Have you ever thought of packing up your life and starting a big adventure? Selling everything you own, quitting the long days and nights of work and routine and setting off with a backpack and a vague plan? And then, waking up to white sandy beaches, vibrant cities or steamy jungles bursting with wildlife, where every day brings something new to experience, learn and share?
I have, and now my dream is about to become reality as my 5-year-old daughter and I prepare for 12 months traveling throughout Asia.
We live in an old house near the beach, we have a bunch of lovely friends, I work full-time and this year Emmie started kindergarten.
We’re not that different from most people, except that for some time I haven’t been completely satisfied that what we’re doing is really living. So this week I resigned from my job, booked our one-way tickets to the Philippines, and started packing up the house for our great big adventure.
I am so grateful to be able to make the choice to travel together, and when I think back there wasn’t a line in the sand or a flash of clarity when I decided this is what we had to do. It was more of a collision of circumstances that brought me to this place that I feel was absolutely meant to be.
I’ve always loved traveling but have also felt compelled to live within the lines, to work a stable job, move through the ranks and maintain my financial independence. And that’s the opposite of what I love doing – exploring, adventuring and seeing the world. I decided I would try to build travel into my life as more than just holidays every few months with Emmie, I just wasn’t sure how to. I started writing about our trips and posting photos on Instagram, and the more I saw, wrote and shared, the more excited I became about seeing more of the world.
Emmie started school and I continued to work full time, fighting a constant unease and scratching in my soul. I felt I had done the wrong thing sending Emmie to school while I was always at work and relying on an au pair to look after her. I felt she needed at least one more year of running wild, being creative and curious, of exploring and discovering, rather than sitting at a desk in a classroom being regimented and following routine. And she needed her mummy.
At the same time I was about to spend the money I had saved to renovate our kitchen. I had quotes for the work, and on paper it made sense but I just couldn’t sign off on the work. There was no reason not to do it except a nagging feeling that it wasn’t the right thing to do, and knowing that once I spent this money my savings account would be empty.
And then my beautiful friend George passed away. We’d known each other for years and years and had experienced city living, partying, settling down and having children together. We’d travelled to China and Mongolia together, celebrated milestones, kissed the future fathers of our children on the same night – our lives were entwined. George was as smart as she was beautiful and had a most wonderful future ahead with her husband and two little girls. In one of her last conversations with her brother, George said:
“Don’t forget to fill your life with adventures and experiences, because if you don’t you might just miss out on the best things life has to offer.”
This message from George was handed out at her funeral and it was the sign I needed. I decided to use the kitchen money to travel with Emmie, I cancelled the renovation and started planning and saving as much as I could. We took a three-week trip to Borneo to see how we would manage traveling together and staying in a combination of budget and five star accommodation, and that went wonderfully. There was no reason not to go.
I’ve realised that working until I retire and then finally doing what makes me happy is not what I want my life to be about. I don’t want to work all through Emmie’s childhood. I want to enjoy our time together now and learn, explore and adventure together.
I can’t think of a better way to expose Emmie to our amazing world than by living an adventure like this. I hope that experiencing cultures, countries and ways of life will ignite a thirst for learning and give her a foundation for being open, understanding and tolerant of differences.
Of course we will miss friends and family – but we will be able to chat over Skype, through video messaging and other social media channels. We’re already organising dates to meet up with my friends and family in Vietnam and Malaysia, and everyone is welcome to join us at any time along our journey. And I’m sure everything won’t always go smoothly, but that’s life isn’t it?
We’re determined to share a life full of meaning, wonder and new experiences and hope to inspire other mums and families to travel the world too – whether it’s a day trip to somewhere new or an overseas adventure. We hope you give it a try.