We quit our jobs, sold our stuff, and packed everything we could imagine we would need into 40 liter backpacks and hopped on a plane.
Why we’re doing this
About a year ago we got to the point where our careers, finances, and societal pressures (for lack of a better term) were telling us it was time to settle down. We were approaching 30 and headed down the fast track on our careers and overall committed to each other. We didn’t have a reason not to settle down but something didn’t feel right. San Francisco, the city we called home for over ten years, had changed and we weren’t sure we wanted to spend forever there. We weren’t sure we were ready to be home owners. Heck, we weren’t even totally sure we were ready to get married.
So we decided to leave the traditional path of adulthood and forge our own.
Practically speaking, now is the perfect time for us to leave everything behind. Allison just graduated with a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology. It was the greatest and most difficult achievement of her life (to say the least). However, the degree is just the first step in a 2-3 year long process of getting licensed in order to be a practicing therapist. Jeff just left his design job of four years to branch out into the field of iOS development. Career wise, now is a good time for us to travel before we start the long process working in our dream careers.
We also realize right now, in our early 30s (or almost for Allison), is a really ideal time to travel. We’re both able bodied and quick on our feet. We feel confident that we can be aware enough to explore less American friendly and less safe places. We both have the energy and desire to go to a local flea market to painstakingly find known and unknown ingredients to bring to our place and cook on our own. We both have the willingness learn a new language and the confidence to practice it even though we will inevitably sound silly and make mistakes. We both have bodies that are capable of climbing tall mountains, and sleeping on the ground, and eating experimental foods.
We know people travel at all ages and stages of life, but for us, now is the time.
We’ve been incredibly fortunate that we’ve found so much success with our professional and educational careers.
Jeff wound up in an enterprise software design career in the biggest tech hub in the country. He was fortunate to work for a company that had both great work/life balance and competitive salaries. He also spent most nights and weekends working hard to teach himself iOS development on which later translated to better job opportunities.
Throughout grad school, Allison worked at least two jobs at all times. Though she did incur some dreaded student loan debt her work allowed her to cover her living expenses during the last three years.
Through a combo of frugal living (as frugal as possible in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the world) and picking up side work we were able to put a sizable amount of money into savings to pay for the trip.
Time for the duo
One of the major reasons for going on this trip was to start building our life together as a couple. It’s hard to admit, but we lived fairly independent lives in San Francisco. Working toward Jeff’s career change meant not much time for us. Allison’s Masters degree was an all-encompassing three year rush which left little time for us. We needed to hunker down apart to achieve our personal goals, but now that we have reached some pretty big milestones we want to prioritize growing together as a couple.
We have a lot of hope for this experience. We know we’ll be spending much more time together and that in itself will be an incredible learning experience. But we also want to really start listening to each other, being more compassionate, and learn to rely on each other and to trust each other no matter how difficult the situation.
Getting Some Perspective
While the timing is pretty ideal and we want more time together to really help our relationship thrive, this is the most important part- we need to get out of our American, urban, White, liberal, “Coastal Elite” bubble. At this stage in life we are at a turning point. We’re old enough to have somewhat of an idea about who we are and our place in the world, and young enough to know that there is so much we haven’t experienced. We both are avid learners but we realize that we have had the luxury of growing somewhat complacent in our cushy San Francisco lives. We want to get out of the environment that is so built upon striving, achieving, and wealth and spend more time slowing down and taking in the world around us.
We believe getting out of the city and life we know so well will encourage us to do this. We are stoked to be on this adventure and hope to explore many places but we have agreed to focus more on learning about the way of life in a place than seeing beautiful sights. We want to dive into the history, theology, norms, and customs of different cultures. With this in mind, we are hoping to learn not just about other people and places, but about how that knowledge shapes how we see ourselves and our role in the world.
So now, for some logistics-
We’re starting by spending a month in Oaxaca, Mexico. We chose Mexico because as Californian’s we thought it was blasphemous that neither of us ever visited the country. We chose Oaxaca because it seemed like a culturally rich, urban place that we hoped would allow us to immerse ourselves in the Mexican way of life, plus we found a stellar Spanish language school there where we’ll be taking classes for three weeks.
Then we’re going to travel around Mexico for another month to spend some time exploring the little beach towns and fully dive into urban life in Mexico City. Of course, we have to stick around until the end of October to get to participate in Dia de los Muertos too. Then we’re making our way through South America, starting in Peru. We plan to use those Spanish classes for several months! After that, more is planned, but not finalized yet.
We are so excited to be on this adventure and we can not wait to share the experience with you. Thank you for coming along with us.