Three Years Later: Reinventing Travel & Rediscovering our Tribe

Three years ago today, Tony & I stepped onto a plane in LA and disembarked many hours later in Tokyo, Japan. It’s safe to say that things haven’t been the same since.


Steph and Rory in San Blas
On the beach in San Blas, Mexico

Prior to leaving, we had heard from others that our travels would change us, but we really had no way of anticipating what that would mean for us. As months turned into years and we met more and more fellow vagabonds, we discovered that there was really no one way to take a trip like the one we were on—à la Calvinball, you make the rules up as you go along. It’s up to each traveler to chart his or her own course and follow wherever it leads.

The only constant that I have found amongst the travelers we’ve met in the last three years, and certainly the thing we have found to continually be true, is that a trip like this always offers you clarity and answers… even if it’s to questions you didn’t know you were asking (or perhaps, haven’t realized you were asking!).

Emmy Lou in a bed
Two beds in one room means one is a dog bed… sorry Motel 6! (We did actually make her sleep on the floor on her own bed eventually, but this was too cute to not let it happen for just a little bit…)

For many people who embark on an extended trip, the end result is overwhelmingly the same: At some point, travel loses its luster, the appeal of home grows irresistible, and their journey leads them full circle, back to the place they began. But these people are different now, and so they look on all the things they once took for granted with new-found appreciation and reverence. They crave a stationary existence with a fixed, permanent address and find comfort and joy in rediscovering routine. Most long-term travelers return to settle down into traditional jobs and buy homes and, as we have noticed with others in our age group, start a family. After a few months back, their lives look (at least from the outside) nearly identical to the ones they left in the first place. Perhaps every so often, they experience a pang of wanderlust and wistfulness for their traveling days, but by and large they are content to be still.

When you think about all the stories we are told about epic journeys, ones like The Hobbit or The Wizard of Oz, they all seem to end this way, with the heroes and heroines returning home.

Traditional Dancing in Oaxaca
Traditional Dancing in Oaxaca, Mexico

But what if Dorothy had turned her back on Kansas, realizing that there’s no place like home, but maybe some places are even better? What if, like Frodo, you return to the Shire and realize your travels have changed you so much that you no longer fit? What happens to those of us who head out into the big, wide world and decide to stay there?

That question is what our third year of travels has seen us begin to deal with.

…And Answers

Steph and Tony in Zion National Park, Utah
Steph and Tony in Zion National Park, Utah

As it turns out, three years is a long time to wander the world. At this point in our “careers” as long-term travelers, most of the people whose travels served as our inspiration have returned home and hung up their backpacks. In fact, a LOT of people who have told us that we inspired them to travel have left on their own amazing adventures and returned home. It’s very hard for us to find people who have been traveling for this length of time, or longer. Surely these people exist (and if you follow any travel bloggers who have essentially transitioned to a permanent nomadic lifestyle, please share their details down in the comments!) and we certainly aren’t pioneers here, but I won’t pretend that there aren’t times when Tony & I feel like dinosaurs, the remnants of a dying breed. Sometimes I wonder if we’re weirdos who have failed to evolve, because we’re still in love with this whole travel thing. These other travelers had a dream of seeing the world, which they did, and then they moved on to a new goal. Shouldn’t we want a mortgage and a pension and to start having babies like 99% of the people we know? Shouldn’t we want to stop and move on to something else?

Steph and Tony in Canyonlands
Steph and Tony at Canyonlands

Because, of course, that was the plan. We always told people when we started on our journey that a huge reason we were taking our trip was to give us some time and space to figure out whether we wanted to live in Canada or the U.S. at the end of it all. In its way, the trip did give us an answer to that question, it just wasn’t one we were expecting or had ever considered: We didn’t want to live permanently in either country. We wanted to keep traveling.

Sunset in La Peñita
La Peñita at sunset

We knew we wanted this with the same unshakeable certainty of those travelers who returned home craving their own bed and a couch and, well, roots. It felt like the right way for us to be living our lives. So, last year, we started seriously laying the groundwork that would allow us to do exactly that. Tony began offering graphic and website design services from the road, and I gradually transitioned into the world of digital marketing and advertising. We returned home last summer to reunite with our dogs (and our families…) and to really dig in and build our business and shore up our savings. Ironically, we began our third year of travels while at home, but our eyes were fixed on the horizon and we focused on getting back on the road again.

Our family
Our family in Toronto

There’s an old piece of wisdom that says “Begin as you mean to go on,” and I think that applies pretty perfectly to our third year traveling. We began stationary, at home, and now—although we are celebrating this milestone over 5,000 km south of Toronto in Mexico—our travels are a mishmash of periods of staying still with spurts of nomadism mixed in. We’re on the cusp of five months in Mexico, the longest we’ve been in any one country (other than Canada or the U.S.) for a continuous period of time in the last 3 years, yet we’ve really only visited seven places during that time. These days, it’s rare for us to spend less than a month in any destination, and most days, you’ll find us working, and most of our exploring happens when we’re walking our dogs, or when we take a break for food. Larger expeditions get saved for the weekend. In many ways, life is not altogether dissimilar from what it would likely look like if we had moved back to the U.S. or Canada and settled down.

(Except there are way more tacos.)

Three years after setting out to travel, we’re still at it… but “it” doesn’t look the same for us now as before. Sometimes we travel so slowly, it probably doesn’t look like we’re traveling at all. We have more responsibilities now and things have shifted and shuffled about so that travel, while a motivator, is no longer all-consuming for us. Most people struggle to find a work/life balance, but for us, we’re seeking a work/life/travel balance; wouldn’t you know, this is no easier to establish when you throw a third thing into the mix and are also in a foreign country.

Steph and Tony in Tequila country
Steph and Tony in Tequila country

That said, although life may not have the carefree breeziness that it did when we started this adventure—after years of playing ants, we were excited to enjoy being a grasshopper for a while; now we’re ant-grasshopper hybrids—we are still happy and haven’t lost our enthusiasm for exploring the world. We honestly love the life we have built for ourselves and it’s exciting to know that rather than travel getting stale, we’re allowing ourselves—and our lifestyle—to adapt based on our current needs and have been able to shift to a more sustainable framework. Each year has brought with it new challenges and new lessons to learn but, thankfully, we’ve afforded ourselves the flexibility to roll with the punches and allow ourselves to grow into these changes. As with all journeys, some things that mattered most three years ago, barely register, while new concerns come into focus and gain priority.

Year Four: More Travel, More Tribes

Keep it real, Mexico

During our long road trips through Mexico, we have been listening to a lot of podcasts. One of my favorites is Dear Sugar Radio led by Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, who used to write an advice column of the same name for The Rumpus. I listen to episodes whenever I feel I’m being too hard on myself and need a little compassion in my life, and even though many of the situations are only tangentially related to me, I always feel they prompt deep introspection (and great discussion!) and I end up feeling like I’ve just left a great therapy session with deeper insight into myself and my humanity. One of the most recent episodes we listened to dealt with a woman with compulsive spending behaviors, and while Tony & I are now pros at living below our means, something Cheryl said during the podcast really resonated with me: They urged the letter writer to join Debtors Anonymous so that she could be surrounded by like-minded folks. “Find your tribe,” they told her, and I felt a light bulb switch on in my brain.

Traditional dances, Oaxaca
Traditional dances, Oaxaca

When we were in Asia, Tony and I were constantly crossing paths with people on extended trips, people who were blogging about their adventures just as we were, people who just innately got what we were about and where we were on our journey. In the last year, however, we’ve only met four other traveling couples, one of whom had just returned from their RTW trip. Most of the blogs I used to read at the start of our trip are no longer updated (or only very sporadically) or have transitioned into blogging about life after travel, often with an increased emphasis on the adventure parenthood. Obviously there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of this, but lately, I’ve been feeling a bit at sea, like our community from a year ago has crumbled. There was a fork in the road, and it seems like everyone took the other path. For the first time since leaving, I have felt very isolated at times this past year and like Tony was my only ally.

I’ve realized that I need to take the Sugars’ advice to heart, and in the spirit of the nomads that we are, rather than clinging to a time or a place that no longer exists, we have to pick up stakes and head out in search of our tribe once more.

Jenny and Lewis
Tony, Steph, Jenny and Lewis at Hierve el Agua near Oaxaca

During our month in Oaxaca (yet to be written about, I know…), we wound up crossing paths with a wonderful couple who have been traveling for about three years as well, and I can’t tell you how awesome it was to have friends on our wavelength for a few weeks. We had people to grab lunch with and to accompany us on road trips and share travel tips with, and it was so much fun. At a time when I was feeling existential angst regarding our place in an online community (and quite possibly the world), Jenny & Lewis came into our lives at exactly the right time.

As we embark on our fourth year of travel and continue to find our feet as full-fledged digital nomads, I want to focus not only on exploring the world, but also on finding our new tribe. We always talk about how meaningful the connections we form with locals are, but those are often fleeting because we rarely stick around long enough for anything but our online relationships to flourish (thank goodness for this blog and for Skype!).

Sarah and Tyrhone
Tyrhone, Sarah, Tony and Steph in Colorado

So, we’re going to kick off year four trying something different: Having had a taste of Mexico now, we’ve decided to see what it’s like staying put in one place for more than a month. Enticed by our friends Sarah & Tyrhone, we’ve made our way all the way to the Yucatán, and are currently looking for apartments in Playa del Carmen where we’re hoping to spend the next six months. Yes, we’re looking forward to the incredible travel activities this area of Mexico offers—like ancient Mayan ruins, beautiful colonial cities, crystal clear cenotes, beautiful beaches, and incredible diving opportunities—but we’re also hoping that by putting down roots for a while, we can start building some new connections and reestablish ourselves in a community.

For now, we have some crazy little dogs to keep us company
For now, we have some crazy little dogs to keep us company

Who knows how the six months in one place will go for us: Perhaps we’ll love it, perhaps it will give us exactly what we need and we’ll feel ready to tackle something new at the end of it, or perhaps we’ll get itchy feet even earlier. There’s no way to know except to try, and after three years of bouncing around, we think we deserve the chance to find out!

Looking back on what we’ve seen and accomplished in the past three years, I’m incredibly proud and also so grateful. It may not be one that many others aspire to, but we’ve built a life for ourselves that is filled with adventure and happiness, and established a business that fulfills us and affords us great freedom. We have met amazing people, done incredible things that we never even dreamed possible when planning our trip (like hiking the Himalayas, driving a tuk tuk through Sri Lanka, riding a motorcycle the length of Vietnam, to name a few…), and injected our life anew with the joy and wonderment we had allowed to fade.

Steph and Tony at Horseshoe Bend
Steph and Tony at Horseshoe Bend

We’re also so grateful for all of our readers here at 20YH who have followed along on our adventures. If you’ve reached out through an email or left a comment here (or on Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter): thank you! If you’ve had us design you a logo or had us build you a website, or referred a friend: thank you! And if all you’ve done is lurked and enjoyed the journey anonymously, we’re still glad you’re here, so: thank you! Your support has meant so much to us and the community that has developed here over the years has truly been invaluable. We’re so glad that no matter where life takes us, we have a tribe here that is ready and willing to tag along with us. We’re ecstatic to have you aboard as we tackle year four!

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60 comments Leave a comment

  1. Braaaavooo!! A wonderful ‘stake on the map’ of your wonderfully whacky life! I can relate to much of what you have written, particularly the evolution of your ‘tribe.’ In the last year I realised I was very much ‘barking up the wrong tree’ when it came to the people I looked to for inspiration. It was a pretty tough but welcomed lesson in focussing on what I am really passionate about in order attracting a tribe which actually fits and feels good. I am thankful you are part of it.

    Also, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Creating a life of your own inspired design and sustaining it with sacrifice and work is truly something to celebrate. I may even make brownies tomorrow in order to do just that! Xxx

    Aug. 9 2015 @ 4:21 pm
    1. Sarah author

      I think it is always hard realizing that a tribe you were once part of (or considered yourself to be a part of!) has moved on and that you’re clinging to something that is no longer there. I tend to get very attached to people, so it’s been hard to realize that most of the people I know have decided to take their lives in a completely different direction from mine… it doesn’t mean that we can’t still be friends, but it does mean that I do think I probably needed to broaden my horizons and see if there are new people out there waiting for me to find them. I’m so glad that my search brought me into your sphere and that we can be part of each others tribes; anyone who celebrates with brownies is my kind of person! 😉

      Aug. 10 2015 @ 12:56 pm
  2. Yeah, so I haven’t written a blog post in *cough* four *cough* months… I didn’t need a reminder. haha… WHY DOES IT LOOK SO COLD IN MEXICO in that pic with you and Sarah / Tyrhone? I took three trips last week and am so tired. Settling down long enough in one place to really explore is the way to go!

    Aug. 9 2015 @ 8:44 pm
    1. James

      Because it was taken in Colorado, James!! We have been too busy stuffing tacos and ceviche into our faces to take photos here. Still think you should come visit us…

      Aug. 10 2015 @ 10:42 am
    2. James author

      We put captions on the photos for a reason, James! 😛 Too much fun being had here to take photos (and maybe we don’t want there to be any evidence… what happens in Playa, stays in Playa!). Maybe the next time you’re considering a trip, head this way!

      Aug. 10 2015 @ 12:59 pm
  3. Steve C

    Hi guys,
    It’s been awhile since I last posted a comment on your blog. I used to follow several travel bloggers but it got to be taking up too much time. I think I’ve been following yours since just after you left Japan. All blogs are different but yours is one of the best out there.
    You chose Twain’s “Twenty years hence” as your moniker. His whole quote resonates with me too, although there was no such thing as a blog twenty-five years ago when we traveled around the world for a total of four years. I hope to have my house on the market in six weeks and be on the travel trail again. You might say my story is going to be no disappointment here, twenty-five years hence. I enjoyed it so much I’m doing it again! Only this time, at age 66, and with a fixed income not requiring me to do any work, I plan on enjoying life and traveling until I drop.

    Six months a year I’ll be tooling around the US, Canada and Mexico. Then my truck camper will be put in storage while I dawn my backpack and head out for South East Asia, South America and where ever for the next six months. That will be my life from now on. If one of the six month periods coincides with winter, the Yucatan and Playa del Carmen will certainly be a destination. I’ve been through there a couple times and it’s one of my favorite parts of Mexico. Wandering Earl thinks so too. If you see him there, say hi for me!

    Let me know if you meet anyone who’s driven down there from the states. Times have changed since I last drove that route. I think it will be safe. It’s just nice to know how other people see it. The last year of our travels was driving from California to Costa Rica round trip and taking a year to do it. Much of the time was driving through Mexico. From your writing above, I think we both agree that slow travel is the best travel.

    One of these ‘years’, our paths are going to cross I’m sure. We’re of the same Tribe!

    Aug. 10 2015 @ 1:16 am
    1. Steve C author

      How exciting that you’re about to set out on your own travels again, Steve! Not sure why more people don’t do that once they have the freedom to do so, but hey, to each his own, and I hope you have an amazing time rediscovering some of the places you visited before (and maybe finding some new ones too!).

      We actually did drive from Minnesota all the way down to Playa, though not in one big gulp. We have taken our time to get here and—wouldn’t you know—we have arrived here, just a stone’s throw from the Belize border, with one month left to spare on our Mexico tourist visa… funny how that worked out, no? 😉 Anyway, we haven’t had any issues driving in Mexico—we’ve tried to stick to the toll roads (cuotas) whenever possible as that generally shaves off quite a bit of time and police presence is pretty much non-existent so the fear of being extorted is minimized. Road quality is often a lot better too, though you still need to watch out for topes. They aren’t cheap by any means, but we think they’re worth it!

      Aug. 10 2015 @ 1:04 pm
  4. Ok, first off, I love Dear Sugar podcast. Steve’s voice is just so soothing 🙂 (If you need any other recos, just let me know – i commute long distances and have about 20 podcasts on rotation.) I love reading about your multi-year journey and what is has meant for you. I have been reading various RTW blogs for the better part of a decade, and you’re totally right that at the end of the trip, the posts end, or else they transition into something totally different, and less exciting for me to read. I’m sure all of the people I can think of who are *still* traveling are people you already know – Alex in Wanderland, Almost Fearless, Legal Nomads…I look to you YOU guys for inspiration so keep on keeping on so that I can live vicariously through you as we navigate an adventurous lifestyles as well!

    Aug. 10 2015 @ 2:16 am
    1. Julie author

      Steve *does* have a soothing voice. We always joke that he always effusively chimes in with “Yesssss!” whenever Cheryl says something, and it’s become something of a running joke for us when we’re in the car now…

      Funnily enough, we came thisclose to meeting Alex when we were both in Bali, but were on different ends of the island and so we couldn’t orchestrate a meet up. However, we have met Jodi while we were all in Saigon, and we just met up with Christine while we were all in Oaxaca. So travelers who have been doing this even longer than us definitely do exist, and it’s always nice when we can meet up and see where we are in our own journey relative to theirs.

      I don’t always find it easy to find the time/energy/motivation to write the blog now as I did at the start as I juggle it with things that actually pay our bills, but I do love sharing stories here and determined to not let the site go dark. Nothing sadder than finding a blog you love only to realize that the adventure has come to an end and it’s been forgotten! The adventure continues & so do our stories!

      Aug. 10 2015 @ 1:08 pm
  5. I enjoyed this look back on your journey, from where you started to where you are now. Everyone’s path in life is different and, while yours might not be traditional, it works for you and that’s all that matters. Continue forging your own way!

    As a stationary expat, I have more opportunities to make local friends and integrate into society, but I do know what you mean about “finding your tribe.” I recently met up with a group of bloggers who were passing through Riga on a larger press trip of the Baltics. We talked about social media strategies and nobody blinked when at dinner all the cameras and phones came out before the food could be consumed. While I have no interest in monetizing my blog or going on a slew of press trips, it was fun to be around people who understood the blogging aspect of my life. I’d love to find a way to connect with more bloggers without having to pay to attend conferences or tweet a bunch of posts I haven’t read for entry into a FB group. Maybe I need to start a group just for hobby bloggers! …

    Aug. 10 2015 @ 2:36 am
    1. Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun author

      Certainly as an expat you understand the whole concept of finding a tribe! I have to think it must be nice to feel a part of an online community, as I know it brought us a lot of comfort and support during the early part of our trip and was one of the reasons I was so glad we started our blog. It has brought us into contact with so many great people and without travel blogs, I don’t know if we ever really would have made the leap we did or if we would still be doing it. Many of our best memories from our time in Asia were from meeting up with other bloggers, and it was definitely something I missed when we were back in Toronto and Minnesota… places hardly anyone really visits. Hopefully now that we’re in Mexico, and a very popular part at that, we’ll get to make some more travel blog friends!

      (Also, I agree about conferences and the like. I think it would be fun for meeting people, but I have no interest in wooing sponsors or trying to hobnob with tourism boards. Just want to talk travel with likeminded people and have some fun!)

      Aug. 10 2015 @ 1:16 pm
  6. Steph, I sure can relate to so much you have written. It seems that finding the correct travel/home/friend/family/exploration/blogging balance becomes a phase that we nomads all go through. We are not quite as far on our journey as you and Tony, but already we have tweeked our original plans. I too have developed a need to stay more connected to “home”, but am far from ready to stay put for very long. What our current pattern seems to be morphing into is more of a travel for a month, stay home for a month, wash clothes, repack and repeat. We are fortunate to have a tiny cabin in the San Bernadino mountains we can use as a base on the “home” months. This allows us time to reconnect with family and friends, recharge, get caught up on missing blog posts, and do a bit of planning for the next adventure. Time will tell if this works for us, but we remain open and committed to still seeing as much of this big, beautiful planet as we can. Wishing both of you continued happiness, growth, peace and fulfillment along your journey!

    Aug. 10 2015 @ 6:56 am
    1. Joanne Joseph author

      I think the biggest mistake long-term travelers make is plotting out a vision of how their trip will go and then not giving themselves wiggle room for when their desires and needs change. Traveling for more than, say, three months is a pretty big deal and the person you are after traveling for six months is inevitably going to be different than the person you were at the start of your trip. We’ve met people who were really hard on themselves because they felt they were traveling the “wrong” way or that they had to do certain things or go to certain places or move at a certain pace because that’s what they had read others had done before them. But trips like these are so personal and if you find it works better for you to just travel in one month spurts now, even if that isn’t how you initially traveled, then that’s fantastic! And maybe a year from now or at some other point down the road you’ll find you need to shuffle up your travel style once again. The only way to travel “wrong” is to do it in a way that makes you unhappy.

      Aug. 10 2015 @ 1:20 pm
  7. Congratulations to you both for travelling the way that you want to and most importantly, doing it with pride.
    There is no right way or wrong way to travel no matter what anyone says, only your way. And it’s true, it’s difficult to find “the tribe” when one is constantly on the move.

    I’ve been travelling since my GAP year at university and then left England for 6 weeks and came back 2 years later! This is when I knew that my life from my peers would be different. And of course, as one gets older, one begins to plan on how to make life choices that would embrace, rather than hinder, thus, the expat life came along which gives you that sense of exotic-ness while at the same time a sense of balance, identity and community. I still travel solo a few times a year, or with my husband only, my son only (I used to strap him on my chest and go hiking) and with them together.

    I haven’t lived “home” since I left for university and I haven’t lived in England for 16 years! In my mind, travel / lifestyle blogging is just the icing on the cake.

    Aug. 10 2015 @ 8:46 am
    1. Victoria@ The British Berliner author

      I agree 100% that there is not right or wrong way to travel and it is up to each person to figure out what works best for him or her. You’ve obviously found a great balance that works for you and clearly being an expat suits you! I think the dream is for Tony & I to find that place that feels exactly right, where we know we want to set up a base and set down roots… maybe we’ve found it but still need to explore, or maybe we have yet to stumble upon it. Either way, I know that travel will always be a big part of our lives, even if it evolves and looks different as the years march on!

      Aug. 10 2015 @ 3:13 pm
  8. Excellent post Steph. We understand exactly what you’re feeling, sort of in the reverse. Ever since we’ve returned from our backpacking RTW we’ve never felt as though we fully fit in. Even though we are those you referred to that basically entered their lives back, however changed, we were living a familiar life, but it felt wrong. We are also seeking to find our tribe, but are getting back on the road to find them! We feel like we moved too fast last time, and since this time we’ll be driving, have the dogs, and be working as we go, we also plan on moving slowly enough to find a sense of community in local communities as we go, and also renew a sense of tribe among other travelers. Good luck finding a great place in Playa…enjoy time spent with Sarah and Tyrhone. We hope we finally end up meeting on the road one of these days!

    Aug. 10 2015 @ 9:54 am
    1. Rhonda author

      Well, we struggled with feeling like we didn’t fit when we were back at home, that’s for sure! It’s just that lately we’ve felt that we don’t fully fit into the long-term travel community either… or rather, that most of the long-term travelers who had formed our community are no longer traveling! Ever since we’ve been back on the road, we’ve had much better luck encountering like-minded individuals and perhaps what I’m learning is that I need to rely less on one tribe (rather than abandoning it!) and start making room in my life for others. I think too we’re at that tricky age where even people who were doing unconventional things are now settling into the more traditional way of things, buying homes, having babies, and it’s occasionally prompted a crisis of faith in me. But, the thing is, as happy as I am for my friends who have started families and have beautiful homes, I know I don’t want those things for myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes feel like I’m being left on the sidelines, but no one ever said following your own path was easy!

      And I too hope we will meet some day! Given that you’ve got Mexico on your mind and we plan to be in this part of the world for the next few years, I suspect that day is swiftly approaching!

      Aug. 10 2015 @ 3:21 pm
  9. oh… and the folks at Never Ending Voyage have been on the road for 5 years now. And the Bumfuzzle family for what seems like forever, first sailing around the world, then driving the Panam, then living on a sailboat in Mexico, and now driving through Mexico 🙂

    Aug. 10 2015 @ 10:27 am
    1. Rhonda author

      We have followed Simon & Erin at NEV for a long time & they continue to be an inspiration to us! Never heard of Bumfuzzle, however, but it sounds like we should check them out!

      Aug. 10 2015 @ 3:22 pm
  10. Congratulations on crafting the life you both craved. I think it’s incredibly brave and beautiful, and I love your blog. I follow (and did before you guys left) RTW blogs – but only sporadically. Or, rather, when I plan trips, etc. And I’m pretty sure the ones blogging now are ones I discovered through you guys. So I can imagine it’s tough and isolating to feel like you’re the only ones still at it, and I’m so glad you have your pups with you. I know how much comfort mine brings me.

    I cannot wait to see where your adventures take you. And six months in the Yucatan ain’t bad. 😉

    Aug. 10 2015 @ 10:33 am
    1. jenn aka the picky girl author

      Thanks so much for the sweet note, Jenn! At times this lifestyle is necessarily isolating, but I am grateful we’ve built such a supportive community there on the site and that we also have met so many wonderful people and have such great friends and family back “home” too. It’s not always easy when you feel like your path is taking your further and further away from the people you love, but I’m lucky to have some people in my life that are stalwart and constant, no matter how much our lives superficially change. And, of course, having the dogs with us, though sometimes challenging, is ultimately a wonderful gift. Puppy snuggles make everything better!

      And yes, six months in the Yucatán… there are certainly worse fates! Maybe you should start planning that trip to Tulum… I’m just saying! 😉

      Aug. 10 2015 @ 3:30 pm
  11. Hey Steph!

    Phillipa and I just started our fourth year of travel. A lot of what you write here resonates with me (a lot of what you always write does), I think about some of the topics you’ve covered – a lot.

    Hopefully, one day, we’ll cross paths. I’m yet to cross paths with anyone who has been travelling for this long – on the internet/social-media yes, but not in the “real” world.

    All the best with the house-hunting, sounds like a great idea.


    Aug. 10 2015 @ 4:43 pm
    1. Nate author

      Hi Nate! We have loved watching your own travel adventure evolve, and as we’ve yet to make it to eastern Europe, seeing that part of the world vicariously through your eyes.

      We have been lucky to have met a few “veterans” out here on the road, but it’s always nice to meet up with other travelers, no matter their position in their journey. Would love it if our paths crossed on day (I’m sure it’s just a matter of time!).

      Aug. 11 2015 @ 8:36 am
  12. Del

    First of all – Happy Travelversary! This blog hit home for me. We are rapidly coming up on the anniversary of the day we left for our trip (September 1) and I’ve been really bummed out recently. I think I am sharing some of that existential angst. i was just talking via Skype today with one of my ‘tribe’ who lives in BC and really missing having a tribe here in AZ – doesn’t seem like they exist.

    Guess I am just in a funk the past few days with not wanting to be back. Don’t have my answers yet.

    As usual love your honesty.

    Aug. 10 2015 @ 10:25 pm
    1. Del author

      Anniversaries are tricky, aren’t they? They can be reason to celebrate, but also cause us to reflect and, perhaps, reassess our trajectory if we find we are heading down the wrong path. Plus, when you’re feeling “stuck” in a situation that’s not entirely of your choosing, having a reminder that you’ve been at it for a while isn’t often helpful.

      I’m glad you do have a tribe, even if it’s not as local and present as you might wish it to be. I certainly consider you part of mine, and am so glad our paths crossed! Please let me know if you want to Skype, and maybe you and Lee should consider a minibreak down to Mexico sometime soon! 😉

      Aug. 11 2015 @ 8:44 am
  13. Congrats guys! Even though you’re travelling differently these days, your journey is still just as exciting to follow 🙂 We have also been hit with some of the feelings you mention since transitioning from permanent, fairly fast-paced travel to very slow travel combined with work. I felt really strange when we first moved to Vietnam to teach last year until we made friends with other teachers living in Hanoi. Now we’ve left and are about to embark on an intense period of travel in the U.S followed by who-knows-what (probably settling in Spain for a while), I feel a bit at sea again. Being back in the UK and connecting with family and friends actually amplifies this feeling because we feel like the odd ones out as all of our friends and family from back home are settling down while we’re still all over the place. I hope you guys feel less isolated in Playa and have a great time searching for your work-travel-life balance 🙂

    Aug. 11 2015 @ 5:43 am
    1. Amy author

      You guys have had your own winding road to walk since leaving, so I know you understand how difficult these transitions can be. Playa probably wouldn’t have been our first choice for a base in Mexico on paper, but the prospect of being able to make some friends and have people to do things for a little bit was just to alluring to overlook. I’m sure that after your time with a steady base in Vietnam it will be an adjustment to be back on the road again (especially being back home, which is always weird!), but the nice thing about the lifestyle you’ve adopted is that you seem to have developed a good rhythm for balancing travel with longer stays elsewhere where you can develop a community. Best of luck to the two of you as you embark on your new set of adventures… we’re excited to follow along and see what you get up to!

      Aug. 11 2015 @ 9:24 am
  14. Steph, congrats to you and Tony on the travel anniversary! I love the fact that you guys are still going, still love travel, and are still writing about travel. Just as you mentioned, most of the blogs I followed over the past couple of years, while we were planning our trip, are either no longer updated or no longer about travel and thus of little interest anymore. It’s nice that there are still a few of the originals (to me, anyway) going. We’re only a month in, and who knows how we’ll feel in one or two years, but I really hope I never lose my love of travel. So here’s to you and another year of adventures. I look forward to reading all about it and do hope our paths cross some day.

    Aug. 11 2015 @ 8:57 am
    1. Jaime author

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Jaime! It’s nice to hear from someone who is at the start of his journey and I’ll be really interested to see how your trip evolves with time… they always do! Three years later, we’re still out here traveling, but our trip has definitely changed a lot from when we set out (I certainly never anticipated we’d find ourselves wanting to stay somewhere for six months!) but the greatest gift we long-term travelers can give ourselves is flexibility and a willingness to adapt and embrace the inevitable changes that a trip like ours will bring. Enjoy your adventure, and hopefully one day our paths will indeed cross!

      Aug. 15 2015 @ 1:40 pm
  15. I’m glad we could help with the existential angst! It’s amazing how clicking with some likeminded folks can make somewhere instantly feel like home – we certainly felt like that with you guys in Oaxaca, and we found that we only really settled into Playa Del Carmen once we’d made friends there. Travel can be a lonely business and as you say – you need to find your tribe. Congratulations on your travel anniversary – here’s to another 3 years of adventures! See you soon amigos x

    Aug. 11 2015 @ 12:45 pm
    1. Jenny author

      It was SO WONDERFUL meeting you and Lewis in Oaxaca and we’re so excited that you’ll be heading back to Playa in a few months. Hopefully we’ll have uncovered a few things to show you guys when you’re back! We’ve only been here for a short while, but we’re already feeling optimistic about what the future has in store for us here—we’ve already connected with a few new people who live here that could become legit friends, and we love that there are plenty of activities and events to keep us busy. It definitely feels like the right place for us to have kicked off our fourth year of travels and I think we’ll make good headway here in terms of starting to build up a new tribe (which we’re so happy you’re a part of!).

      Aug. 15 2015 @ 1:45 pm
  16. I loved reading this and looking back on your adventures. There is so much I resonate with here. Despite currently being based in London, my travel days aren’t done yet. Feet are itching already! It’s a tricky and confusing line to tread for me. Slowly working it out!

    Good luck in Playa! Sarah and Thyrone’s stories always make me think it must be lovely.

    P.s. Another nomadic couple that has no desire to settle down or return home are Simon and Erin at Never Ending Voyage. They’ve been going for something like 5 or 6 years. I think you’d enjoy their blog.

    Aug. 11 2015 @ 2:57 pm
    1. Victoria author

      Well, London is definitely not a bad place to be based! In fact, Tony & I have both said multiple times that if we could afford it, we’d love to spend an extended period there some day. We’re certainly not in the position to do so right now, but who knows what the future might hold? And certainly the nice thing about having London as a base is that there are so many affordable flights from there and it’s so easy to take quick mini-breaks and short trips when your feet do get that itch; I think that even if you do head out on the road for a longer stretch of time that you’ll always be happy to have London to return to.

      Also, we have been following Simon & Erin’s blog for years and consider them one of our biggest inspirations. We haven’t had the chance to meet them in real life yet, but I feel like it’s only a matter of time before we rectify that! 🙂

      Aug. 15 2015 @ 1:51 pm
  17. Congratulations on yet another travel anniversary Steph and Tony! I have loved following your journey and I am so excited that you will keep on going. Also this 6 months at a time thing sounds so intriguing. For us, since returning to our home base (home?) in Washington DC, wanderlust has only grown stronger 🙁 The thing is — when we look five years out, we don’t see ourselves as permanent travelers. And even when we look to the end of next year, while every single day we wish we were out there traveling like we were before we came home, we know that for us the sweet spot is a few a months on the road, mixed in with a few months at home. Right now we are trying to put the foundation in place to make this happen, but it’s been a hard slog and staying optimistic can be so hard (as you’ve said before in your posts from “home”). Anyway, your post made my day a little brighter, so thanks and keep on trucking! 🙂

    Aug. 13 2015 @ 2:59 pm
    1. Jenia author

      Certainly long-term travel isn’t for everyone, just as permanent nomadism isn’t either! For us, having the freedom to go wherever we want and leave—or stay!—for however long we want to just feels right and we’re really glad that we’ve managed to make this work. A lot of people we talk to say that they’d love to be able to travel in the way you’re describing, and I don’t rule out the possibility that one day we’ll find a place that we love so much that we’d like to spend most of our time and use it as a base for, say, month-long trips. I definitely feel your pain about feeling stuck in a place, like you’re treading water waiting for the next phase to happen, but every day you get closer to your goal. It may not come as quickly as you would like, but little by little, you’ll get there. I’m sure you experienced something similar when you were getting ready to leave for your big trip the first time, so you’ll know that however hard it might sometimes get, the reward at the end is well worth it!

      Aug. 15 2015 @ 2:02 pm
  18. Great post! It’s funny you mention “Dear Sugar” – I just listened to the first episode yesterday, and was about to pull up another one to get me through the afternoon slump 🙂

    Aug. 17 2015 @ 12:43 pm
  19. Wow, has it been three years?! So happy to have met you during that time! And grateful for the friendship that came from it 🙂 Hope our paths cross at some point during year four!

    Aug. 18 2015 @ 2:11 am
    1. Edna author

      Three years is crazy, right??? Sometimes I think about the last time we were somewhere, and realize how much time has past and it blows my mind. Like, it’s been 2.5 years since we met in Singapore… how did THAT happen???

      Would love it if our paths crossed this year! Not sure if you still have your sights set on South America, but if so, perhaps consider stopping over in Mexico en route. We have a pull-out couch with your name on it!

      Aug. 19 2015 @ 8:03 am
  20. This is such a lovely summing up of your travels to this point, both physically and spiritually! I love that idea of finding your tribe, and I feel that I have ever since I started blogging, writing generally and living the life that I do, I have felt so at peace. Keep travelling 😀

    Aug. 19 2015 @ 4:37 am
    1. Tim UrbanDuniya author

      Thanks, Tim! I’ve often felt that writing here on the site has helped us channel our energy in the best possible ways and brought great things into our lives, our tribe included. Ever since writing this post, we’ve been connecting with more people and have been feeling a lot lighter and happier. I think year four is off to a great start!

      Aug. 19 2015 @ 8:05 am
  21. I always love coming to your site to read posts like this Steph, because you catch everything I feel like saying and write it so much more eloquently! It’s been amazing to follow along with you guys and I love getting to celebrate our milestones nearly at the same time each year. I’m very excited to watch the Playa plans unfold, and now it’s my turn to be jealous because you’re with Sarah!!

    Aug. 21 2015 @ 2:59 pm
    1. Rika | Cubicle Throwdown author

      Yes, it’s so crazy that our journeys have tracked one another so well and that three years later, we are both still out there making this crazy travel dream come true.

      And you know how you can get over that jealousy, right? Next time you’re considering a visa run, maybe think Playa… 😉

      Aug. 26 2015 @ 4:53 pm
  22. No, you are not alone, but I see what you mean! A lot of long term nomads just don’t blog, or lose the interested after some time and in these days where many blog purely to make money. I’ve been travelling for 7 years now, although that included two 2-year stints in London (which I consider the closest to a home). I’m now travelling with my partner, and as a lesbian couple, there’s way less of this society’s pressure to get children and a mortgage 😉

    Aug. 24 2015 @ 6:44 pm
    1. Stephanie author

      Wow, 7 years is HUGE! Congrats on the accomplishment! (Also, I would definitely not say no to a 2-year stint in London, that’s for sure!)

      I have to say, the one thing I was dreading about Mexico is that I assumed everyone would be asking me all the time whether we had children (and then, inevitably, why not), because this was a question we were posed all the time in Asia. But, lo and behold, we haven’t been asked ONCE since arriving here about children, which has been a delight! Now, if only all of our non-Mexican friends and acquaintances would follow suit!

      Aug. 26 2015 @ 5:01 pm
  23. It’s very true that the reason we travel, the way we travel and what we like about travel evolves as we go on! I think that is all a part of the travel experience.

    Aug. 25 2015 @ 7:20 am
    1. Britt author

      Absolutely, Britt! We’re always growing and changing, so of course the things we want from life and from our travels will change too. (And I think that travel is one of the best ways to bring about big changes in ourselves, so no wonder the last 3 years have been such a rollercoaster!)

      Aug. 26 2015 @ 5:04 pm
  24. I think the only thing you “should” be doing is what you want to do. It’s so different for everyone, as you know (but we all need the reminder). It’s hard in this community as a lot of times people out on the same adventure, looking for the same things, are also at totally different places in life. Although no by a lot, Shawn and I are a bit older. We looked at where we were and knew if this kid thing was going to happen, it had to happen now. I rarely give myself a deadline, but this one had a good reason 🙂 . Anyway, I think what you’re doing is awesome. I’m envious you guys have the talents and skills to be able to make money while traveling. It’s hard work, no doubt, but we just didn’t have that (nor the desire to learn!). I’m super excited that you’re still doing this but it’ll be good for your souls to have a community. And if it’s not the community you want, then you move on. Who doesn’t love that kind of freedom?? Happy travel-versary!

    Aug. 30 2015 @ 8:42 pm
    1. Carmel author

      I definitely think the thing we love most about our current lifestyle is the freedom we are now afforded. The trip definitely taught us that if something isn’t working, then we have the tools and the ability to fix it and change course if need be, and I hope we never forget that. I think it’s also been important for us to remember that we are different people now than we were 3 years ago and so some of the things we are craving from our adventure at this point are different from when we started. Staying put in Playa for a while and working on building a community feels right for us at the moment, but I know we still have a lot of travel ahead of us. Life ebbs and flows and I’m just doing my best to ride those waves!

      Sep. 5 2015 @ 1:45 pm
  25. Hi Steph, I am happy you have both decided to keep on travelling. I was going to suggest Nate from Nomadic, but I see he has commented himself. I also follow Dalene and Pete from Hecktic Travels who have been travelling since 2009 and Nick and Dariece from Goats on the Road and Simon and Erin from Never Ending Voyage. Good luck finding your tribe, and keep on blogging. 🙂

    Sep. 3 2015 @ 4:53 am
    1. jan author

      Thanks for the well wishes, Jan, and I appreciate you taking the time to mention some of your favorite long-term travelers for us to follow. I have actually been following all of them except Goats on the Road, so thank you for the suggestion! Always happy to learn about fellow nomads who are out there making it work!

      Sep. 5 2015 @ 1:48 pm
  26. Steph, your outfit in the picture at Hierve el Agua looks so groovy!

    More importantly, congratulations on your amazing travels!

    Sep. 6 2015 @ 10:51 pm
    1. Rashaad author

      Thanks, Rashaad! Picked that dress up from the weekly market in La Peñita, Mexico. Clearly it has served me well.

      Sep. 7 2015 @ 9:25 am
  27. I’m eager to know what will come afterwards with your journey in Mexico. Such an incredible experience. Take care! Safe travel 🙂

    Sep. 7 2015 @ 8:06 am
    1. Velysia Zhang author

      Thanks for your kind words, Velysia. We still have tones of exploring to do here in the Yucatán (and beyond!), so although we may be shaking up our travel style slightly, our adventures are certainly not at an end.

      Sep. 7 2015 @ 9:26 am
  28. OMG YES!! It’s so important to find people you can relate to. There are actually quite a few bloggers out there who are perpetually nomadic, but I think you need more in common with someone than that. Having someone you can actually hang out with is important, friends you can spend time with, like you have now in Playa del Carmen. Yes, it’s wonderful to have online friends who you totally bond with, but I’m realizing how much I need in-real-life friends. And the more you/we stray from the “normal” life, the harder it is to relate to others and find someone you can truly connect with. Also, reading this reminds me of how much I still wish the nomadic (or even semi-nomadic) life would work for me and Andy, but it just doesn’t. We like having a home base too much, so we’re trying to figure out how that all works now. I’m glad you’re settling into PDC (I just read that post too, so my rambling comment applies to that post as well) and I think it’s great that you’re finding a tribe and a support system!

    Sep. 14 2015 @ 12:16 pm
    1. Ali author

      I feel really fortunate that I’m able to set up fairly regular Skype dates with friends we have back home as well as some people we met on the road and really clicked with, so that definitely helps keep loneliness at bay. BUT it’s also so nice being somewhere where we have people who are right here who we can spend time with and hang out with. You’re right that traveling isn’t enough of a shared interest to form a friendship, so I am really glad we’ve met people who we mesh with well above and beyond that.

      Also, I don’t blame you guys for having a more permanent base and just going for trips every so often. It’s REALLY nice having a place to ourselves again and knowing we won’t have to pack it all up in a month’s time and head out somewhere new. I think ideally we’d like to find a place we loved well enough that we could spend six months out of the year and then spend the rest of the year traveling, but so far we haven’t quite found that (the closest we have come is “Asia”, which only narrows things slightly!). It’s definitely tiring being on the road all the time, especially when you’re working—we felt we traveled slow before coming home and really digging into our business, but now we have to go even slower. At first this made me sad, but now I realize that this just gives us time to develop and explore other non-travel aspects of our life too.

      Sep. 15 2015 @ 9:12 am
  29. I so get what you mean here! I haven’t had the three year experience like you guys (yet) but I know what you mean about things evolving and feeling like a community has moved on without you. I’m actually going through that exact thing offline right now. It’s okay though; as you said, you just find out who your tribe has become and it looks like you’ve done that.

    You know what’s weird though also…I feel like I am part of your tribe, yet it’s probably going to be a long time before we’re even on the same side of the world as each other…how strange is that. 😀

    Sep. 16 2015 @ 11:24 pm
    1. Karyn Jane author

      We are so happy to have you as part of our tribe Karyn, and feel the exact same way as you! Honestly, during this journey, some of the people we have become closest to and related to the most are ones we knew strictly through online conversations and blogging, and it took us YEARS to actually meet in person. It’s definitely nice to have a “real life” tribe of people who are physically present in our lives, but the psychological and emotional boosts our online community has provided us can’t be overlooked or underestimated!

      Glad we can help each other as we move along in our journeys, and I know one day our physical paths will cross!

      Sep. 20 2015 @ 9:45 am
  30. Willaim A Pearce

    Your writings are wondrous bits of joy. Your travels are mesmerizing and delightful to eyes of this elder man who has traveled only twice outside of the United States. To the Caribbean and Cancun only.

    Thank you

    Jun. 5 2017 @ 7:53 am
  31. Oonagh Doherty

    Hello Stephanie –

    From your photos and posts it appears you travel in Mexico with your dog. How do you manage this? Do you drive? What about hotels? I’ve heard traveling with dogs in Mexico is impossible, or outrageously costly, but I feel that cannot be so, as my experience with Mexico is that everything is possible. Also people ride the buses with chickens. Also, when I was on the road back in the late eighties (I know, centuries ago) I saw people travelling with little green parrots – why not dogs? Your wisdom is appreciated…..

    Nov. 27 2018 @ 6:01 pm

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