Embracing Life as Digital Nomads: A Year Traveling Abroad Completed and a New Adventure Begins!

Embracing Life as Digital Nomads: A Year Traveling Abroad Completed and a New Adventure Begins!

After a year of continuous travel abroad, with just each other and our backpacks, we’ve completed what we originally set out to do!

So, what’s it like to travel continuously for a year? What’s it like to be immersed in new cultures and in a different country on average every couple of weeks? How in the world did we manage to live out of just one 36L carry-on travel backpack each? What’s it like to be a digital nomad while pursuing FI/RE (financial independence retire early)? What did we learn from our year abroad and how did we grow as individuals and a couple? And most importantly, what are we going to do next?!

Read on as we look back at our year traveling abroad and look forward to our future…

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In late 2016 we handed in the keys to our apartment and set off to travel abroad, become digital nomads, and pursue FI/RE. We planned to be homeless and sold 95% of our belongings, sold our car, and downsized to a 36 liter backpack each. We visited family, friends, and clients and said hello and farewell for now.

We continue our story below, but if you want to look back on our journey, here are past articles that go into much more detail about us and our preparation.

Learn More Screw The Average

What to Prepare and Do Before Starting Long-Term Travel

How to Make the Most of Your Time Long-Term Traveling

Traveling from the United States to Europe

After completing final preparations (trust us, it was a long list, but well worth the time to complete as it eliminated or mitigated so many issues and challenges that came up while traveling abroad), we purchased our overseas plane tickets. And in November 2016 the goal that we’d worked towards diligently for years began.

Many people have a hard time believing it, but because of Southwest’s Companion Pass and British Airways Avios (airline miles) we scored an amazing travel deal where we flew from San Diego to Boston and then Boston to Dublin, Ireland for under $70 apiece!

Our Experiences While Traveling Abroad

Starting in Dublin, Ireland, it was a whirlwind of an adventure for the next 365 days! Averaging just two weeks (sometimes a couple days and sometimes up to four weeks) in a location we were able to explore not just our planned region (Europe), but parts of Africa and Asia!

In one year we visited 3 continents, 23 countries, and 60 cities!

We were fortunate to visit huge cities as well as small towns and experience widely varying cultures (in history, politics, language, and traditions). Looking back we’re in awe of all the sights we experienced (and photographed with our awesome pocket camera!), from breath taking cliffs and rolling hillsides, to palaces, castles, and famous monuments and attractions.

There’s so much to see in the world that we could spend a lifetime trying to see it all and never finish!

We traveled to each location with the mindset that we may never return...

We continue our story below, but if want to read and see more on our experiences traveling abroad, here are our city guide articles and our photo album.

City Guides, Itineraries, and Our Experiences

Whether it’s wanderlust you’re after or you want some guidance in planning out your own amazing adventures, check out all of our city guides for inspiration!

We keep an updated page of where we’ve been and where we currently are, but if maps aren’t enough to quench your travel wanderlust, we have something even better! Our favorite images from each destination we’ve been fortunate enough to visit can be found in our Photo Album.

Our Lesson’s Learned While Traveling Abroad

As a project manager and an IT consultant it goes without saying that we’re planners. However, we learned that flexibility and fluidity in our plans was a must to stay sane and happy. At a moment’s notice things changed; roads were closed, trains were late or missed, and gear was damaged.

By living in the moment, adapting to our environments, and having a boatload of gratitude, we found serenity even in the most chaotic moments.

We continue our story below, but if want to catch up on our trials, tribulations, and lessons learned, here are a few of our unforgettable moments!

Personal Growth and Lessons Learned

A Year of Continuous Travel Abroad – Check! Now What?

We think it goes without saying, but just in case, here it goes…

After a year of traveling abroad we’ve changed and grown as a couple and as individuals. We have an overwhelming gratitude for the opportunities and experiences we were fortunate enough to have. And most importantly, we don’t see the world in the same way anymore.

When we set off, we didn’t know what our year would bring. And now that we’ve done it, we can’t imagine going back to our previous life!

We’ve had a taste of travel, being digital nomads, house sitting, and living out of a carry-on travel backpack, and we’re nowhere near being done!

So, if going back to monthly rent, working from an office, and staying put in the same city indefinitely isn’t right for us, then what is?

Life After a Year of Continuous Travel Abroad is… Still a Life of Continuous Travel

On day 365 abroad, we flew home. We visited family, sold even more of the stuff we’d kept, and thought about what was next for us.

After considering many different options we decided to take what we liked of our year the most and continue making a life of it.

Digital Nomads

Shannon is a Project Manager and Sergio is an IT Consultant. We’re both digital nomads (location independent/remote workers), working with clients from our laptops and only needing to be on site occasionally. We love what we do and enjoy the clients we work with and projects we work on.

We continually work on having a good work life balance. One of us is better at that than the other…

House Sitting

We landed in Europe with many lodging options to save money and make our accommodations more immersive of local culture. What we didn’t realize at the time was that house sitting would be such a wonderful option for us that it would become such a large part of our travel style. It opened doors to so many wonderful people, pets, and places!

We love the exchange of services house sitting offers. We have a place to stay that has all of the amenities of a home and is in a location we want to be, while the homeowners have a trustworthy couple to care for their home and pets while they’re away on a carefree vacation.

Trusted House Sitters has allowed us to travel the world on a budget, but more importantly given us an opportunity to make new friends and have cute and cuddly companions along the way. Sign up and start your profile to find your next great adventure!

Free and Inexpensive Travel and Hotels

We continue to wisely use our miles and points to get free and reduced travel and hotels. The added bonus is that since we hold elite status with our favorite brands we’re able to be productive and comfortable while on the road. Not to mention we have Priority Pass which gives us airport lounge access and is a great way to get work done, even on travel days!

Finances and FI/RE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)

We’re naturally a frugal couple and while our costs of living are dramatically lower than most couples with similar lifestyles, we don’t feel like we’re sacrificing.

In our year travelling abroad we visited 3 continents, 23 countries, and 60 cities AND we didn’t skimp on attractions or experiences. We spent only $16,074.33 for the entire year (all-in, including ACA health care)!

Since returning ‘home’ and continuing to travel North America, albeit much slower, our average monthly expenses have been even lower, about $700. Again, this includes everything, even health care!

So, when people ask us not only how we afford to travel long-term, but also how we’re able to pursue FI/RE we’re living proof that you don’t have to grind away at a 9-5 office job for 10-15+ years (until you hit your FI/RE number and goal).

We don’t pretend to have all (or even the right) answers but it’s possible to pursue FI/RE and do what you enjoy (whatever that is!) concurrently.

What Does the Future Hold For Screw The Average?

We’re continuing to travel North America, work, and do house sitting jobs full time. We want to love what we do, both professionally and personally. Our drive for financial independence retire early is stronger than ever, but most importantly for us, it’s about the journey not only a specific FI/RE number!

Where to Travel to Next?

The world is huge and we haven’t even ‘conquered’ Europe after a year of travel. So, at this point nothing is off the table!

We want to see more of the US and other parts of North America (as we’ve been doing since we returned ‘home’). So far, we’ve house sat in Mexico, Canada (British Columbia and Ontario), and in eight US states (with two more on the horizon).

Looking into the future, we have so many places on our bucket list that we want to visit and experience. So don’t be surprised if you open up our Where Are We Now page and see us in South East Asia, Australia, India, New Zealand, or even back in Europe (we have our eye on you Slovenia)!

Our Budget for 1 Year of Continual Travel Abroad | 3 Continents, 23 Countries, and 60 Cities… and You Spent How Much?!

Our Budget for 1 Year of Continual Travel Abroad | 3 Continents, 23 Countries, and 60 Cities… and You Spent How Much?!

City Guide to Munich, Germany: Part 2 | Must See Attractions

City Guide to Munich, Germany: Part 2 | Must See Attractions