Yesterday was bittersweet as we left our friends in Chattanooga and headed out to begin this journey. When we were driving down our street, the neighborhood kids were running alongside our van waving and shouting their goodbyes….I’m getting choked up now just writing about it, so you can imagine how emotional I was at the time. I thought to myself as I watched my kids waving back at their friends, “How can we leave such a good thing?”
This question of how we’re doing this comes up among people who hear about our plans, although they’re usually more interested in the logistics. How can we afford it? Will we have any income? How do we get housing and line up service projects? I would be curious about this too if I were you, so here are some answers.
First, let me clarify that we’re NOT rich. Last week an article about our plans to travel the world was posted online and one of the comments apparently said we “have more money than brains.” Well, that might be true, but it’s not because we have a lot of money. I worked as a director at a local nonprofit. Brian is a self-employed software developer. We save a lot and try to be smart with our finances. We are lucky beyond measure, but we are not “wealthy.”
There are really two reasons we can take this trip. One is Brian’s flexibility with his work. His clients are located in other states, so working remotely is something he’s been doing ever since we came to Chattanooga and he decided to start his own business instead of getting a full-time job. He will be working while we’re overseas. Sometimes that will mean living a bit of a nocturnal lifestyle so he can communicate with clients in different time zones. We have planned and saved for this adventure, and we will also have an income while we’re gone.
The second reason we can swing this trip is the expenses we’ll be dropping. We sold our house, so no mortgage, homeowners insurance, utility bills, or improvement costs. I’m homeschooling our kids, so no daycare for Ali. We’re getting rid of our cars, so we won’t have a lease payment or car insurance to cover back here. Once we get past Europe, many of the developing countries we visit will have much lower living costs that the U.S., so our American-earned dollars will go farther for us.
As for orchestrating the housing and connections to local service organizations, all I can really say on that is… it all just works out. I learned several years ago that when you really put your mind to something, somehow it starts to happen. It may sound a little simplistic and naive, but it’s just true. Once we committed to doing this, opportunities for housing and contacts to service programs in other countries simply started falling into place. We aren’t associated with a nonprofit or a faith-based group. This is just our family reaching out to people who know other people doing good things around the globe. Once we get connected to them, things just start happening. Granted, we have to be comfortable with the unknown. This trip would never work if we attempted to plan and control every aspect of it. We have to be willing to follow the flow and lean in to the bends in the road.
The answer to my own question of “How can we leave such a good thing?” is harder to put into words. It’s just this deep inner knowing that this is the experience our family is supposed to have. In order to make a difference in our own country we have to learn about the world we live in and see the answers other global citizens have developed for their local problems. We need our girls to experience other cultures firsthand and grow up with an inherent understanding of life’s great diversity. We hope to make a small difference during this adventure but the service projects are really just a mechanism to meet people and learn the things we don’t know.
I read an article recently called The Crossroads of Should and Must. (Read it! It’s awesome!) It profoundly spoke to me and articulates the real reason we’re taking this leap. This trip is a “must” for us. The things we “should” do can be fun and still lead to a lovely life, but right now we feel compelled to follow this must.
Many families have talked to us about their desire to do something like this, but jobs and other obligations hold them back. We hope that as we blog about this trip we can offer ideas and tips that will make an experience like this a real possibility for more people. As of today we’ll start sharing the good, the bad, the sad, the inspiring, the strange and the beautiful we see along the way. We’re excited for this new beginning.
The Carisch family will miss you, Chattanooga!