At a dinner party last weekend, I was bragging about my upcoming 6 week trip to New Zealand and Samoa, when one of my super wealthy friends said, “Wow, I wish I could do that.”
I almost spit out my wine and said “BULL! If you really wanted to, you would!” He conceded, that yeah, I was right. If he really wanted to he could.
People say we are “living the dream life” because Drew and I take an adventure trip every year, to someplace different. In the past 13 years, we have been to over 15 countries and our son is on his second passport. Drew calls these trips “dropping out” because we drop everything and leave for awhile. Rather than calling it a “dream life” I like to say that we are LIVING.
Ask yourself this question: Are you LIVING, or are you just going through the motions, in a monotonous fashion?
Do you dream of a life where you have the freedom to travel to foreign lands, to spend months at a time exploring the globe? Or does it seem out of reach, exotic, only for rich people and Europeans…..
If we can do it, you can. Drew and I are not rich – most of our friends make more money than we do. We don’t have a lot of time, either. Our business keeps us extremely busy. And then there’s our son, who “should” be in school rather than traveling the globe. By American standards, we should not be taking these trips every year. But they are vital to our LIVING.
We love surfing in foreign lands, meeting the locals, trying new foods and wine. Our son knew how to read a map when he was 3 years old. A 16 hour plane trip is a piece of cake for him! He has fun playing with kids who don’t even speak his language.
The thing I love the most about adventure travel is that it gives me a respite from my hectic life of being a business owner. Once I’m on that plane, leaving L.A., I truly leave everything behind. I don’t even THINK about work while I’m gone. I truly live in the moment, THE NOW, when traveling. For some reason, I can’t relax as easily when I’m on a short one week trip. Work looms over my head like a cloud, and I can’t relax.
So, how do you arrange your life so that you, too can live life part-time as a vagabond?
MAKE THE CHOICE: First, decide that you really WANT to live this “dream” life. Many people say that they “would love” to live the way we do, but when it comes down to it, they’d really rather keep doing what they’re doing, following the status quo.
What’s the “status quo”? Going into unnecessary debt by driving expensive cars, living in large homes with large mortgages, having too many children, working a job that ties them down, following the sheep with the “go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, wait until you’re 65 to take a vacation” mentality.
Arrange your life so that you have the freedom to roam the globe. If you are already stuck in the “rut” of the status quo, it may take you a few years to get out of that rut. But those years are going to go by, anyway, so you might as well start working on it now!
DROP YOUR BELIEF THAT YOU CAN’T CHOOSE YOR LIFE: Americans are so conditioned to do what they’ve been conditioned to do! Example: You can’t do that. It’s irresponsible. Or, your parents drilled it in your head that you are going to college and will have a corporate job, or be a doctor, or a lawyer, and that travel is a luxury. These become beliefs. Drop them. Come up with your own.
MAKE CHOICES THAT SUPPORT THIS LIFESTYE: Marry someone that loves to travel as much as you do, and that is also committed to this lifestyle. Don’t have a lot of kids.
CHOOSE A FLEXIBLE PROFESSION: Yes, you can choose a profession that allows flexibility. It took me years, but I did finally. It’s all a CHOICE. You don’t have to have that corporate job sitting in a cubicle. There are many flexible professions, including: Entrepreneurs, nursing, temping, fishermen, freelance writers and photographers, artists, athletes, teachers, professors, food concession businesses.
AVOID DEBT: Drive older cars. Live in smaller homes. Get roommates to share in the cost. Squirrel money away. Be frugal. (If you are like most Americans, you have a $600 car payment, you pay about $100/month for car insurance and you pay about $500 to renew your car registration. THAT’S $8,900 A YEAR, just to drive a car! How’s that for a nice trip. You could live in Costa Rica for a year on that!) By the way, my car’s been paid off for years, and it costs me exactly $675.00 a YEAR in renewals and insurance. It’s a Toyota, so I figure it’ll run for another 10 years or more. If you have a large car payment right now, sell your car and buy a cheaper one. Yes, that’s a possibility. It’s a choice you can make. Read this helpful blog post for some great debt elimination tips: http://zenhabits.net/2007/06/73-great-debt-elimination-tips/
LIVE SIMPLY / BE A MINIMALIST: Simplify your life. Get rid of your clutter. Don’t buy junk you don’t need. Don’t fill up your closets and garages with stuff you don’t use. Get rid of the drama. Don’t spend time with people who don’t love you the way you are.
TAKE TIME TO PLAN: My first big trip in 1997 was a four month backpacking trip around the world. It took me one year to plan it out, save up the money, and figure out what to do with my car and my apartment and my job. To this day, that was the best trip I’ve ever done, because I did it alone. It was a major growth spurt for me.
DO IT: It’s not that complicated. When I did my four months around the world, American people said “oh, you must be so brave” and “wow, that must have been hard” and “oh my God, you went for FOUR MONTHS?” The reality is, I wasn’t brave, it wasn’t hard, and along the way I met so many Europeans and Aussies and New Zealanders who were saying “you’re ONLY traveling for four months” and “wow, I’m doing a year.”
Here are real life examples of some of the people I know who have “the dream life” figured out:
- Yoga and fitness instructors who set up their business so that they “have” to travel to give Yoga retreats and attend seminars in exotic locations;
- Two nurses (married) take four months every year to live in Indonesia. They simply leave their jobs for four months, and when they come back, the Hospital takes them back. They are on their fifth year of doing this.
- A teacher friend spends every summer in Europe.
- A photographer buddy travels all over the world for his freelance surf photography business.
- Drew and I take about 8 weeks a year. We just shut our business down. There’s plenty of work when we come back!
Are you going to set up your life to really LIVE? Or are you going to follow the status quo? It’s entirely up to you. I hope you enjoy your life, whatever you decide. Because Life is Good!
PS: Check back on this blog to see our photos and notes from our big trip to New Zealand & Samoa. We leave on February 10th. Can’t wait!
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Hans Hoffman