It’s been two weeks since Elizabeth and I resigned from our jobs and we’re just becoming accustomed to the freedom that we find in the mornings. After two weeks away from work, we’re normally preparing ourselves for a return to responsibility. But not this time. We still have nearly a year’s worth of adventure in front of us.
It’s been three years since we first agreed that traveling the world would be a major life goal of ours and that we’d try to pull it off before we had a family. For the first couple years, we assumed that this trip would be a disruptive force in our lives. It would clearly decimate our savings. Our careers would have to be put on hold. The planning and logistics alone would be an enormous time commitment. And then there were the concerns about basic safety and a fear that all the romance of a trip like this could quickly turn to feelings of isolation and homesickness.
But over the past few months we’ve seen these potential disruptions turn to assets. Far from putting our careers on hold, this trip has forced us to think deeply about exactly what we want to be doing. It has spurred us to act strategically in terms of what we want to accomplish before we leave both personally and professionally. Having a specific departure date has created a sense of urgency around all of those things that can normally find themselves delayed for years. Everything from people to have over for dinner, to researching graduate programs, to publishing a novel. Our return date has also become a source of excitement since it’s forced us to think more deliberately about the next 3-5 years than we probably would have done otherwise. Overall, the trip has brought structure to an otherwise dangerously fluid point in our lives. Even the savings has become a blessing as we’ve become accustomed to living on about 75% of what we make, a habit we plan to return to when the trip is over.
Now the wheels are in motion. In a week, we’ll hand over the keys to our house, and two days later we’ll be standing in Yellowstone National Park about to cut our way across the American west. Six weeks later, we’ll arrive in Peru. The worries and uncertainty of a few years ago have yielded to a rising sense that we really do have what it takes to pull this off. There’s so much to look forward to, it stretches our minds to think about it; from an abandoned imperial city in Peru, to beaches, penguins, elephants, and rhinos, the vast plains of Africa and the temples of India, go parlors in China, cathedrals, hummus on the Mediterranean, and swimming in the waters of Zanzibar. We’ll join ranks with a global community of travelers and always make a point to share what we discover with all of you in this blog.
But perhaps the most exciting aspect of the year ahead is how our trip will allow us to indulge in our curiosity about education. One thing I’ve learned from previous travels is that having an excuse to talk with locals about something they care about can really take a trip to the next level. Elizabeth and I have each worked in education for about a decade but we’ve recently begun to realize how limited our perspective is by the norms of education in the United States. As we visit schools and talk with teachers, students, and administrators we hope to broaden our understanding of what is possible in education as well as get a window into the places we visit that is far more telling than the guided tours and attractions that we would normally be limited to. For more on that angle of our trip, check out a later post.
Now, it’s approaching noon and there are preparations to be tended to. This year is bound to be a wild ride. We hope you’ll hang in there with us.
Will & Elizabeth