Who is this crazy guy that’s talking about selling everything he owns and traveling the world? Well, that would be ME!
I grew up in a typical, semi-normal middle-class family. My parents were raised in the depression era, then lived through WWII and truly knew the meaning hard times.
As a kid, I didn’t spend a lot of time in the house, heck if it was light outside we weren’t allowed inside. Instead, we rode our bikes everywhere, climbed hills, fished and playing “kick the can” was a high-tech game.
I was lucky, though; my parents wanted me to see things and have experiences. As I approached my teen years, they pushed me towards as many activities as they could. A few were sports, Boy Scouts, and travel. During these years we always had a camper, travel trailer or 5th wheel, this was long before they were fashionable. I remember those times as though it were yesterday; my mom cooking all week and me coming home from school on Friday afternoon to help her load for that weekend’s adventure. When my dad got home from work, we were ready to go.
Family vacations were always great excursions; whether it was North or South to relatives or cross-country to Mount Rushmore or Williamsburg. It was the time of my life. It was those experiences that ignited the spark that drives me to travel, and the yearning to meet others and learn their cultures. As Nomadic Matt says, “It is not the trip, it’s the “experience” that drives me.” I find Matt’s approach and passion for travel refreshing, and it has rekindled the spark within me.
Anyways, after high school, I went to work in a factory for a couple of years as an Apprentice Welder. Waking up every morning and thinking to myself only 45 more years until I can retire. (Can you relate?)
I felt trapped. I needed more, and yearned to do more with my life. Having grown up with the blue-collar foundations; follow God, get an education, serve your country and to go work for a company and stay with them until you retired. There had to be a better way, so I started looking at my options.
One afternoon while sitting by the bay trying to relax I looked up and saw the military helicopters passing overhead. It was like any of the other hundreds of times I had seen them. But this time it was different, it was like a slap in the face. On my way home I stopped by the Army recruiter and told him I wanted to work on helicopters. A week later I was telling my parents I was scheduled to leave in four days. I never knew my mom could cry so much. My dad knew I was doing what I had to; he had done the same.
Now 20 years old standing on the tarmac of the Frankfurt (Germany) airfield wondering where in the hell am I. It was a long flight, my first time in a foreign country (except for the occasional shopping trip to Tijuana) and not a clue how to speak the language. Three hours later I was at my duty station in the heart of Bavaria (Schweinfurt), that was when that little spark inside me started to burn brightly. I spent five years traveling throughout Europe, every long weekend, every bit of leave I could muster.
Through the blessing of some German friends I met, I moved into a house in the small village of Heidenfeld. They adopted me as one of their own and always treated me as though I was born there and had lived there my whole life. That’s when I “experienced” traveling and realize what it really meant to live a culture.
After five years I came home and settled into the routine I talked about earlier, and went back to school completing my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Then I went into the corporate world. Don’t get me wrong; I worked for a couple of great companies that treated me right, and I saw and lived in some beautiful places I might not have had the chance to otherwise. New York City, Denver, San Francisco, and Miami to name a few. But that was a time of travel for work, not necessarily for fun, and it did nothing to quench that yearning I had to travel for fun and live the experience.
As I continually searched for what would make me happy, I left corporate life and set out on my own starting and running a small business. Leaving gave me the freedom and happiness of being in control of my own destiny, but it had its challenges.
I did that for some years and then mistakenly decided to go back to the corporate sector, as you get older you start to worry about things like financial security and retirement. I stuck my toes in the water with a consulting job and then back to my operations roots. After a couple of years of giving everything I had to a company, I realized I was empty; my heart, my mind, and my desire. I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed that spark back, that desire to live and experience life, that desire to see the world.
One thing that weighs heavy on me and is always in the back of my mind was the loss of a great friend. When he turned 55, he had recently married, had a great job he loved and his plans were in place. He knew in two years, at 57, he would have the house, cars, and everything completely paid off. Then he planned on retiring, traveling and enjoying all he had worked for. Six months before his 57th birthday he passed away from a massive heart attack in his home. It was an awakening experience for me. If it could happen to him, it could happen to me.
In the past 2 years, I have gone back to school to learn a new skill, graphic design. I have worked hard to build a mobile business and work with clients who understand my goals. I have been blessed to follow goals that have allowed me to be a caregiver for my parents as they grew older. But with my mother being 89 I am planning for my life after my current responsibilities. Now I am working to live my dream of being debt free (thanks Dave Ramsey), and traveling full-time.
I’ve got a plan and my travel companion (Buddy), now follow us as I unravel my plan through this Blog. Learn how I made the decision to sell it all, how we will be traveling, and what we’ll be seeing. Help us plan our journey!