For those of you contemplating your own bold move

by Kim on April 17, 2013 · 54 comments

“Figure out what your purpose is in life, what you really and truly want to do with your time and your life; then be willing to sacrifice everything and then some to achieve it. If you are not willing to make the sacrifice then keep searching.” – Quintina Ragnacci

I have had two dreams alive inside of me for as long as I can remember:

1) I want to be a writer, or, more precisely, an author, to write for myself and for others, and to make a living doing it.

2) I want to see the world.

Another day at the office

Just another day at the office. Pokhara, Nepal. 

It took me almost thirty years to realize that I would not be happy with a life in which I wasn’t working towards those dreams.

So in a process that I have painstakingly and laboriously blabbered about on this blog, I set about rearranging my life in order to pursue my dreams.

Looking back, there were times when I was racked with fear and doubt and honest-to-God concerns about my mental state. Was I insane to be unhappy with all that I had? Was I ungrateful to give it all up in order to seek out a future that held no promises?

It is an absolutely paralyzing fear that comes with committing yourself to something that exists only inside of you: a deeper truth, a greater meaning, a hunch about what life could be. Because, always, there is that doubt. What if I’m wrong? 

I’m writing this now because I have received a number of emails lately from people who are in the exact spot that I was in years ago when I decided that I needed to chase my dream even if I crashed and burned. These people know that there is something essential in them that needs exploring. They don’t all know exactly what it is or looks like, only that they need to switch gears in order to learn more about the thing that tugs inside of them and that the prospect of change is terrifying.

I understand.

So for those of you contemplating your own bold move I can offer only this simple advice: Try.

Try with everything you have. Not a between-the-hours-of-7 p.m.-and-10 p.m.-try but an all-the-way-try, an everything try. You have to find out for yourself if your dream is viable. You have to determine for yourself whether you are really willing to risk it all, over and over again, to bring your dream to life.

When you put your energy into your dream it will grow. You will have to eat it and breathe it and sleep next to it at night. You will have to carry it on your hip like a toddler everywhere you go. You will have to give yourself completely to it but you will be happy to do it because it is the thing that you love most of all, it is your essence, and without it you aren’t completely you.

You might have to forfeit your big paycheck and your fancy car (or your un-fancy one) for a little while or maybe even forever. You might have to work until you drop into bed each night too tired to shower. But you will be happy because you will be working on the thing that feeds you. You will fall asleep full and wake up hungry to do it all over again.

Someone asked me once, “What would you do if you knew your art would support you?” And I thought, I would do my art of course! I would give it everything because that is what it deserves.

But neither success nor failure is guaranteed. Maybe you’ll succeed, maybe you won’t, chances are you will probably do a bit of both. It’s likely that over time your ideas of success and failure will blend and blur until you cannot remember exactly how you defined them at the beginning. Life will morph and shift and grow in the most unexpected ways once you devote yourself to whatever it is you long to do.

But none of that matters right now. What matters right now is that you start. Because who will you be if you do not try?

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Carmel April 17, 2013 at 10:10 am

I need so many reminders of this. While writing is not my ultimate goal, a life of creating…something is. I don’t know exactly what it looks like yet, which is why I want to travel (besides, you know, experiencing travel). I just need some space to allow myself to discover what it looks like. I know this is it, even though I don’t know exactly what it is yet. It makes almost no sense, so I choose to just take the steps that I think will lead me where I need to go.

Thanks for continuing to inspire me!!
Carmel recently posted..Easter Rising

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Kim April 17, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I think it makes perfect sense! Sometimes you need the space and time to just EXPLORE (the world, ourselves, etc). If all that you know is that you aren’t happy doing what you’re doing THAT alone is enough to switch gears. I think it is our duty to figure out what we are here to do. If you don’t know, your first duty is to find out.

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Cynthia April 17, 2013 at 10:46 am

I love what you have written here. I chose to give everything up and travel too, to see the world because it was what I wanted. Now I feel that because I slowed down, that I’ve been haunted by the fear of doing something bold. And suddenly your post came up on my facebook feed. It’s synchronicity at its finest! Thanks hun for writing something that is not just inspiring and motivating but is also from the heart and honest. Rock on :) xx

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Kim April 17, 2013 at 7:32 pm

I’m glad it came to you at the right time Cynthia. Best wishes on your bold move.

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Patti April 17, 2013 at 11:09 am

Here! Here! I am someone who goes a little stir crazy about every 5 years and I have to do something different in my life, I have to shake it up. I hate complacency, I embrace change even when it’s scary. Funny, we’re in the same mindset as I just wrote a very similar post! Good for you for chasing your dreams!
Patti recently posted..Chapter 3 ~

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Kim April 17, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Can’t wait to read your post Patti (I’ll go look now!). I’m not big on complacency either, I love shaking things up :)

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Rhonda April 17, 2013 at 11:37 am

What perfect timing, Kim. I was feeling in a bit of a frump today. Tired of the fight towards the life we want, tired of the cubicle, and feeling like a mouse on a wheel. Thanks for the kick in the ass I need to put on my big girl pants and fight for what I know is destined to be!!
Rhonda recently posted..Changing Plans – Exciting Next Big Adventure News

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Kim April 17, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Yay to perfect timing! I know those days well, Rhonda (I know you do too) and they will pass. XO

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william chaney April 17, 2013 at 11:48 am

VERY INSPIRATIONAL!!!!!!!!since u are living what seems to be several peoples dreams,speaking atleast for myself any tips or advice as far as getting this dream started and making it happen day to day is greatly APPRECIATED!!!!!!!!!BE SAFE AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!!!!!!!!!u may be a nomadic matt or anthony bourdain and just do know it yet!!!!!!!!!

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Kim April 17, 2013 at 7:35 pm

William, I have written a lot about this on the blog while I was in the process of selling my stuff, quitting my job, etc. You can dig through the archives and I know you’ll find a lot written about it. Or, I can send you an email with some posts. Let me know!

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Candace April 17, 2013 at 3:27 pm

My friend! I’m just reading this before I start walking for the day, and I will be carrying this line with me all day: “These people know that there is something essential in them that needs exploring.” That is a beautiful, beautiful thought – thank you! So glad you and Brian seem to be loving Nepal :)
Candace recently posted..sketching japan: last chance cherry blossoms on mount nokogiri.

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Kim April 17, 2013 at 7:36 pm

We love Nepal!!

Candace, have another wonderful day of walking. I’m REALLY hoping that San Fran happens and we can catch up in person this summer.

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Charlie April 17, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Beautiful message, Kim. Well done for finding your dream and going for it! I’ve been chasing my dream to travel with half a heart for years, relocating rather than truly hitting the road. Since finally making a clear decision to see the world, I’ve also committed myself to building my writing/editing career. I find following along on your journey so inspiring; for travelling, blogging and for striving to live the life you want. Thanks for this great motivation to keep working towards your goals!
Charlie recently posted..Pinning Down our Round the World Travel Itinerary

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Kim April 17, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Charlie, I’m so glad it can provide a bit of inspiration. I found that once I fully committed myself things just started to fall into place. Funny how that happens!

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Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) April 17, 2013 at 6:42 pm

I will always remember the post you wrote where you shared that quote about how if we only live to 60 but spend just 1 year fearlessly following our dreams, we will only have spent 2% of our life daring to be different… and that really isn’t very much at all, and we all owe it to ourselves to at least devote 2% of our life to our innermost desires. I don’t know why it’s so scary to look your dreams straight in the eye and say “I’m coming for you”, but it really is! I know that when I was nervous about pursuing the track I’m currently on, I took a lot of comfort from your insight, and I’m sure that when I’m scared again (and I know I will be) I’ll turn to your wisdom once more!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..The Hardest Part of Travel Blogging

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Kim April 17, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I don’t know why it’s so scary to look our dreams straight into the eye either, except for that when it is the thing you want more than anything you have a lot to loose. It’s easy to try at something when your whole heart doesn’t really care if you succeed or fail.

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Tyrhone April 17, 2013 at 8:49 pm

It seems such a waste to not at least try and reach your goals in life. We only have one to live so why spend it being “ok” when you could be achieving your dreams. The only thing you have to lose by trying is mediocrity.
Tyrhone recently posted..Pizza and Cenotes in the Mexican Jungle

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Kim April 18, 2013 at 3:55 am

My thoughts exactly.

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Lisa Wood April 17, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Perfect timing here! I am exactly at that stage…where I have the dream but I keep letting it go a bit out of my inner reach, its there but its not burning bright enough!
So I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately, and I am digging deeper to let go of the fear and to “Try” no matter what happens.
AND it feels so good!
Love reading this :)
Lisa Wood recently posted..Appin New South Wales

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Kim April 18, 2013 at 3:56 am

So much fear!! I understand the fear… but I also know how you feel now, how good it feels when you just move forward anyway. Yay you!

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Daynne@TravelnLass April 17, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Wise words. Or rather a single wise word: Try

I might only add: And stop making excuses for why you can’t (e.g. I’m too old, I don’t have enough money, I have kids, et al – just excuses, utterly without merit)

Very well put Kim – you sound like me about 30 years ago. And so coincidental that you’d entitle this post “…contemplating you own bold move”. That’s precisely what my “TravelnLass” blog is all about, and just last week I started a “Great Leap” interview series about those who’ve likewise made the bold move to follow their dreams.

Indeed that’s what my entire LIFE has been/is all about. Like you, I have wanderlust running through my veins. For starters, as a single mom of two daughters, at 30 I dragged them to Europe to study in France and Italy (not to mention backpacked to the far corners of Greece, et al) Then at 40 I ditched my Master’s degree and a great job in HRM, and started my own int’l tour company (specializing in travel to Belize – back when nobody had even HEARD of it). Wasn’t always easy, but suffice it supported me for nearly 20 years whilst I gleefully romped through tropical jungles and skipped off on fam trips to China, the Azores, etc.

But was that enough? Nope. At 60 I backpacked solo across all of South Africa and Mozambique, and shortly thereafter began my latest “Great Leap” – sold everything I owned and bought a one-way ticket here to Vietnam. It’s been nearly 2 years now, and all I can say is:

IT’S.THE.VERY.BEST.THING.I’VE.EVER DONE.

Point is, whatever your bliss, if you’re not willing to take a leap, a risk – let go of the security of what’s comfy and secure, and not even give it a serious try, then..

Well you’ll never know, will you? Indeed, will go to your grave (which btw, might be this afternoon, or tomorrow, or next week, or 50 years from now) never having tried, not ever knowing if you could have grasped your dreams.
Daynne@TravelnLass recently posted..Take a Great Leap [Interview]: Mary, another lass of “a certain age”

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Kim April 18, 2013 at 3:59 am

Wow, wow, I love your story. And I completely agree about the excuses. They are all excuses. I almost hated using the word “try” because I don’t really believe in it (either you do it or you don’t do it) but I decided to use the word “try” because, you know, not everything will work out for everyone but better to TRY than to always wonder.

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Montecristo Travels (Sonja) April 18, 2013 at 9:31 am

Daynne, thank you for sharing. I am about to turn 40 and my hubby is 51 and we so often think we must be INSANE to be taking all the big leaps over and over (we are planning to sail around the Med with our dog in 2015). SO much negative talk surrounds us, so it is SUCH a nice change of pace to hear that not only are others “not in their 20″s” like Kim and Brian doing this … but that others even older than us ARE still doing it!! so Daynne… THANK YOU!

And Kim … perfect as always. You reframed that word for me. My Gran always use to say: Trying is Failing with Honour. What she meant was don’t “try’ … just “do”. I like your vision better.
Montecristo Travels (Sonja) recently posted..Knowing When to Defer a Trip – Walking the Fine Line Between Fear and Common Sense

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marty gibson April 18, 2013 at 8:58 am

Boy, if Wendy reads this one she may be outta here forever. You are a good influence for that and a not so good one for those who love to have loved ones close. She knows I was a person who “took off” and she has that gene, now she has that in a friend. Look forward to meeting you.
Wendy’s Mom, Marty

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Kim April 18, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Hi Marty!! I don’t think Wendy is going anywhere :) I think her bold move right now might be of a quieter sort- an internal shift. But maybe I’m wrong!!

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Steve Whitty April 18, 2013 at 10:34 am

I think I may have reached that point in my life. I suppose it is fear that holds me back. At 47 it would be a bold move but your post has got me thinking. You and Brian have been a source of inspiration and I have been enjoying reading your blogs. The next step is up to me now. Thanks for the post.
Steve Whitty recently posted..Photo of the Week – Statue of Ronald Reagan in Budapest

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Kim April 18, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Steve, I’m so glad that we have been able to provide some inspiration. Keep the fire burning :)

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Trik Webber April 18, 2013 at 11:39 am

What a thought provoking post! I love it! It is important to try and live our lives fulfilled, even if we are not necessarily successful at every attempt to do so.

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Kim April 18, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Yes, absolutely!! If you try with everything you have failure is almost guaranteed, it’s a part of the process. But success follows failure if you keep working. I really do believe that.

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Lauren April 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Thanks, Kim. Even though I know I’m doing the right thing for me, it’s so good to hear it from other people too (which I know is why you wrote this!). I’ve been telling myself all along, “at least try it”. If it doesn’t work I can always get another job and if I don’t try it I will regret it later. As always, thanks for the inspiration.

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Kim April 18, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Yes, you can always go back to doing the things you were doing before (or at least, similar things to what you were doing before). You owe yourself the try!

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Steve C April 18, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Kathmandu is the kind of place that can really inspire a post such as this. It makes your head spin with traveling philosophical thoughts. Nepal is the place that makes you realize (if you haven’t already) that the decision to take off and go traveling was the absolute right decision!

I know you’ll have the time of your life on the circuit! Remember, go slow!

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Kim April 19, 2013 at 5:15 am

Thanks Steve. I started writing this post in India but felt compelled to finish it here on a balcony in Nepal overlooking the snowcapped peaks. I felt eternally lucky and grateful that I gave my dream a shot, and wanted to share in the hopes that others might benefit from the encouragement.

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Ali April 19, 2013 at 5:28 am

Wonderful advice! If there’s something you’re dreaming about, something you really want out of life, you have to pursue it. It’s been a slow process for me to get there, but I think I’m finally taking good first steps towards the life I want. It took awhile for Andy and I to rearrange our lives to start our new plan of working less and traveling more, but we’re finally here, about to start. I have my own project I’m finally starting to work on developing. I can finally see us having a life we can truly enjoy. I’m so happy for you that you fought through your doubts and fears to find a way to pursue your dream. Can’t wait to read your book someday!
Ali recently posted..Scenes From Freiburg, Germany

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Kim April 19, 2013 at 8:17 am

Totally agree Ali. I’m so glad that you and Andy are right on the edge of what you want. It’s been fun to watch it go from a plan to reality.

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Emily April 19, 2013 at 5:57 am

I really love motivational posts like this.
We are in the midst of planning to follow our dreams with a big trip and I think a big stress is all those ‘what if?’s related to the security of your current life. That and knowing that when we share the news to family/friends, we will likely have to go into defense mode (we’re in our 30s, so I am sure they are expecting a big announcement to be more along the lines of ‘engagement’ or ‘baby’).
Sometimes it takes a while to figure out and then be able to realize your dreams; but to know your dream and not work to make it a reality is a shame. I do not want to live with that regret!
Emily recently posted..Local Eats: Guu Izakaya

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Kim April 19, 2013 at 8:19 am

Ha, I get it. I think when we announced everyone thought I was pregnant. Nope, not by a long shot!

There were definitely times when we felt like we had to defend our decisions. I think that sometimes people feel personally threatened when you make an unorthodox move in life, like your decision to do something different is a judgement call on their own decisions. No matter, you’ve got to live your own life. Sounds like that is what you’re doing.

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OCDemon April 20, 2013 at 12:52 am

I’m currently observing all the self-described incredibly passionate types who knew for sure that what they were doing was the right thing for them, and it’s hard to know if a calm, calculated “well maybe” is remotely good enough. But sometimes the logical approach toward achieving your dreams isn’t so bad…
OCDemon recently posted..The White Nights Festival: How St. Petersburg celebrates the longest day of the year

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Kim April 20, 2013 at 9:41 am

Hey, whatever works for you is the way you should do it!

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Eileen, The Super Tourists April 23, 2013 at 1:44 am

Wow! Wonderful post! With my daughter finally getting into preschool, im able to stick to a rigid routine and finally be able to start reaching for my dreams! It’s been hard being a single mom and school will definitely free me up! :D
Eileen, The Super Tourists recently posted..What Everybody Should Know About Universal Studios Japan

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Kim April 28, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Yay for what comes next and for a little more free time! What do you plan to do?

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Casey @ A Cruising Couple April 26, 2013 at 4:37 am

Thank you so much for writing such a beautiful and inspirational post. Your words certainly serve as a fuel for all the people out there trying to make drastic changes and be more. I love it, not only for your eloquent words, but also all the comments from people who just get it. It can definitely get old trying to justify your decisions to other people who don’t have the same life passions. I always feel so encouraged by the community out there!
Casey @ A Cruising Couple recently posted..Get it Straight: Fact and Fiction of Taiwan

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Kim April 28, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Yes, it seems that there is always a lot of fighting and defending your choices when you make an unconventional move. I love the community too, it is so amazing.

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Montecristo Travels (Sonja) April 26, 2013 at 5:23 am
Kim April 28, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Awesome, I’ll check it out! Thanks!!

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Montecristo Travels (Sonja) April 29, 2013 at 6:54 am

Glad you liked it! It’s in a different location on our website on our planning for the Big Trip … fewer readers go there (under Mediterranean). But it’s actually the part of the blog we enjoy more – it’s less about reviewing a place and more about how we feel and what we think. :) THANK YOU for the inspiration and shift in perspective. It was very uplifting.
Montecristo Travels (Sonja) recently posted..Montecristo Travels Poem #1

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Victoria May 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Beautiful words. I’m back in England right now and needed to read something like this. It’s so lovely to hear of kindred spirits.
Victoria recently posted..On goodbyes and what comes next…

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Kim May 3, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Thanks Victoria. I’m excited to hear about your upcoming adventures in Bali. Please keep your beautiful writing coming.

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Melissa Yuan-Innes May 5, 2013 at 11:42 am

Kim, I admire you for making your bold move, and for simultaneously holding the hands of all the people contemplating their own bold moves (answering every comment? Extra mega bonus points!).

I migrated here because I want to travel. I’ve spent most of my life as a homebody, first with my boyfriend, then working my way through my medical degrees, and finally building a family. For the first time, last March, I flew to Africa without my family. And now I yearn to return to Africa and to visit Asia for the first time. For me, the big problem isn’t so much money or even time or guilt about my kids (my husband has volunteered to look after them while I globe trot), but worrying that travelling is selfish. Environmentally, the best thing is for me to stay home, go vegan, and recycle, not spew jet engine fuel around the world. I wouldn’t choose to travel long-term like you, so it means big CO2 emissions every trip.

I don’t mean to be a travel downer, but I worry about the earth, and as far as I’m concerned, that does means personal sacrifice. You seem like a deep thinker, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. But it’s also fine if this is too heavy a discussion for your comments section.

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Kim May 24, 2013 at 6:13 am

Hi Melissa, I’m glad you asked the question. I used to be a Sustainability Coordinator and had worked in the environmental field my whole career. I don’t know if there is a good answer because you are right, emissions from flying are terrible and a big strain on the environment. I suppose the only thing that I can say is that the experiences you learn about the world by seeing it first hand- and the things you’ll teach your children and your friends and those around you- will hopefully outweight the damage done by the act of traveling. For instance, now that I am traveling I think I can finally see for the first time what I was really fighting for all of those years. I understand how little of the earth has been touched by human hands. I understand what a problem clean water is for so much of the world. I understand how terrible plastic is and what it can do to the environment. I didn’t really see how those things were impacting the world before, especially in sensitive (ecologically and economically) places.

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Tom December 4, 2013 at 5:35 pm

My elevator speech is as follows: A 54 year old man, no longer married after 22 years, Father to two great young men, trapped in a 30+ year career that is painful go to, being at, and going home. Sounds like a heavy duty mid life + crisis, but after my divorce, I traveled and caught the travel bug.
I do not have a partner to share my experiences, but that means I can relate more with locals which is great.
After a year + more of wondering in a fog, another year of passionless work, a family member passed away and gave me a huge reason to quit my job and start rolling. I’m scared.
I own “stuff” have zero debt, and can’t stand still. I’m not a writer, and my life skills are pretty narrow, but I just love the idea of perpetual motion. Since I am also pretty numbers oriented, my question might be too straight forward: Have you figured out what it costs a day to keep rolling?

Best Regards,

Tom

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Kim December 5, 2013 at 4:41 am

Hi Tom. We haven’t kept track of our costs. We meant to, but it was a lot of stress tracking it all and watching the money drain from the bank account! So after awhile we just decided to be as smart with our money as possible (which is always the goal anyway) and to stop tracking every dime.

As I’m sure you know, it really depends on where you’ll be traveling too. Asia and SE Asia have been very inexpensive for us. Europe and the USA have been a major money-drain. South America was somewhere in the middle.

One site I can recommend is this: http://www.rtwexpenses.com. This couple tracks their money as they travel around the world. It’s pretty comprehensive and should help answer your question.

Good luck with everything!

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