As Melissa prepares for a special trip with her daughter, a question was asked in a Facebook group we belong to that I found quite interesting:
“Did you find you were happy with your life/job/home when you decided to travel or unhappy? In other words–were you making a major change because something was missing and you felt the travel lifestyle would be a better life for your family?”
I actually remember this as being one of my concerns when first considering this crazy decision. One day a coworker and I were attending a conference. As we sat outside on the grass eating our lunch while enjoying a gorgeous Colorado fall day, we discussed travel wishes. I expressed my desire to travel the world with my son and raise him in other countries, but I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just really running away from things. This, of course, came after the major events that had transpired that same year. It was no wonder if I did want to run away, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to uproot my child and begin a nomadic lifestyle just because 2010 had been a year full of crap for me. Being the wonderfully insightful woman she is, she told me she didn’t get that sense, and I appreciated that because in my mind I was working out the possibility.
Approximately two weeks later I would be making the announcement to friends and family that we were about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime: In October 2011 I would be quitting my job and leaving the States with my son as we began a new life of indefinite travel. Of course in a very short time that date would be moved up to May, and I was tempted to make it sooner, but I did need some money in the bank after all.
Was I happy with my life? I had definitely been put through the wringer, and rough waters were still ahead, but I had to say I was generally happy with my life. I had a job I truly enjoyed and was passionate about, worked for a company and a team that had true heart and had been there for me in my many dark hours. We had a comfortable home. I had been able to travel (in fact I went to Peru earlier that year) as well as enjoy trips in the States with my son. Yes, I was pretty happy with my life and felt blessed. Was I completely satisfied? No. I wanted more from life, besides less pain, trials, and tribulations. I don’t feel we were escaping our lives by leaving on this amazing journey. Instead, I was creating the life I wanted for me and my child rather than just sitting back and letting life happen to me.
I wanted more for my son as well. In the previous year I had went to the Philippines with Uplift Internationale to help children with cleft lips and palate. While there I was truly inspired by the Filipino people. They were the most joyous people I had ever met. When they smiled glee bubbled up from deep within their soul and came out in their smiles. Most of the people were quite poor by Western standards, but as I got to know them I saw that rather than spend their time pursuing more money, buying another vehicle, a larger house, paying for a boat, etc., they were working enough to meet their needs, to feed their family, and they were spending way more time together as a family than people back in my home. The focus was on family and community rather than things. I desperately wanted that for my children. I wanted them to grow up feeling a greater connection to the world, to feel like they belonged more to this great big planet than to one specific country. I also wanted them to grow up in a culture that didn’t emphasize “stuff.” But at that point raising my sons in another country just was not an option.
Being an archipelago, the Philippines offer countless destinations to see and experience. Even if you are visiting to help the Filipino people by volunteering with an organization, you can still make time to travel around and go on an adventure. People are always happy to welcome visitors and finding affordable accommodation in a Cebu or Batangas hotel is easy with the help of many sites online.
No, I wasn’t running from something. I was definitely running to it. I was running to a better life, a life I dreamed up and created, a life of spending more time with my son, working less, teaching my child to appreciate what he has instead of constantly setting his eyes on the bigger and greater next “thing,” a life where I could truly live more. I saw it on the horizon, and I ran to it with open arms and have never looked back.
If you want to read about another person’s journey, read Justin’s blog to find out why a person would want to travel forever.