Don’t wait for luck; make the decision and change your life

I recently got an email from Jen and Ted, a pair of Canadian Vagabonding readers who perfectly sum up how, sometimes, the most important thing one must do in order to travel the world long-term is to simply realize that it is possible. Here’s their story, in Jen’s words:

I have been unsure for the past few months how to word this, as this is basically the biggest thank you of my life. Our story is as follows: My husband & I have been married just over 2 years and were (unknowingly) stuck going about the typical life pattern of going to university, working away our young years at professional jobs, and making good money to go on expensive, rushed 2-week vacations a couple of times per year. We both were happy in our positions with good pay, benefits, and pleasant coworkers that made work enjoyable. I am a Emergency Room nurse at a well-reknowned paediatric hospital in Toronto; it is a stressful but rewarding job and I love it immensely. My husband has a great job in programming & software development working on cutting-edge projects and he too enjoys his role. Both are well-paying jobs in the fields we studied in university & we are grateful for these positions.

However…each time we travelled on vacation, it opened up that incredible thirst to see new cultures, to experience life in a different part of the world. It was such a tease. We would jealously meet people in our travels around the world who would be backpacking for a few months or indefinitely. We never considered ourselves capable of being in that category – we assumed those people were special, they had no-strings-attached & we had plenty of strings. They must have had different jobs, different circumstances than us. We thought they were “lucky”. Reading your book opened an entire way of thinking for my husband and I, one that we were both too afraid to even fully believe/feel. It made us realize that luck did not find these people and transport them around the globe. A conscious decision was made to change the course of their life, and they went out and achieved it. They were not just dreamers, but passionate achievers.

So we began to toy with the idea of dropping everything & exploring all of the places we so desperately want to see. Not just see on a crammed, over-priced vacation – see in a way that we experience and live in different places, something more long-term. Initially there was a lot of fear. What will happen if we leave? What about our jobs, our families, our friends? In the end the realization was that the answer was this: nothing. Nothing will happen. Our jobs will carry on without us – we will be swiftly replaced and our absence will soon be forgotten about by the presence of the next employee. The opportunity to return will likely be there and if not we will seek other jobs if need be. Our families? They will continue their day-to-day activities, jobs, and responsibilities. We will miss them immensely but we will continue to keep in touch like we currently do living out of town from them. Our friends? They will also continue with their routines of work, social activities, some maybe commenting that they wish they could do what we were doing. But I know when we return nothing will have changed. But we will have changed. And that is the motivating factor behind all this.

Your book put us in a position where we realized that our life could have passed us by. We could have continued, under societal pressures, working indefinitely, banking in money, saving up for things like a house and a baby – things that would just ground us even more here. I feel like I almost missed the most important thing that could have ever happened to me. And truly, as ridiculous as it may sound, I may have missed that opportunity had I not read your book.

So thanks so much, for giving us the push that we need to seek out our dreams. It’s honestly changed our mentality and way of living. As of today, we have literally sold everything we own. We are moving into a furnished place in 4 days to pay literally half the rent we currently pay for the next 3 months. We are quitting our jobs and have a non-cancellable one-way flight booked for Cartagena, Colombia on January 3, 2013. We are travelling for 6 months, possibly more/indefinitely.

Thank you for writing your book and giving people the courage to live their life in a meaningful way & to pursue their dreams of seeing the big and beautiful world that is at our fingertips.


Jen & Ted

Posted by | Comments (7)  | September 26, 2012
Category: Feedback, Money Management

7 Responses to “Don’t wait for luck; make the decision and change your life”

  1. Elle of Solo Female Nomad Says:

    The email reminds me of when I first made the step to give up everything to travel twenty years ago. It is true that your book is showing people how possible it is to travel, and to open up a new way of thinking. Which reminds me – I do need to re-read your book!

  2. Edward Dolan Says:

    Way to go Jen & Ted! It amazes me how Rolf Potts changes people’s lives through his writing. Thank you Rolf! My Best, Ed Dolan

  3. Malia Yoshioka Says:

    This book was such an inspiration to me as well… I traveled for about 8 months and returned in Fall ’08 (recession prime time!) so finding a job was a bit harder than I’d expected, but I eventually got back into what I would call a “normal” life at home.

    The difference is having so many memories from my travels and being able to see everything that was once familiar through a different lens… I’m saving up to do it again, this time hopefully being able to work while on the road. Wishing you the both of you the best in your travels! You will not regret it for a second. =)

    And yes, thanks Rolf. It’s amazing how many stories like this you have inspired through your writing.

  4. Jen Says:

    Thank you again for the encouragement to do something we had not even dreamed of. We can hardly wait to begin this journey – all our spare time, discussions & thoughts are consumed by our upcoming trip. We definitely have a changed approach to living & I hope that others continue to be inspired by your book. I have already shared my copy of your book with many others (i.e. there may be a sudden loss of staff at my work! 😉

    And thank you to the above commenters too, for reading my (lengthy) story & for the encouragement. It is inspiring to find a community of people who understand life is such a gift that can only be lived through once. I wish you all the best in life’s adventures! 🙂

    Jen & Ted

  5. Katy Neylon Says:

    I told my mom about this book right before I left to intern in Washington, DC. I’m here until December and she said the book could be my Christmas gift, so that I’m not tempted to up and leave in the middle of my internship 😉 I can hardly wait to read it!

  6. Rolf Potts Says:

    Cheers, everyone — it’s great to hear your stories, and great to know that Vagabonding was an inspiration. Good luck in your travels!

  7. Jen & Ted Says:

    Just an update that we are one week pre-departure… our one-way flight is booked (non-refundable), we have successfully sold every last thing we own. We couldn’t be more excited!! 🙂