Before taking off we did what we needed to do to make this adventure a reality. He quit his job and moved out of his apartment. I sublet my place and have arrangements to work remotely. And together we mapped out what the next few weeks will look like as we wander through two beautiful countries.
Needless to say it was more involved than it sounds. A lot goes into uprooting your life within a matter of weeks. But in hindsight, it was manageable and we consider ourselves lucky to have been able to do it.
If you’re curious what this looks like logistically, here’s how we turned our dream into a reality:
1. EVALUATE YOUR LIFE
This may seem like a vague and broad idea – but it’s easier to tackle than you might think. It’s ok to not have it all figured out now. But you should be able to at least evaluate some key aspects of your life.
What do you want in life? Are you happy? If not, what are you unhappy about? And what can you do to change that?
If you’re having trouble getting started sometimes it’s easier to work backwards or tackle it as a process of elimination: What do you NOT want in life? What does NOT make you happy?
For me it looked something like this:
What do you want in life? I DON’T KNOW! I don’t have that all figured out yet – but the vision board in my mind has a lot of things related to travel, writing, photography and family. Are you happy? In general, yes. At work, no. What are you unhappy about at work? I’ve outgrown my current position and no longer enjoy the work that I’m doing; on top of that, I am starting to question whether or not I even want to be in this industry (global health) anymore. What can you do to change that? Maybe it’s time for a slight career change? What I would love to do is build more content for my blog/website and explore opportunities to pursue that in a larger capacity (maybe not full time but to have it as more than just a hobby that I love).
What I find really helpful in thinking through such challenging questions like this is reading. Reading blogs, reading books (both fiction and non), reading anything! There is an incredible amount of literature curated on life, work, happiness, love, etc. – and finding it is as easy as Googling it. BAM – thousands of hits right at your fingertips. They might not all be goldmines of advice but they’re a starting point. They’ll give you things to consider and help you frame the conversation in your mind. Here are a few of my favorites by Career Girl Daily and The Every Girl to get you started.
2. COST IT OUT
One of the first things we did in helping us decide whether or not we could/should take off to Europe was calculating how much everything would cost.
Taking into consideration the fact that this move would require my partner to quit his job, we knew we would be operating on a single income. We started by estimating the cost of flights, accommodation, and daily expenses (food, transport) based on a hypothetical itinerary we drafted. Google Flights, Airbnb and a general Google search for related topics are really helpful in giving you an idea of realistic cost. We then weighed the estimated expenses against what income we knew could count on (my job, rent from my sublet) and based on what savings we (in reality: he) had put away.
What we realized was that our time abroad would be comparable to the equivalent time spent at home. So if it didn’t cost us much more to spend the next month and a half trotting the globe – why not?!
3. MAKE A PLAN
After we decided that what we wanted was to take time for ourselves (by taking off to Europe) and that we could afford to do so, we made a plan.
We took the hypothetical itinerary we developed and fleshed it out. Based on our budget and other commitments, we settled on a 5-week trip – 1 week in Spain and 4 weeks in Italy. Because it’s easy to travel around Europe on a budget we probably could have fit more places into our itinerary but agreed that it was important to give ourselves room to relax and spend quality time ‘soul searching’ versus constantly running from place to place. If our trip were solely sightseeing than I would have jammed as many countries into our itinerary as possible! ☺
With our timeline in place, we mapped out what 5 weeks away would mean for us, both professionally and personally – our apartments, our rents, our jobs, our bills, and our families.
4. EXECUTE IT
First up, our apartments. In order for our move to be economically feasible, we couldn’t afford to keep paying our rents – so he moved out of his apartment once his lease ended and I made arrangements to sublet my place. One Craigslist posting and four dozen emails later, I found a great girl who was as in as desperate need of a temporary home as I was for someone to pay rent. Everything we weren’t taking with us went into storage and/or to his mom’s house.
Next up, the jobs. In one of the biggest decisions of his life, my partner quit his job. As I mentioned in the introduction to this blog series, this journey was inspired in large part by the need for both of us to discover new professional endeavors. While he considered simply taking unpaid leave for the 5 weeks we would be abroad, he realized that that wouldn’t resolve his unhappiness or fuel his desire to figure out what’s next. What he needed was freedom. So he submitted his formal notice and began wrapping things up at work. I decided to keep my job and continue working through the end of the year while I looked for new opportunities. One of the things that I do appreciate about my current position is that I work remotely, which allows me to travel and work from anywhere in the world. Keeping my job during this time allows us to have a steady source of income throughout, while still giving me the flexibility to put myself in a new/refreshing space.
Last but definitely not least, our friends and families. Not too long after making the decision, we began telling those closest to us. We’re lucky to have people in our lives that are unconditionally supportive but it’s no surprise that our news was met with a small level of concern. Our families, of course, wanted to make sure that we were financially stable and thought through the implications of uprooting ourselves (as temporary as it was). For those who know my partner, it was a surprise to hear he was making such a dramatic move – quitting his job without having another one lined up – especially for someone who doesn’t take a lot of financial risks. But eventually the little shock and concern that existed subsided and all that was left was enthusiasm and encouragement. There’s no doubt that making this adventure a reality was made easier thanks to our friends and family. One of his childhood friends helped us move everything. My roommate helped me organize the sublet. All our friends have wished us bon voyage. And our families have cheered us on every step of the way.
This is the step we’re on now. The whole premise behind our stint abroad is to give us the time and space to figure out what comes next. We’ll probably repeat this process again but we’re open to what life throws our way or what we figure out works best for us as our journey evolves – both individually and as a couple.
Want to know how the rest of our plan turns out? Follow us on Instagram and here through the #LostOnPurpose blog series to see our adventure as it happens!
Disclaimer: This is not meant to serve as professional or financial advice. We understand that the path we took turning our dream into a reality isn’t applicable or feasible for everyone. We only share our story so that others who may be at a similar junction in their lives can gain insight into our experience. We simply want people to know that just because you have a crazy idea, doesn’t mean it’s crazy to see it through! It’s your life – follow your dreams.