Have We Thrown it All Away?

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Our old life in Australia. Have we thrown it all away?

One of the reactions we received on announcing our decision to sell everything, quit work and travel indefinitely was:

“You’re throwing it all away.”

Were we? Were we really throwing away a great job, an enviable lifestyle and a dream home in a location that is considered paradise in Australia?

Some people just couldn’t understand why we wanted to leave. Our life looked pretty near to perfect to people looking in.

In Australia there are plenty of people who don’t travel.

Why would they when Australia has so much to offer?

Why would we want to leave? Some people just couldn’t work us out.

The Whole World Offered Us More!

We needed to be out in the wider world experiencing everything it could offer us, good and bad.

We want to learn, experience, taste, touch and smell, in as many locations as possible. We need to have new experiences, not repeat the same ones over and over. We want to search for our paradise, this wasn’t it. We wanted more time as a family, a few snatched hours with Dad before or after work wasn’t enough.

We wanted Dad home for Christmas, dammit!

I think there is another reason, too. We like to be different.

We’re very, very happy that we made the choice we did.

What We Threw Away, Gladly

The Job Thing


My husband was head chef at a fancy resort hotel , he was at the top of his tree. It was a great job with OK money and a lot of perks in the shape of free stays and dining to keep the family sweet. The hours were terrible.

He had things running as he wanted them, business was good, food costs were down, but he’d had enough. He’d done everything he could and needed a new challenge. Port Douglas is a small town. The chances of picking up another head chef job at a good hotel were slim. We’d need to relocate.

The House Thing

That house never felt like home. It was huge, too huge, I had to clean it!

It wasn’t cozy like the British houses I’m used to. Instead it had vast expanses of white walls and tiles. It felt characterless and boxy.

I did love my garden and my pool. The garden was just coming together, I’d started it from scratch when we moved in. I was harvesting tropical fruits, herbs and vegetables and enjoying the tiny sun birds visiting my hibiscus and frangipani. But the garden wasn’t enough to hold me there.

Christmas Port Douglas 2012
The Christmas before we left.

The Lifestyle Thing

We had the big four-wheel drive and the camping gear. We had the kayaks and the fishing equipment. We had the big gas barbecue out on the covered patio. But it just didn’t do it for us. I never felt part of the Aussie dream, I always felt like a spectator, an alien from outer space. This wasn’t me, it wasn’t how my life was supposed to be.

If you are like me you’ll know exactly how that feels.

The Money Thing

We had a steady income. Enough to buy fancy toys and fill our house full of things we didn’t need. Spending the money was starting to feel empty and pointless.

Leaving honestly didn’t feel like throwing anything away at all.

I think what people were really worried about was:

What Were We Going to Do in the Future?

Everybody asked the same questions. Where will we settle down? Will we go back to Australia? What will we do for money? Will Chef be able to get another job?

I don’t think anyone had any concept of a travel lifestyle being a permanent lifestyle and a good one.

This was years before I’d even heard the term  “digital nomad ” and honesly, at that point, we had no idea or plan on how to make our dream financially sustainable in coming years. But we did have backup.

Luckily, We Were in a Good Position – Backups

Do you have any of the fallback options below? They make choices so much easier.

Both of us has a solid trade or profession, plenty of experience and a British passport. We could work in the UK or Europe if we had to and finding employment wouldn’t be too hard.

It’s common for chefs to work all over the world. If Chef were to see a head chef job advertised in one of our favourite global locations, he would have gone for it.

If push came to shove I could have gone back to laboratory work as a temp. I did it for years in London and the money was great. Again, I have a trade or profession, nobody can take that away from me.

Chef did end up doing some temping in London while I worked like crazy to grow the website. It gave us breathing space to be able to do that.

We still own our house and it brought in a small rental income. We always had the option of going back there if we need to. If we were to need more could have sold it, but that was a worst case scenario option.  Finally, 6 years later, we returned, gladly, not to settle but simply to repair, refurbish and renew before setting off on still more adventures.

We almost own our home outright. That’s not down to luck or being loaded, it’s down to really hard work when we were first married. We spent years renovating properties in London. We endured a lot of hardships that some people would consider unbearable and made a good profit. And you know what? It was fun! That early effort made us our financial cushion.

I think if your mortgage is too huge to cover easily by renting you would be better off selling, but everyone’s situation is different.

What about pensions? Do you have one?

James and I paid into pension schemes for our whole working lives. He paid into an Australian superannuation fund, I paid into the UK’s NHS pension scheme for 20 years. My pound sterling pension isn’t going to be worth as much as we hoped, but it’s there, another financial reassurance.

Being older parents was helpful in that respect.

things to do port douglas snorkel reef
This used to be fun! But the reef was a very rare treat.

My Advice to Aspiring World Nomads

If you’re young, just do it. You have time on your side, money isn’t everything and the world is your oyster. Try to get yourself a trade, profession or marketable skills at some point. As an old person I know it comes in useful. Ideally, create your own business or income streams that are location independent.

Stay flexible. Be prepared to take on any job that will keep you affloat. Never think a job is beneath you.

I was well into my 30s when we started building our nest egg. You don’t need to be a wage slave for your whole life to have a conventionally successful financial future and you don’t have to take the normal route.

If you’re older, like us, and have a family to support, be more cautious. Think things through, know yourself and your family. What do they really need? What brings them peace and joy? Can you give that to them when the travel is over?

Many things could bring the travelling to an end. Maybe the enjoyment will evaporate, maybe ill-health or family responsibilities will halt you. Maybe you’ll run out of money. You need to have a back-up plan and money in reserve.

There are plenty of travelling families out there who work full-time as they travel, they have a steady income stream from respectable location independent jobs, they don’t need to worry about money. We’re not them and you’re probably not either, but you can find your way just as we did.

Travelling costs us far less than living in our own home used to, we also think it’s better for the planet.

When you’re travelling on savings your bank balance is constantly going down. We’re not stupid and I doubt you are either. Nobody spends all of their savings chasing around the globe purely for the fun of it. Serious travellers and aspiring nomads have a plan. Backups bring peace and that’s far more important than posessions.

We blew our budget early on in Year 1 because of family sickness. The moment we left Asia we knew our long-term travel plan wasn’t going to stand. By the end of that year we knew we’d need to work. Europe and the United States ate cash so we knuckled down and worked our butts off to keep the lifestyle and the dream alive.  Chef has a saying ” It’s the ones who burn their boats that succeed. ” Ours were long incinerated, we had no choice other than to make it work. There are many people we know who did the same thing. Don’t be affraid to jump and don’t let the doubters get to you. After many years of travel we are fuly location independent, money isn’t an issue and the ride and experiences have been amazing.  The kids are grown into wonderful young men, well educated, earning, happy and worldly. We wouldn’t go back and do it over the ordinary way, not a chance.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

19 thoughts on “Have We Thrown it All Away?”

  1. loved this post!!! summed it up exactly how I have been thinking and feeling for some time now. My husband is coming around to the idea of it and knows that in 3 years we are heading out! I have put the 3 year on it as we have some family issues to deal with but by then, it should be open to us to go!!! can’t wait and thanks for the confidence boost!!

  2. I’ve been reading your blog and watching the website for years. My question is if you work remote and can travel can a single mom do it? I want too but I wonder about having help or the security of a single lady with two girls traveling the globe.

    • Hi Jen,
      I absolutely think a single mother can do it. It might be a little harder and require more planning but it shouldn’t be stopping you at all.

  3. Hi Alyson – I’m new to your site and I must say, what a wonderful first post for me to read! It really is full of inspiration and wisdom and I am excited to follow along on your journey, it sounds like you and your family are having an amazing time together – good for you.

  4. Hi Alyson

    I totally get where you’re coming from. I think you captured it best with the final statement – possessions don’t matter.

    Increasingly, I’m far more interested in experiences than stuff. If you’ve got skills, there are always going to be employment opportunities.

    Good on you.



  5. It’s so true what you’ve written. You have nothing to lose–and everything to gain! At WORST you could return to your old life…but richer with experience! 😉 And chances are, that “worst case scenario” wouldn’t be all that bad, either!

  6. It sounds like you guys have plenty to fall back on should you need to (house, professions, etc) so you’re pretty secure in that respect. You’re right in that it’s hard to build-up a reliable location independent income; we haven’t managed it yet and are also realistic enough to realise that it probably won’t happen. Instead, we’ve sat down to see how far our savings will get us and plan to start work in Taiwan to rebuild our travel fund next September.

  7. Awesome post once again Alyson! Now that you’ve had that conversation with your friends and family, could you come and have it with ours?

  8. Right on, Alyson! It’s a balance. I couldn’t live this lifestyle with no cushion at all, I’d feel totally irresponsible and stressed out. At the same time, a house and things will eat you alive if you let them. Simple living, a trade, interest in the world, and a willingness to take a leap. That’s the ticket.

  9. I loved this post. It’s just so in tune with my own thinking. Like you, I don’t stress about money, but I do plan for the future. I’m so glad I sold my business and left the UK. I loved living in London, but there’s a huge world to explore out there.

  10. We miss you guys! Looking forward to the prospect of catching up on your home turf though:) it’s looking more and more like it’s going to happen!

  11. You got that right Alyson. We feel exactly the same as you and are in the same position, just exploring a different part of the world. I hope our paths cross one day. Always remember “when there is a will, there is a way”. The older I get, the more I realize how true that is. Follow your passion and make your dreams come true!

  12. When I read this post it reminded me of a famous saying from the Prophet Muhammed ‘ Be in the world as if you are a stranger or a traveler on the path.’
    In essence meaning don’t attach yourself to the material meaning of life, now a days there is far too much pressure for people to have and do it all and for what a heart attack or an amazing retirment that never actually comes? I think you are giving your boys the best start in life and I would join you in a heartbeat . Good luck and God bless.

  13. Absolutely right – you’re doing what’s right for you. I gave it all up in my 50s – I was widowed so the thought of trekking round the world with four children and no other adult defeated me. So I waited till they were independent and went on my own.

    And life evolves – that’s the excitement of it. You’ll end up where you end up, and have a wonderful time along the way.

  14. You are a family living, loving and learning together…. how utterly wonderful. What could you possibly leave behind here in Queensland? Another well known travel blogger and her son arrived in Brisbane yesterday – they can’t believe how expensive it is here – especially food. And I would miss my homeschooling buddies too. You guys have “thrown it all away” – all that routine, frustration, stress and cleaning. I think of you every time I have to clean my house, and it’s not big. Ha! Well done. Keep on being different! How liberating!!


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