It started life as a travel blog back in 2014 when we set off on an adventure which, at the time, we decided to call a career break. We were both in our early thirties, graduates with good first class degrees from Oxford University, Masters and PhDs, decent jobs, mortgages, a lawn to mow etc. and on the outside everything was going great. But inside we weren’t doing so well. We were financially stretched, busy all the time and hardly saw each other. We occasionally daydreamed about taking a break but never quite got around to it. There was always something just around the corner that needed dealing with first, or an opportunity we’d miss if we left.
Then, in January 2014, a serious health scare helped us to reassess our priorities. By April, we’d left our jobs, rented out our apartment, sold our car, rehomed our pets and bought a motorhome.
Driving away from home that very first time, everything we needed (and quite a lot we didn’t) on board was like putting down a heavy weight. That first year was about adventure and the thrill of the road. We hiked and cycled up a lot of mountains, had new experiences and immersed ourselves in all of the new, beautiful places we found.
We’d initially told family and friends that we’d be back in a year but always secretly hoped we could keep going for longer. Thankfully, by the end of the first year, we’d learned that the cost of living in the motorhome was low enough that, with our rent from back home, we weren’t eating into our savings as fast we had thought we might. So we kept going for a second year.
It was a very different year than the first, much harder and far more emotional. We had a lot of relationship issues to get to grips with and personal demons in abundance. We found a lot of benefit from mindfulness and meditation practices and, thanks to some amazing books and teachers we met along the way, started to find the language to describe our changing view of the world.
At the end of our second year we knew it was time to let go of the ‘old lives’ we had left in storage, so we went back home, sold our apartment and gave away 90% of the stuff we’d kept in boxes. This was stuff we’d kept because it had seemed so vital to our identity before that we’d left it mouldering in boxes rather than circulating it to others. It was still difficult, at times, letting go but by the end we felt much better. We then embarked on a 3 month backpacking adventure, completing the Tour du Mont Blanc and even visiting Egypt on a tour of some of the ancient sites organised by Agape Spiritual Centre, among other things.
By early 2017 we were back on the road in a new motorhome, temporarily renting a house in Spain, when we decided to adopt a stray dog who we called Leela. We led such an outdoor lifestyle that we didn’t think much would have to change and we believed we could give her a good life. What we didn’t know was that a little over two weeks later she would birth to 6 puppies. We named them Bella, Rose, George, Pati, Jess and Teddy. We initially planned to rehome all of them, but for reasons we always struggle to full explain still have four of them with us now more than a year later. Somewhere along the way they simply became part of the family and, although we did indeed have to make big changes to how we managed our time, we know that everything happens for a reason. We’ve learned more about ourselves since those puppies arrived than we ever did before and, we like to think, we all have a pretty good life together.
So, we continue to tour around in a motorhome, two humans and five dogs. Our ‘career break’ has evolved into a new way of life in which we believe that our needs will always be met, one way or another. We still visit beautiful places and have wonderful adventures but we also try to focus on our health and wellbeing, our diet, meditation, Yoga and spiritual practice.
When we first started travelling we were motivated by what we could ‘get’ out of our travels while trying to safeguard our wealth so that we could travel for as long as possible. We were excited by other bloggers who talked about early retirement and believed that if we could cut our costs while getting enough money together, we’d never have to ‘work’ again. The assumption was that as long as we could just keep travelling we’d always be happy. We don’t see things that way anymore.
As we travel now, we move much more slowly and our focus is increasingly about being fully present with the people we encounter, providing service in whatever way we can and are asked to, learning to love ourselves as we are and trusting that opportunities will arise as and when we need them to. We also know that what we ‘need’ is not always what we think we want. Of course, we still catch ourselves trying to plan, control the future and worrying about what happens next all the time but we are grateful we at least have an increased awareness and tools to help ground us in the moment when we notice ourselves lost in fear, doubt and a mentality of lack. Because, despite how the media portrays things and despite the fact there is a huge amount of avoidable pain and suffering in the world right now, the problem is not that there isn’t ‘enough’ to go around.
And, finally, we are grateful to be on this journey together, the two of us and our five furry companions.
Esther and Dan