I’m Steve. Only my girlfriend and my mother refer to me as Stephen – a surefire sign that I’m in trouble.
Up until two weeks after my 30th birthday I had lived all my life in south east England. Most of my travel was facilitated through the usual yearly saving plan and then executed in haste across a two week leave period that would have been heavily negotiated with a boss or manager for the summer months. I remember those Fridays before going on leave where you’d work a long day and then possibly the weekend to get enough done to be able to actually take your holiday. Stressful. Unnecessary.
Prior to leaving the UK I had been given a book by my brother, “The Four Hour Work Week” (4HWW) by Tim Ferriss. For the people that have had the guts to follow through the teachings of the book I have the utmost admiration. It took me a chance meeting in California six years later and a year of a long distance relationship to try and execute the preachings of the book myself.
I moved to Sydney, Australia at the age of 30. It was during a 2 month period of crashing on the floor of my future bosses apartment (thanks JP & MD) that I realised how resilient people can be and that anyone can truly live anywhere if they want to. Sydney was a great introduction to living in a new city – safe, vibrant, beautiful and with opportunity. Had I ended up somewhere else perhaps I wouldn’t have felt so resilient. Every weekend there felt like a summer vacation, cruising between coffee shops, beaches and boat parties.
With the detached weekends and a new job outside of the corporate world I lived on excitement and adrenaline for the first couple of years in Sydney. I fulfilled a personal goal of an apartment with a beach view in Bondi – the summers there and friends I made will not be forgotten.
One of those good friends of mine had confided in me about his intention to propose to his girlfriend in Bali. On his return as a happily engaged man he started to make wedding plans with his Mexican fiancé. I was very flattered to be invited to the wedding. The only catch being location – Acapulco, Mexico.
After a visit back to the UK in September I managed to juggle my finances (debt) and get tickets for Mexico, with a stop in California on the trip for good measure. I’ve always loved California, both from my one prior experience there and the aspirations of a life in such a paradise. For me California became all the more special on this particular trip where (unknown to me at the time) I met the love of my life and the person who would also change my life – Lou.
After juggling a year in a long distance relationship something had to give. For anyone that has done or tried long distance, it’s not easy. I never struggled with trust but its hard to show someone how much they mean to you via FaceTime calls in your downtime. Lou had also discovered a love of travel having recently visited family in Europe and Australia. I gave her a copy of the 4HWW and this seemed to reverberate with her. Lou, already fortunate to have remote working arrangements, loved the idea of the mini-retirement. Neither of us wanted to try and enjoy the world in our 70’s with arthritic limbs and deteriorating memories.
During our long distance year Lou was able to visit Sydney three times for a total of about 7 months. Her remote work setup was already paying off. During the time we discussed how we could move our relationship forward. We hatched the idea of doing some extended travel so that we could spend more time together and continue to get to know each other realizing this is something many couples don’t get the opportunity to do. It seemed like a fair trade off for the 4 months we spent apart during the autumn (spring in Sydney) of 2015. Before I knew it I was in Orange County, California loading a U-Haul van bound for storage – I felt so American. During my three weeks in the states we travelled up Pacific Coast Highway and to San Francisco whilst splitting time for Lou to work and pack.
Lou had given up her friends, apartment, car and home comforts for us. I gave up my beloved apartment by the beach, friends and my full time job.
The initial 3 months of travel has turned into the never ending story of travel. This is due, in part, to some external issues but also reflects our changing philosophies of how life should be lived. Some people don’t want to see the world and that’s fine. But if you do, why would you wait? Why would you make excuses? I did but I was fortunate to find someone who brought out the best in me, and through our combined circumstances, we are able to pick when and where we want to be and what we do.
At the time of writing this, I’m sat in a coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh city. When I next write a piece for this blog who knows where I will be.
Visit Lou’s site too – travelgivelove.com