This week Passion Passport is featuring the traveling duo known as Hair Ventures. In part one, Meg shared her inspiration for moving from Ohio to China. In part two, she met her now-husband and travel partner, Jonathan. Today, Jonathan explains how they made their dream lifestyle a reality.
After living and working in London for the best part of a decade, it started to hit me that while I was earning decent money, my job was really rather meaningless in the grand scheme of the universe. I’d bottled my semi dream of working in the film industry at 27, thinking I was too old/too far into a career to start from scratch. Three years later I had a chance to work for myself for a bit, and it made me question the typical 9-5 career path. I questioned, but I didn’t quite act. I moved to Sydney and then Shanghai, continuing on the same career track. Five years passed. I was in a nicely-paid role in China, it was pretty stress-free. Still, there was the itch to leave to all behind.
I saw many of my friends settled into their comfortable lives, with their nice homes, shiny new cars, having a small child or two, accepting their three weeks of holiday a year. While I was pleased for them, I just couldn’t see how they could do it? How could I possibly find any joy in this for the next 30 years?
I had always enjoyed the slightly random elements of life, along with traveling, and just ached for ‘interesting stories for my grandkids’. So four years ago, when a new girlfriend (at the time) agreed to take part in the Mongol Rally with me, I finally decided enough was enough. Returning from six weeks of utter mayhem and randomness, I no longer cared about having money. I wanted to be completely unconstrained by a job.
But, how could I support this newfound dream? I needed the holy grail of (accepting that I would not be paid to be a travel writer/blogger or YouTube superstar!).
It is easy to brandish this dream around (a la Rich Dad, Poor Dad), but to make it happen is a whole different ball game. I was fortunate that when I was in London, I bought myself a little apartment, and then when I was earning good money in Sydney I did the same. Nothing fancy, but enough that they were always rentable, and would at least cover the respective mortgages on them. I then did some research, and thought perhaps I could actually sell one of the places and re-invest the money into little properties, in cheap parts of the UK. And that’s what I have done. I am now up to five properties, with varying success in terms of getting half decent tenants in, but on an average month it is enough to generate the income that supports my wife and our travels.
We live in a small RV, as frugally as we can ($70-a-week food budget, solar panels so no campsites, Planet Fitness membership for showers, etc.), and we stop from time to time, for a few days here and there, to spread the cost of fuel (far, far, far-and-away the biggest expenditure for us) Where possible, we try to house sit (via sites such as trustedhousesitters.com). We are about to cross the border into Central and then South America, and now have the confidence that we can park and camp anywhere. With no fixed agenda or timeframe (i.e. jobs to get back to), we don’t need to rush or feel guilty about missing things. We can happily spend the day lazing around or doing very little.
But, how to not sound smug? This is the last thing I want to do. Just because a desk job is not for me, I am in no way thinking my life is any better. It is just different. I am still not really doing anything meaningful for the planet, and being extremely selfish in living the life I want to. And I’m not sure it will last forever. At some stage, either due to kids, or just craving a base that doesn’t move, I may very well want to (or even need to, financially) settle down somewhere with a 9-5 (ish!) job.
But, for the time being I am happy to sacrifice a PS4, a massive TV, a nice car, expensive clothes and fine dining in exchange for living with the bare necessities – home cooked meals, having to take the odd tepid shower, only a few Starbucks a week, and making a t-shirt last two days worth before washing. Would I change it? You can bet your bottom dollar I would not.
Our coverage of Meg and Jonathan’s journey (or journeys, really) concludes tomorrow, as they look back at their years on the road. Have you embarked on a transformative journey? Are you planning one? Share it on social media, using the hashtag “YourJourneyAwaits.”