Collecting Memories - Living Our Dream
Our little family is very fortunate to live the life of our dreams, and to be able to travel to beautiful places and to have memorable experiences together. I constantly receive messages with questions about our lifestyle, and how we manage to afford having time and resources to live and adventure the way we do. There is no easy or straightforward answer that I can give to these questions, but I can tell our story, how we started and got to where we are now.
What’s Most Important
I believe that living a dream is a form of living your passion. One of the most important things to do is to figure out what is essential to you, and make it your main thing and a priority. This is not as easy as it sounds because it’s more of a process that takes time rather than a single life event.
Like many others Jake and I took a conventional route towards the American dream. We both went to college, got full time jobs afterwards but somewhere along the way we realised that we wanted a different path and that it wasn’t our dream life. Both of us had experiences of falling in love with the outdoors for its simplicity and peace, and because this is where we felt most alive and ourselves. Our love for the outdoors was also something that brought us together. When we got married we didn’t feel like commiting to a house loan but instead we wanted to spend more quality time outside, traveling, and have different experiences together.
One year after we got married we saved up enough money to quit our jobs and go on an adventure abroad. We put all our things in a storage unit, sold our car, and bought a one way ticket to Peru. We decided to come back when we would have just enough money in our account to start back up, and other than that we didn’t know what the adventure would be like. For both of us it is still one of the most memorable experiences we had. We learned a lot about ourselves and each other on that trip. We hiked in the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my life. On that trip I also actually started to figure out how I like to travel and what my dynamics and limits were because before I just had an idealistic idea of an adventure life. Our experience in Peru reinforced our desire to spend more time in the outdoors and traveling together even more. We realized that collecting memories was more valuable to us than all the things and possessions we left behind.
We went on that trip not for making money, taking pictures or Instagram likes, but because we were simply following our dreams and doing what we loved. Many more adventures came after that, and also many fantastic opportunities came along the way that allowed us to keep living this lifestyle and sustain it financially. Now that we have our daughter we keep living the same way, and collecting memories of our experiences in beautiful places we visit with her.
Side-note: One of my favorite books that I recently read is “Essentialism:The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. This book goes along with a lot of things in my blog, and is very helpful in figuring out what is essential in your life and how to make it a priority. I highly recommend it.
How Do We Afford It?
This blog is actually not about how to do photography, blogging, affiliate marketing or to be a social media influencer. I want to share with you something that I think is even more important, and it is applicable to anybody. This is what truly helped us at the very beginning when we decided to take a different path in life and live our dreams.
It is definitely very hard to make a drastic change in life, quit your job and pursue a lifestyle of travel and adventure when you have to worry about paying off loans and other debts. In my opinion achieving financial freedom from debt should be one of the first things on your list. It might take some time to pay off your debts or saying no to some things. Even though both of us went to college, by the time Jake and I met, we were out of debt. This was a huge factor that allowed us to make a big change towards living a lifestyle of adventure and travel.
While we are living our dream it is not an American Dream or at least what it became known for in our days. We don’t currently own a house filled with nice furniture but we are renting a simple homy place that works for us. It was our decision and a strategy so that we could have that financial freedom and invest fully into pursuing what we love. We also didn’t feel like commiting to a certain area at this time, and wanted to have a freedom to take off and move if needed. When the time is right we will buy a small efficient house to call home. Sometimes you have to choose what is more important to you because you can’t have it all. Of course, there are other ways to go about it, and you can still be a house owner but rent it out while you are traveling for example. We simply chose what works best for us at the moment. The point is: If it’s holding you down you should probably let it go, and figure out how to do without it.
We chose a simplistic and minimalistic approach in life, and choose to say “No” to “things” that aren't essential to the life we want. Minimalism is not that you should own nothing, it’s that nothing should own you. It is certainly a different mindset that we are still trying to get better at and it’s not for everybody. A lot of our friends and family do admire what we do but also think that we are kinda crazy.
When it comes to spending money on things we try our best to always ask if we really need it to live our dream. For example we own used inexpensive furniture that we bought on craigslist because it doesn’t make sense to us to invest into nice one since we don’t currently own a house. Same goes for many other things we have around the house. Shopping for things or clothes can be addicting, I know because I’ve been there and it has been a true transformation for me. I know how it feels to think that you absolutely need something when in reality you just want it in the moment and don’t really need it. We still sometimes fall into impulse purchases of things we don’t really need but it’s definitely more rare and overall not impactful on our budget. Most expensive things we purchase now are high quality gear and clothing that makes our adventures possible.
We try to be frugal when it comes to eating out, staying in hotels, and different entertainment. Instead we cook our own food, camp as much as we can, and we do free activities such as hiking and being outdoors. A lot of our traveling is also local in the United States because flying can be expensive. It’s not that we are not enjoying these things or some comforts and luxuries, but by spending less we can sustain our lifestyle. Less money you need or spend, less you need to work and you get to spend more of that time with those you love doing what you are passionate about. In reality it's not about saving money but saving your time which is the most precious commodity. Our motto in life is “Collect memories not things.” You will be surprised that you could be very happy and feel accomplished and successful with owning or doing a lot less in life.
Don’t worry if you feel like you don’t know what you are doing. We are all in the same boat, and while it does get easier with time, we are still learning and figuring out many things.
Before we invested ourselves fully in adventure/travel photography, content creation and blogging, my husband Jake worked as a nurse to support our lifestyle, and we traveled on his days off. At the beginning of 2017 we felt that we needed more freedom to travel and do things we love, and also to grow and develop more as creatives. After talking about it we decided it was time for Jake to quit working as a nurse and become a full-time adventure photographer. It wasn’t an easy decision because having a regular job definitely provided us a sense of stability and security. I was also pregnant at the time and we worried about providing enough and taking care of our child. Starting our own business and fully relying on it financially made us feel overwhelmed at the beginning, and we had to remind ourselves why we are doing it in the first place. Our main motivation was to be able to spend more time and adventure together as a family with our daughter from a very young age so that we can see her grow up and take in the beautiful world around us. We are happy that we didn’t let our fears stop us from living our dream because we had memorable experiences together and also amazing opportunities, jobs and collaborations came our way that wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have courage to step out of our comfort zone and follow our dreams.
Have courage to make the change in your life to follow your dreams. I don’t think that there is a specific right way or time to do it because we are all different and have different circumstances, but you can figure out the right way that works for you. Stop dreaming your life and start living your dream.