People ask us what it is like to live a “normal” life now, assuming that we’re just itching to escape and go on the run again. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The reality is that we haven’t returned to “real life”…we’re experiencing “real life” for the first time!

Jared and I met in Alaska back in 2002, and we have lived anything but a normal life since. We married in Spring 2003, and lived seasonally in Alaska for the following seven summers. Five of those summers were spent toiling away at our own business, and winters were spent here and there, and everywhere (Kansas, Utah, Washington, Mexico). After that we lived the expat life for a year and a half in Mexico, often escaping our routine there to explore the enormous and mindblowing country for a few months at a time. We wandered down to Guatemala and Belize, and returned to what we had thought would be our indefinite “home” in Mexico. Upon our return we realized that Mexico didn’t fulfill our long-terms goals, so we sold off almost everything we had and set off with only backpacks (and 3 kids) in tow to explore Europe and Southeast Asia.  Months later we found out we were expecting child #4 and we decided to return to the US via a Transpacific repositioning cruise through the South Pacific Islands. We landed with family in the US for a number of months, and then moved into our new home in Southern Oregon.

We’ve been here for ten months, now, and have settled into entirely new routines than we’ve ever known. It’s weird to think that this is our forever home—we’re living a life we’ve designed in a place that we’ve consciously selected to permanently put down roots. No regrets—no question marks—just absolute certainty.

Before now, our kids have known nothing of “normalcy,” and the same can be said of our marriage.

So, when people ask what it’s like to return to “real life”…I can only chuckle as a I explain that “real life” is completely new to us.

Do we find it lame or boring?  Does it not hold our attention?  Are we missing the adventures?

No, not exactly. Why? Because this whole new life is a new adventure for us!

These adventures take shape in the form of home ownership, yard work, kid’s sports activities, gym memberships to stay in shape, shopping escapades, swimming in the local river, exploring nearby camping and National Parks, etc.

We thought we’d live a low-key “American” lifestyle and suddenly have immense extra time for working on our home business and making headway on personal projects. After all, we aren’t traveling anymore—which should mean that we have a lot more extra time on our hands—right?

As long-term travelers know, traveling is not the same as a speed vacationing. Traveling requires a lot of planning, foresight, entertaining and education of the kids, managing time well to fit in work, and it requires a lot of social time set aside to make new friends and experience new things. It is constant work, with a balance of “down” days to make it all manageable.

However, we’ve recently discovered that “real life” takes an awful lot of work, too!

It’s exhausting!  The day flies by when you’re cooking 3 meals a day (and dealing with kids having the munchies in between), feeding and entertaining an infant, changing constant diapers of said-infant, homeschooling two children, running the kids to sports, art, and music activities, running errands, doing endless yard work (and laundry and dishes), and trying to fit in enough work time to not only maintain the home business, but actually grow it, too!

When we have more time and resources available to us, we feel obligated to use it all and fill our time and schedule up—no matter where in the world we are. The hard part is trying to reserve that much-needed “downtime” that we always planned for when traveling, as it seems more difficult to fit it into the everyday pressures of “reality.”

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Summertime in the US (or anywhere, for that matter) is meant to be filled with vacation time with family, bike riding, swimming, camping, and other adventures that require us to be in-the-moment with our children. Being ever-present is draining, and at the end of the day the last thing I want to do is stare at a computer screen for anytime more than is necessary. I’m not complaining!  It is an awesome thing to live in a state with abundant natural beauty that deserves to be discovered and rediscovered with our family in tow. However, it’s a big task on top of the other pursuits of every day life!

So there you go…this is my longwinded excuse for slowing down my blogging during the past busy month of family travels and new adventures on this side of the planet.

One thing is for sure…new travel ideas are always brewing (3 months sounds nice)…and when they finally come to fruition I’ll be looking forward to a break from the busy routines of “real life”!!

That is the beauty of designing a lifestyle of your choice. It is the nonstop pursuit of finding a perfect balance between work and pleasure.

What about you? Do you think “real life” or a “travel lifestyle” is harder? I’d love your input!

8 Responses to “"Real Life" vs the Travel Lifestyle”

  1. I’d say they are both awesome! They both have their challenges but I really do love both worlds. I love being at home for our homeschooling community, growing our own food, being with good friends and family. I love travel for the adventure, the learning, the amazing food that I don’t have to cook, and the personal growth. It’s all good!

  2. “we’re living a life we’ve designed in a place that we’ve consciously selected to permanently put down roots. No regrets—no question marks—just absolute certainty”

    I absolutely love that line!!

    When we were just in California (renewing our visas) it really made us think about “settling down”. Like you guys, we know that Mexico doesn’t fulfill our long term goals but we’re not totally sold on the US either. We like both!

    So I think a happy solution is to plop down some roots somewhere and be happy about the location but also make sure to keep exploring. This could mean internationally or even just locally. Basically, enjoy the suburbs but never quite let them take control of your freedom to explore!

    Great post!!

    • Thanks, Sean! We will never lose our desire to see new things and explore–and all of the joys that go with it–but we are absolutely so content having a home of our own for the first time (like Amy). I think going on the fast-track and continent hopping for a year or so helped us realize sooner (rather than later) what exactly we wanted in a home base. This way when we selected the home base we weighed all of the pluses and minuses, and we knew exactly which priorities were the most important for us. We dove head in first–whereas times in the past we have only dipped our toes in and realized it didn’t quite fit our “niche”!! Honestly, the US was the last place we wanted to consider living…heeheee! BUT…it did win out when we weighed our priorities and interests, and what country could support those wants/needs best!

      Good luck finding your place(s)!!! 🙂

  3. Alissa, I remember walking with you along Nguyen Hue Street in Ho Chi Minh City on our way to do Christmas shopping as you gave a very negative description of American life!!! I’m glad you’ve found a way to avoid that, and that you’re happy with how you’ve set things up. Still would love to see all you guys back in the Ho sometime.

    • Hi Barbara–so true. But I’ve accepted the fact that everything/everyplace has what it has to offer–and you can take you want from it. For example–living in a foreign country I so easily looked over their not-so-pleasant features, and focused on the good. When I finally realized I needed to have a similar positive outlook with my own home country, things became easier. I can take the good, and leave the bad behind. If I don’t want to be part of the over-consumerist culture in the US, then I simply ignore it and live my own life! 🙂 Plus, we picked an area of the country that is highly quirky and a bit “granola” (aka crunchy/hippie)…which means that it has odd ball characteristics that are much more our style, anyways! I’d have a hard time having the same attitude if I was in a big city on the East Coast!

  4. I loved this! I agree with all of the above. I’ve been telling my husband lately that I want both worlds, to travel and put down roots but I can’t really find the best place to put down roots. While I can appreciate different opinions, thoughts and lifestyles, I sometimes think it would just be nice to be around people who I have more in common with. Perhaps quirky Oregon would be a good fit for us too. 🙂

    • Thanks, Cameo! For us it took a experiencing a LOT of different places and scenarios before settling on what we really wanted and feeling confident about the decision! We love quirky hippie Oregon…hahaa! For one thing…it is always making us laugh 🙂

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