Travel as a lifestyle centerpiece?

Why Jamie and I are trying to travel 4–8 weeks a year

Cam Crow
Cam Crow
Jun 16, 2019 · 7 min read

Working 45+ years with 2 weeks of vacation a year and then retiring.

That idea makes me feel like…

Source: Giphy

Alternative lifestyles?

I’m drawn to all kinds of alternative lifestyles that maximize time, flexibility, and adventure. Of course, I need to be able to pay the bills, and I want to live comfortably, but I’m always looking for ways to do this unconventionally. Because conventional American work/life balance isn’t doing it for me.

Tiny houses?

Tiny houses are something I research compulsively. The idea of simplifying your life to the point where you can choose the work you love and the adventures you desire because your expenses are so low appeals to me greatly.

Mini-retirements?

I first heard about this idea from Tim Ferriss, probably in the 4 Hour Workweek. The concept is that you design your personal and professional life to allow for “retirement experiences” while you’re still young instead of waiting until you’re old. For example, you could take several months off work every few years to explore, learn, and pursue passions.

Why travel?

Travel isn’t the only thing I would want to do during mini-retirements, but it’s probably the biggest thing.

I studied abroad in college, and it changed my life.

I was in Norway for a semester, and because it was so goddamn expensive, my friends and I travelled elsewhere in Europe constantly. I probably visited close to a dozen countries that spring. And in the summer, I lived in Amman, Jordan for 6 weeks.

Travel for a year?

For a long time, we considered quitting our jobs and exploring other countries for a year. We’d been inspired by others that have done this, and it seemed doable if you planned well enough. A couple years ago we got fairly serious about it and started researching.

Meanwhile, I started a company.

It was an analytics consulting company, and the idea was helping cool organizations that normally couldn’t afford these types of services. Between myself and my network of volunteers and subcontractors, we helped dozens of organizations, but one in particular really made me think about travel differently.

Riverstone International School

Though the project we helped them with was fairly routine, they intrigued me. As someone that’s curious about education, parenting strategies, and international experiences, this school grabbed my attention.

Do it yourself?

What if the whole family traveled together every summer, so kids wouldn’t lose the stability of friends and activities during the school year. And what if travel revolved around backpacking for the most part — that’d check the ecology boxes while still giving access to surrounding towns and cities. It’d also cut down on costs since you wouldn’t need to pay for as many hotel stays or traditional tourist experiences.

Great! Fantastic. But what about money?

Though the theoretical cost of the trips seems manageable, the job factor would be tricky. How do you hold down jobs that don’t mind you being gone for 4–8 weeks in the summer every year, but that also pay decently well, and have growth potential? Therein lies the challenge.

Flexibility is king.

I realized that the ambitious idea of designing a life that allows for 4–8 weeks of travel annually seems achievable, but to make it sustainable, we’d have to choose compatible career directions. Luckily, Jamie and I were already on paths that could probably work. She’s a highly valued employee at a flexible organization, and her job’s slow in the summer. And I can probably be an entrepreneur with a flexible business or a remote worker. ✅ ✅

Let’s put the plan into action!

We’d been talking about this often and had started working out logistics, so I was thinking, “When do we start?!”

Jamie and I were hiking when I made my pitch.

“You’ve been talking about doing the Camino de Santiago for years. We have our big lifestyle design project pretty well worked out. Let’s start this year!” At first Jamie felt that it seemed too soon. Too much, too fast. Maybe next year.

We leave this week.

The Airbnbs are booked, the gear is bought and tested, our Wookiee plan is set (thanks Dad!), and we’re prepping the house and yard for a 6 week absence. In a matter of days we’ll be walking the 500 miles from France to Santiago de Compostela along the northern route through the Basque country.

Initiate crazy travel experiment.

It feels great to be acting on this crazy idea, and I’m excited to see if it feels right and we want to continue with this lifestyle approach. Time will tell!

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Cam Crow

Considering ideas and thinking out loud

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