|Labyrinth garden in Zarcero Costa Rica|
At one point we bought in hard to all the trappings of the ‘American Dream’ with the big house, two cars, bills and debt, two rat-race jobs, family functions, golf league, little league, poker night, etc. It was all well and good, and certainly we found much joy in that life. But life still felt somewhat empty and pointless as we ran on society's hamster wheel.
Our journey began the fateful day we simply pondered the question of “what if there was another way to spend our time on this planet than grinding out a “normal” life?” The mere thought was as if someone had unlocked the small reality box we felt trapped in. You know, the box whose walls read; work, consume, and obey because there's no other way.
When we realized that we wanted more; not more stuff, but more experiences for our children and family, we began to brainstorm about the possibilities -- which are endless when your box of perception is opened. This made us wonder about what experiences were feasible for our family.
After much consideration, dropping out, selling everything and moving to another country became our goal. We felt that we only live once and we wanted to make the best of it. Besides, we figured, we’re young enough that if it doesn’t work out, we’ll either move back or figure something else out.
Already being homeschoolers of our three kids, we had the liberty of traveling during the regular school session. And incidentally, we had less concerns for leaving a good school district in pursuit of our new foreign journey – which is one of the biggest challenges for families considering long-term travel.
Naturally, we were primarily concerned that if we dropped everything, how would we support ourselves financially? Where would we go and why?
Much thought went into these questions and shaped our research. Ultimately, we decided to move to Costa Rica for the experience of a new culture, language, and scenery. Costa Rica was attractive because of the terrific climate, peaceful government, stable economy, quality healthcare, and close proximity to the United States.
We spent the next five years living in and exploring Costa Rica with visits to neighboring countries Panama and Nicaragua. All three of these countries offer a tremendous experience for family travel and should be high on anyone's list of foreign attractions.
So far, we have been technically jobless for over five years, but have managed to always make our living expenses, sometimes with frills, many times without. We have primarily made our living as writers which allows for extreme flexibility.
However, our original goal was to not acquire more than we can carry in case we wanted to explore something new on a whim. But after five years we realized that similar rooting habits were beginning to lock us there.
We now had good friends, a full schedule of classes and other activities, and business interests to attend to. Although we had dramatically simplified and downsized our lifestyle in Costa Rica, we still accumulated furniture, appliances, vehicles, pets, tools, books and toys. Consequently, we once again felt somewhat stuck.
That is when we decided to embark on this new adventure where the goal isn’t a place necessarily or business opportunities, but the journey itself. Again, faced with unlimited ideas and challenges, we begin our research. Where to go? What to see and do? What will be the richest experience for three young kids? How will we afford to travel extensively with a family of five on a modest income?
These challenges don’t frighten us as we have conquered them before. In fact, they only invigorated us with newfound enthusiasm for unknown opportunities. The main difference this time is that we don’t plan to stay in the same location for longer than a month or two.
Indeed, this will present many unique logistical challenges any family travelers will face like functioning in multiple languages and currencies, keeping an affordable roof over our heads and healthy food in our bellies, balancing work with sight-seeing and family activities, managing transportation and destinations, and much more.
As our journey unfolds, stayed tuned to learn from our mistakes and triumphs.
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