I’m writing this as I look out at the back garden of our friend’s house in London. Last night was New Year’s Eve, which would have been much more interesting if we weren’t both battling colds (again)! Fara was able to stay awake to watch the London fireworks display on the tele, but I completely konked out at 10pm and was somehow able to sleep through the ruckus in our neighborhood (including fireworks and yelling). I realize that it has been over two months since our last article. I really have no excuse other than laziness (more on this later).
The Year in Review
2017 was a year full of drastic changes. We both left our long term careers to travel the world, meet new people, experience foreign cultures and focus more on what makes us happy. While we are gone, our house will be rented out requiring us to downsize our worldly possessions. We put into storage what we couldn’t think of parting with (yet), sold as much of the remaining lot that we were able and gave away everything else. There were many local donation centers that got to know us very well.
In the past year, we have visited 23 states in the US, 13 countries in Europe and racked up tens of thousands of miles via planes, trains, automobiles and ferries. Some of this travel has been what one would typically think of as vacationing (four countries in two weeks, never staying in one place more than a few days). However, for us to sustain a nomadic lifestyle for the long term, we are having to experiment with the concept of slow travel. Settling in one place for a month or longer is much easier on the budget and keeps us from getting burned out being constantly on the move. Both modes of travel have their own advantages and we are trying to find the mix that works best for us. In Ireland we had our first house sitting assignment where we took care of a dog and two cats while their owners were on a trip for a week. It was great having some four-legged friends to keep us company while exploring SE Ireland.
Being on a career break has given us ample opportunity to explore interests that we didn’t make enough time for while in the working world. Fara has taken a liking to knitting and crochet, graduating from basic rectangular projects (scarves and blankets) to sweaters and socks. This has had us visiting yarn/wool shops in many different countries and having to resort to pantomime in order to communicate when the language barrier is too great. I’ve focused my time to honing my photographic skills and turning the travel photography I’d be doing anyway into a revenue stream. I now have a small portfolio of stock photos that are starting to sell.
The Year Ahead
During the coming year we hope to focus more on house sitting as a way of finding accommodations. Our experience in 2017 is that finding sits is not something that you can do passively and they are rarely available exactly when and where you want to travel. So we are going to try and treat house sitting more like a business and go where the “work” is, planning out as far in advance as we can. Wish us luck, the one sit we did in 2017 was a lot of fun and rewarding.
After spending most of in 2017 in a few western European countries, we plan for our travels this year to take us into eastern Europe. We’ve spent very little time there in the past, and we look forward to exploring a part of the continent that has not traditionally been high on travelers’ to do lists. There are distinct advantages here as well. Probably most important to us right now is that cost of living is much lower than in the west, giving us a chance to stretch the travel budget even further. A much more subtle advantage is that the countries we’re heading towards are not part of the broader European Shengen Area visa. Without going into too much detail, it puts less pressure on us to keep from overstaying our welcome as tourists.
A New Year’s Resolution
I’ve never been a fan of the New Year’s Resolution. I don’t believe that there is anything magical about the first of January that will change my bad habits into good ones. Maybe I should rephrase it into “My Goal for 2018”.
We have now been on the road for four and a half months. At the beginning of this journey, I had visions of the CanDoLatitude.com blog being a chronicle of our travels and a source of inspiration to others with similar aspirations. For all of my good intentions, a lack of planning and commitment meant that posting quickly went from every two weeks, to once a month, ending with our last post in late October. In my previous life working in the tech industry, I learned that any project without proper goals has a nearly zero percent chance of being successful. Without going into too much inspirational business-speak, I’m going to define my “proper goal” as something that is specific, attainable and measurable. So keeping that in mind, here we go with my goal for 2018:
I will post new articles to CanDoLatitude.com on the first and third Monday of each month for the next three months.
There, that wasn’t so bad. I’m even 1/6 of the way done with the goal (today is the first Monday of January). Another aspect of good goal setting is accountability, I’m going to have to rely on you the reader to help out with that. Feel free to prod me a bit if I don’t live up to my end of the bargain.