It all started with gingerbread.
Traveling the world long term never crossed either of our minds as a possibility. I knew it was something some people did. Surely, I thought, it must require to you have lots of money, lots of time, or lots of guts to cut it alone. I didn't feel I fit any of these categories and put aside the idea of long-term travel. I grew up thinking I would really enjoy travel, but assumed it to be an acitivity for much later in life. Think retirement, not late 20s.
In 2013, I confirmed my suspicion I may in fact really, really love traveling. Through Lane's encouragement, I spent the summer of 2013 in Central America. As amazing as the experience proved to be, long-term travel was still nowhere on my radar. It still didn't seem possible to do more than a week or two of travelling.
Before we got married, Lane and I agreed we wanted to plan at least one international trip a year. At the time, this seemed ambitious, but still a feasible goal. We got married, enjoyed an amazing honeymoon in Thailand, promptly moved to Colorado, started new jobs, and everything was going accordingly to a vaguely constructed plan.
We did all the things we were supposed to do.
We graduated from college, we got married, we secured good jobs. This proved to be a wonderful and exciting time in our lives—we were building a fantastic life in a new state we fell in love with.
Cut to December of 2014...the one with all the gingerbread. As a fun side project, I started selling gingerbread ornaments online. I would customize them and create niche figurines. My most popular designs were a scuba diver, a Cross Fit enthusiast, and a rock climber gingerbread. As a new lil' business of my own, I decided to attend a holiday craft fair as a vendor in the small mountain town of Lyons, Colorado. We loved the area and decided to make a travel weekend of the fair.
In the evening after the first day of the fair, I prepared supplies for the following day and Lane browsed the owner's collection of books at our Airbnb. He came across a book entitled One Photograph from Every Country, or something along those lines (I'm sure the book had a cooler name). We poured over the book, endlessly fascinated by the colorful images of places we hardly know on the map. As we flipped back and forth through the glossy pages, we reminisced over our own international trips and how they were some of our favorite memories together. We mused how it would be cool to travel more often, and, hey, maybe travel longer than a couple weeks? Could we travel long-term? Like, really long-term? Could we be on the road for a year? Our excitement grew with every passing hour. Was this even a thing people really did? We had no idea, but we fell asleep that night knowing the idea begged to be explored.
After the craft fair, we loaded my supplies and our newfound excitement into our Subaru and headed home. We stopped for dinner at a Tibetan restaurant in Boulder. We couldn't stop talking about this crazy idea! Lane and I are definitely the researcher types, so it felt somewhat ridiculous to be so energized and tied to this vague, overwhelming, and incredible fragment of an idea we now carried with us so dearly. As our plates began to empty after more conversation, I looked directly at Lane.
"So, are we gonna do this?"
"Yeah, let's do it."
Very next thing, I took this picture.
I sensed I would always remember this moment, but I wanted a photo of it too. I wanted to be able and look back at this raw and unexpected sliver in time. From that moment, I knew we would do this. We didn't know exactly when, but committing to this idea proved to be a decision which would positively influence most all aspects of our life over the coming years.
On the final stretch of our road trip, we listened to our first podcast about long-term travel. The podcast host interviewed a couple who, like us, decided to travel long term and initially weren't sure it was possible. We couldn't contain our giddiness as the interviewees described their own journey towards long-term travel or "round-the-world (RTW)" travel (as we came to learn the jargon).
By the time we returned home, we carried full hearts, excited minds, and commitment to a new, unexpected, and unified dream.