Three hundred sixty-five days ago, Daniel and I did one final check of our possessions, started up the engine of our van, and pulled out onto the road. We’ve been gone eleven of the twelve months since.
I liked the poetry of starting our travels on the spring equinox. The end of winter and the beginning of a season of life and light felt like an apt metaphor for this new season in our own lives. We’ve watched sunrises and sunsets in forests and deserts, slept under the stars, hiked among ancient cultural wonders, and trekked through towns and countries I couldn’t have pinned on a map.
By no means has every day been perfect. Approximately three seconds after we first pulled out of the driveway, I looked in the rear view mirror and watched our newly purchased five-gallon water carrier go flying off our storage platform, bouncing off the bed before settling against the driver’s side sliding door. There were still a few kinks to work out. But in spite of a few little mishaps, it’s been the longest year of my life in the best way possible.
We started this journey with a fair bit of trepidation. Would we enjoy traveling for more than a few weeks at a time? Were we insane to think we could spend months camping out of a minivan? Would there be things I missed about my prior working life?
One year on the road has given us the opportunity to work through a lot of those uncertainties – thankfully with largely positive answers.
We’re still grappling with plenty of other questions as we cross our one-year anniversary of life on the move. But in spite of any concerns I might have about the future, there is one thing of which I am certain:
There is no scenario in which I will regret having done this.
Naturally, we share a lot of our “highlight reel” moments on this blog, but the truth is that I still feel plenty of uncertainty and concern about the future. At some point in the next year or two, we’ll likely stop traveling full-time. Then what?
Will we settle down in one location? What will I do with all my newfound free time? Might I actually want to work again? Would I even be employable?
Then there are the “downside scenario” concerns. I’ve been out of the workforce for almost 14 months now. If the market crashed and burned or if we had other unexpected financial issues, going back to work would be more difficult than before. Potential changes to U.S. healthcare regulations could affect me, too. I might decide my savings aren’t sufficiently padded to comfortably cover five-figure annual health insurance expenses in my older years. That’s concerning, to say the least.
There are a million ways our lives could potentially change over the coming decades. Most of them are positive; others are downright catastrophic. But I can’t think of a single one that would have me saying years from now, “We should have waited longer to pursue our dreams.”
It’s easy to put off our big goals waiting for some perfect moment. “One day,” we fantasize, “all the stars will align, and the timing will be just right.” We wait for our finances to be bulletproof and for our commitments to be minimized, hoping we’ll maintain our youthful energy and good health long enough to enjoy the time we have left. But sometimes the perfect moment never comes.
There’s a version of our futures in which things have gotten really bad. The global financial markets are in turmoil. Maybe there’s war, famine, and disease. Perhaps we’ve lost basic human rights and personal freedoms. Maybe my standard of living will never return to what it once was.
Even in that worst-case scenario, there’s only one feeling I’d have about the decisions we’ve made: gratitude. Gratitude that we took the leap. Gratitude that we were ever in a position to pursue our big dreams at all. Gratitude that we lived the life we wanted, not someone else’s version of success. Gratitude that we didn’t wait.