The Story Behind Driving Inertia

At the time in life when most people start settling down, having babies, and getting promotions, we started feeling a quiet, nagging sense of dissatisfaction.  We’re at or approaching 30 and bored with our big city way of life.  We’ve made and been left behind by many great friends.  We’re too old to go out drinking every night. We want to be outside more and on concrete less. We’ve had success in the working world but it hasn’t translated into anything personally meaningful.  At this point, out of boredom and/or a sense of obligation to the human race, we could entrench and start producing progeny. But one of us has never wanted kids and the other isn’t ready to face that battle. Or we could go looking for bigger salaries and sign up for grad school.  But school doesn’t involve enough DOING.  So we asked ourselves: “What could we do to make our lives more meaningful?”

OK, our goals were never quite this grand initially.  We did a few calculations and realized a year-long vacation was possible.  It’s really just a Travis McGee move — save up enough to avoid work for a while and adventure for a bit instead.  The details shook out a little like this.  We’d save money for a year or so.  We’d sell or rent out our condo.  We’d sell, donate, or store our possessions.  We’d buy a vehicle and outfit it as a moveable home.  We’d blog about the whole thing.

To help you get to know us and our plans a little better, herewith, a short Q&A:

Lisa: What are your hopes for this trip?
Paul: Right now, I can see my life’s trajectory decades into the future.  I want to jump off the rails a bit, get into the rhythm of not having a rhythm, and see what else is going on in the world.  I want my time back.  I want to be time-rich, because being monetarily rich isn’t good enough.

I’m not really looking for meaning.  I don’t think there’s any meaning to anything we do, and I’m fine with that.  There’s no grand plan for humans, so we may as well enjoy our time alive.  But there’s definitely more to the world than the cubicle and, to quote Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Lisa: What will you miss the most about our current way of life?
Paul: Clean bathrooms.  Easy answer.  Running water, hot showers, and flush toilets are easy to take for granted.

Lisa: What are your biggest anxieties about this trip?
Paul: Just that there are a billion reasons not to go.  Once we start, we’ll see what pops up next.

And now, the other side of the couple:

Paul: What are your hopes for this trip?
Lisa: A few weeks ago I was talking to my brother.  He said, “don’t you think you’ll get bored, that you’ll get sick of traveling all the time?”  I said, “no,” and while I was thinking of how I could explain myself in a non-trite way (being much better at typing than talking), he said, “I asked Dad about it, and he said that he would love the opportunity to travel until he was sick of it.”  I said, “exactly.”

Paul started getting overwhelmed by the amount of time we were setting aside for some of the legs of the trip.  Because my brother is getting married in October, we had planned to set aside most of the fall and early winter for the northeast portion of the trip.  Paul said, “do you realize that’s 3 months of the trip – that’s one quarter of the trip?  That it’ll be one quarter over before we get out of the northeast?”  I reminded Paul that these are just loose guidelines.  If we hate a place, we won’t stay.  If we love it we won’t leave.  If we’re not done in a year and we’re in a position to keep going, we’ll keep going.

So, my hopes for the trip completely contradict one another.  One is that I will get sick of traveling, that it will allow me to understand where I want to be.  The other is that I will be able to travel forever.

Paul: What will you miss the most about our current way of life?
Lisa: Mainly the ability to be lazy.  Now I can strew my clothes about, not wash the dishes for a few days, go weeks and weeks between loads of laundry, just generally be a total slob.  When you live in a small space (like a vehicle) you’ve got to keep up with the cleaning.  You need to do dishes every night, laundry every week, you’ve got to straighten up in the morning.  You’ve got to vacuum on a regular basis.  That’s going to be a tough adjustment.

I’ll also miss the oven and the fridge.  A lot.  But I expect the difficulty in living to make it a little more enjoyable.  It’s too easy to be complacent now.  The things that come easily are not as enjoyable.  It’s too easy to get takeout every night.

Paul: What are your biggest anxieties about this trip?
Lisa: I have plenty of fears that cover just about any situation we could find ourselves in.  I worry about imposing on our friends and family.  I worry we’ll get sick or injured.  I don’t like to be physically uncomfortable, cold, wet.  I worry that we’ll end up hating each other.  But these things could happen if we don’t go.  I worry that we’re making a mistake by leaving a good thing.  But how do you know the difference between a truly good thing and a simple fear of change?  The rewards outweigh the risks.