One of the reactions we received to 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 Offers Us More!
We need to be out in the wider world experiencing everything it can 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, Port Douglas 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.
So far, 6 months in, we’re very happy that we made the choice we did.
What We Threw Away.
The Job Thing.
My husband was head chef at a fancy resort hotel in Port Douglas, 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 top 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.
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.
This post, Things I’ll miss about Port Douglas, written before we left, gives a glimpse into our old life. So far the only thing I’ve missed is homeschool group . Lucking my online homeschool friends continue to support us.
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.
Go have a look at our money section if you want to read more about how we saved the cash to get ourselves on the road.
Leaving didn’t feel like throwing anything away at all.
I think what people were really worried about was:
What Are We Going to Do in the Future?
Everybody asks the same questions. Where will we settle? Will we go back to Australia? What will we do for money? Will James be able to get another job?
Put very simply, we don’t know and we’re not worried.
We’re in a Good Position.
Right now James is looking for a few weeks of temporary work to top up our bank balance. That’s one of the great things about having a solid trade, plenty of experience and a British passport. He can work in the UK or Europe.
It’s common for chefs to work all over the world. If he sees a head chef job advertised in one of our favourite global locations, he’ll go for it.
If push comes to shove I can go 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.
At the moment, I’m a blogger, I make money from this blog. Not much, not enough to support us, but it certainly helps. As time goes on I’d like to get more involved in this business, it’s fun, exciting and weirdly social. I’ve found my tribe of fellow travel bloggers, it’s good to share the ups and downs of this business with them.
We still own our house and it’s bringing in a small rental income. We have the option of going back there if we need to. If we need more cash we can sell it. It’s way too big, we could easily rent or buy somewhere a lot smaller and live comfortably with fewer toys.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Travelling costs us far less than living in Port Douglas used to, but the bank balance is constantly going down. We’re not stupid, we’re not going to spend all of our savings chasing around the globe, we need to keep the money topped up to give us peace of mind.
We’ve blown our budget. The moment we left Asia we knew our long-term travel plan wasn’t going to stand. By the end of this year we’ll need to work. Europe and the United States will eat cash. We don’t know what will happen yet and that’s part of the fun, not knowing what’s round the corner. But we have our backups and we’re financially relatively stable, that’s a good feeling. Possessions don’t matter, peace of mind does. UPDATE: We are still on the road. It’s been over 5 years now and it’s been an amazing ride. We have not even once returned to our home in Australia, nor have we wanted to.