July 12th
written by Alonna

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world
in the way they have been told to.” -Alan Keightley

Over lunch on an otherwise typical day, Ben and I made the decision to spend a year traveling.  I don’t know what started the conversation or why it happened that day, but all of a sudden we realized that our dreams weren’t going to just happen; we had to make the decision to pursue them.

During our conversation, Ben and I questioned why we were saving up all of our money to enjoy at some future date (a.k.a. retirement).  While I do hope that some day we’ll retire comfortably and enjoy traveling and other hobbies, why we can’t do some of those things now?  Let’s face it, at retirement we’ll be older and might not be able or willing to travel in the same way we can now.  And who knows if we’ll even live that long or what will happen between now and then that could prevent us from doing something like this.  In other words, let’s live our lives now, not later.

We also talked about how we’ve found ourselves following the default life path: get a college degree, find a job, get married and buy a house, have kids, work for many many years while saving money and taking short vacations, and eventually retire and do all of the things you never had time for before.  While there’s nothing wrong with this path, we realized that we hadn’t really consciously chosen it.  Sometimes we all do things just because we think that’s how it’s supposed to be done.  But if you step back and really analyze what you want to spend your time and money on, what you believe in, and what you want out of life, you just might find that you’re not following a path that you would have chosen.  During lunch that day, Ben and I realized that, in fact, we do have a choice.  Ben said “you can either live the life that’s been defined for you, or you can define it yourself.”  And that really sums it up.

Once this realization hit us, it was pretty obvious what we wanted to do.  We had already thrown around the idea of taking more time off to travel the world.  Our previous week-long vacations just didn’t leave space for the kind of adventure we wanted.  But it wasn’t until this one day that it all came together and we realized that we didn’t have to wait to get laid off or for it to be the “right time” to make a change like this.

I realize that a lot of people would love to do what we’re doing, and that we are very fortunate to be in this position.  At this stage in our lives we have minimal responsibilities (i.e. no kids or pets) and have saved enough money to make this possible.  But what I’ve realized is that making this decision had very little to do with whether we could afford it or take the time off of work.  After all, there are always obstacles to every goal or dream.  Instead, what really drove this decision was realizing that it was even a decision at all.  Once we recognized that this was a real option, the decision was easy.


  1. 07/14/2009

    This is going to be one of those things you will remember forever. You’ll forget what you did at work during your 6th year at HP…

  2. Prithvi

    I loved your thoughts about trying to define where life takes you. I’ve thought about it often. Yes, you guys are fortunate to be able to do this – and that is because you took the decision in your hands. I hope you guys are having fun.
    Good luck and bon voyage,

  3. 08/16/2009

    You guys have such an awesome outlook on your “new” life. I hope you have such an amazing time. I only had 71 days to experience what your doing and it was the best choice I ever made. It was scary at times, especially because it is so ingrained into our heads this American Dream of the big house and family, once you get out there you will meet so many people that will inspire you to continue on and not worry about the future. Especially those cool Australians. Enjoy your new philosophy and wonderful Europe!