That’s the question. How is it that we, David and Jane, managed to temporarily quit work and travel for 3 months or more?
First we started dreaming and discussing. Our own inner conversation was perhaps the biggest obstacle to deal with. What if? What if something happens? What will we do with our house, cars, bills, cats? These and countless other thoughts are probably what keeps most people from trying out their own dreams.
Having a wonderful, mature, self-sufficient daughter helps more than we knew. Our home and cats are in capable hands, The house has more people living in it now than before this whole trip was conceived.
Jane and I are able to imagine options and dream without internal criticism sometimes. We imagine big choices, brainstorm without reserve or critique and just see the routes that might unfold. We do this with a lot of decisions, money management, future ideas, loans, projects, and any old dream. While allowing a possibility, we get to outline many of the unfolding details without ever taking a first actual step. Remember when you were thirteen? Just paint a picture. Don’t block your own thoughts.
Tents were considered, we love tent camping, but the thought of taking down a tent every day for months was eliminated early. Bed & Breakfasts were entertained, but the prices and fixed distances between could have precluded that possibility. We hate generators and have an aversion to the fields full of “Rock-star buses” (big RV’s), KOA’s and campgrounds that look like parking lots. I researched those options and older RV’s and came up with a renovation/revival as an “off-grid” solution. In our Tramper we are capable of warmth, showers, light, cooking, music and all the comforts of home without any hook-ups or support for more than three weeks at a time (other than filling our tanks with water and propane).
Next, we had to look at our present lifestyle and bills. This began in earnest more than 2 years before the Voyage. But even before this, our lifestyle included numerous preventions to inordinate debt. We drive old cars with “liability-only” auto insurance. We live in a small older house, much “smaller” and cheaper than our realtor suggested for a two income family. We try not to buy things we don’t “need”. Thrift stores have surprises waiting as they also have fine clothing for your normal needs, especially used work khakis (for $10 instead of $80).
During our direct preparation, we eliminated ALL credit card use and other debts possible. I paid my student loan in double payments, managing to pay 9 months in advance. Nearly all materials for renovation came from weekly paychecks and not from savings. This gradual approach fit the tasks as I spent 2 years rebuilding. The first stage was on a new frame, brakes, tires and lights to create a safe “outline” to work with. My car rebuilding, machinist, creative, research and contacts all formed the background assembly.
The second year followed with three test trips where we took notes on what the interior needed, how to rearrange and how to weather a real Winter. I even did a solo trip to the Catskills for the cold test at 12 degrees F. The second stage of renovating started this March, after that cold test, when I gutted the interior, insulated, wired, plumbed, ran gas pipes and lines and finally recreated the warm Birch interior I liked so much about the original.
There are three things that came together that made this trip possible:
1. We both have professions that will (hopefully) allow us to step out for a year. David is a Physical Therapist and I am a Nuclear Medicine Technologist. When there are job openings, we could plug right back in. In the past, we both tried the management route and found it to be more of an irritant than it’s worth. So, we are now well-paid cogs in the wheel and content to be so. If I had finally attained my “dream job” after many years of climbing the ladder, well, I probably would have been a lot less likely to leave it.
2. We have a small house. We bought it in 1999. It’s 1000 sq ft or so. Much less house than the realtor wanted us to buy. Much less house than we could have gotten financing for. We drive used cars. We have one TV. We have “dumb” phones. Our credit card balances are zero. Neither of us likes to shop particularly much. The sum of all this is that our expenses are relatively low. So, cash is available for a trip like this.
3. Our personalities make this possible, as well. We are willing to take a calculated risk (leave our jobs and travel) for a really cool benefit (leave our jobs and travel)!
Other things make the Tramper Voyage, if not possible, then a lot easier. Our daughter is 26 and is living in our house while we’re gone, so we didn’t have to sell or rent our residence and it’s in good hands. Our investment house actually makes a small income each month. Our child-rearing days are done. David’s mom, who needs constant care now, is in the excellent hands of David’s three sisters. (Hmm, wonder if it will be a lot more on us when we return? Well, that would be okay!)
So, the circumstance fell into place; because we made it happen and because we’ve been fortunate in life.
But, the one thing I haven’t mentioned, the one thing that brings it all together is – David Grant! David can assess used cars and determine if they’re OK. He can do the work necessary to get those cars through inspection and keep those cars on the road. He can rehab a 1957 trailer so that it’s not only quite livable, but luxurious to live in! His common sense and his good ideas keep us happy and healthy.
On the road and at home.