her own world travels someday. You could also go with the “4 hour work week” idea of “mini-retirements” every so often.

When I was younger I used to wish that I could live somewhere and be part of some cool “scene.” If I’d lived in the 60′s I’d've wanted to have been a hippie in San Francisco, or a punk kid in London, and there are other examples if I think a little harder. But what I came to realize later is that you make your own scene. Bob Dylan didn’t decide he wanted to be in a scene; he just wanted to make music and he hung out with other people who wanted the same and this whole thing sprung up around them. Just be present for whatever place you’re in (even if it’s Indiana), engage the people around you, and you’ll be in YOUR scene. It’ll work.

Reply

Bruce November 4, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Great post Baker

I really think these stages you describe have been repeated by a lot of us.

Having a home base to return to in order to get your bearings again (preferably where extended family and friends are).

Having a mobile income in order to travel.

Having goals when you travel to aim towards, but which are flexible.

Keeping life simple and unencumbered by the “stuff” we all think we need.

Giving back something as you go.

If you work towards all this, as you are doing, I really think you will end up with a great life experience. You will also end up with a close knit group of friends you never expected. Just because you are only staying in a place a short while, does not mean you need to use that excuse to not join a church or make friends.

Keep up the great ideas and story. We are really enjoying it as we move along similar paths.

Reply

Christina November 12, 2010 at 1:25 PM

That’s a very inspiring post, Baker. And I think a lot of people feel the same way, they’re stuck in the same kind of dilemma. But like many other commenters before me, I think there are so many shades of grey if you want, that lie between settling down near your family permanently and being completely on the road.

If you decide to stay in your location for a while, then always remember that doesn’t have to be for good, and that you are consciously making that decision – you’re not being forced into it. During that time, why don’t you become couch surfing hosts, wwoofing hosts or welcome international travellers in some other form or style, so that the foreign, exciting, new stuff comes to you instead of you travelling out there. Find joy in showing visitors around and discover your own area in doing so.

Or, you could become serial expats. Just take a long-term view on things, like choosing your favourite countries you’d like to explore one day, and then deciding on living in country A for 2 years, then in country B for 5 years, etc. etc. That creates more stability, is less exhausting and probably cheaper and lets you not only discover but truly live there.

I only just discovered your blog and am looking forward to reading much much more! I especially enjoyed your New Zealand posts :)

Reply

Lee Miller (zenbuzz) November 25, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Baker

It seems that I’m coming into this conversation somewhat late but I felt motivated to leave a comment. I am new to getting your newsletter so I don’t have the complete picture of the reasons for your urge to travel. I’ve traveled to enought european countries that on my last European trip in 1985 I made the decision that I was done with foreign travel because I wanted to see all that America had to see. I had traveled all of the western states in the 1970′s by motorcycle and bedroll over a period of three years. This has given me the perspective that I’m missing much by not seeing all that America has to offer.

In this article I don’t get a sense of focus on what you are seeking. My travels were about finding out about myself, who I wanted to be and what I liked and wanted out of life. I decided that I had one simple but elusive goal in life – that was to be happy. I now live everyday in happiness. I ask you and others what more could a person seek than to be living a life of happiness and bliss?

I wish the best for you and your family on your adventures and living life fully.

Lee

Reply

Gary Howard December 10, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Well.
Very well written, and very entertaining. As a single parent of an 8 year old, doing something such as you have done has crossed my mind quite a bit. BUT…I owe my child everything, and that does include stability of some kind. I always find myself laying in bed at night wondering about that balance. Children certainly do benefit from having a set schedule(such as bedtimes). What would be in it for selfish old me is the idea of living life away from the American culture-Europe I have considered for instance. Are they doing it better overseas? Would I really miss things about this culture? Having said that, I love being kept busy, but being best friend to my child is more important than making tons of dough(although that might come in second or third!).

Reply

Justin Mussler December 10, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Gary,

Stability can happen anywhere, can’t it? I know many families who work the 9-5 and stay local and are really unstable. I don’t think travel or life abroad needs to imply instability or late bedtimes, that is vacation. Travel is not neccesarily vacation, just a new schedule.

I think back to when I was 8 and I none of it seems that imporant. I am sure I would have been happy anywhere if i was with those I care about. My happiness was dictated by my parents. Unhappy parents tend to rub off their children and vice-versa.

Baker’s travel lifestyle may actually afford more stability and time with his child. I don’t think he does this too make money nor should anyone else.

In the end, you won’t know until you try and it if you spend some time considering it, it is really quite practical. I may even argue that living a mobile lifestyle is more affordable and stable than our conventional American lives.

Something to think about.

All the Best.

Reply

Carol December 20, 2010 at 2:23 PM

Great open post! I hear you about the tug of familiarity and family…how those two go together do they not! I am at the other end of the spectrum…older, maybe wiser with grown child and grandchildren. I want to travel and share those travels with my grand-kids, but when they are a bit older. I think 3.5 and 9 months is too much for me and my daughter would never let me. But I am all for experimenting in living and working elsewhere if I can get the work visas to do so. I am considering Australia because I have a friend there. I am also considering Spain and South America because I have lived in Latin America before and speak Spanish quite well. I am inspired by your perseverance, your openness to the rest of us and your thinking out loud…too many of my generation just clam up and don’t say much. Keep up the good work and keep us all aware…it is OK to be scared, I am way older than you and I still get scared! Bless all three of you!

Reply

Laura March 16, 2011 at 4:27 PM

This is a great post and I find your honesty really comforting. Thank you.

Reply

Ayngelina January 5, 2012 at 1:54 PM

After 18 months of traveling slowly I also burnt out and just announced I was coming home. It was such a tough decision to make and then announce because I had become part of a nomadic blogger community and felt like I had failed a bit.

But I’ve been back a month, have figured a way to do freelance work and travel in between and it feels like better balance for me.

I am scared too, I’m surrounded by people who buy new things have nice homes and I don’t want to get up in it. I had to really think about buying $80 winter boots, but I’m in Canada it has to be done. All I could think was that was 3 days travel in Central America…

But once I announced it I was surprised at how many people reached out to explain that I don’t need to be nomadic to have a travel-centric lifestyle and explained how they approach it.

I was thinking all or nothing but there’s lots of room in between.

Reply

Sunshine January 20, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Ayngelina,
I know exactly how you feel. I made the same goals to move away and travel and then ended up having to come home. Since I have been home I have been working effortlessly to try and create a lifestyle/work option that will allow me to still have a travel-centric llifestyle. I am getting ready to launch a freelance writing website.. sunshinewrites.com and hoping that this will help me on that path. I fight the urge everyday to buy the next new gadget, or new clothes or anything that will get in the way of my goals. Materialism is very commonplace in America…and Canada and seems to dominate mindsets and daily thinking. I am hoping to not get sucked in so that I can keep to my goals! I would really, really like to hear the explanations people gave you on how to approach this new lifestyle. Have you been able to travel? What kind of freelance work do you do?

Adam-
Great post as always and thank you so much for sharing insights into your daily life and struggles. It shows that you are human like the rest of us with the same struggles. You don’t put on airs like so many and make it seem ‘too good to be true.’ I appreciate your honest approach.

Reply

Butterfly Jewel February 15, 2012 at 6:08 PM

I truly enjoyed reading your post. I can’t believe how much of it sounds like me and my travels, except I’m traveling solo. I can really relate to a lot of things you mentioned, especially the part about not being ready to plant your roots yet, especially since you don’t know where you want them to be and the current place you are isn’t exactly where you want to. Haha…I even got a 6 month lease like you because I didn’t want a year long commitment, especially since I don’t want to be here long term. I also figure that that would be good time for me to pursue writing which is something that I have always enjoyed and would be so happy if I can make a living from it. I also have that travel bug where I want to see more. However, one of the things that I learned through my travels and working abroad is that I don’t need to stay in a place for a whole year to experience the life and culture there, only 3 to 6 months is more than enough for me. I can’t believe how much your post sounds like me, my experience and even questions and thoughts I have. I do hope you and your wife find the answers to the questions you have, and I wish you the best in all those good things to come :-)

Thanks for this post too! It helps to know that others share some of the same sentiments that I have.

Reply

Sunshine February 15, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Butterfly Jewel-
I loved your comment! I was also traveling solo, and I really miss it. I do like traveling more with people though. I came back home, but am not ready to settle yet. I have started a writing business(website in progress almost done) and working as a VA online. I am hoping that it will be enough so I can continue to follow my passion and support myself.

Keep going as long as you can!

Reply

Butterfly Jewel February 17, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Hi Sunshine :-)
Thank you so much for your encouragement! I love traveling, too and hope I can make a living out of writing some way. I would like to know how your business goes, and I’m hoping it will go well. You mentioned that you are also a VA online. What does VA stand for?

Reply

Sunshine February 17, 2012 at 10:31 PM

VA= Virtual Assistant. There are many, many options to work as a VA online. You can either do it through phone work (which doesn’t work so well with traveling) or background office work. Some people like to have social media posting done for them, data processing, scheduling, etc. I have two friends that own their own VA companies and do mentoring for it as well. One of them is virtualgalfriday.com and the other is smartchicology.com. They were both very helpful to me in getting started.

There are many options for working online and you can do many things you would do in a brick and mortar business. I have been trying to build up enough experience and skills in order to become more portable and support myself in my passion for travel! I know that writing is an art, and you continue to learn as you write.

I hope that you find your way as well. I know that you should definitely write down your adventures and points of interest. Many of those articles could be useful later and you can sometimes sell pieces to different magazines as location pieces.

I hope that you can find a way to follow your dreams…keep writing.

Reply

Butterfly Jewel February 18, 2012 at 10:34 PM

Thank you so much for your response and all the information, Sunshine :-) Being a virtual assistant sounds interesting, and I will be checking out your friends’ websites. You are very encouraging! I wish you the best on your endeavor and know that youwill be successful!

Reply

Lily May 20, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Excellent post! I stumbled on it while searching for posts on travel burnout… I struggle with the same question – settling where my parents are (which doesn’t feel right bc I dont like the DC area), keep traveling long term (half year in one place and half year in US), or going back to a “regular” life with travel here and there. It’s tough! Just returned from a long trip and also at a crossroads. Hope everything worked out for you guys!

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 9 trackbacks }