The Eagle has landed. We safely arrived in London on Tuesday.
Our friend, Peter, that picked us up from the airport was shocked at how light we traveled. We each had one carry-on backpack plus one personal item, a small purse for me and a small daypack for Tom.
It wasn’t easy, but we did it!
In order to pack for this trip, we did quite a bit of shopping. We had to be intentional about what to bring in order to live out of one bag for a year. The items needed to be dual-purpose, able to be mixed and matched, dressed up or down, and comfortable enough for walking.
As mentioned in past blog posts, I’m a typical girl in the sense that I want to look nice while footing my way through Europe, but I am very atypical in that I hate to shop. It’s not that I don’t like clothes, but decisions in general overwhelm me.
To solve this problem in the past, I have used the services of Tog & Porter. I highly recommend them and you can read more about them on their website (togandporter.com). In short, they offer personal shopping services to the average person.
In the past, my Tog & Porter stylist skyped with me at no cost to learn about my needs, wardrobe, style, and budget. Then she sent me a box of clothes to try on. I kept what I wanted and returned the rest. Brilliant.
Unfortunately, when I contacted Tog & Porter to send me clothes for this trip, it was too late to get the box in time. Nevertheless, they were kind enough to put together a style guide for me and it set me in the right direction. You can view it on their blog here.
Listed below are the specifics of what we packed:
What is a souvenir that is free, takes up no room in our bag, cannot be stolen, and grows more precious over time?
As Tom and I said goodbye to friends this past weekend and packed up our apartment in Newport, I realized how much more my life is enriched by people than by possessions.
I especially felt the burden of our things as Tom and I cleaned, sold, packed and stored all of our stuff. Every object we have worked so hard and spent so much money to acquire now drained us of time, effort, space, and more money during our last week in Newport. As I looked at all our stuff, I felt exhaustion and discontentment.
On the other hand, I had a heightened experience this week of the richness and blessing of the relationships with friends and family we invested in over the years. As Tom and I squeezed in every last second with the people we love, we found ourselves physically tired, but spiritually refreshed.
It reminded me that relationships, like things, require time, effort and work to maintain. Without such intentionality, they slowly deteriorate. Our good friends sum it up best in their toast to friendship (thanks Ziyalyan’s and Hovsepyan’s): Friends are easy to make, but hard to keep, because friendship requires effort.
But unlike possessions, friendships leave us humble, appreciative, and strengthened.
Nevertheless, we will always have things in our lives, and that isn’t necessarily bad. As I whittled my belongings down to the bare minimum this week, I took note of the objects that are worth buying and keeping. I found that the most precious of my objects either commemorated or facilitated a relationship.
A good example is our party hats!
What is it about vacation that makes us fall out of our routine, eat poorly, drink more, grow facial hair, and wear clothes we would never be caught dead in back home (hello Hawaiian shirt)?
Perhaps it is an escape from life, a chance to forget our troubles back home and just relax. This is, of course, fine for a week or two. But Tom and I will be traveling for a whole year.
I don’t think our bodies or minds can handle a year long vacation. So we aren't viewing this trip as a vacation. Rather, we are approaching it as a year of living abroad while traveling. We still need to do life while away; we need to maintain friendships and community, refresh our marriage, worship, learn, work, exercise, and eat healthy.
So, in the absence of continuity of location, beds, food, languages, people, and weather, we plan to find some consistency, enjoy a break from change, and maintain our "lives" by establishing a few simple routines.
Tom needed new pants. He had been wearing the same Dockers for way too long and they looked pretty tattered. However, Tom hates to shop, and unfortunately, so do I.
So when Tom needs new pants, he’s on his own. But when faced with the option to go buy new pants or do pretty much anything else, he undoubtedly chooses "anything else.”
One day about two years ago, Tom recognized that he needed to force himself to go shopping. He knew that if he were sporting new pants, I wouldn’t be able to resist squeezing his little ass, and then he'd be glad he shopped.
So what did Tom do?
He walked into the bedroom picked up his Dockers and ripped them down the middle. He looked at me as I stared back at him in shock and he said, “now I have to go buy new pants today.” He gave himself no other option.
From that day on, “ripping your pants” became a metaphor in our family for intentionally doing something in order to leave you no other option, but to do the very thing you don’t want to do, yet know is best. So when Tom quit his job last week, he “ripped his pants.”
He left us no other option but to continue our plans to travel. We no longer had his job as a security blanket on which to fall back. We no longer had a reason to stick around Southern California.
Now people keep asking us how we could leave “good” jobs. Below are 10 beliefs that led us to our decision.
For years we said we held these beliefs, but we realized that we weren't acting accordingly. So we finally decided to align our actions with our beliefs and the result was quitting our jobs to travel:
I'm Jaime. My husband is Tom. Suburbanites, backpackers, and expats...we've been them all!