May 26, 2019
Next week, June 1st, 2019, marks the 2-year birthday of Barefoot Diary! Yay! Hooray! Whoopee! Bravo! (Imagine thunderous applause from the balcony section!)
Yep, on June 1, 2017, we left Dallas, Texas, and arrived in Puerto Rico for our very first house sit and the beginning of our lives as full time world travelers. On June 1, 2017, Barefoot Diary was born.
We still have a lot of people who find it hard to believe that we exist the way we do, traveling the world and living from suitcases. We still hear: “Wow, it’s so cool what you two are doing but…
• Don’t you miss your home, your cars, your clothes and all your stuff?
• Don’t you miss seeing your family and friends?
• Aren’t you afraid you’ll get robbed, kidnapped or (gulp) killed?
• What happens if you get sick or hurt?
• Isn’t it scary?
• Etc. Etc. Etc.”
Although we appreciate the concerns of the wonderful people that care about us, we live our lives a bit differently. Rather than bewailing things as they could, should, and might be, we have chosen to live, in a sense, without the safety net of normalcy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all been serendipitous the past two years. There have been some grueling times, like surviving not one, but TWO hurricanes, running out of gas in the middle of nowhere (the fuel gauge didn’t work in the car), pulling through two bouts of Montezuma’s Revenge, a root canal and a major fall, plus foraging for food and ice.
But, you know what? We survived. This side of our first two years “on the road” we are regretting NOTHING! Comfort zones are way overrated.
Here’s what I mean.
Have you ever been in a plane during a thunderstorm? It can be a scary, gut-wrenching experience. Maybe you pull out the safety card, in front of your seat, to reassure yourself of all of the aircraft’s excellent safety features. Maybe you comfort yourself with the fact that the pilots looked very competent, one of them resembling Tom Hanks. Maybe you put on your headsets and turn up the music. Maybe you pray. Or maybe, just maybe, you remember a close friend or family member who passed suddenly, and you think, “Okay, if this is it, bring it on!” That’s who we choose to be, the “bring it on” dude and dudette. Because, no matter how morbid it sounds, face it, we’re all going to die someday.
So here’s how we respond to the questions above and a few tips that have helped us the past two years to get to the happy place of living our lives with no regrets.
My dad has a “stuffocation” problem. My mom, before she passed, had one too, but not as bad as my dad. Maybe it’s because they grew up during the Great Depression era when things were scarce, but both of them have always had a problem with getting rid of things. According to researchers, having a house jam packed with “stuff” can be more stressful, than peaceful and satisfying. Ask anyone who has ever survived a fire, or tornado, or robbery, or, uh, hurricane. Five years after any kind of possession annihilating catastrophic event, the stuff lost is rarely missed.
And with the advancements in technology, things you think are cool and you really, really want (like for me, a new tablet or digital drawing pad) seldom match your expectations. If you are disappointed with a purchase, the disenchantment continues because you are stuck, right in your face, with the new “thing.”
Experiences aren’t like that.
For us, experiences don’t last as long as the stuff we choose to cart around. Each new house sit offers a fresh new set of experiences. We never get bored. This is a good thing, because as time passes, each incredible experience becomes more valuable. Yes, we even look back on our hurricane experiences fondly. So fondly, in fact, that we are going back to Vieques, Puerto Rico, after our time here in Ecuador!
So when people ask us if we miss our home, cars, clothes, furniture and “stuff” our answer is definitively NO! It’s liberating to not have so much to deal with.
Family and friends are probably the number one reason many people choose not to lead a life of travel. We get it. Leaving what you know for the unknown can be terrifying. John and I both have family and friends that we adore and miss being with, but we also have a burning wanderlust that we have to feed in order to be true to ourselves. If you live your life based on the needs of other people, then get ready to chalk up a lot of resentment and regret.
David came to visit us in Belize. We’ve been friends for over 40 years!
A life of travel provides an amazing ability for you to be exactly who you are. Just you. Not your neighbors or high school friends. Not your family. Not your job. Not your “stuff.” For us, this frees up opportunities to meet and become close (or not) with new people that we meet along the way, based on just being ourselves. For example, I will always be close to the ladies in my book club in Belize, the Belize Book Babes (see Book Babes blog post). They accepted and loved me for just being me and will always have a special place in my heart.
So do we miss our friends and family? Of course we do. But the beauty of caring is that there is plenty of space to love an infinite number of people. If you limit your capacity for love by shutting out new experiences, it opens the door to regret. Would you want your children, parents or siblings to give up their dreams just to be near you?
Think about it.
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.
You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet,
there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
If you keep up with world news, it seems like every day the headlines are screaming about terrorist attacks, bombings, kidnappings or travel bans. The dangers of being an “American abroad” are preached to us constantly. Because of this barrage of fear, it would be easy to run around like Chicken Little screeching, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” It would also be easy to actually heed these warnings and stay home amidst all the fear mongering, or…you could take a risk. Well, I guess you know what we’ve chosen. Our travel philosophy involves two tenets:
1. Stay informed about each area we go to, and
2. Don’t be afraid of the world.
Most areas around the world are very safe. Because many of the places we’ve been depend on tourism, local governmental entities make community safety a priority. And, we have found that journalists tend to report only the bad stuff, because the bad stuff makes media money. Good grief! Danger, no matter where you are, is relative. For example, John would probably never carry a machete around downtown Dallas. But, being in the bush of Belize and the post-hurricane island of Vieques, made him more daring and confident with his Marine Corps knife wielding abilities. Heck, he even got a leather holder for it so he could wag it around on his belt!
I keep my pepper spray handy when I run by myself, but I always did that in Texas. Staying awake and aware is important ANYWHERE.
What saddens me is the lack of positive, enlightening coverage of the awesome places, people and work being done in the world.
The world is not a scary place. Let me repeat this…
THE WORLD IS NOT A SCARY PLACE!
With our stories we are trying our best to practice positive journalism by presenting the good in the world. And yes, there is a lot of “good” still around. It’s why we started Barefoot Diary.
The past two years we have traveled from beaches to mountains, from hot, steamy jungles to freezing temps in the high deserts of Mexico. Plus, we’ve breathed the recycled air on stuffy planes, as well as, been exposed to thousands of germs at airports. With all the strange foods, diverse climates, iffy sanitation and questionable water, it makes sense that eventually we’d get sick.
Although it’s happened only a few times, and we weren’t all that sick, we found the medical care, in the places we’ve been, to be outstanding and much more economical than in the United States. For example, I had a root canal done in Mexico. My dentist, plus a specialist met me at their very modern office, after-hours because they knew we would be traveling the following week. They performed the procedure, cleaned and did whitening for about 1/10th of what it would have cost me in the United States!
So to those that ask, “What happens if you get sick?” Our first response is that we do everything in our power to prevent illness. We have a large stock of meds (antibiotic, Imodium, etc.) we are careful about washing produce and what we eat when dining out, and we only drink water from a bottle. Our second response is that, knock on wood, if we have to have something go really wrong physically, we would prefer it happen while we’re travelling because there are excellent doctors and facilities all around the world.
“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation.
I have tried prudent planning long enough.
From now on I’ll be mad.”
So we are happy, healthy and loving every day of our big adventure.
It works for us.
We realize that our lifestyle is not for everyone, but we do wish a life of no regrets for all our readers…for you.
For whatever it is that you are waiting on to fulfill your dreams, stop.
Don’t wait to wake up to that big “aha” tomorrow, make it happen today.
Don’t wait to love.
Don’t wait to take that trip of a lifetime.
Don’t wait to learn a new language or skill.
Don’t be afraid to splash in the ocean or start an exercise program in your neighborhood pool.
Don’t wait to be with people that make you happy.
Don’t wait to live your life the way you want to.
We are heeding this advice, because we are committed to living our lives regretting nothing!