In this increasingly ever-connected world, we are able to follow the lives of family, friends, and strangers more closely than ever before. It is a blessing and a curse, especially for those of us who have come to rely on social networks for the invaluable resources that they possess. I attempt to balance both my professional and personal life online, but invariably the two cannot be separated, as one is merely an extension of the other. Those who follow Rachel and I online have a unique window into our lives that most of us could not have imagined even a few years ago. Now, my life has rarely been ordinary and much of it I would not want broadcast in these reality-show style settings, but these days I have learned to embrace the broad-reaching benefits that social media can bring, but in doing so, I have probably left a lot of people wondering “What in the world are those two up to now?”
Those who know me best will remember that I have always lived on the road. In the spring of 2000, I packed my bags and left Gunnison, Colorado with a lot of baggage, both inside me and in the trailer behind. It would be almost six years before I would have my own place again. I lived the life of a restless wanderer. I was forever on the move, rarely staying in one place more a few days, drifting between summer tours and seasonal jobs sleeping in the back of my car and the couches of friends. At first, we followed bands; a simple yet sublime existence that carried us on a circus-like carnival around the States with fellow adventurers, seekers, gypsies, and freaks. Though not without its faults, it was a time of discovery and growth, embracing individuality while learning to live simply and endure the simple pleasures of life on the road.
It was in the same spirit that I set out for the Hawaiian Islands in 2001 with only a backpack and a wealth of both enthusiasm and ignorance. I had no clue what I was doing, which was immediately apparent to the cab driver who spied me sitting dejected on an airport bench at sunrise, wondering what in the world I was going to do? I had begun my travels abroad in a typically bizarre fashion, without a bit of research or any idea where I was headed except to the Big Island of Hawaii. Luckily, through a series of fateful meetings, strange encounters and bizarre twists, I survived five weeks hitchhiking across the Hawaiian Islands and, in doing so, I discovered that I had a unique ability to live fully in the moment, embracing spontaneity while overcoming the hurdles that came my way and connecting with the people I met in a unique and meaningful way.
The following year, I traveled to Alaska and continued to hitchhike across the Kenai Peninsula and Interior Alaska. It was an adventurous period and I learned a lot about the rewards that come when we challenge ourselves and step outside our comfort zones. I also discovered much about the discomfort and risk. It was not an easy life on the road. We were virtually homeless and had little to show for ourselves than the ragged clothes we wore and the packs we carried on our backs. We lived off of hotel breakfast buffets and Subway sandwiches, selling burritos, beer, and homemade jewelry at local concerts and music festivals. But, in the end, our life was carefree and simple. We didn’t have rent or bills and as long as we had money for gas, we could always manage to get by and get into the next show.
People have always asked me, “How do you afford it?” For years I was baffled by this question; that is, until I finally decided to get my own place. Now, there were bills to pay, furniture to purchase, shelves to stock and a refrigerator to fill. I had never considered the cost of paper towels, toilet paper, ketchup, and tape. Suddenly, I felt guilty for all those years that I had lived on the couches of friends and kindness of others. I had always tried to be a gracious guest, but did I really deserve all these years of carefree living while my friends and family bore the burden of a settled life?
In recent years, I have tried to manage both- maintaining a home base in the States while pursuing my career as a travel photographer and writer. I will admit that it has become increasingly difficult to manage both and lately we have been making some big choices about our lifestyle and careers. This is going to be a big year for us and we wanted to start things off in a big way. Like many people, we have both become increasingly frustrated with the job market here in the States and, more and more, we have been looking to opportunities abroad. Rachel and I have long dreamed of living abroad and lately we have been researching different locations in hopes of finding the right place to live and work.
During the past few months, we have explored several different options, from opening a b&b in Latin America to teaching English in Asia. Some of our ideas have produced favorable results while others have been total failures. It has been a learning experience for us both and undoubtedly that learning and growing will continue for many years to come. But through it all, we have remained confident and optimistic as we search for just the right opportunities that will be both enjoyable and fulfilling for both of us in the years to come.
Finally, have we settled on a plan? Well, the short answer is no. But we do have some great ideas and we’re always happy to hear other people’s feedback. For years, we have dreamed of living in Asia and I think that time has finally come. Obviously, the biggest question is “Where?” and I am sure we will continue to debate the location for some time, though each of the nations in Asia appeals to us for different reasons. Obviously, we want to live in a country that fits our specific needs, but perhaps the most difficult question is “How?” Well, there a number of ways people afford to travel and live abroad, from working at hostels to dive boat crews. An option that has long interested us both is teaching English. We have looked into TEFL courses in the past and found there to be a wide variety of opportunities available across Asia which would allow us to pursue our dream of living abroad while having a fulfilling, sustainable, and respectable career. The 6-week TEFL course will give us a good opportunity to experience living and working in Asia, and then we can make a more educated decision about our long-term commitments to living abroad. Thankfully, the global nature of my photography career should not be hindered by moving moving abroad; instead, I believe it will greatly enhance my ability to pursue projects in the growing markets across Asia and continue to enhance my business as I look toward the future of photography as a career.
All of this is in the planning stages, but I just wanted to give our family, friends, and followers a bit of an update on the why, where and how our lives have been taking us all over the world these days. We feel incredibly fortunate (as so do the credit card companies) that we get to lead such a global life, but it is not without its share of sacrifices, most of all, the time away from family and friends. Though time only seems to go by quicker and those visits grow further apart, we are incredibly thankful to have such a wonderful network of support behind us and hope that no matter how much time and distance separates us, you all know we hold you dear in our hearts. Thanks for all the love and support.