My Odyssey – Embarking on a Life-Changing Adventure

I remember the conversation my husband Martin and I had distinctly. 

“Why not?” he asked me.

I had no answer. The thought was exciting…terrifying…perfect. 

“Let’s do it.” I responded.

That was 6 years ago. We waited to find just the right time. We started really saving and planning for it in November 2012. The date our new lifestyle officially begins: July 1, 2014. 

We are traveling the world. We are becoming vagabonds. 

 

After 19 months of planning and saving, we are quitting our jobs, selling our stuff, renting out the condo, and moving into our car. We have no plans to return to Minnesota, but we don’t really have many plans. 

Excited doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel.

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?

Why not? I have always loved discovering new places, meeting new people, tasting new foods, and learning about how others live. When I was younger, I would dream about going to school far, far away. That didn’t really happen. At first I went to college 20 minutes from home. Then, I finally branched out and moved 5 hours and one state away. At the time, I thought it was far. After graduating from college, I dreamed of getting a job at a place I’d never heard of before. So, I applied at any small town in the Midwest that I could find. Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t look outside the Midwest. The thought to leave the Midwest didn’t even occur to me.

Now, I’m ready. I dream of living in Madagascar, Thailand, Indonesia, and Peru. I dream of learning another language and actually using it. I dream of seeing all the beautiful places I always see pictures of but never get to see in person. 

I’ve lived in Minnesota most of my life (with the exception of 4 years in Wisconsin while I went to school). I’m ready to live in a place that doesn’t have winter. I want an endless summer.

BUT WON’T YOU MISS YOUR FAMILY? DON’T YOU LIKE YOUR JOB?

I love my family. I love my jobs. I love my condo. I love my cat. I have built a life for myself that I love. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to try other things. 

I’ll use a food analogy – I love grilled cheese sandwiches. But I don’t eat grilled cheese sandwiches for every meal or even every day. I also don’t always use the same kind of cheese or bread with my sandwich every time. I also don’t serve it with tomato soup every time. I like variety. 

HOW CAN YOU AFFORD THIS? 

We saved all of our pennies. Martin and I cut out any excess spending and have been able to save at least $1,000 every month – often times more. Yes, it is easy to go out for happy hour, to see the latest movie, to buy stuff we think we need. It can be really hard to save money. But, with a clear goal in mind, we were able to do it. 

From the research we have done, couples can usually travel for a year if they are frugal for $30,000-$50,000, depending on the countries they visit. I was shocked that it was so little. We have that saved. We also have extra set aside that when we dip into that, we will start looking for a source of income.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO CRAVING SUSTENANCE?

Craving Sustenance will have more travel-related posts than it does right now, but the main purpose of the blog will remain the same. I am seeking ways to create an extraordinary life and chronicling that here. I love food, so of course food will be a main part of the blog. But, as my life changes, I will allow for the content here to change too. 

WHERE ARE YOU GOING?

Everywhere. We made a list of places we wanted to visit – just off the top of our heads – and the list was very, very long. We both are craving warm weather. So, we will head south first. North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Mexico, Central America, South America. 

While we have a general idea of key cities we want to visit, we are also keeping our plans very loose. We want to be able to change our minds and go with what our hearts are saying at the moment. 

South America will likely be the first non-North American continent we visit on this voyage, but I have a strong desire to visit southeast Asia as well. That area of the world could be our second destination, but many countries lie between Peru and Thailand, and I’m guessing we will want to stop in Turkey, Morocco, India, and Nepal along the way. (Who wouldn’t!?)

WHAT WILL YOU DO?

So many things! So many organizations and groups encourage vagabonding today: Couchsurfing, WWOOF, HelpX. I want to figure out how to cook on the road. We both want to hike at least part of the Appalachian Trail. I want to visit farmer’s markets around the world and discover new foods. I want to bike for days. 

Mostly, I want to reconnect…with myself, with Martin, with the world. 

Some days we will do nothing. Other days we will be busy with the hassles of travel. Other days we will be visiting tourist destinations. I want to do it all.

BUT ISN’T IT SCARY?

Yes. That’s the point.

If it wasn’t scary, it wouldn’t be worth doing. 

ARE YOU READY TO GO?

No. We still need to rent out the condo, find a new home for Oreo (*my heart breaks*), get a few financial things organized, have a HUGE garage sale, and host a going away party, to name a few things on our list. 

Yes. Our hearts yearn for the adventure we have been dreaming about, planning for, and talking about for the past 19 months. 

I hope you will follow me in this new adventure!

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10 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this great report, Jill. It says it all except who actually first suggested the idea or did it just mutually slowly evolve? AW

  2. Jill- this is crazy amazing! I will definitely be following your journey. I’ll miss seeing your smile at work as I continue on day shift a while longer. I wish you guys the best and the most adventure ever!!

    Katy

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good luck Jill! That sounds amazing! We worked together, and I left last summer to spend time with my kids. I have no regrets and you won’t either. You have to follow your instincts. Have fun!
    -Jen (formerly in Law Dept)

    • Jill Wigert says:

      Thanks Jen! I’m glad you followed your heart and have found happiness. I’m really looking forward to not having every second of every day scheduled. 🙂

  4. Dani says:

    My husband and I did a similar thing 6 years ago before we had kids! Best decision of our lives. At the end we looked at each other and wished we “planned” to be gone longer. We really learned a lot about ourselves and how much we really like each other. Good luck and God Bless!

    • Jill Wigert says:

      That’s awesome! How long were you gone? Where did you go/do that you would recommend that we go/do?

    • Dani says:

      And a quick note (though I’m sure you’ve thought of it): if you plan to use credit cards make sure you inform the company of the places you intend to travel. Keep contact information in your phone (and in the cloud) in case you lose anything!

    • Dani says:

      We were our of the country 9 weeks (Spain, Morocco, France, Portugal, Ireland) and we traveled the U.S. for another 4 weeks visiting family and friends. We’re now saving for a family trip of the same variety!

      We really enjoyed spending a week on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. If you enjoy hiking, it was amazing! Lots of interesting people, wonderful scenery, and yummy food and drink!

      I would also recommend using your connections to find locals to stay with or at least have you over for dinner. We stayed in northern France in the home of a family who had been foreign exchange “parents” to a good friend. Amazing experience! People love to show others what they love about where they live!