Planning Another Career Break

Jim & Rhonda Delameter reflect on their previous career break as they begin planning for another.

My husband, Jim, and I have always loved travel and adventure. He held various exciting jobs before we met from working ski lifts on Mt. Hood to being a crew member on a fish processing boat in Alaska. I grew up taking near yearly road trips around the United States with my family as well as living in four different states by the time I was 13 years old.

When we got married in 1990 we knew we wanted to explore the world but had a normal “American” preconceived notion of how holidays work. I started working in the travel industry and, in fact, we did start seeing the world in one to two week intervals. In 2003 we had been to 20 countries on five continents but we felt like we weren’t truly experiencing the places we were merely visiting. One or two weeks at a time were simply not sufficient.

Around that time I was searching for airline tickets and found the website that would alter the course of our lives… BootsnAll. Sean Keener and the crew were some of the first ones out there promoting extended travel and had some fantastic resources. We started reading other travelers blogs and stories, researching where we’d like to go and starting to think this was something we really wanted to do.

We, very fortunately, sold our house in spring 2007, right before the markets crashed, and embarked on an amazing, exotic, frustrating, fascinating, challenging trip. We covered 19 countries over the course of 14 months, exploring at our leisure, moving on when we were ready instead of rushing to see as much as possible in a limited amount of time.

Reflecting

We had a year of superlatives…birthdays on the Great Barrier Reef and floating the Nile. Thanksgiving on the beach in Bali. Christmas with tens of thousands of Vietnamese dressed as Santa in Hanoi. New Years Eve on the shore of the Mekong and Valentines Day watching the sunrise at the Taj Mahal. The highlight was getting up long before dawn to hike the worlds highest sand dunes in Namibia on our 18th anniversary to watch the sun come up over Africa.

But, more important than the “events” in exotic locations, we really found our true selves once again. We had a great life prior to leaving on our Round the World adventure, but somewhere in the pursuit of more and bigger we had lost what really made us come alive and that was spending time together, discovering new things, and immersing ourselves in new cultures and ways of doing things.

Our bodies, no longer required to wake to an alarm, adjusted to our natural sleeping and waking times. We ate well, walked miles every day, slept great, lost weight and felt better than we had in years. We were no longer stuck in our cubicles dreaming of exploring the world. We WERE exploring the world.

Re-Entry

When we returned from our travels it was wonderful to see friends and family…for about five days! Within two weeks we were having serious reverse culture shock and longing to be back on the road. We craved to be in a place where no one spoke English, where restaurant meals weren’t large enough to feed a family of 12, and were people actually waved hello as you went by. This was summer 2008, the economy was racing into recession, and my job that I thought I was coming back to was not available. Jim had been laid off right before our departure and he had a couple of months of unemployment left and so, we took the only reasonable option: We loaded up our car with camping equipment and hit the road!

We spent nine weeks driving around the United States, most of which I hadn’t seen since I was a child and which Jim had never seen. We slowly acclimated to life back in the US while still traveling. Many travelers do the US portion of their trip at the beginning but we heartily recommend doing it at the end, when you really need the time to re-adjust to being back in the country while still also continuing to travel.

Re-Packing

We’ve now been back an unbelievable three years. Almost immediately we realized that we had to do it again. And, not just on a career break, but as location independent road warriors and global citizens. We’ve decided to drive the Pan American highway to South America and Antarctica – our last two undiscovered continents. We will circle South America and then…who knows. Ship the truck to Africa? Sell the truck and put our backpacks and head back to SE Asia? Head back to India, the most intriguing place on the planet? How the story will go remains to be seen.

Right now we are in plotting and planning mode. We are just setting up our own website, while continuing to update our blog through Bootsnall that served us so well on our RTW. We have already purchased the truck and camper we’ll be living in and are making modifications as we can. We’re once again paying off debt, hoping the housing market turns around so we’ll make money off our latest house, and inhaling the information on the blogs of those who are currently on the road. We’re also researching traveling with dogs because next time, Maddy comes along!

This journey has been a remarkable one. We have grown as people, grown as a couple, and grown as citizens of the world. There is so much life out there and I fear too many people are “someday planners”, waiting for retirement, for the perfect moment, for…something. When the truth is, none of us know what will happen to us tomorrow much less in the future. The time to live is NOW.

Rhonda & Jim Delameter are back in Portland, Oregon planning their next adventure. You can follow along at The Adventures of Jim & Rhonda.

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