Our Toothbrushes Are In:

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Apr 302013
 
Dec 162014
 

On January 5, 2015, I am starting a full-time job as digital communications manager at Death with Dignity National Center. On that day the nearly six-month period of being unencumbered by employment that followed the return from the round-the-world trip, aka the inaugural Where Is Your Toothbrush? World Tour, will come to a close and a new chapter of my life after travel will commence.

The next few weeks until then will be busy. Lindsay and I are now taking a weeklong road trip down the Oregon and California coast to spend the week of Christmas visiting my in-laws in the greater Bay Area. In the final week I plan to redesign my American Robotnik blog, the first project of my location-independent website design business, and to tie a few loose ends.

15321386423 6bb17ed1fe b Life after travel: Living la vida normal

Sauvie Island near Portland, Oregon.

Recovering from unemployment

Now that I look back from the perspective of a soon-to-be-employed and from literal distance—I am writing this in a yurt at Sunset Bay State Park, near Coos Bay on the Oregon coast, with rain pattering on the roof, a creek flowing into the ocean outside the window, and a cup of coffee steaming next to me—I realize how much time I wasted, how much more I could have done.

Rather than regret, though, I feel gratitude for being able to spend the right amount of time finding the right job and one I can believe in to boot. And I am grateful for being able to bring work on my writing career and bring a few stories to publication.

More than anything, as I begin my recovery from unemployment, I realize how easy it is in life to fall into the trap of complacency.

Lazy is as lazy does

Do something long enough and it becomes a habit, a routine, in other words normal life. That exciting new job or a promotion becomes a slog of bureaucratic infighting and 60-hour work weeks. That new house becomes a burden of mortgage payments and upkeep. That promise that the absence of employment brings into a wannabe writer’s life turns into days upon days of procrastination.

This is why many believe it is impossible to live a meaningful life while working and living at home and that travel is the only way to do so. Granted, most would-be travelers find themselves unhappy with meaningless corporate jobs, but even those working for good causes, such as myself, derive substantial dissatisfaction from the 9-to-5 grind and the inability to find personal fulfillment in the everyday.

I am finding it much more difficult than I expected to lead a life of permanent travel at home, to, as Thoreau exhorted, “live at home like a traveler.” In a familiar place, among familiar people, and with familiar routines, it took little to find excuses not to take that long walk or find a new part of town to explore. Not having the major obligation of a job allowed me to slide into a habit of putting everything off until tomorrow. Some days I didn’t even leave the house.

(To be sure, complacency finds its way into traveling, too. It’s easy to delay doing anything when you have weeks and months ahead to do it, exciting places to explore, and no job standing in the way.)

15753579548 33b6d43ab9 b Life after travel: Living la vida normal

Laurelhurst Park, Portland, Oregon.

A job, a focus, a book

“Nothing focuses the mind like a paycheck,” a friend told me recently. I now realize this is true in more ways than he meant. “If you need something done, give the task to a busy person,” another adage goes. I wrote my last book, Guerrilla Yardwork: The First-Time Home Owner’s Handbook, while working full-time and commuting about 45 minutes each way; I awoke at 5:30 every weekday, made myself coffee and breakfast, and wrote until 7. The first draft came to life in 6 months.

Now that Lindsay and I are working on the book based on our travel experiences (look for Home Is Where Your Toothbrush Is at your favorite online retailer in November 2015), I know I will get much better at bringing the ideas to the page than I was without a job. It sounds paradoxical but it makes sense: having more time doesn’t mean doing more because every task stretches itself into the time allotted. When I had all day every day at my disposal, it was tough to motivate myself to do anything for its own sake, unless a contract or an externally-imposed deadline were in place. Having to work around a job, with a 20-minute door-to-door public-transportation commute no less, will motivate me to be more efficient about writing, traveling at home, and being a good husband.

Whether you call it a life on fire or a meaningful / authentic / real life, it can be done anywhere and under any circumstances. Whether you work and live at home or gallivant around the world, it takes extra effort to stay on track, maintain focus, and not waste the one life you have.

Wish me luck. I will keep my fingers crossed for you.

Dec 122014
 

The longer we travel, the more couples like us we discover or even meet. Like us they dreamed about traveling, like us they made the big trip happen, and like us they document their experiences online. In the Two Toothbrushes traveler interview series we introduce fellow traveling and blogging couples to share their story and draw inspiration from them. If you’d like to participate or know a couple who would, please visit the series page.

KP2 Two Toothbrushes: A traveler interview with Karolina and Patryk

Karolina and Patryk in Poland.

Karolina and Patryk Klesta are a couple from Poland who have been traveling together since 2012. On their blog they write about their experiences and share tips about how to make money online and travel safely.

Where are your toothbrushes, where are they headed next, and why?

Right now [November 2014] we are in Rome. We are going to Scotland next and then we are going back to Poland for Christmas. Next year we are planning to move to China and stay there for at least 6 months.

What’s your definition of home?

Home is where we are. As long as we are together, we feel like home everywhere. We don’t feel attachment to any country.

How do you make yourself feel at home wherever you go?

We have our rituals. We always fall asleep in the same position. We work online, so we always work in the morning and in the evening. We always have a bag for dirty clothes. There’s always a glass of water on the floor just next to bed. In fact, the hotels we choose are very similar. We like luxury travel, so it’s very easy to feel like home in a 5-star hotel.

KP1 Two Toothbrushes: A traveler interview with Karolina and Patryk

Karolina and Patryk in the Dominican Republic.

Why this (or the most recent) trip, why now (then)?

Rome is a must-see for every traveler. We haven’t been there before, so we thought we must go to Rome this year. We waited until November because it’s not as crowded as in the summer. What’s more, we love Christmas! And Christmas market starts in Rome next Wednesday.

What were your greatest challenges in making the trip happen? How did you overcome them?

We have our own e-commerce company. Last year, just before our big trip to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia), we ran into a serious problem: we were sellers on a on website similar to eBay and they blocked our account for no reason. So we opened our own e-shop. Now we are selling directly to the customer without any help. It was a major challenge for us because we had to learn everything from scratch. It’s completely different kind of selling and it’s really difficult to create your own brand. We didn’t have money, only dreams. So we worked very hard and we did it!

What do you enjoy the most about your traveling life?

Freedom. We know that we can go wherever we want and stay there as long as we want. This is just awesome! We don’t have a home, so the world is our home.

KP4 Two Toothbrushes: A traveler interview with Karolina and Patryk

Karolina and Patryk underwater in Thailand.

Share a moment from your travels that you will share with future generations.

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A year ago today...

A year ago today…

Earlier this week Lindsay and I met up with a friend who is leaving on a yearlong trip today. She’d followed along as we trotted from place to place on our inaugural Where […]