We Were Able to Live the Dream: Reflections on a Couple’s Big Trip

In early 2011, Robin and Pierre Devaux traded in their corporate jobs for a couple of backpacks and
hit the road. They spent the next eleven months visiting and sampling the local beers of 24 countries on five continents. This essay is an excerpt on how their big trip and career sabbatical changed their lives.

Robin and Pierre spoke at the 2012 Meet Plan Go event in San Francisco on October 16 that I ran to teach travelers how to take their big trip.

While our Big Adventure affected us both in so many ways, perhaps the biggest impact is that I feel I have taken control of my life. I was able to live the dream of long-term travel that I’d had for so long, while also taking the time to reassess what I wanted when I came home. And I have no regrets.

“Did our Big Adventure work? Did we experience the elation of absolute freedom for a year? Did we learn more about ourselves, what we wanted from life, and what was really important? Did we hit the “reset” button? Yes.

After I quit my job and we hit the road, it took me a couple of months before I was able to stop keeping one ear attuned to the sound of my phone alerting me of an email; before I could realize that no one was going to demand that I stop what I was doing and pay attention to them and their problem. Slowly, though, I was able to relax and relish having each day to myself, to do with whatever I pleased. The only responsibility we had was making sure we had a roof over our heads and food on our plates every day. The rest was details.

But as much as I enjoyed being on the road, rootless, the idea of establishing a place of our own back home began to sound more and more appealing as the months went by. Perhaps it was because we were wandering for so long, or perhaps I just grew up a little, but the desire to buy a house and, yes, to have a baby kicked in as it never had before. By the time we got home and settled back in, I felt ready not only to go back to work, but also to buy a house, get a dog, and have a kid or two. It was as if our year of travel had jolted me from a sense of complacent discomfort to a readiness for adulthood and reality (or whatever you want to call it).

Quitting my job before we left home also forced me to consider what I really wanted next in my career…No matter what I ultimately decided to do, it is undeniable that taking a year off from working really did serve to reset my mentality. While I wouldn’t call our Big Adventure a “vacation,” it was a break, and it was refreshing in its own way. I was a very, very stressed person before we left. I had some idea of that, but I didn’t comprehend just how stressed until I was able to look at my life in the rearview mirror. By comparing my unhealthy prior self to my saner, more relaxed traveling self, I realized both that the break was accomplishing one of its purposes and that I needed to never let myself get sucked under again.

While I reassessed my career during the break, I certainly did not reassess my marriage – not in a bad way, anyway. I thought I knew pretty much everything about Pierre after all of these years, but traveling the way we did for as long as we did taught me so much more – and I loved it. Sure, there were a few bumps along the way, but I have no doubt that we’ve emerged from this trip as a stronger, more grounded, more in love couple.

So yes, it worked. We recharged our batteries, we grew closer to each other, and we figured out what our next career steps would be. And I’m not even going to get into the things we learned, the sights we saw, and the perspectives we gained.

One of my favorite things I’ve seen recently is the Holstee manifesto, which is all about finding purpose and taking charge of your life. Perhaps not surprisingly, the line I found most relevant and instructive was this one: “Travel often. Getting lost will help you find yourself.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.”

Republished with permission from Robin and Pierre’s blog “Traveling Bones

Learn how to live your own travel dreams by attending the 2012 Meet Plan Go event in San Francisco on October 18.

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