The sky is vivid blue and the smell of the salt air tickles my nose. I can hear the waves crashing onto the shore but I do not see them. Right now all I see is my beautiful husband with a look on his face that I can only describe as sheer bliss. It’s not a look I used to see often but now I see it every single day.
I see myself through his eyes and see the same glorious expression; one that finally has no stress, no pain and no regret. The same expression we have both had for 450 days (but who’s counting) when we made a choice which would change our lives changed forever.
We were a ‘power couple’; Michael a Project Manager working on multi-million dollar projects and I ran my own successful business. We had climbed the corporate ladder and had found success; we paid dearly for it.
The stress we were both under every day was sometimes crippling. While we both actually enjoyed our chosen professions, we were enjoying it less and less as the stress took hold.
We had everything we had ever wanted; the house, the cars, the closet full of clothes. We were living the dream, weren’t we? Why did we not feel fulfilled? Why did I constantly question the path I had chosen and why did Michael come home after a 14 hour day too exhausted to even have a conversation? Were we really living ‘the dream’?
It was this question that led me to the most important conversation of my life. I was feeling a little lost. Who else do you call but your mother in times like those?
She always has all the right answers. I spoke to her about my exhaustion, about Michael’s long hours. I expressed that I was no longer happy on this path, that I felt I was missing something in my life. ‘What is it that you feel you are missing?’ she asked me. ‘I want to travel around the world. I want to experience other cultures. I want to go on a journey of self discovery and I don’t want to come back until I truly know who I am and what I want in this
world, even if it takes years’.
Of course it was at this part of the conversation I expected her to laugh and tell me how stupid I was and that no one lived that way. But her reply, one I will never forget, was, ‘That sounds amazing. Travel will enrich your life like nothing else. Do it Nicole. Make it happen’. One week later my mother passed away. It wasn’t until a week after the funeral that I told Michael about the conversation. I told him that now, more than ever, I realized how short life really is.
We don’t know how long we have in this world, so why would we want to live it in any way other than extraordinary?
After lengthy discussions we decided to take mum’s advice and we made it happen! It was scary and exhilarating, but mostly it was freeing. From that very moment we decided to travel full time, it was like the weight from our shoulders lifted immediately. We felt a calm come over us and we knew it was the right thing to do.
It took 11 months of planning. During these 11 months we saved every penny we could. We had garage sales; we stopped buying anything that wasn’t essential. We even had to plan what to do with our two beloved cats (thank goodness for family!). There was a lot of organizing and planning but it was well worth it!
On March 5th, 2012 we left Australia on a one way ticket to everywhere!
Mum was right; travel has enriched our lives like nothing else. We have changed so much in these last 450 days, all for the better. We are happier, healthier and we laugh every single day! We have lived in countries all over the world, thanks to house sitting, and have met so many wonderful people along the way. Now we are truly living the dream.
Aussie, Nicole, along with her husband, Michael, gave up their careers and possessions to live a nomadic lifestyle; 15 months so far with no end in sight! They launched Suitcase Stories to share their stories, travel tips and destination guides and hope to inspire others to travel. They aim to show people how long term travel is not only possible, but also affordable.