From Dreams to Reality

We didn’t decide to go on this trip because we didn’t like our life in Seattle. We LOVE Seattle. We love where we live, we love our house, our neighborhood, our friends that feel like family. Oddly enough, I was even feeling really sad to leave work. I felt a bit too attached to my projects, invested in good transitions. I love the people I was working with. Pedja really enjoys his work as well. He goes to work to get a break from us. He is the only guy I know who is never stressed about work.

We are not looking for a better place to live or a new community to love. We love our world (except the current US politics) and want to come back to it.
We didn’t get into planning this trip because we were running away from our daily rut. Instead, this effort was a slow forming vision of a lifelong desire to see more of the world.

For me, it seemed more of a dream than an attainable goal. Pedja and I are not aligned on plenty of things in our lives but travel is one area we are equally excited about. It’s imperative to be on the same page for this sort of an effort to be put in motion. I could not ‘talk him’ into it. You cannot drag someone through this. He needed to want it himself. This had to be a joint dream if we were going to do it as a couple/family. We were lucky to be aligned on it.

I remember us sitting in Paris almost 6 years ago, dreaming of how it would be amazing to spend 3 months there instead of 3 days. Since then, every so often, we would dream aloud about going to Paris for a summer but it just didn’t seem possible. We couldn’t take the time off work, we would use up all of our vacation to go see family, no budget for it, etc. Then friends of ours took 2 years off to go sailing. They inspired us to think more through how we would organize ourselves if we ever took some sort of a sabbatical. Pedja’s vision was that we would take a year off and go live in 3-4 (sunny) metropolitan cities around the world, 2-3 months at the time. We were fortunate enough to have plenty of travel experiences to know how well we travel together, what our kids could handle, what we enjoy. We both like cities, we are not as outdoorsy as many of our friends, our threshold for budget travel was equally low, etc. We dreamed aloud about places we would like to see, where we would go, what time of the year, etc.

I remember the day our vision of this trip cleared up. We were just getting ready to leave for a 10-week trip to Europe (over the years, our vacations to Europe stretched from 3-4 weeks to 7-10 weeks). Our neighbors were moving to Europe for a 2-year work assignment. I remember it was a beautiful, sunny Saturday and we were in our alley talking through their upcoming exciting adventure. This was a well-timed inspiration to dream a bit more about ‘what we would do if we had the chance’. After talking with them, we went back into the house and, for the rest of the day, we were mostly talking about ‘if we could take the time off, what would it look like, where would we go, when would the optimal time be for something like this’. We considered timing, how old the kids were, how Petra was turning a teenager soon, how we couldn’t mess with her high school years. We discussed how our window of opportunity was closing. We landed on an optimal time slot for 18 months of travel nestled between my latest work contract and Petra’s high-school entrance.

Then we started plotting the itinerary, still just dreaming, no clear vision at that point. Our first thoughts were that we would do slow travel, staying in 7-10 locations for a longer period of time. This vision later evolved into what it is now.

Our discussion that day included choices of locations, compromises on countries we would like to visit, how long we would like to stay in each place. We plotted itinerary based on ‘chasing the sun’, a desire to spend our time in sunny places as well as spend 2 summers in Europe with family. We had a perfect opportunity to ‘model’ our itinerary and budget. I estimated the cost of airline tickets, local transportation, Airbnb stays, food, spending $, health insurance, N’s meds, etc. The initial sticker shock wore off when we compared it to how much it costs us to live in Seattle for a year. We also discussed what we would be losing if we did something like this (e.g. retirement and college savings for 18 months, kids homeschooling, questionable state of the economy when we return and potential issues with finding new employment, etc.). Obviously, we ended up agreeing that this time together was worth the risk and price.