6 months in: We’re still going strong

We have been travelling the world for the last 6 months and we have learned so much. This has brought us new perspective on life, our careers, our relationship and ourselves. But do we regret our choice?

Well, in the blink of an eye, it’s happened.  It’s already been 6 months that we’ve been on the road.  They say time flies when you’re having fun.  Well, they’re not lying!

In this short time, the two of us have been to 8 countries, 50 cities, countless hours in transit.  We’ve had quite a few highlights along the way, like hiking in the natural beauty that is Wanaka (New Zealand’s version of the Canadian rocky mountains); learning to scuba dive and swimming with a whale shark in Koh Tao; seeing the Great Barrier Reef before it’s completely bleached, and meeting some incredible people along the way that we now carry in our hearts (and our Facebook profiles).  This trip is one of the best decisions we’ve made, after getting married, of course!

The best part of these last months has obviously been to live care-free, without the stress of work.  But beyond that, it’s having the freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want, and doing it all together.  Yup, we’re basically kids again, but with money and somewhat better judgement.

One of our worries when we left was if we’d get along spending 24/7 together.  What if we get into some huge argument that ended it all?  Well, the good news is, that hasn’t happened yet.  Yes, obviously, we’ve had a few scraps here and there but our relationship is probably stronger than ever.  We’ve learned so much about each other, things that we wouldn’t have know had we not been on this journey.  Like did you know Derek is the most organized person out there?  From his packing to planning the blog, to booking flights and accommodations.  It’s impressive and inspiring.  I need to follow his lead more.

And me, well it seems that Derek was surprised I wasn’t quite the princess he had made me up to be… though for the record, I loved camping and he didn’t, so who is the real princess here?  (Derek here, and for the record we do both love to camp now.)

It’s also good to be reminded of all the little things that made you fall in love with a person that you seem to forget when routine settles in.  We’ve also learned to be more patient, forgiving and understanding with each other, and playing on each other’s strengths.  So this trip has definitely brought us closer together.

Still in love and going strong

We’ve also learned a lot about ourselves during these last few months.  We’re both more patient and understanding of other people’s life and situation.  A lot more empathy and compassion for the struggles so many people are going through on a daily basis.  We are truly blessed to live the life we have.  On a personal level, Derek has shown an eagerness to trying so many new foods, which if you knew him before, is a huge accomplishment considering how picky he was.  And on my end, I’ve learned to worry less, and live more in the moment instead of always planning 10 steps ahead.  I’ve learned to slow down and let go, to just go with the flow.  Derek had already mastered this.  Finally, we’ve also understood that we don’t need much to be happy, the minimalist life is a pretty good one.

Although we are having the best time of our lives, there’s a lot we miss back home.  The obvious things like Thursday night drinks with the girls, hockey nights with best buds, the epic meals we would host, Sunday suppers with family to name a few.  We also miss the little routine we had with Jax, our cat.  The way he would greet us at the door after a long day of work.  His cuddles, or how he would always sit in our spot as soon as we got up.  There’s also the small things we took for granted, like being able to cook a meal at home with good wine.  Having a comfy bed to sleep in at night (have we told you how hard these Asian beds are?).  Even having a choice of wardrobe.  Nothing big but we wouldn’t mind trading in some of the clothes we’ve had with us for months.

We have to get our cat love somewhere

On the flip side, there are certain things we don’t mind having left behind.  Like winter.  Fuck you winter.  Hope we never see you again!  Especially since this year was one of the coldest and longest ones yet in Montreal.  And traffic.  Peace out traffic.  Especially the brutal gridlocks we’ve seen downtown, mainly caused by the epic construction fails the city is notorious for.  We don’t care to see those ever again.  We’d also be lying if we said we missed work.  Because we don’t.  Although we had some good careers back home, we don’t regret putting them on hold for a single second.  We can always pick up where we left off when we get back.  No bigs!

So that’s what 6 months on the road feels like.  We’re pretty excited to see what the next 6 will look like.

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6 months in we're still going strong

Driving on the left

I love to drive.  Always have.  Always will.

I remember being very young and thinking to myself, I should be allowed to drive.  It looks so easy and like so much fun! As I was growing up, my dad used to let me steer from the passenger seat, even if my mom wasn’t thrilled at the prospect.

Later, I was upgraded from “steerer” to “shifter” in our old ’91 Hyundai Sonata!  That was a thrill, and surprisingly when I would shift into 2nd instead of 4th my dad wouldn’t get too upset with me.

Then, when I did my driving courses, my instructor would always tell me “slow down“… “ya ya, when I take the exam, I’ll slow down“, I’d tell him.  I passed my exam, easy-peasy, and bought myself a run down ’90 Chrysler LeBaron.  I was one of the first of my friends to get a car.  I was always the chauffeur, and I loved it.

I’ve always felt comfortable driving, and I would say I am a great driver.  Hopefully most people who have been in my car would agree! So when we first got to Australia, and the prospect of driving on the left-hand side of the road presented itself, I wasn’t fazed at all!

Death’s Corner in Arthur’s Pass. Ya, no biggie!

Since our trip to Australia went from Cairns to Airlie Beach, and then to Brisbane, renting a car wasn’t really necessary.  Most of these places were easy to get around in by foot or public transportation.

Then, we got to the Sunshine Coast, more specifically to Buderim.  At first we took a bus to go into town and to the beaches of Maloolooba and Marouchydore.  But after a few days, we decided there was more to see, so we finally rented a car!

Coincidentally, it ended up being the same car we sold before leaving on this amazing trip, a Nissan Pulsar (the Australian version of the Versa).

I think a lot of people assume driving on the other side of the road is difficult because they think you’ll end up driving on the wrong side. But that only happened to me once, or maybe twice, but the real difficulty is simply staying in your lane!

Mistakenly driving on the wrong side can happen (usually when you’re on a small dirt road, or in a parking lot), but staying on the correct side is a lot easier than you would think, as you just follow traffic.  There are usually medians too, so physically getting onto the wrong side is harder than you would think.

The epic 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road, one of our best road trips

Staying in your lane though… that did take some getting used to.  I was always taught that when you are driving, you should hug the left side of your lane.  They say to do this because you are more likely to get hit from your right side than you are from your left side (when driving on the right side of the road). So that was the hardest impulse to break.  For the first day or two, Carine would keep getting nervous and telling me “stay in your lane!”

Being such a great driver, I would get so mad at myself.  Since you’re driving on the left, you now need to hug the right side of the lane.  Otherwise, you’ll be sitting half in your lane, and half in the lane to your left.

But after two days or so, I got the hang of it.  After a week, it no longer even felt like I was driving on the ‘wrong’ side anymore.

I drove a bit in the Sunshine Coast, and then did the Great Ocean road, from Melbourne to Portland and back (about 1,000kms) in a Wicked mini camper 2 sleeper.

I’ve heard of sleeping in your car, but have you heard of sleeping on top of your car?

The next difficulty is where to look when you are crossing through an intersection.  Usually, you look left first expecting cars going from left to right.  But now the cars are coming from your right, so if you look the wrong way you could be in for a terrible surprise!  This did happen to me once while driving through New Zealand, and it was definitely the most terrifying ‘driving on the left’ experience we had, but we are still alive, again, thanks to my great driving skills!  Sarcasm?  Meh, you decide!

A view we’re lucky to have seen in Wanaka, New Zealand

But the most exciting ‘driving on the left’ that I’ve done is, without doubt, the 4,500+ kms I did through New Zealand.   It was conquered with the help of 2 different camper vans and a trusty Nissan Pulsar for a few days.  We cruised through the South Island of New Zealand in a Spaceship Beta 2S and then drove a 4-berth motor-home we relocated for Imoova (a relocation service for campervans in New Zealand).

Our little UFO
The “Big Bertha”

So ask me, “Derek, should I drive in a country that drives on the opposite side that I am used to?”

The answer is easy!  Are you a good driver?  Yes?  Go for it!

No???  I think you answered your own question.  Do us all a favour, and take the bus!

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new experiences driving on the left

The Blog: We did it our way

Everything we do, we do it our way. This post will help you understand why we did this and how.

There are a ton of travel blogs out there.  Some document everything from A to Z.  We love those blogs, they helped us find some great spots, and gave us some invaluable information.  Others are more like diaries both for the travellers and their friends and family.  We love those too.  They give us great insight on how traveling can change you.

But we’re neither here nor there.  Or actually, we’re a bit of both.  So here and there.  Because with everything we do in life, we do it our way – From the day we met, to our wedding to living our lives in travel or at home.  And this blog is no different.  That’s what we want to document here.  Travelling and living according to your own set of rules.

Someone must have made a cheeky comment!

Yes, we will go to some typical, touristy places, because let’s be honest, there are some beautiful and popular places out there.  But we also like to go off the beaten path to unknown places, help out companies that are looking to make a difference in the world and in their communities.

We think that the best way to travel is to dig deeper, to learn about people’s culture, habits and customs, to eat their food, and try to get a glimpse of their reality.  Because travelling is more than just about seeing the famous sites, it’s about building a connection with the people.

C+D-0370 (1)
Doing it our way often leads to laughs all around

In our everyday life, we also try to live it in a meaningful way – reducing our carbon footprint, helping others, eating as healthy as we can and staying active.  Because we’d like to be able to keep traveling for as long as we can, on a planet that still has some pristine and untouched areas.

We’ve learned that we are all connected and we are all one humanity, that loves, that bleeds and lives the best life they can.  This blog is to show that, so we can all do it our way.

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the blog we did it our way

The Reaction: Did we make the right choice quitting our jobs to travel?

When we told our friends and family we quit our jobs to travel the world, we got a lot of reaction. Were we making the right choice?

“Hey guys. We have something to tell you. We’re leaving! We quit our good jobs, and we’re going to travel the world, for a year… or until our money runs out.”

Yup, we decided to leave our friends and family, our home, our pet, everything we know behind. But we’ll be back… Eventually.

There are a few rare times in life when you decide to take a huge leap. You close your eyes, take a deep breath and jump in head first, hoping that you’re making the right decision.

Then, you hear the reactions roll in:

“You’re so lucky! I wish I could do that”

“You guys are crazy! I could never do that.”

“It’s going to cost how much? Pfft! Too expensive!”

“I’ve always wanted to do that, but never did, and now I have kids, so I guess I’ll do it later…”

“Ya, I’ll do it when I retire.”

And my favorite, from the CEO of the company I was working for: “Yes. FREEDOM!

Having heard the reactions, it seems like we’re onto something.

Poet's park covered gazebo, Jeju, South Korea
We took a little break out of the sun in Jeju, South Korea

Most were happy for us, but sad to see us go. A bittersweet sentiment we shared as well. It’s hard to leave your life behind, even if it’s for a short while. After all, what is a year in the grand scheme of a lifetime?

Many thought we were crazy. They could never imagine doing such a thing. Maybe we are a little nuts, but sometimes, it’s the things that scare us most that teach us our most valuable lessons. And we’re ready to learn all the lessons we can… hopefully not always the hard way!

A great majority however, were happy, and almost jealous of what we were doing. Almost all of them spoke about how they’ve always wanted to do this, but how life got in the way – they got a promotion, had children, had to pay for a house. There are always reasons holding us in one place. But for us, there were a million reasons pushing us to go.

Steeling kisses on Udo Island, South Korea
Steeling kisses on the shores of Udo Island, South Korea

After all, when asked, “What would you do if you found out you were going to die in 6 months?”, don’t we all say, “I’d quit my job, and go travel the world!”? We didn’t want to wait until we had lived the life we were supposed to, to start living the life we wanted to.

Most of us choose to live this grind, day-in-day-out, and never take that step back to question if we’re living life to its full potential or even if we’re living the life we want to. Falling into a routine is easy, and before you know it, you wish you had made other life decisions. We know that eventually, we’ll have to go back to work, but we wanted to take some time and enjoy the life we were building.

Yes, we are very lucky to be able to have made this decision and do this, but we’ve worked hard, spent a lot of time dealing with hard situations and tough decisions to be able to afford the ultimate luxury of time.

Will it be worth it? Only time will tell. And after 6 months, we have some thoughts.

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The reaction: are we making the right choice?

The Decision: Why we quit our jobs to travel the world

After working for 10+ years in corporate jobs, we decided to quit and travel the world. This is what drove us to leave everything behind and discover the world on a long-term trip.

For most, our whole life has been mapped out. From an early age, we’re told to go to school, get a job, find a match, get married, buy a house, keep working, have babies, keep working, pay for your kids’ education, keep working, then eventually, when you’re old enough, you get to retire and finally enjoy the fruits of your labor. But those who know us, know we’re not ones who really follow the rules.

What if that’s not the path you want to take? What if you want to enjoy the good life while you’re still young and healthy? What if you decide that now is the time to ‘retire’? … at least for a little bit!

The idea to travel came to us randomly one day. We were walking to a restaurant to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and wondered, ‘What if we took our savings, and just left to travel for a year? Wouldn’t that be amazing?’

‘Yeah, we should do that!’.

And that’s how it all began!

The view from Sulfur Mountain, Banff, Alberta, Canada
Our first stop on our trip, Sulfur Mountain in Banff, Canada

Derek and I have been together for 9 years, 4 awesome years of marriage (see, we followed some rules). We found each other through a friend, but it was our love of hockey that sealed the deal. We eventually got married, and started saving for a new home. We were on the ‘usual’ life path, but for the last year, we’d both been working pretty hard and hardly saw each other.

I’ve been in marketing for over 10 years, so working 70-hour weeks has been a major part of my adult life. Derek had started working 2 jobs – his regular 9-to-5, plus nights and weekends at a barbershop, pursuing his dream of working with his brother.

As you can imagine, keeping such a hectic schedule was no fun for anyone, and somewhat strenuous on our relationship. When you spend all your time working, you start wondering what the purpose of it actually is.

All these hours, and all this money that’s adding up in an account, for what? So that a few times a year, you can escape on a 2-week vacation?

No, thank you. We love traveling way too much for that.

The western edge of Tofino, British Colombia, Canada
The western edge of Tofino, British Colombia, Canada

The bright Frederick Beuchner once said “There are those who will spend their entire lives making money, to enjoy the life they’ve entirely spent up.” Money can always be made. Time, however you will never get back.

We both knew we wanted a break from the usual path, we wanted to reconnect with the important things in life, figure out what the next 10 years will look like and how we want to keep building our life together.

That’s how, on that random night, we decided to make this crazy idea come to life. We’re not big on harping on good ideas for too long, instead we just spring into action. Just ask us how it took us 3 months to decide to get married and plan the whole wedding. This is why when we decided to travel, we quickly put a plan into motion: rent out the condo, find a long-term sitter for our cat, quit our jobs, and head out.

We knew we had a great idea, but most of the reactions we got when we announced our intentions took us by surprise.

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why we quit our jobs to travel the world