Why we sold everything we owned to begin a life of travel

by Brad on December 2, 2010

Brad and Kelli at a waterfall in Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica

When people found out about our plan to sell everything we own and move to Costa Rica, their reactions seemed to fall into one of two categories. One was, “Wow, that’s awesome!  I wish I were in a position to do that. You’re doing what the rest of us wish we could do.”

The other response was, “Why would you do that? Are you sure? What’s wrong with you? That makes me sick to think about.”  One of our friends literally looked like he was about to be sick. The most memorable response was from our 75-year old neighbor – a successful business man now retired. His comment to me was, “You’re doing what we wish we would have done when we were your age.”

We’ve walked away from a 4,500 square foot home with all of the comforts a human being could ever wish for. Nice cars, a tub for two, fantastic appliances, and even two sinks in the bathroom! Now we’re living in a tiny little apartment, no more than 300 square feet, stomping on ants, washing dishes by hand, choosing which trickle of water coming out of the shower head to stand under, and learning to live without a car.

And guess what…we couldn’t be happier.

We made efforts to fit into the typical American lifestyle. We’ve both been doing the “responsible/stable” thing our entire lives (e.g., attend and graduate from college, get a job and a career and slowly accumulate more and better things). But it felt like we were always rubbing against the grain, and it didn’t truly make either of us happy. We bought the big screen flat panel HD TV because they looked so cool. Then it sat there with no television service other than what we picked up out of the air and our best component for it was a five-year old DVD player. And then there were all the comments we’d get about how we were always gone traveling – which is true. If three months went by without a good trip for us, we got restless.

So we dumped all the stuff that was holding us back and went to live our lives a little differently. Imagine the newly discovered brain power when you don’t have to worry about all the stuff around you. We have zero concern for weeds in the yard, or the fact that the car needs an oil change, or that the fridge needs a new water filter, or – the curse of our generation – that the cell phone is ringing and because it’s a cell phone, the person calling has a reasonable expectation that he can reach us at any time. (It’s coming up on two weeks of not having to answer a single phone call or text. Liberating doesn’t even describe the feeling that comes from that.)

All of those things have been beneficial side effects of our decision to leave, but none were the big “Why” we chose to.

We took a good look at our lives and realized we weren’t truly happy.  Neither of us felt like we were making a really positive contribution to this world.  Neither of us could say we were living anything like what we’d dreamed of when we were kids (I know many of us came up short of being Super Man or the next Michael Jordan, but that’s a topic for another day.)  And with so much on our plates trying to keep up our lives the way we thought we should be living them, we weren’t finding the time for important habits and things that keep us feeling balanced and enjoying life every day.

If you look around you, how many people do you see that are truly happy?

We realized that for us, trying to stay in the typical pattern of the 9 to 5+ job, at the beck and call of bosses or clients, eek out a two-week vacation every year if we were lucky, and finally control our own lives after we’d given our best years to that system, just wasn’t going to work for us.

There are people in the world who have broken the mold and found a different way to live, one that involves making a significant impact on the lives of other people. One that doesn’t involve dedicating your life to a boss or suffering through pointless Monday morning meetings. There are people who see a problem, and rather than wasting an hour debating with their colleagues what was that problem’s cause or who were the idiots in charge, and then return to their unfulfilling work, they will go out and invent new ways to solve problems.

We’re not saying we should all be Mother Teresas. In fact, we don’t want to be. That’s not our gift and we wouldn’t be very good at trying to do what she did. But we realized that we all have our own gifts and at least one thing we are passionate about, and that if we figure out what that is and actually do something with it to benefit others, our lives could be a lot more meaningful and fulfilling. 

So what are our passions? We can safely say it’s not tax returns or selling life insurance. Those gigs had nothing to do with our talents or dreams. There has always been the travel, the cooking, reading, and being outdoors. And over the last two years, we’ve found something else to be passionate about. We’ve seen firsthand the impact that the food we choose to eat has on our bodies. Watching Kelli’s health improve almost instantly after making a few changes was mind jarring. Brad feeling his own body improve as he made those changes with Kelli was amazing. Telling others about what we were doing and hearing about the improvements they were experiencing was very rewarding. Wondering how similar choices might positively impact others in a big way gave rise to a purpose.

So as we search for the best application of our desire to help others improve how they feel through healthy lifestyle changes, we knew it was time to start living a life that we could be proud of.  In Utah we complained every time winter came, so we knew we had to leave the state. Every time we went on vacation to a tropical climate we didn’t want to come home, so we’ve decided to go live in one. We’ve always wanted to see so many places in this world, and knowing that sooner or later we’ll need to pick a spot and put down roots, we decided to go see which place we like the best. (How do you know until you try them?!)

We were square pegs trying to shove ourselves through the round holes of the typical lifestyle. Since we felt stuck in the lives we were trying to live, we’re really excited to be kicking the status quo to the curb and shooting for something amazing.

What’s our “amazing”? Yet to be seen. Might we fail? Of course. Scary? Sure as hell it is. Will we regret it? We can’t possibly imagine.

{ 9 comments }

jason avery December 4, 2010 at 9:57 pm

You two are inspiring!! Love reading about your adventures.

Brad December 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Thanks Jason. We’re just waiting for you guys to come join us! In the mean time, we appreciate you guys staying in touch and keeping tabs on us.

Leah Klein December 5, 2010 at 7:05 am

Good on ya :)

Brad December 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Thanks Leah. Yet to be seen whether it was inspired or crazy, but either way it’s a fun ride.

Kevin December 8, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Loved this post. A few good justifications for your life change from dead American writers:

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? –T.S. Eliot

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. – Henry David Thoreau (from Walden)

Keep livin’ deliberately!

Kev

Lesa December 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I love reading about you – keep it coming!

Brad December 14, 2010 at 8:14 am

Thanks Lesa! With all the adventures around and ahead of us, I’m sure we’ll always have some good stories to share. (Have you read about the rodeo yet? Makes the Bluffdale rodeo look like the Days of 47.

Deborah Shepherd December 12, 2010 at 8:41 am

Hey, you two, I just wanted to let you know that I have been following your adventures with great interest. I am especially interested in the changes you made in your diet and your health. I am studying what you are saying and processing it to begin implementing it into my own life. After I get healthier, I will go about fueling my other passions. I am not a “jump-in” kinda person, but I am going to make positive changes one day at a time. You have inspired me. Be happy. Love, Deb

Brad December 14, 2010 at 8:12 am

Hi Deb, thanks for the great comment! We like writing about our travels, but we love writing about food topics that we know will help people feel better and avoid problems down the road…or deal with problems they’re already facing. You’re exactly right, don’t try to jump in; just make small adjustments as you go. Here’s an article I wrote exactly about that: http://www.fooduciary.com/where-to-start/. It’s short with just a few ideas of what to start with. I’m thrilled to hear we’ve inspired you!

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