On the Death of the Dream (and Why I’m Totally Okay With It)

Marin Headlands, California

Last month, we celebrated the 1 year anniversary of this blog, Ever In Transit.  2012 was a great year for Cassie and I, as we traveled A LOT!  “You’re really living the dream!” my friend Willem said to me this past summer.  He was right, but alas, some big changes are in store for me this year.

A year after going to South America (twice), Alaska, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, up and down the California coast, and in total, being on the road for over 100 days, I had to get a real job.  Yes, a job that’s going to require me to be in the office every day instead of working from home as I had been, where I’d implemented a rather casual dress code (i.e. sweatpants), and where I would usually break out of my concentration to find the cat sitting on my lap or sprawled across the keyboard!

I’ll have 17 days of vacation plus sick time and 11 paid holidays.  I am, again, a working stiff.  But I am very sure this is the right decision for me, and for us.  Cassie and I will have real health insurance (instead of a cheap, high-deductible plan that only pays out in case of emergency), and we’ll have a dependable, stable income.

And over the past two years, Cassie and I have learned a lot about ourselves.  First, we absolutely love to travel, and we’re amazed by nearly all things in all places.  Both of us are such curious creatures that I don’t think our sense of wonder will ever wane, and I’m confident that every place we visit in the future will be special and new to us.  Cassie, especially, has worked so hard to take pictures and write stories that really communicate the beauty and wonder we’ve been so lucky to witness, and I hope you guys, our readers, have enjoyed coming along for that ride.  We also hope we’ve inspired you to get out there and see some of the places you’ve always dreamed about.

Second, since we haven’t exactly been making loads of cash the last few years, we’ve learned to be happy with a rather spartan existence.  I remember being shocked (and somewhat appalled) after we visited Spain, which is not exactly a cheap country, and finding after we returned that my credit card bill was actually lower than normal.  The reason was because I wasn’t spending 12 hours a day on the computer buying all kinds of crap I didn’t need.  Instead, we were out seeing the world.

Last, while I really admire the “digital nomads” out there who have unshackled themselves from all the B.S. of our society and are out seeing the world on their own terms, I learned that I’m really a homebody.  I love my home in the San Francisco Bay Area, and my friends and family there.  I love my neighborhood.  And when we’re away for too long, I really miss the dog!

As some of you may know, Cassie and I had planned a pretty incredible six week trip to South Korea, Burma, and Thailand early this year.  (Never mind how were going to do all this with no money, I’ll save that for another post).  Because of the aforementioned J-O-B, we had to cancel it.  Can you imagine starting a new job and immediately requesting six weeks off?  Me neither!  Additionally, even though Cassie and I had long dreamed about this trip, both of us finally realized that we’re simply not people who can handle six-week trips.

The problem with our travels is that we want to see and do EVERYTHING.  We want to eat and drink EVERYTHING.  If there’s a mountain, I want to hike to the top of it, if there’s a bridge, we want to cross it, if there’s a bus, train, or trolley, Cassie wants to ride on it (and I’ll go along if there’s food at the end of the line).  I would love to get one of those pedometers that track how far we walk in any given day when we visit a city.  I already pretty much know the answer:  far!  And that’s because I get so exhausted at the end of each day we’re traveling.  And what I learned is that I can’t handle more than about two weeks of this constant motion.

Perhaps with unlimited time, and an unlimited budget, we could learn to slow down.  But that’s probably never going to happen, so this is how we travel.  We need vacations from our vacations.  And what do I call those “vacations from my vacations?”  Work!  If I’m going to be home, I might as well have a real job.  I sit at a computer all day writing code, so it’s not like I’m killing myself from physical exertion.

Travel is still a major priority for us.  We’ve got tons of trips already planned for this coming year.  We still have our Southwest Companion Pass through December 2013, so we’re going to do a lot of weekend and shorter-term travel in the United States.  Seattle, Portland, coastal New Jersey, and Niagara Falls and Toronto (for TBEX 2013) are already booked, and there are a ton of other spots we’ve been talking about, too.  Additionally, my new company has an office in Paris.  And they’ll let me work out of that office in Paris.

So while I definitely won’t be on the road for over 100 days this year, I’m still very excited about the adventures we have in store.  We just have to be a lot smarter about how we plan our trips to maximize our limited time off.

The dream is dead.  But maybe it wasn’t really my dream after all.

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  1. The thing is, with death comes life, and so even if your long-term travel dreams have expired, now you have a new one that you’re even more excited about! It’s easy when reading travel blogs to feel like the only “real” way to travel is to do it in long, uninterrupted chunks, but you can still indulge your passion to see the world in intermittent bursts. Tony & I are still in the phase where we’re not at all homesick (though we do miss our dogs) and can’t even contemplate going back yet, but we have both resolved that when the day comes when we have to settle down again, we’ll have to just make it a priority to take one or two exciting trips each year. Before leaving on our trip, we relegated ourselves to domestic travel, which is perfectly fine too, but now we know there’s so much more out there that we have just got to see for ourselves.

    Congrats on the new job and cheers to the next adventure the two of you will be embarking on!
    Steph ( recently posted…You’ve Gotta Know When to Fold ‘EmMy Profile

    • Kevin Adams says:

      Thanks, Steph! And keep on trekkin’ yourself! I just read that China beat you down a bit, but I’m glad you’re still going strong. Can’t wait to read more from you guys!

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Hi Steph, you’re exactly right! The first travel blogs I discovered were the perma-traveler blogs and while I still find them inspiring, I try to limit consumption for the reason you mentioned. I’m exciting for you doing what you’re doing, but glad you acknowledge it’s not for everyone.

      And we’re always happy to dog sit if/when you get home… California’s not too far, is it? :)

  2. Ryan and I travel in the same way – we want to do EVERYTHING in each place. We haven’t tried traveling for longer periods of time, mostly because I’m just not that big of a risk-taker, but we also love having a home base close to family and friends. :-) Can’t wait to hear what shorter weekend adventures you’re going on. 17 days of vacation is pretty good!
    suki recently posted…Sunday Swig #21 – SF Beer Week is longer than a week!My Profile

  3. Since you’re still able to travel I’d say you’re still living the dream. You just had to scale down a little.

    Who knows, maybe this new job will provide more opportunities or open more doors to travel? It just may not be 100 days at a time. :)

    • Kevin Adams says:

      Thanks, Deb! It was exhausting and stressful anyways. I really am a lot happier, even though I definitely notice the lack of freedom. Truth is, though, I gave myself way too many Wednesdays off last year. It makes me appreciate the trips I can take a lot more, too. Nobody will (or should) be crying for us, that’s for sure. We have zilch to complain about.

  4. Congrats on the new job, it sounds great.
    I’m personally contented with having a job and taking trips whenever I’m free. It’s nice to have MONEY. I just try to make the most out of my weekends by going on road trips, visiting fabulous restaurants or just relaxing when needed.
    Lorenzo recently posted…Would You Like A Panty Ripper???My Profile

    • Kevin Adams says:

      Yeah, there are definitely upsides! But sometimes you don’t have to spend a lot to get a great meal, so I’m going to try not to fall into the trap of always going to the most expensive place when I visit a new town.

  5. I vote for Paris to be your new hometown! By the way, I would like for your love to travel to motivate yourself to DC… :)
    Vee recently posted…my personal narrative on happinessMy Profile

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Argh, I would love that, too. Both of them :) We do already have a few East Coast trips planned that we can’t move. Toronto in June, Jersey for Carla’s wedding in July, and NYC in Sept — please join us for one or all!

  6. Traveling permanently certainly isn’t for everyone, glad you made the venture out on the travel trail to find out for yourselves. So many never take that first step to know.

    Unrelated to your post – very cool to see your Kiva lending team button!
    Drew Meyers recently posted…Month of Microfinance and Oh Hey WorldMy Profile

    • Kevin Adams says:

      Thanks, Drew! Travel is such a personal thing, and there’s no right way to do it.

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Thanks, Drew! We are certainly inspired by the perma-nomads out there, but it’s just not the lifestyle for us. And on the Kiva button–it’s certainly not having much of an impact, though it’s fun to see who my friends are loaning to. I put it up after Passports with Purpose ended last year as I wanted a way to use the site to promote causes I believe in. I see you are into microfinance, yourself! Do you have any other ideas for ways bloggers can use the platform to support things like this?

  7. Don’t be silly! The dream is not dead. People grow and change, and their dreams evolve with them. It’s great that you both have the self-awareness to know what is right for you. Can’t wait to see you both when you come to Toronto!
    Steph recently posted…Foto Friday: Randy’s DonutsMy Profile

  8. Erin Norwood says:

    Great post! I can relate to this a bit for different reasons – Rich and I always tended to do so much every time we traveled that I often felt like I needed a vacation to recuperate once we got back home. (Oh, the shin splints after we walked all over SF before realizing we could – duh – take a bus!) We haven’t gone anywhere in 2 years now and the thought of travelling anywhere with a young toddler is totally daunting. We would have to completely change most everything about how we travel (i.e., NOT pound the pavement for 16 hours at a time, work around 7 pm bedtimes when that’s usually when we’d be going out to dinner, etc.) and haven’t quite figured out how to tackle that yet. Hopefully, we’ll figure something out and take a little trip this summer. It’s been strange to not have a trip to look forward to (especially in the dead of winter in Upstate NY) but maybe some smaller road trips will make up for it!

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Yes, it’s so hard to balance things and not do run yourself ragged when you are excited and want to see everything! We’ve been struggling with that but I think we’re getting better at it. Kevin has a self-imposed nap break most afternoons, and even though I rarely nap, I use that time for reading, relaxing, or research so we can better use the time when we are out. But don’t let the toddler deter you guys! Our friend Keryn Means (whyo you may see our FB page) writes a lot about traveling with young kids on her blog http://www.walkingontravels.com/. She would be a great resource for you! Reach out ot her if you have any questions. She recently went to Europe for five weeks ALONE with her two toddlers! Crazy, right?!? But yes, get started with an overnight road trip and experiment with what you need to do to adapt your pace to one that fits you all!

  9. Wow, this sounds just like my husband and me in August 2004. Only difference is that we’d been traveling consistently for 14 months. Oh, and that we wanted some stability because we wanted to have babies. But that’s beside the point. Traveling can be exhausting, especially if you’re the sort that really delves into everything available to you, soaking up every ounce of adventure and culture and vision that is placed in your path. Your brain absorbs and processes and analyzes and regurgitates all of this stimulus…and then it needs a break. I so get it. Our truth, though, is that once we were back for — I don’t know, about a month — we had the itch again. Only we couldn’t scratch it because we really wanted those babies. And so we worked and bought a house and had two kids (and moved around to three states and five different houses in the past 8.5 years…but that’s another story). Truth is, I think we’re both pretty nomadic at heart. We still crave the adventure and the learning and the newness. Our son was probably on 15 airplanes the first year of his life. Both of our children love to travel and are curious about their world. Someday, my 7-year-old tells me, he wants us all to take a year away to trek around the world (and do the homeschool thing). And maybe we will. But for now we just look forward to those vacations, in between the work. Keep the dream alive, even if it’s just a dream of those 17 days a year.

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Thanks for this, Hillary! You’re absolutely right about how psychologically-demanding travel is. I never thought about it, but it explains why I still feel exhausted even when we try to slow things down. I’m introverted and being in busy environments and around lots of people exhausts me, even if I love it in the moment.

      I moved a lot as a kid, through various towns in Pennsylvania and New York. I think it was very good for me, though at the time I hated leaving my friends. It helped me to adapt to new environments, learn to make new friends, and love to explore. So you’ve already done so much for your kids by sharing your nomadic nature with them. I love the idea of extended travel with kids if you are confident in your ability to teach them along the way. So I’m with your son, I hope you take that chance! :)

      PS–I see you teach yoga in Menlo Park–I’ll plan to come up for a class one day!

  10. I find the dream just evolves. For me keeping a base in Toronto just makes more sense. I was worried that I was “giving up” but I have no regrets.
    Ayngelina recently posted…Thriving on uncertaintyMy Profile

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Thanks, Ayngelina. I agree, it seems you made the right decision. As time goes on, I’m drawn even more to blogs like yours that explore adventures close to home as well as the far-flung reaches of the world. That’s exciting to me.

  11. Dustin Main - Skinny Backpacker says:

    Bummer about the Burma cancellation :(
    Dustin Main – Skinny Backpacker recently posted…Unexpected, Overwhelming Hinduism – MyanmarMy Profile

    • Kevin Adams says:

      Cheers, Dustin. That was, by FAR, the hardest part of all of this. We really wanted to go to Burma. Also, we would have been in South Korea during the time North Korea conducted their atomic test. That would have been pretty crazy.

  12. Congrats on the new job and finding the way of life that works for you. I’ve slowed the travels a bit for a few months to get on top of things and figure out what’s next. Not sure yet, but hopefully big long term travel plans in 2014. I’m dedicated to staying on the road for now and making a RTW overland drive happen. Hopefully I can sort that out before having to possibly maybe sorta someday settle down and get a day job 😉 Enjoy all the adventures in life and do stay in touch.

    • Kevin Adams says:

      Thanks, Bryon, and good luck in your adventures as well. The transition has gone pretty well, and we’re still making travel a priority, so I have no regrets!

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