After dating Simon for about three years, I told him that when I graduated University, a year later, I wanted to go to London to teach. He was most welcome to come with me, but either way, I was going. I was so head strong and determined to carve out a path that was ‘my own’ that I was willing to risk leaving him behind, even though I really loved him. THANK GOODNESS he said yes! And so did I shortly after, when he proposed that we marry before going overseas. We were young (probably too young!) and in love and ready for our first adventure.
And what an adventure we had! We planned on going for 6-12 months, but only bought one way tickets so that we could see how things panned out. We stayed for over 3 years, traveling the U.K., Europe and America until deciding to return home to Australia. I was pregnant with our first child Lucy, and even though we were excited about entering a new phase of our married life together, I shed a tear on the way to Heathrow Airport to see the end of the life we’d been living. It never occurred to us that there was another way. Even if we’d decided to stay in the UK to raise a family, I am certain that we would have started down the road of mortgage, long commutes to work and filling a house to the gills with the ‘stuff‘ you’re supposed to accumulate in your life time.
Adjusting to life back in Adelaide, Australia was HARD. We definitely found ourselves knee deep in Reverse Culture Shock. This was made worse by the fact that we decided to build our first house, (which took forever), and ended up living with my parents for over 18 months! We were grateful for their generosity, but what a change from the freedom we’d left behind in London. Once the reality of mortgage payments, commutes to work and child raising set in, travel felt like a distant dream. Adelaide felt so very, very far away from the rest of the world, (it is!) and the price of overseas travel is out of reach to many Australian families.
But, we’ve never forgotten the adventures we had. The cultures and sights we experienced together will stay with us forever, and we always hoped that on finishing their own education our own children would take the same one way ticket leap of faith that we had. For ourselves, travel would have to wait until we’d paid for this, or paid for that, or got that promotion or paid the school fees. In reality, retirement, and it felt like a bloody long time away.
But something seem to happen between 2002 and 2013, the world got smaller. Compared to the first time we left Australia, now, daily, instant communication with anywhere on the globe is affordable and easy. Other than the nostalgic, who puts a stamp on a postcard anymore? Now we blog about our experiences, Tweet and update our Facebook status in real time, and email home faster than you could write the letter and walk to the post box to send it. The internet has made working away from the office possible, and the cost of living is low for those who are willing to change their priorities from The Australian Dream to daring to do more with their skills.
So why wait for retirement to see more of the world? If it’s what you itch for, why wait? Why wait until you are less energetic, overworked, probably unhealthy and full of stress from the years that were meant to be the prime of your life? Why wait to see you children grown up and left home, (without ever witnessing the inquisitiveness and adventure that exists in their parents)? We can live and work anywhere on the planet, we’ve already proven this to be so. You could live in the suburbs paying the mortgage, the credit cards, the school fees and the Supermarket chains, saving every penny for the ‘big trip’ when you retire, if that’s what rocks your boat. But if it isn’t, that’s OK as well. There IS another option, and it doesn’t require a lottery win. PAY OFF THE DEBT. Take your skills with you. Live in smaller, cheaper accommodation anywhere you please, stay and work for a little while, explore, and then when/if that itch takes hold, move on! Slow travel, exploring and working our way around the globe is what we’re trying to achieve with our children NOW. It’s time to carve out a path that is ‘our own’ 😉