Right now Jessica and I are on a train from Cinque Terre, Italy up to Amsterdam. The countrysides of Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and The Netherlands are stunning along the way. The mountains, the snow, the small villages. All of it.
We’re in the last week of 5 months abroad. It’s included the tropical beaches of Thailand, the desert of Jordan, the Himalayas and the Alps, the Mediterranean, Black, Red, Adriatic and Dead Seas, the Northern half of India, and a good bit of Eastern and Western Europe.
We’ve had amazing adventures of bungee jumping in Nepal, training across India (in 3rd class, no less…plenty of stories about those experiences :)) and Europe (if you’re over 26, they make you travel 1st class…the experience was just a tad different), and floating in the Dead Sea. Snorkeling in the waters of Koh Phi Phi Island in Thailand and hearing the stories of Syria’s refugees in Jordan. Serving alongside the sisters at Mother Teresa’s charity in Calcutta and taking in some of the most amazing architecture this world has to offer.
5 months. Living out of 2 backpacks from hostel to hostel, usually not knowing where we’ll be the next day. (instagram.com/thepeachtruck has a great photo journal of our time).
And it’s been a dream.
Jessica’s always had the insatiable appetite for travel. For me, it’s been a dream that’s come more recently. I’ve always liked the idea, but my personality has usually led me to do the next right thing, which meant keeping the safe job and my 3 weeks of vacation time. 1 week at my in laws’ home in Seattle, 1 week around Christmas, and perhaps a week off to take a trip with Jessica somewhere. Or a staycation!
And I had no issue with that. I was “happy.”
Then these itches started happening. I read a lot of blogs and I came across way too many inspiring people who were working for themselves and traveling the world.
Our first summer of The Peach Truck, we were both working full time. We really thought we had a good idea on our hands, but wanted to see if we could make it work. An extremely hard, fulfilling summer and 10 tons of peaches later, we had a little business on our hands.
After a bit of hesitation and encouragement from those closest to us, Jessica and I left the safety net of our jobs January 31, 2013 and went full time into building The Peach Truck. Our dream was this: work extremely hard for 7 months, then travel for 5 months. We wrote it down on paper. We dreamed about sharing our family’s peaches with as many people as humanly possible. And we dreamed about freedom.
Freedom is something that has driven us as much as anything. Work/life balance is something we all believe in, yet so few get to enjoy. We are not afraid of ridiculously hard work. But we also are not afraid to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
We went to a dinner party at our friend Evie’s house about a year ago. A couple named Brad and Jen, who are incredible photographers, were there. They told us about a project they were working on where they asked people to define freedom for their lives. “What does freedom mean to you?” It really struck Jessica and me. We still don’t have it nailed down, but for us freedom included this life where we work on art projects (The Peach Truck, for instance) that matter to us, and see the world. For us, that sounds like freedom.
Every decision since has been through that filter. Does this help us achieve our goals? How can we get a step closer to freedom? It doesn’t happen overnight. And it takes an insane amount of work. But we feel like we’re living that freedom we dreamed about.
Peach season 2013 was insanity. Our amazing friend Bill served as our CEO and helped us put legs to The Peach Truck. No longer a hobby. It’s a real business. And it’s a true extension of our passions. And while 10 tons of peaches sold in 2012 was an amazing success for us, the 120 tons in 2013 was something we never could have hoped for. Our gratitude cannot be expressed enough.
And now, we come to the end of this journey around the world. And we’ve felt so free. It seems that at least daily, we look at each other with that “Can you believe we get to do this?” face. Traveling with the love of my life has been life altering for our relationship. Serving alongside her. Learning what issues in the world break both our hearts. Learning what adventures get us both excited. Learning how beautiful people are. As in, everyone.
So why travel the world for 5 months? Because for us, it’s what freedom looks like. And our definition is continuing to evolve and grow. Of course it will change over time. All we can hope for those around us is that they not only define freedom for themselves, but that they’ll also grow into said definition.
It definitely didn’t happen overnight for us. But once we set our eyes on the goal, we saw every decision as a step in the direction to freedom. Go and do the same! You won’t regret it.
Next week: 5 Months Abroad: How We Did It