As I am writing this I am (very impatiently) waiting on a job offer from a boutique resort in the Cook Islands. It may come through and provide us with at least 2 years of financial stability that we think we need, or it may not and that will just begin a new adventure somewhere else in the world. What I love about the years since I worked a ‘real job’ and had a ‘real life’ is that I know, which ever way this goes, that it doesn’t really matter!
How it went wrong:
Our first attempt at living overseas essentially failed. We ran out of money and in the end, we had to leave the life that we loved so much to return to our home country and earn more money. I am sure at the time that there may have been other opportunities we could have made work for us, but the reality of the fact was that we were tied down financially. We both still had cars, we still owned a house and we had over $5k of maxed out credit cards. Looking back, we just weren’t ready for what we were trying to do.
Since then we have worked, saved, started a business (which is not yet successful, but will be) and most importantly we have cleared our debts. The cars are gone, as are the credit cards and the mortgage on our house is manageable. We have just over $10k in savings and we are ready to take on whatever the world throws at us. We are more educated about the challenges of living on the road and we are ready for our next adventure.
3 years ago when we quit our jobs, we were doing exactly what all the famous bloggers said they did. We gave up on the real world and we ventured out into the wide blue yonder. We were well aware that this harebrained scheme may not work and we thought we were prepared to fail – because they all say that if you have to go home you do and you just go at it again. Well I can personally tell you that going home was about the worst idea we have ever had in our lives! It was horrible. What the bloggers do say that IS true is that when you return from extensive travel you simply don’t fit into your old life anymore, you have changed and your old friends have too. It IS painful and grinding and the urge to return to the road is one of the strongest I have ever experienced!
How we turned it around:
We were in a different situation to most of the vagabonders out there, we had started a socially acceptable life before we decided that it wasn’t for us and the biggest part of that was that we owned a house. Sure we had been sensible about it and we had a mortgage that we could afford easily, but when you take off on a plane and your income is maybe a 10th of what you are used to earning, then this affordable house becomes a burden that you don’t really know how to deal with! After our initial travel failure, we returned to Australia with a little more knowledge of what we would need to survive, so instead of moving back into our house which had been rented out for 6 months we became house sitters and kept our renters exactly where they were. We spent 18 months moving from house to house, pet sitting and living rent free whilst we both held down steady jobs. I guess that this is where the ‘still having a car’ part came in handy. We were mobile and it didn’t matter where we lived.
We worked and saved and established The Austin Experience (our travel business) without really much of a clue what we were doing. To date we are still figuring it out but it will eventually stand on its own 2 feet! I completed a Masters Degree in International Tourism, because you need credentials if you want to work overseas, but what we couldn’t do was sit still. I travelled to 8 different countries in the time we were back home and Dave visited 4… The problem with prematurely becoming a long-term traveller is that it is near on impossible to give up once you have started!
Eventually, when the frustration of being back home was absolutely no longer bearable we reinvented our plan. It was a Friday and we were having a few drinks with each other (because all of our friends back home were more into their quiet Friday nights). We decided that it was too expensive, even with house sitting, to live where we were and we weren’t really getting anywhere with our savings anyway so if we couldn’t make a go of travelling the world on our own at that stage, then we would have to work while we did it. It was then that I found the job that I am currently working in as Assistant Manager of a Beach Resort in Samoa. Bingo! 6 weeks later I was off and Dave wasn’t far behind.
It has almost been a year now that we have been living on an island called Savaii in Samoa and in this time we have paid off 2 credit cards and successfully managed to get rid of our cars and any other items that were a financial burden to us. We still have our house because we believe that in the long run we need something to fall back on for retirement, but we are more ready than ever to take on the world. Our time in Samoa has taught Dave that he can make money from his photography skills and even his IT skills as a freelancer and it has educated me on the intricacies of managing a different culture among other things. But we are ready to move on…
The next step:
Some people believe in signs, I just believe that things are the way they were meant to be. We know that we have to be more careful with our money and we have 3 solid years of experience in what not to do! So by tomorrow we will either find ourselves relocating as the managers of a 5 star boutique beach resort or we will be setting off again into the unknown. Whatever the fates decide, this time we will be ready and in 7 years time we will include this post as part of our blog on what we have learned in our 10 years of travelling the world!