All posts Musings North America US Wanderlust Friday

One Year

September 18, 2015

_MG_4982The magic hour in LA, California.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been back in the US for one year. What’s it been like?


We’ve watched close friends get married and have babies. We’ve attended multiple happy hours, dinners, and parties. We’ve set up our house just the way we like, and bonded (again) with our cat. We got jobs…that we like. We like what we do professionally, we like our colleagues, and being freelance agents we have virtually unlimited vacation time. We’ve been able to visit our family members many times over, and we’ve criss-crossed the US on a number of adventures.

Life’s been grand. No, really.

And yet. The urge to travel without looking back runs deep.  Sometimes we look at each other, shake our heads, and say “What are we doing here?”

You see, it’s hard because we technically could take off tomorrow. We have enough money in the bank, plus income from leasing the house, to make traveling lifestyle a reality. We would get the hang of making income on the road, I am sure. It all would fall into place. There are many days that I want to do exactly that…particularly now that the fall’s unmistakably chilly air is enveloping DC (most people call this “nice weather” – we disagree.)

But we are holding back. Because, at some point in our 14 months on the road we’ve come to a number of realizations that we still hold on to.  

Constant travel wears us down. It wasn’t that we stopped having a good time, or that we didn’t enjoy exploring new cultures any more, or that natural wonders didn’t appeal to us – it was just that we’ve had so many new experiences, we were saturated. It started to feel like we were experiencing all of those great people, spaces, and incidents with a bit of grainy film over it. We could push through, but we didn’t necessarily want to. Because the world is wonderful and we want to explore it with fresh eyes and open hearts not weighed down by all of the previous adventures.

We like investing time in everyday relationships. We’ve met wonderful people on the road, and we’ve reconnected with them in a number of places since then, and I am sure we will continue to develop our relationships. But there’s something about popping in to your friends’ house for tea, commiserating about work, just doing basic, everyday things and shooting the shit together. That is important to us, and we don’t want to sacrifice this to long term travel.

Strong roots, no anchor – that’s what we want, and we figured this out a ways back. We want to be vested in our community, but we don’t want to be held down in one place. We want to travel and see the world at our own pace, not dictated by the standard 10 days off, but we also want to have a sense of home.

A bit of a pickle, isn’t it?

Over the last year, we’ve been trying to figure out how to solve this riddle. The most straightforward path is just to travel a lot, while using one home base. Which is what we did. Between the two of us, we’ve traveled to and spent time in 20 US states this year. That’s been cool, but we are exhausted. I’ve alluded to this before – we’ve discovered that traveling in short stints while having full time commitments at home is like having two lives going on at full throttle. It’s too much – at least for us (we’ve been way too spoiled by our long term travel, I realize that).

Back to square one. We are still at it, trying to figure out a sustainable life-travel balance that works for us. Ideally, we would live in Washington DC for the majority of the time, but travel well and for longer stints. For us that means creating passive income streams and building a well-established career that we can parlay into freelance consulting. That’s the long term goal – we aren’t quite ready for that yet, but we are working on it. Another possibility that we are exploring is to live / work outside of the US for a bit, which would allow us explore locally while having a full time commitments and home base. We don’t know if that would satisfy our wanderlust, but we are seriously considering giving it a whirl.

So there you have it – our year of living and thinking about travel since coming home after long-term travel.

Have you figured out the life-travel balance yet? If so, can you share the secret?

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  • Polly

    All I can say is: THIS.

    Literally took the words out of my mouth – when you figure it out, please let me know!

    • House To Laos

      haha, will do, only if you promise to do the same!!

  • amy&andrew

    I think that’s what everyone’s trying to do; some people just have different interests that they have to share with work. We’re trying to settle in one place for a few months and work (teach and write) while taking short breaks wherever we are and then save enough for more thorough travelling. We’ve only just begun this but it seems to work so far, we’ll see how it goes… Glad you’ve had a great year back in the USA.

    • House To Laos

      Ha! So true — I thought I was so clever coming up with life/travel balance, but really everyone is trying to figure out some balance of something and how to make it all work in the best for them, you are so right! 🙂 I hope we find our soon! I think your model of setting up shop somewhere for a good amount of time to live and work is so neat!

  • Drive on the Left

    As they say, self-awareness is what it’s all about. What works for some people doesn’t work for everyone. Knowing where you fall on ALL the spectrums is so important. I’m still in the ‘travel forever please thank you’ phase of life, but I would expect this to shift once I had it in hand!

    • House To Laos

      I remember sitting in Chiang Mai, Thailand one day, chatting with Sergey and saying — I wish we could have a group of our friends here with us — that would be SO FUN! Chiang Mai and really many other places around the world are just such hanging outable places all you want to do is chill with your bestest. So my absolute dream would be to have our friends and family with us as we explore the world, but I think the only way to make that happen is to move abroad and make them come visit you – a bit like what you guys did! )

  • Joella // Paper Crane Stories

    I can completely relate to this! Well, even though I am “home” now it’s not my real home country, it’s my husband’s (I’m British) so I’m still having fun exploring all that California has to offer. But I can still relate. I don’t want to travel constantly for years on end but I do want to be able to go off on multiple trips a year. I think my balance would be the same as what you said you would like to do- have DC as your home base (CA for me) but be able to go off and travel for a month or so at a time. I’m working on that too. I used to be a school teacher and taught at an international school. That was great in some ways as you got 15 weeks vacation and your housing/rent paid for you so you could go off and travel. But, as you discovered, it is exhausting travelling in intense bursts and then going back to intense, full time work as soon as you come back! Fingers crossed we all work out how to achieve our balance soon.

    • House To Laos

      Yes! That is what I am apprehensive about with the expat approach — living outside of our home country, traveling in between work, it can be quite a monumental task!