Listen to our full episode on Our 2022 Full-Time European Travel Recap (Part 1!) below (with full transcript) or find our podcast by searching What is it all for? in your favorite podcast player.
Key Takeaways for Our 2022 Full-Time European Travel Recap (Part 1!)
Our Year of Travel Recap is divided into two podcast parts. In Part 1 (this episode), we go over the entire year, what we liked/didn’t like, what we learned/didn’t learn, what was harder/easier than we expected, and what advice would we give to people who might want to travel full time and work and do something like this in their lives.
We share with you the overall takeaways from the experience of selling all of our things and traveling in Europe for 300 days.
Part 2 (episode 152) is much more anecdotes, the fun places we stayed, the things we ate, and the things that stood out to us.
1. Nearly a year of full-time travel, by the numbers
In 2022, we traveled from Jan 13 to Nov 9, exactly 300 days.
We anticipated that we’d be gone for a full calendar year, but because we decided to settle down in Portugal, we stopped traveling after 300 days.
The total number of countries that we visited this year in Europe is 10. Our goal was not to see all of Europe, it was just to see some of Europe for our year of slower travel. The countries that we went to are:
- Portugal (Lisbon, Nazaré, Lourinhã)
- Ireland (Dublin, Kinsale, Ballybunion, Ennis)
- Croatia (Split, Hvar)
- France (Paris, Colmar, Avignon, La Capelle-et-Masmolène)
- Greece (Geropotamos, Agia Pelagia)
- The Netherlands (Reejuwik)
- Scotland (Rhynd, Crieff)
- England (Holmfirth, Waddington, Tuddenham, Rye, Kent, Wicken, Leicester)
- Italy (Bari, Manduria, Mottola)
- Switzerland (Bürglen, Emmetten)
We went to a couple of cities in each of these countries totaling 30 cities overall, which feels a little bit higher than we thought. The country that we went to the most cities in was England (7).
Our total number of planes, trains, and automobiles:
- 17 flights (2 with RyanAir)
- 5 trains
- 8 rental cars
- 2 ferries
To add some context, starting the year, Caroline had tremendous flight anxiety. It was a painful experience for her. After our fourth flight of the year, Caroline started seeing a noticeable improvement: a DECLINE in the amount of anxiety on a flight. Music and mindfulness practices really helped her as well as writing positive notes to herself at each stage of the flight. By the end of our trip, flying still isn’t her favorite activity by far, but she doesn’t dread it nor lose sleep over it as much anymore!
Speaking of sleep, our total number of beds slept in Airbnb vs hotels:
- Airbnbs: 31
- Hotels: 15 (multiple Zanzibar Locke in Dublin)
- Total: 50 beds!
You may be wondering how the finances of traveling full-time compared to our life back in Carlsbad, California, which is where we lived when we took off.
Just zooming the lens out, we track all of our spending and we spent $30,000 more in the whole year than we would have had we stayed in California. If you compare our expenses in 2021 to 2022, that’s how the total difference. Although we will say we didn’t travel as much in 2021 because it was kind of a COVID year as we would have in years past. We don’t know if it would have been the same.
One place we didn’t skimp in 2022 was on our accommodations. The place (Airbnb/hotel) meant more to us than all of the adventures we would do in a country or in a city. There were a couple of budget accommodations, but we decided if we’re only going to do this once in our lives, we’re not going to skimp on that aspect.
Two little financial notes that we wanted to share that we thought were fun are the accommodations and our coffee budget.
🏠💰 We discovered that we spent $9,000 more on accommodations this year. So if you broke that down by month, we spent ~$750 more a month.
☕️💰 The other financial thing that we thought would be interesting to share is our total expense when it came to coffee in 2021 which was $2,105 versus 2022, where the total was $1,800.
2. What we found more DIFFICULT than we expected or surprising
We did not think it would be as difficult to find consistent, solid WiFi. We’re not talking about needing fiber WiFi, we just mean being able to watch a YouTube video. We found that in probably half of the Airbnbs that we stayed in, the connection was either slow, inconsistent, or in some places, non-existent when they said they had WiFi. It was something that we tried to prepare for by using an app called Airalo on our iPhones where you can buy data in a country, but usually, if you’re in a place where you don’t have WiFi, you probably don’t have a cell signal either. So it almost didn’t help us that much.
The second one we thought would be difficult (but we’ll be honest, it was more difficult than we thought) was maintaining a regular exercise routine. Coming into 2022, we were not under any illusions that we were going to be consistently hitting the gym or working out. And so it ended up, we would say, probably 50% of the time this year we found a gym where could work out, but it was definitely way less than we were working out before.
The third thing that we found pretty difficult and probably more than we expected was decision fatigue. We’ll just mention the constant booking of the next Airbnb, finding our next restaurant to eat out at, and searching for our next grocery store to go get groceries from. This is the one thing that we can’t describe to people about this experience unless you’ve done long-term travel.
Something that we also found to be more difficult than anticipated (the fourth one) was maintaining relationships this whole year. Firstly, we’re already introverted by nature so it takes energy for us (especially Caroline) to reach out to people and keep relationships going. That’s not a bad thing. That’s just the truth. But then when you put on top of it how fatigued we are on a daily basis from the experience of travel, it can be really difficult. For example, at the end of the day when we were walking through cities and figuring things out, the last thing that we wanted to do was then exert more energy in talking to people. That sounds bad, but it’s just true. We just fully needed recharge time on those long/busy travel days. Second, it’s harder to connect with your friends and family when you’re 5-8 hours ahead of them. Sometimes, it was a nice thing to have, but for the most part it made it challenging to sync up schedulesw.
The fifth and last thing we wanted to touch on that was more difficult than we expected was driving. Those eight rental cars in five different countries that we drove in proved to be very difficult. We got much better at it near the end of the year and thankfully, we didn’t get into any fender benders! But it was more difficult in that it was always this thing that every couple of weeks we had to figure out. We would say it’s just the first day of getting the rental car, figuring out the signs, figuring out the roundabouts, leaving an airport, and figuring out tolls.
3. What we found better or EASIER than expected
The first one would definitely have to be the language barrier in countries because, in the 10 countries we visited (almost all of them), we could find people who spoke at least some level of English. And when it comes to things like signs, you would find enough English signs.
The Google Translate app is a lifesaver! At any grocery store, we immediately opened up the Google Translate app, took a photo, and had the app translate the items into English.
The second thing that we found easier was overall accessibility to anything you might need, like a local pharmacy or a local grocery store. You may not be able to find your exact stores your used to, but even things like department and clothing stores are everywhere and you can find something.
😅 Silly note: The term “cough drops” does not exist anywhere except in America. If you need a cough drop in a European country, do not say “cough drops” because you will get drops (like little liquid droppers not like things you suck on). You say “lozenge” or something like that (or hustenbonbons, if you’re in Switzerland 😘).
The third thing that we found a little bit easier was medical stuff. Thankfully for us, we both don’t have any preexisting conditions and we didn’t have any emergencies, so we can’t speak to that aspect of it. But a big fear of Caroline’s going into this year was, what if she gets shingles or COVID or what if she had to go to a doctor? And she had to do all of those things. Caroline was so nervous when she got shingles in France, which was arguably the country that was the hardest because it was the biggest language barrier. We went to a pharmacy and nobody spoke English, but a lovely French pharmacist tried to find us a doctor in town that spoke English. We eventually learned that the doctor was French Canadian as we thought we were going to go to a Canadian doctor who was going to speak English. It turns out it was more emphasis on the French and less on the Canadian (because he did not speak that much English), but it all worked out fine and Caroline got the medication that we needed.
I (Jason) even had a basal cell carcinoma removed from my face in Dublin, Ireland, and a follow-up appointment a couple of weeks later where I had the stitches from the procedure removed. We did all that in countries where we’ve never had procedures done and it all worked out just fine and was very affordable.
The fourth thing that we found a bit easier was finding gluten-free food options. Caroline is gluten intolerant so she tries to avoid it. In Europe, they’re extremely good at noting allergens on menus, which is something that they don’t always do in America. We don’t know if it’s a regulation in a lot of these European countries, but they’d indicate whether the food had nuts, eggs, wheat, etc. on the menu. And in grocery stores, all but a handful of the countries that we went to had full gluten-free sections.
The fifth thing that we found better or easier, which was a big but very nice surprise, was we didn’t have any lost luggage during our 17 flights. We also didn’t have anything stolen the entire trip. This was another thing that we tried to be prepared for. To be fair, we didn’t go to a lot of extremely populated touristy places where you can get pickpocketed.
The sixth thing in this category of better is a lack of Airbnb fails. We had more Airbnb fails staying at places in the U.S. than we did this entire year of staying in 10 foreign countries. We expected things to be not as pictured or have weird smells or there to be terrible construction. We only had one Airbnb fail that we had to move on from and the people were extremely nice about it and did not fight us on a refund at all. Going back to the money conversation, we have to acknowledge that a lot of times we weren’t staying at the budget accommodations, so hosts weren’t nickel and diming us. But in comparison to places we’ve stayed in the U.S. of the exact same dollar value, we’ve run into more problems in the U.S. than we did in Europe, which we think is very interesting.
The seventh and final thing we wanted to mention is just the friendliness of the Airbnb hosts. Again, we’re not trying to make the U.S. out to look worse than Europe, it’s just the experience that we had on Airbnb throughout all of Europe the entire year was phenomenal. There were people who were willing to take us to their favorite restaurants to tell us about all the best spots in town and to come and bring something to the house if we needed anything.
In general (again, we can only speak to the ten countries that we went to in Europe), for the majority of these countries that we traveled to, we did not run into any angry people who were mad that we were tourists in a place and it was just more of like, “Oh, you don’t speak English. I can’t really help you that much, but I can point a lot and you can point a lot and we can figure this thing out.”
4. Were we happy with our itinerary? What would we do anything differently planning-wise?
Our loose plan at the beginning of this year was to stay in 20 different cities for about two and a half weeks at a time. We ended up in 30 different cities, so our average stay was ~10 days.
In general, we feel that plan worked out pretty well. Did the year and the itinerary get hectic at times, namely in the Spring when things started to gear up and we did France then Greece then the Netherlands in a very short span? Yep, that was a little too hectic. Then in the Fall, our schedule got busy again because it was Italy and then back to Portugal and then England. It was a lot, but overall, we made all of those decisions for reasons we wouldn’t change.
If anything, if you’re looking at doing a trip like this, it’s best to create a plan that YOU feel really comfortable with and that aligns with how you like to travel.
We were really happy we started the year off in Lisbon, which is a very tourist-friendly city. It’s very easy to get around, english is spoken very easily, and it’s also one of the quickest European cities to get to from the U.S. so the flight over is a bit shorter. If you’re looking at planning out a year and you thinking of starting with something easier, like Lisbon, if you will, or even just like a bigger city where there are a lot of options for things, you’re going to be so much more comfortable with travel. Do the more uncomfortable destinations later on. Don’t start with the one that might be a little bit more challenging.
On the same note as starting in an easy place, we ended the trip in Switzerland, which was basically at the top of our list, destination-wise, and it was just spectacular. It lived up to the hype in our minds and we’re really glad we ended a year of travel on such a high note!
In hindsight, something that really added more stress to our plate and didn’t help us acclimate as quickly as we could have was that we were so busy trying to sell all of our stuff at the end of 2021 and get ready for the trip. That time could have been spent planning out the first three months because what happened was we didn’t have the first three months very well planned out. For us, we’re admittedly huge planners. We love to plan. We love a good Notion database and a well-organized Google Calendar. It would have been really nice had we, at the beginning of this trip, had the first three months fully booked. We had our first two destinations and month fully planned and booked. And then, we had to change plans because of COVID but it became really difficult to have the decision fatigue that it requires in the moment of being in a new place, and on top of that, having to carve out time to then plan a month ahead.
If you are thinking about a trip like this and you’re a U.S. citizen, you do have some rules you have to follow, namely the Schengen travel visa timing. So you can’t just stay in France for four months, you have to leave after three months and you have to go outside of the Schengen region (basically the EU), so you’d have to go somewhere else for three months and then come back. Knowing that ahead of time, we feel we did a good job picking all our destinations and the time we had in each of them. It just would have been so nice to have the Airbnbs booked, the flights booked, and even have planned out a couple of restaurants and grocery stores so when we hit the ground in a new country, we had all those things figured out.
5. How hard was it to manage our businesses while traveling?
For 2022, we set the intention at the beginning of the year that we were NOT trying to grow our businesses in any capacity whatsoever. So if we could just stay afloat all year, if we could deliver what we promised to our customers and our members, that will be good enough. And we did that! It was hard working consistently while also managing all the travel logistics that we mentioned. But we give ourselves a lot of credit for our only goal, which was to maintain our two businesses. We weren’t going to have any major growth initiatives in 2022 and we think we did a solid job of not putting too much stuff on our plates. There are things that we could have done better, but in general, we think we stuck to our business plans!
The biggest lesson we learned is just how to pick and choose the things that you’re going to put your attention toward because your capacity is not going to be at 100% while traveling and working.
What helped with our workflow while traveling:
- A dedicated “charging station ⚡️”. We packed a power U.S. power strip, wall outlet converters, and kept the majority of our plugs in one organized dopp kit. Every time we got to an Airbnb, the first thing I (Jason) would do is pull out my little electronics bags and set up a spot for a charging station. It was fully a part of our routine.
- Notion & Google Calendar. Google Calendar is and has been the most extremely helpful thing for my (Jason’s) productivity over many years of working for myself. I (Jason) always have my little time blocks set up that previous Jason a couple of weeks ago put on my calendar so that I could just wake up and go, “Oh, I needed to get these couple of things done today.” Caroline, on the other hand, needs the flexibility to be able to rearrange her tasks based on where her energy and mood are at. That’s why she loves Notion because it’s a building block system where she can rearrange her tasks very easily. The advice we would give to someone who is trying to do a trip like this in the future is, without a doubt, you need some type of system, a place where you can dump your tasks so that it doesn’t live inside your brain.
- Pomodoro timers. These timers work incredibly well for Caroline and she thinks it’s because having a time constraint is very helpful and also she knows she won’t need to be focused for the whole day. She just needs to be focused for two pomodoros, meaning 25 minutes on with five-minute break off. That’s helpful for her because that feels doable suddenly instead of having three big things she has to do during the day. The app that she uses is called PomoFocus.io, and it just allows you to set timers for yourself (there’s a free version, too).
- Fitting in exercise and a specific daily routine. Next up is trying to fit in some exercise as much as possible because we find moving our body helps us move our minds! Caroline discovered days when she works out in the morning tend to be the days she gets more work done on the business. For me (Jason), my morning coffee routine with any kettle and our AeroPress could get me in the zone to get work done.
- Trying to book Airbnbs that had a solid work environment. The other thing that really helped with work was booking Airbnbs where we clearly saw a place where we could sit with our laptops. There were many Airbnbs that we looked at throughout the year that we didn’t book because, as beautiful and well-decorated as they were, there wasn’t a place to work.
What we would do differently to prep for a year of travel:
- Hire someone to do customer service. Between our travel schedule and the timezone changes, we always felt a bit behind in answering customer questions and support requests. Even having someone for just 5 hours per week would’ve been a huge help.
- Simplified coaching sessions. We host a monthly coaching session for WAIM and we learned that our pre-travel sessions were simply NOT feasible to create in 2022. We didn’t have the time or the mental bandwidth. We should’ve come up with a simpler coaching format before leaving on our trip.
- Booking a couple longer stays. The times when we got the most work done in 2022 are when we had 2-4 week stays booked in ONE place. Looking back, had we booked 2-3 more of these LONGER stays, we could’ve gotten more work done and maybe even gotten ahead.
- Are we glad we sold everything? My (Jason’s) answer is, without a doubt, 100% yes! I love a clean reset in life. I love that we’ve moved into a new home and brought nothing but two small rolling suitcases and two travel backpacks with our things. We don’t have a whole bunch of other stuff we have to unpack. Caroline’s answer is 90% of the way because she is still very happy that we sold everything and glad that we went through that stuff but there is a small part of her she wishes she would have kept, like three boxes of her favorite couple of clothing items, a couple of art supplies, and a couple of tchotchkes from her art room when we started fresh here in a brand new country.
6. What the impact was on our business during our year of full-time travel?
We had almost the EXACT same revenue year-to-year between 2021 and 2022, with a 1% difference. It’s pretty wild when we looked at the numbers, we actually expected there to be a $20,000-$30,000 revenue difference, making less money this year than the last year. The 1% difference is just incredible.
And again, we are super thankful that we have been able to build sustainable, predictable businesses and, just five years ago, that was not the case for us.
We talk about this often: in five years, your world can vastly change when it comes to business. It will take a lot of learning, applying, and experimenting. Applying is the biggest part. You can listen to advice all day long, but there is no blueprint. As much as everyone wants you to believe there is, it is about taking the best nuggets that you feel will work for your business and then experimenting and seeing what works for you along with what offers you have and what your unique gifts are.
This is also where a caveat is important because revenue is different than profit. So even though our revenue stayed within the same 1%, we paid $20,000 more in expenses for the business. And really the majority of that is to pay out our affiliates, who are our main marketing engine for our main offer, which is WAIM Unlimited, our coaching program. We love that our existing WAIM members can basically market WAIM for us and then, every person that they bring in, they get a percentage of that revenue. The reason we like this is we would much rather pay our customers back the money that they gave to us than pay for Facebook ads, for example, or whatever other paid marketing channels.
When you actually boil it down, it’s less than $2,000 a month that we spent this year to basically have our businesses run very simply and without us having to do a whole bunch of other stuff.
7. What advice we would give to someone wanting to do a year of full-time travel even if they aren’t well-established as a business?
You’re going to have to work and you’re probably going to need full workdays, like an eight-hour workday once a week (or so). Plan for this when you’re building your itinerary because your business is going to require your time.
In our experience, it was very helpful to have recurring revenue businesses. It would 10x harder for someone doing this who had to go out and get clients consistently. We’re not saying it’s impossible, but we do think if there’s anything that you can set up in your business, like for example, if you’re trying to do this in 2024, maybe in 2023, your goal is to get some recurring revenue into your business.
You could build a membership program, a coaching program, or some type of small SaaS product (if possible). If you’re not someone who wants to build products like those things, maybe it’s about turning your clients from project-based to retainer-based so you’re trying to pivot all of your clients to six-month or twelve-month contracts. That way you have that recurring income and you don’t have to think about going and getting new income.
Before you go and start the year, no matter where you are in your business, identify the most important three things that are contributing to your overall revenue because let’s say you can only work 30% or anywhere between 30% to 75% of the time, that means that some of the things that you’re doing right now are going to have to fall away. You need to be in control of deciding which of those balls can drop. For us, the three most important things in our business are (1) coaching sessions and customer support for Teachery and WAIM, (2) our newsletter, and (3) making our affiliates happy by providing a launch window for them to share WAIM with their audience as well.
Those were our non-negotiables. And so the things that fell by the wayside are social media (Instagram), sometimes our podcast (we took off a month), and our YouTube videos. We couldn’t do it all and that’s okay because those three things that we just mentioned were things that we did not compromise on.
The other thing that definitely would make this year or an extended period of travel a little bit easier is having savings or at least an emergency buffer. We know this is easier said than done for some people, but it might mean delaying the start of your trip if you need to have more time to squirrel away some money. Just having a couple thousand dollars set aside so that you can have an “oh-shit” fund if something goes wrong or if you run into an Airbnb that’s an absolute nightmare or if you have your luggage get stolen or your credit card for some reason doesn’t cover it soon enough and you have to buy a bunch of stuff.
The last thing in this category is to plan the year out to the best of your ability, leaving in as much flexibility as you want, but have a full picture so that you take into consideration three blocks: your adventure blocks, work blocks, and rest blocks. Have everything set up in at least a loose format ahead of time so that you know going in you don’t have to make all of the decisions all the time. You just need to make some smaller decisions on where you’re staying, when you’re flying, etc., but the majority of the trip is loosely planned out so that you have a good idea of what you’re doing.
8. What we learned from a year of full-time travel in Europe!
Caroline learned that a lot of the things she worries about are actually not as scary in real life. That’s a very important lesson that she will take forward. She learned that she is capable of changing and the way her anxiety has transformed this year from something that used to be a 7/10 bad into a 3-4/10 bad is amazing. She never would have thought that she could have that drastic of a change in her overall mental health. The things that contributed to that are expanding her comfort zone and being off of social media.
I (Jason) learned that I don’t have to be as efficient in all the things I do to live a good life and that I can let go of wanting to have everything planned out ahead of time and know all of the outcomes. Things don’t have to be as rigid or as organized to still be enjoyable. I do truly believe folks who are like me can obsess over getting things a certain way and this year was really helpful to sit with those uncomfortable feelings.
The other thing that I (Jason) learned about myself is that I truly, truly love (besides Caroline) an American-style cinnamon roll. Of the 20 different cinnamon rolls that I experienced this year, an American-style cinnamon roll is my personal preference.
Caroline also learned that she can step up more in our relationship, in assertiveness, and in the logistics of the way that we operate.
On the whole, we learned that we can pretty much weather any storm. We learned that our communication is solid and that’s what inevitably gets us through every single challenge we encounter as a couple. Despite our differences, we are both willing to sit at a metaphorical table and talk until we see the other person’s point of view. We respect and love each other so much that we’ll do whatever it takes in order to find common ground and apologize and try to be better when needed. We’re really proud of that.
Show Notes for Episode 151: Our 2022 Full-Time European Travel Recap (Part 1!)
This episode will serve as a Part 1 of 2 recap of our year of travel! We visited 10 different countries in Europe (30 total cities) and we wanted to go over the UPs, the DOWNs, what we would do differently, what advice we would give, how it affected our relationship, how we changed as people, and some business advice tossed in the mix!
There is soooo much good stuff to get through in this episode and we hope you enjoy everything we shared. Watch your podcast feed for the second episode of our travel recap where we share our top 5 memories, top 5 restaurants, and our top Airbnbs/hotels we stayed in.
Besides just having a good time hearing us chat about full-time travel life, we hope you get some value out of this episode and maybe it helps you create a plan for a dream you have in your future!
Full Transcript of Episode 151: Our 2022 Full-Time European Travel Recap (Part 1!)
⬇️ You can also download the .TXT file of the transcript
Caroline: Welcome to What Is It All for? A podcast designed to help you grow your online business and pursue a spacious, satisfying life at the same time. We’re your host, Jason and Caroline Zook, and we run Wandering Aimfully, an unboring business coaching program. Every week, we bring you advice and conversations to return you to your most intentional self and to help you examine every aspect of your life and business by asking, What is it all for? Thanks for listening. And now let’s get into the show.
Jason: And I’m here too.
Caroline: Just absolute silence.
Caroline: Why not, Carol?
Jason: Welcome to…
Caroline: What Is It All For? The Podcast.
Jason: It’s our podcast.
Caroline: I forget it’s the name of the podcast sometimes.
Jason: The problem is my brain has so much it wants to discuss right now.
Caroline: So much.
Jason: Because this is such a big episode.
Caroline: It’s a big episode.
Jason: I don’t even know how to start. I don’t know how to talk. I forgot how to do all my bodily things.
Caroline: I know. That’s why I was being so silent, because I was ready for you to do your normal, goofy intro. There was just a lot of silence.
Jason: I don’t have the brain power for it. We are going to go over our entire year of full time travel.
Caroline: This is the episode. It’s the recap episode of our year of travel. Didn’t we call it something at one point? Like, WA–
Jason: What is that? WA–?
Caroline: I remember at the beginning of the year we had a newsletter series. Wasn’t it like WAIM around the world?
Jason: WAIM around the world.
Caroline: WAIM around the world.
Jason: WAIM around the world.
Caroline: My brain was like, what was WAW?
Jason: We’re going to do this in two parts because there’s so much discuss.
Caroline: That’s right. We took ample notes. I want everyone to know this is not a by the seat of our pants episode.
Jason: Everyone can tell.
Caroline: We thought about it. We wrote down some notes. And so if you’ve missed some of our travels along the year, this is the episode to really be like, what was that like?
Jason: Yeah. So we’re going to go over a bunch of questions. Shout out to your friend, Nicole.
Jason: Who sent a bunch of really good questions, unprompted questions, which is great.
Caroline: Always sends unsolicited podcast questions, which really does the heavy lifting for us.
Jason: It really… it’s great. So we’re going to do that in this part one.
Jason: And then in part two, we are going to use our Bring Five format, which if you listened to last week’s episode, you got introduced to that. It’s really just us listing five things, but in a reverse order. And we are going to share our favorite moments.
Caroline: Of the whole year.
Jason: Our favorite Airbnbs and our favorite meals in that format. So that’s part two. That’ll be coming out next Thursday as of releasing this episode. This episode is going to come out a little bit off of our schedule because we just were busy.
Caroline: Story of our lives.
Jason: And blah, blah, blah, blah. So if you’re looking for that, that’ll be in the part two. This one is going to go over the entire year, what we liked, what we didn’t like, what we learned, what we didn’t learn.
Caroline: What was harder than we expected. What was easier than we expected. What advice would we give to people who might want to travel full time and work and do something like this in their lives. So this is really the episode where we recap the big questions. We share with you the overall takeaways from the experience of selling all of our things and traveling the world for ten months. And then again, next week’s episodes is much more… episode… is much more the anecdotes, the fun places we stayed, the things we ate, the things that stood out to us.
Jason: And then one note of housekeeping. We are going to be taking our biannual podcast break.
Caroline: Our hibernation, our winter hiatus.
Jason: Our winter break. We do a summer sabbatical and we do a winter…
Jason: Wonderland, which is where we just take a break from podcasting.
Caroline: Is it a winter WANDER-land?
Jason: Ayyoow. No, it is not.
Caroline: Okay. All right.
Jason: We will be back January 26. So you’re going to have to figure out what to do with yourself.
Caroline: It feels like it’s far away, but I’m telling you, it won’t. It’s going to be here before you know it.
Jason: We all know how the holiday season goes. You get into the New Year, you got the New Year, New You. All those things are going to happen. And then before you know it, we’ll be back. So this episode, part one, part two will come out on Thursday. Then we’re on a break until January 26. And if you miss us, just feel free to send us an email and say hello. We’d love to hear from you.
Caroline: Yes. And if you want to know, just be reminded of when we come back, join our newsletter. It’s wanderingaimfully.com/newsletter.
Jason: Yeah. We will also be on a break from that, but we’ll be back a little bit later.
Caroline: But we’ll be back on the newsletter before…
Jason: Yeah, good plug for our newsletter. Thank you so much.
Caroline: Thank you.
Jason: All right, can I start with by the numbers?
Caroline: Absolutely, you can.
Jason: Okay, so 2022, we traveled for eleven months, but exactly the amount of days that we traveled for. We left Carlsbad, California, we got on an overnight flight to Lisbon, Portugal, and then we traveled for exactly 300 days.
Caroline: And we did not mean for this to be exact. As many of you know, if you listened to beginning episodes, we anticipated that we’d be gone for a full calendar year. But because we decided to settle down in Portugal, we stopped traveling after 300 days. And then Jason found out that it was exactly 300, and it made his little tiny brain so happy.
Jason: Oh, my gosh. Excuse me.
Caroline: What’s up?
Jason: If you can take care of this little thing going on here. So 300 days even that means that when we moved into our new home here in Portugal, it was on the 300th day, which just was like the perfect cap in the hat. Feather in the cap? Cat in the hat. It was the perfect cat in the hat.
Caroline: Cat in the hat.
Jason: Some other numbers here. Total number of countries that we visited this year in Europe, ten. And for those of you who don’t know…
Caroline: Ten total countries, which is also a round number.
Jason: Very nice number. For those of you who don’t know, we only went to Europe this year. That was our goal. And our goal was not to see all of Europe. It was just to see some of Europe for our year of slower travel was the way we did it. The countries that we went to… Go ahead, we’ll go back and forth here.
Jason: The Netherlands.
Jason: England, which, you know…
Caroline: United Kingdom, but…
Jason: It’s fine.
Caroline: And then Italy.
Jason: And finally, Switzerland.
Caroline: Those are our ten countries.
Jason: Now. We went to ten countries, but we went to a couple of cities in each of those countries.
Caroline: How many total cities, Jason?
Jason: 30 cities.
Caroline: We went to 30 total cities.
Jason: These really clean numbers are real nice.
Caroline: Like, what does this mean? It’s got to mean something.
Jason: Does it feel like we went to 30 cities to you?
Jason: When I heard that number, I was like…
Caroline: That sounds right.
Jason: Feels a little bit higher than I thought. But then I looked back and we looked at all the different places. The country that we went to the most cities in was…?
Caroline: We visited the most cities in England.
Jason: Arguably one of the smaller of the countries that we visited, too.
Caroline: Yeah. And our stays were much shorter there.
Jason: They were, yeah. All right, continuing on with our numbers, just a few more things here. Total number of planes, trains and automobiles.
Caroline: Yes. So this is total transportation.
Jason: Yeah. Flights, 17 flights.
Caroline: Your girl who has flight anxiety said…
Jason: Do you think you’ve flown 17 times…?
Caroline: In my previous of all my life?
Caroline: Yeah, I do.
Jason: But I bet it’s close. I bet it’s like 20. That would have been interesting to dig up. Go through all of your flight records of your entire life.
Caroline: Again, if this is your first time listening to us, because you got pointed to this episode about our year of travel, I’ll add some context. I, starting the year, had tremendous flight anxiety. Not so debilitating that I wouldn’t get on a flight. I know that’s the case for many people, a couple of near panic attacks in the past, but just like, really, really did not like it. And it was a painful experience for me. And by about my fourth flight of the year, I started really seeing a noticeable improvement, like a decline in the amount of anxiety. And by the end, it’s still not my favorite activity by far, but like, I don’t dread it, I don’t lose sleep over it.
Jason: Let’s just quickly, because we’re going to bounce around all over the place.
Jason: What are a couple of things that really helped you get better at flying? Just for those who might listen to this that also have flight anxiety.
Caroline: Well, I’ve been practicing for a few years, but one thing that used to really help me when my anxiety was the worst is I would write little notes to myself at every checkpoint in the process. So I would open it, I would write notes to myself, like, a couple days before, and then I would open the note to myself after I got past security and then at the gate and then boarding the plane. And then once we got after takeoff and it were these little notes of encouragement of just like, listen, you’re doing a really hard thing. You are stronger than you think you are. Like, I know it’s uncomfortable, but just lean into discomfort. Sending like, these little messages to myself and that really helped. So feel free to steal that idea. Having a dedicated playlist of songs that… I’m a big believer, I took this class in college called music and health, that music and sound waves have an actual physiological effect on us. Anyone who’s gone to a concert where they raised the BPM and gets your heart going will know this. So if that’s true, that you can raise your heart rate through music, you can also decelerate your heart rate through music. So I have a very calming playlist of songs that comfort me.
Jason: A lot of Enya.
Caroline: It’s a lot of Enya. It’s a lot of, like, Ed Sheer—it’s like all these random songs that just bring me peace. And I have it downloaded from my Spotify to my phone. So I listen to that, which puts me in a good headspace. And then the biggest thing that helps me is actually just like I think you would categorize this as cognitive behavioral therapy, but really being aware of my thoughts leading up to take off, which is the hardest part for me and redirecting my thoughts to like I’m trying to rewire my brain to think of the discomfort of taking off in an airplane as a positive experience instead of a negative experience. So when I change altitude really quickly, it freaks me out. I feel dizzy.
Jason: Well, you know, it’s the pilot.
Caroline: Yeah. But my body is changing altitude.
Caroline: It freaks me out. I feel dizzy. I feel like I’m going to pass out. Like all those things are uncomfortable. But I’ve been able over time to reprogram that feeling of weightlessness as being something that’s positive. Like, I picture myself floating in a pool or in an ocean, something that is, like, comforting to me. So instead of that weightlessness representing, like, I’m not anchored to the earth, like, it’s a very untethered and scary and uncertain feeling. I reprogram it as like, it’s adventure, it’s weightless, it’s surrender, it’s positive.
Jason: So 17 flights this year.
Caroline: 17 flights.
Jason: Two on Ryan Air. Ryan flew us places. Five train trips. I actually thought we were going to do. If you would have asked me before we went on this journey how many train trips we had done, I would have thought it actually would have been closer to the number of flights. But what you realize is, and this is what everyone says, like, oh, train travel is so easy in Europe. It absolutely is if you’re going in country. But if you’re trying to go from country to country, it just takes too long.
Caroline: True. And I think a big reason why this didn’t end up with more trains is also because of the Schengen rules where for those of you that don’t know, on a tourist visa, you can only be inside basically the EU for 90 days before you have to get out. And so we were always jumping around, going in the region, out of the region, in the region, out of the region. And that always requires being on a plane.
Jason: Yeah. And really like you just have to go so far that like you can’t take a train. So five train trips, which were all lovely and easy and great. We had eight rental cars. So we drove on the left side of the road, we drove on the right side of the road. I only went the wrong way twice, which is great.
Caroline: Pulling out of gas stations both time.
Jason: That’s the behavior that I’m used to is just going a certain direction. And then we had two ferries.
Caroline: Two ferries.
Jason: Two ferries. So those were our travel things. And then total number of beds. This is, I think, one of the most fun notes of our numbers here by the year. So Airbnbs, we stayed in 31 different Airbnbs.
Jason: Different. And actually one of those we stayed in twice. So you get a little bonus there. Hotels, 15 different hotels, predominantly all airport hotels.
Caroline: We did find out near the end of the year that the airport hotel move was really good for us. If we were having to have a connect through a city is we would just instead of trying to do two flights in one day or do a flight to a train or something like that, we would break it up and stay at an airport hotel.
Jason: Yep. And then so the total number of beds that we slept in in 2022 and this stopped on November 9 was 50 beds.
Caroline: Yes. And that’s the reason it’s more than before is because some hotels we stayed at like three separate times, but 50 different beds.
Jason: 50 different beds. So imagine, listener, you were sleeping in a different bed every single week. Some of them are big, some of them are small, some of them have rod iron things at the end your feet get caught in. Some of them feel like a bed at a camp, like a summer camp. Some of them feel like the nicest bed you’ve ever slept in your entire life and you wish you could own that bed. So, yeah, 50 total beds this year. And then in part two, like we mentioned, the next episode of this podcast, we are going to give you our best and then some, like maybe not worst, but like the ones that weren’t our favorite. And some honorable mentions. Do you want to talk about the money stuff?
Caroline: Sure. So some of you may be wondering how expensive was it to travel or how did this compare to your life back in Carlsbad, California, which is where we lived when we took off, and just zooming the lens out.
Jason: Let’s zoom it.
Caroline: I will share with you that because we track all of our spending, we spent basically I hesitate to say this number, but because I know some people are going to be like, that’s so much, or some people will be like, really? That’s that much? But we spent basically $30,000 more in the whole year than we would have had we stayed in California. So if you compare our expenses in 2021 to 2022, that’s how much. Although I will say we didn’t travel as much in 2021 because it was kind of a COVID year as we would have in years past. I don’t know if it would have been the same.
Caroline: But I just think that’s interesting because I would have thought that it would have maybe been much more. I don’t know. We didn’t really skimp on accommodations, which we’ll talk about. We really valued that a lot. And so there were a couple of budget accommodations. But we just decided if we’re only going to do this once in our lives, we’re not going to skimp on that aspect.
Jason: The way that we did this full time travel year is the place meant more to us than all of the adventures we would do in a country or in a city. So it’s not like the travelers that you watch on YouTube maybe, who are like, we get to a place, we throw our bags. We don’t even care where we sleep. We’re off to ride a camel up a mountain so that we can then parachute into the smallest pool you’ve ever seen.
Jason: It’s like, that’s not us. We want to be in an Airbnb. We want to be comfortable. We were working the entire year, so staying at nice Airbnbs was definitely a big part of it. And also some of the best memories that we made this year.
Caroline: Yeah, and also that $30,000, it’s not like we put that on credit cards or that it came from our savings from before. It’s just that we weren’t able to put that additional money into savings. So I guess you could think of it like we took it from our future savings.
Jason: Right. So we had this moment.
Caroline: The funny part was so when we added all of this up, I said, $30,000, man, that’s a big chunk of change. Like, we could have saved that. We could have put that towards a future house or whatever, or like our savings. I was like, man, we could have had $30,000 more in savings at the end of this year. And I was like, kind of bummed for a second. And Jason was like, mm hmm, and what were you going to do with those savings? And I was like, oh, to like, travel.
Jason: No, it’s like, you extrapolated out, right? So you’re like, oh, I’m bummed. We didn’t save $30,000, I’m like, okay, well, what would you have done with that? Well, we probably would have, like, invest it. Okay, what would that money have done? Well, it would have, like, accrued, like, a little bit more value. Okay. And then in 20 years, you would take that money out and what would you do with it?
Jason: I would probably travel for, like, a year. It’s like, okay, well, we did that, and we did it in a time in our lives when we were, like, the least encumbered.
Jason: And it was an amazing trip, and there were good things and bad things, which we’ll talk about, but it’s funny, our human brains are so attached to, like, oh, I could have saved that money, or, like, that money could’ve gone to other things. It’s like but really, when you go all the way down the road with that, like, what would it have been for? It would have been for the same experience.
Caroline: Yeah. And not to totally dive too deep on this, but in that moment and in that conversation, I did realize also that as a culture, I think we also sort of place, like, a moral value on saving money. We think if you’re a person who saves money, that’s better than a person who spends money. Right. Like, the way that we treat the idea of spending money is that, like, good, good save, bad spend, you know? And I was like so I had to kind of evaluate that in myself for a moment and kind of be like, you know, I’m only on this plane one time. And the memories that we got this year are things that I think add to a richness of life that I want to have when it’s all said and done at the end of my life. And so I just had to kind of question that perception, that self perception within myself of like, oh, we didn’t save more money, but it’s like, okay, but we chose to do this trip, and that’s cool. And however you listening want to spend your money?
Jason: Yes, absolutely.
Caroline: You do that.
Jason: Yeah. Okay. So two little financial notes that we wanted to share that we thought were fun. So on the accommodations note so essentially, when we ran the numbers, we discovered that we spent this year $9,000 more in accommodations. So if you broke that down by month…
Caroline: $9,000 more in accommodations than we spent on rent in 2021, if that make sense.
Jason: Yeah. So essentially, we spent, what, like $900 more a month is what it boils down to. So literally, from our 2021 life to our 2022 life, we spent $900 more, which to me, I mean, it shows how expensive Southern California is, which everybody knows.
Caroline: Also, it’s funny to think about it in this perspective, too, is no doubt our place. They were going to raise the rent at the end of that year anyway, so I wonder it probably wouldn’t have been by 900, but probably half that.
Jason: But yeah, half that, for sure. It’s interesting when you see like, oh, the cost of Airbnb and all this, it’s like, yeah, but you’re going to pay to live somewhere. And depending on how much rent you can afford…
Caroline: And to your point, we’re comparing nice Airbnbs to a very expensive rental market, being California.
Jason: It is likely that maybe you live off of $1,500 in rent a month.
Jason: And it would cost you maybe $2,000 in very budget-friendly Airbnbs that you could find or hostels or what have you. There are options, for sure. We just were sharing our difference.
Caroline: Not to mention, again, if you’re thinking of doing something like this and you want the tidbits and you want to start getting the wheels turning of how you can do this, I also think it would have cost us much less in accommodations had we stayed at places longer.
Jason: Oh, for sure.
Caroline: We still stayed at places, like, fairly long, like, some of them, two and a half weeks. But the places where we really racked up the total were on places that we stayed a few nights.
Jason: Four or five nights.
Jason: Okay. And then the other financial thing that we thought would be funny to share is, in 2021, our total expense when it came to coffee. So this is walking to coffee shops, this is getting lattes. This is my normal coffee buying for my pour over coffee every morning was $2,105. In 2021, when we were in Southern California.
Caroline: Lot of lattes.
Jason: That’s a lot of lattes. In 2022, the total was $1,800. And we don’t have the exact number because we didn’t quite finish up.
Caroline: Which surprised the heck out of me, because I was like, hey, we didn’t go and have a latte. Again, this is latte, but this is also buying bag coffee and making premium coffee at home and stuff like that. But anyway, I was like, that really surprises me. And Jason goes, yeah, but when you think about it, what was your observation?
Jason: When we were in California, we would walk to a coffee shop, we would only buy coffee and then my pastry, obviously, but it would be like $12 for the coffee visit. When we were traveling around Europe, almost every coffee shop we went to end up being a meal.
Jason: Or we sat there for a longer period of time, so we got something else because we needed to use the WiFi or whatever.
Caroline: It was never just were swinging by our local coffee shop.
Jason: And the truth of the matter is, in the majority of countries that we went to and the majority of the cities we stayed in, there wasn’t really like a pour over coffee place where we just went and got coffee. So it really was more of like a coffee and breakfast or a coffee and lunch, or some type of experience.
Caroline: Just like funny when you it’s hard because I’m so glad we track all of this because it’s fun to go back and look at the comparisons, but then you just realize there’s so many factors that it’s hard to do apples to apples.
Jason: Yes. Or coffee to coffee.
Caroline: Coffee to coffee.
Jason: All right, Caroline, what did we find more difficult than we expected, or what was surprising about this year of full time travel?
Caroline: That includes our numbers section. Now we get into the real, as we call them, deep and meaningfuls.
Jason: Yeah, the DNMs.
Caroline: So what do we find more difficult or surprisingly difficult? You start with the first one, because I think this is a funny one.
Jason: I did not think it would be as difficult to find consistent, solid WiFi. And I’m not talking about like, oh, I need fiber, WiFi needs to be faster. I just mean, like, I want to be able to load a YouTube video. And I found that I think in probably half of the Airbnbs that we stayed in, the connection was either slow, inconsistent, or in some places, nonexistent when they said they had WiFi. And it was just something that we prepared for it. We used an app called Arollo on our phones, on iPhones, where you can buy some data in a place, but usually if you’re in a place where you don’t have WiFi, you probably don’t have a cell signal either. So it just like it almost didn’t help us that much.
Caroline: And also, we’re going to talk about this, but we were working for the entire year, and so it does just put into perspective. You take for granted some of these things in life, right, where there’s WiFi at my house, and it’s the same speed mostly all the time, and I can just do my work, and it’s great. And until we were in these places where it was very inconsistent, very hit or miss, and until we were in one place that had absolutely no WiFi did I realize how tethered to it we were and did I realize how grateful I would be in the future going forward every time that we had WiFi. I won’t take it for granted again.
Jason: Well, and our new home here in Portugal is just blazing fast WiFi and super rock solid. We just had our coaching session this past week, and it was without a hitch fantastic. So that was definitely surprising to me. I just didn’t expect it to be that much of an issue. I thought, like, oh, it’s 2022. Like, everybody is going to have WiFi and everywhere it lists on Airbnb that it has WiFi, but it doesn’t mean they do.
Caroline: Yeah. So this next one I thought would be difficult, but I’ll be honest, it was more difficult than I thought, which was maintaining a regular exercise routine. Coming into 2022, I really wanted to… I wasn’t under any illusions that I was going to be as consistent as I was in 2021. I have set this goal for myself in 2021 of working out at least 10 minutes a day just to become a person who doesn’t hate exercise.
Jason: We never went to a gym. We had a home gym.
Caroline: We had a home gym because it was, again, COVID times, home gym. I met that goal. I became a person who really enjoyed working out mostly in the mornings. And I thought to myself, it’s going to be unfair to myself if I try to go into traveling full time for a year, trying to keep up this daily thing, knowing that it’s not realistic. And I just knew I was going to beat myself up over and I didn’t want to do that.
Jason: We also weren’t going to have a stationary bike, adjustable weights, a mat, and like a clear area to work out every single place we went.
Caroline: But I did set a goal for myself of just trying to go the extra step to look up a local gym when we could and try to exercise. But I will say that that actually became just so much harder than I would have thought. The inconsistency of it. It was also hard, right, because you don’t want to pick your Airbnb based on the closeness to a gym. So you’re stuck with wherever the Airbnb was, what’s close. And so that’s how you find us in Split, Croatia, walking 30 minutes just to get to this gym.
Jason: And we could have taken an Uber for sure, and it would have taken like a third of that time. But also we’re like, well, if we’re going to the gym, we should walk. Let’s get some exercise and we could see the city. And so it ended up, I think probably, I would say 50% of the time this year we found a gym we worked out and we do whatever, but it’s definitely way less than we’re working out before.
Jason: Do you have a favorite gym that comes to mind immediately from the entire year? Because we did like I said, we went to gym…
Caroline: The one that comes to mind immediately is the one in Reeuwijk, the Netherlands.
Jason: Same with me.
Jason: The exact same, yeah.
Caroline: Loved that gym.
Jason: It was just a really solid little gym. It had like a full cardio section. It had a nice little functional movement section. Then it had a whole free weights section. And it was just very well…
Caroline: Extremely nice people.
Jason: Clean. It was nice.
Caroline: It was a walk from our Airbnb.
Jason: Almost all of them were a walk.
Caroline: So if you are in the neighborhood of Reeuwijk, the Netherlands, go to.
Jason: All right, so the next thing that we found pretty difficult and probably more than we expected was decision fatigue. And just the idea specifically for me, I’ll just mention of the constant, like, we have to book this next Airbnb. We have to find our next restaurant to eat out, we have to find our next grocery store to go get groceries from. And then like, it’s just all of the things that you’re doing.
Caroline: This is I think the one thing that I can’t describe to people about this experience, you wouldn’t be able to understand what we mean unless you’ve done long term travel, I think.
Jason: On the surface, anyone who complains about long term travel, we’ve been there. You’re like, it is like, what a privilege to be able to complain about that. It is, 100%. But as to people who have now experienced it, and we do not do it like other people who move every three to four days when they travel. There are so many decisions to make.
Caroline: Yeah, it’s funny because you realize, again, this kind of goes back to the WiFi thing of how many invisible benefits become visible when you don’t have them. But the same with like, so many automatic decisions, like decisions in your life that takes no cognitive load whatsoever because they’ve become so automatic, where your grocery store is. You know the layout of your grocery store. You can read the language of the labels in the grocery store. You know how the checkout works in the grocery store. Like, just a fucking grocery store is like 12 million things going to fry my brain. And you’re doing that at a different grocery store every two weeks. And so it’s like that, and then it’s like Google Maps. And then it’s like picking from the 20 different restaurants because we’re only going to be here in two weeks and we want to go to the best ones. And then it’s like, oh, we forgot this thing. Now we have to figure out where is it? We need a package. Where do they deliver packages? We got to print these documents. Where is the printer thing? That is literally one percent.
Jason: I was going to say that’s just the stress of one week of a place.
Caroline: That was me thinking of Leicester, England in like, one day in Leicester, England.
Caroline: And so it’s just all of that, the things that your brain automatically does in your daily life, that when you’re on the road, everything becomes so cognitively energy draining.
Jason: Yeah, for sure. And again, it’s not to complain. It’s just to share the things that we found more difficult. And that if you’re thinking about doing a year of travel or a couple of months of travel, that you might just be more mentally prepared for some of these things. Because I know for me, when we were doing research on this trip, I didn’t really hear anybody talk about the decision fatigue. That wasn’t something I ever heard anybody mention. But then when you get on the road and yes, you start to run into like, what groceries to go to, what restaurant to go to, where do we go here, what’s this and that and this and that. And you’re just like, I don’t know what to do. And then it all starts over the second you step foot in another city or country.
Caroline: And granted, I will acknowledge that that also goes to what type of a person you are. We are planners by nature, so a little bit of it is self inflicted but not all of it. Like you still are going to have to find a grocery store, right? But the restaurant thing for example, normal people probably aren’t looking through every restaurant to filter out the best restaurant.
Jason: Four and half star place but also with like a €1 sign if possible.
Caroline: Exactly. So this kind of speaks to the next one. Speaking of the cognitive just load that everything took. Something that I also found to be more difficult than anticipated was maintaining my relationships this whole year, like my friendships and my family relationships for a few reasons. Number one, I couldn’t explain how like I’m already introverted by nature so it takes energy for me to reach out to people and keep relationships going. That’s not a bad thing. That’s just the truth. And I think introverts can relate to that. But then when you put on top of it how fatigued I am on a daily basis from the experience of travel, I just found it really difficult. Like at the end of the day where we were walking cities and figuring things out, the last thing that I wanted to do was then exert more energy in talking to people. And that sounds bad, but it’s just true. Like I just fully I needed recharge time somehow and so that’s usually when I do solo time. So I found that hard for that reason. The second one was like the time zone reason. It just is more complicated when you’re fam—like everyone like my friends and family mostly are on the east coast, so that’s 5 hours behind, sometimes 7 hours behind depending on where we were in Europe. And then on top of that, our friends in California are then 8 hours behind or then call it 10 hours behind. So it’s like the miscommunication of just from the time zone aspect is hard. Although there’s positives to that as well, the time zone thing because people aren’t like, you know, texting you and so you can get work done and stuff. But then the third thing was we made the conscious decision we did of not being on social media and not sharing this trip on social media. I didn’t know that was going to be the case. But around January it became clear that I just wasn’t going to have the bandwidth to do it. And then I went off social altogether first as an experiment and then just kind of like completely and it was the best decision I could have made. But you realize that in this day and age we’re also conditioned to keep in touch with each other through this passive feed format.
Jason: It all gets pushed to you.
Caroline: Right. And so even I would like want to touch base. And I did. I had several calls with my closest friends and friends would ask for pictures and things like that. But it felt weird to just go to my girls chat with all of my girlfriends and post a picture like I would on Instagram. It just felt really different to me. It wasn’t like this passive thing on Instagram where it was expected. It just would feel really weird and showy in my girls chat where they’re just going about their day, and I’m just like, here I am in Greece and in an infinity pool. And they probably wouldn’t have cared. They probably would have celebrated it, but for me, it felt weird, you know?
Caroline: And so that was hard. So then I fell into this place where not only because I wasn’t on Instagram did I not really know what was going on with my friends lives unless I explicitly asked. But then, of course, I’m not top of mind for them because they have busy lives. And so then I just feel like a lot of times my friends didn’t know where I was or what country I was in or what I was doing.
Caroline: Which was fine, but it was harder to maintain those relationships.
Jason: Yeah. And then I think the last thing we wanted to touch on that’s more difficult than we expected, and that was driving. So those eight rental cars, I mean, basically it was like five different countries that we drove in. It’s just difficult. It’s very difficult.
Caroline: And we got much better at it near the end of the year. I kind of put this in both categories of what it was harder than I expected in some ways and easier in other ways. Easier because I did get used to it. And when I tell you, before this trip started, I would be up at night thinking about the notion of driving in Switzerland, where it’s like, mountainy and falling off a cliff. Because this is another category of weird anxieties that I have of, like, I think I’m going to die in, like, a fiery crane, you know, car wreck off the side of a cliff. And so I would be over, like, obsessing about driving in a country where I didn’t know what it was like, and it ended up being fine. It’s a lot like driving anywhere.
Jason: Yeah. We didn’t have any accidents. We didn’t get any fender benders, thankfully.
Caroline: But it was more difficult in that it was always this thing that every couple of weeks we had to, like, figure… It’s that first day, I would say just the first day of getting the rental car, figuring out the signs, figuring out the roundabouts, figuring out…
Jason: Leaving an airport.
Caroline: Figuring out tolls.
Jason: Always the hardest.
Caroline: Oh, my god. We had a couple of, like, the toll’s coming up, the sign’s in a different language.
Jason: But I will say that even though we had those things and even though, like, there were two tolls and it only happened in England, we never even saw a sign for a toll, but we just ended up on a toll highway, apparently, and you just had to go online and pay it. So you just had to figure out so it wasn’t like there was no infraction or anything.
Caroline: We’re not toll fugitives in multiple countries.
Jason: So, yeah, it’s very difficult. I will say though Google Maps is a lifesaver.
Caroline: And I know we’re in a difficult category, but I got to put a positive spin on it. I give us so much credit for honing in our tag team navigation style.
Jason: Yeah. We got into a really good rhythm.
Caroline: We got into a great rhythm of, like, helping. This is even before we were doing rental cars with CarPlay, because, remember, I would have the map, and we had developed, like, a shorthand for roundabouts and what exit, and I just wanted credit.
Jason: Yeah, I think we did a good job. I think it’s funny. The first car that we had, I think, had CarPlay, but we didn’t even know it existed.
Caroline: That was our bad.
Jason: We never used it for.
Caroline: We could’ve used that in the Ireland on the left side.
Jason: That would have been nice. It’s all right. You held the phone and you freaked out.
Jason: All right, let’s transition over to what did we find better or easier than expected in a year of full time travel? Almost a year.
Caroline: So the first one would definitely have to be the language barrier in countries, because in all those countries we mentioned, almost all of them, we could find people who spoke at least some level of English. And when it comes to things like signs, you would find enough English signs.
Jason: Oh, yeah. And I think I was just really surprised. Granted, we did go to some smaller towns. Like, we were in the middle of nowhere, you could say in Italy, in France, and just the signs were in English. And so even though you’re…
Caroline: Not in France.
Jason: No, there were still English signs.
Jason: Yeah, absolutely.
Caroline: Because I was going to say France was the only country out of all ten of those where I felt like it was actually quite difficult.
Jason: And that was more spoken, I think, than seeing things on labels. But I do think the Google Translate app also a lifesaver. Thank you, Google, for both of those apps, because they really made our life easier. Any grocery store I went into immediately had the Google Translate app, take a photo, whatever.
Caroline: If you don’t use that app and you don’t know this, there’s now technology where not only can you do what you would imagine, which is type in the word in the foreign language, and then it translates to your language, but you just snap a photo.
Jason: And it just translates it for you.
Caroline: And translates it for you. So everything from labels to menus to reading signs in, like, a museum.
Jason: You also got some really fun translation issues that were, like, obviously not correct.
Jason: And it was just like, oh, this is like a pea party. And it meant to be like pea puree.
Caroline: I would never forget is ordering online food in Reeuwijk, the Netherlands, and on the menu item was like, what you would in America would call chicken fingers, but it was like chicken wings or something. But the translation from Dutch, the Google Translate app, it was crispy chicken strippers. No, it was chicken strippers with crispy jackets. We laughed so hard at chicken strippers with crispy jackets, and now I can’t…
Jason: It’s just all…
Caroline: I can’t not picture strippers. That are just chickens.
Jason: Wearing crispy jackets. It’s great. So, yeah, the language stuff, I think if you’re a person who might be contemplating a trip to Europe, whether it’s a year or a couple of months, don’t be as nervous about the language as you might be, because I think you’re going to find it easier. It’s not easy by any means, but it’s easier than you think. And France would definitely be the hardest place.
Caroline: That we… of the ten countries.
Jason: That we ran into. Yes. The other thing that we found easier was really just the accessibility of anything you might need.
Caroline: Right. We definitely have this mentality going into packing of, like, think of every possible scenario. Think of the things that you’ll need. What if we can’t find X, Y, and Z? And so I think we did it not that we l went overboard, but I think we did bring just the essentials, but…
Jason: Well, we didn’t bring just the essentials.
Caroline: Okay, that’s true.
Jason: Just by the nature of our packing videos that we recorded, we did not bring just the essentials.
Caroline: It’s all noted. You don’t think my five jackets were essential? YouTube didn’t think so either. Read the comments section.
Jason: But I will say, yeah, just the ability of a local pharmacy, a local grocery store, there’s all even, like, department stores to be able to replace some shirts that you wear through or whatever, you’re not going to find necessarily your favorite brands like Tums just do not exist in Europe.
Caroline: Right. You’re going to find, like, sodium bicarbonate, tabs or whatever. Or you’re going to find, oh, by the way, the term cough drops does not exist anywhere except for America. Don’t call them cough drops. If you need a cough drop in a European nation, do not say cough drops because you will get drops.
Jason: Little droppers.
Caroline: Little droppers.
Jason: Yeah. Not like things you suck on.
Caroline: No, you say lozenge or something like that.
Jason: A hustenbonbon.
Caroline: Hustenbonbons, if you’re in Switzerland.
Jason: Yeah. And then I think the next thing that we found a little bit easier was medical stuff. Now, thankfully for us, we both don’t have any preexisting conditions.
Caroline: We didn’t have any emergencies, so we can’t speak to that aspect of it. But a big fear of mine going into this year was, what if I get shingles? What if I get COVID? What if I have to go to a doctor? What am I going to do?
Jason: And you had to do all three of those things.
Caroline: And I had to do all those things. And you even got stitches removed. You had a gash on your face.
Jason: Yeah, I had an asthma attack. And I bought an inhaler from a pharmacy for €3, which you just can’t do in the US.
Caroline: When you said three, I thought you meant €300.
Jason: I said it was 350. I walked out and said, this was 3.50.
Caroline: And I said, yeah, that sounds about right.
Jason: That’s probably what I thought it was going to be.
Jason: Which was amazing. And then, yeah, I had a basal cell carcinoma removed from my face in Dublin, Ireland, and it was the other side. It’s fine. I couldn’t even tell anymore.
Caroline: I know. That’s how good it was.
Jason: And had, like, a follow-up appointment a couple weeks later where they had the stitches removed. Did all that in countries that I’ve never had procedures done in. And it all worked out.
Caroline: And I was so nervous. For example, I got shingles, and we were in France, and as we just mentioned…
Jason: This is your fourth shingles in four years.
Caroline: It’s fine.
Jason: I’m just mentioning it for everyone to know.
Caroline: Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend highly, just…
Jason: Well, good thing is it’s not a choice for people. People can’t order it. Like they can those crispy chicken…
Caroline: Don’t opt in.
Jason: Chicken strippers.
Caroline: If you get that checkbox, don’t you opt in.
Caroline: But anyway, I was really worried about it, and in arguably the country, that was, like, the hardest because of the language barrier. You know, I just and we’ll talk about this in a second. But, like, people are so nice. Like, we went to a pharmacy, nobody spoke English, but they threw broken English. This lovely French pharmacist tried to find me a doctor in town that spoke English.
Caroline: We gathered that he was French Canadian.
Jason: She said Canadian. She’s like, he’s Canadian. And we’re like, oh, great. No, she just said Canadian.
Caroline: She said Canadian. And we thought, Great, we’re going to go to a Canadian doctor who’s going to speak English. We get there. Must have been French Canadian.
Jason: No, no. Was French Canadian.
Caroline: Did not speak very much. It’s emphasis on the French. Less emphasis on the Canadian. But long story short, like, it worked out fine. And I got my medication that I needed. And again, in the category of things that I was so worried about and fearful of, I’m actually very grateful that I encountered a lot of these fears so that I could see in the light of day that they weren’t actually all that scary.
Jason: Yeah. All right. Next thing that we found a bit easier was finding gluten-free food options.
Caroline: Somebody actually reached out to me to ask about this because they have some food restrictions as well. But I have to say…
Jason: Because you’re not gluten allergic, you’re gluten intolerant.
Caroline: And I will say that I’m gluten intolerant. So it’s not an allergy, but I try to avoid it. And I will say in Europe, they’re extremely good at noting allergens on menus, which is something that they don’t always do in America. But I don’t know if it’s like a regulation in a lot of these European countries, but they’ll say, this has nuts, this has eggs, this has wheat, they’ll say on the menu items. I noticed that a lot on the menus. And then in grocery stores, like, all but a handful of the countries that we went to had full…
Jason: Gluten-free sections.
Caroline: Gluten-free sections.
Jason: Or free from…
Caroline: You have your sans gluten. You have your semi-gluten, all the different words that mean without. Just look at in your language of the country, look what the word without is, and then ask somebody or look for the section.
Jason: And if you are going to Europe, the brand Shar will become your best friend.
Caroline: Shar is the G.O.A.T.
Jason: You will start to look for those primary colored blue, yellow and red packages of your breads, your flowers, your tortillas, your cookies, crackers, so many different little treats. And we actually just found in a grocery store that’s not too far from us here in Portugal. It is an entire gluten-free grocery store. And so there’s some pizza crust that we saw we can try. We have to go back there and look.
Caroline: We have go back there.
Jason: Yeah. The next thing that I think we found better or easier, that was a big surprise, but a very nice surprise was we didn’t have our luggage lost on those 17 flights. We didn’t have anything stolen the entire trip.
Caroline: This was another thing that I was really prepared for. I was like, one of us is going to get our laptop stolen. One of us is going to leave our phone somewhere. One of us… I backed up everything before. I would still definitely recommend that.
Caroline: But thankfully, we did not have any kind of horror story that you hear about travel a lot, which I count us very lucky.
Jason: Yeah, absolutely.
Caroline: But to your point, we didn’t go to a lot of extremely populated touristy places where you can get pickpocketed.
Jason: And I think I think that’s a big part of this trip, too, for us, is like, we weren’t doing this year of travel to go see every tourist thing you could possibly see, like, every attraction. We were doing it to see what life felt like in European cities and towns.
Caroline: Right. And statistically, probably locals get robbed a lot less than tourists.
Jason: I would hope so. For sure. The tourists, they wear a lot of electronics. There’s a lot of things you can steal and grab really easily.
Caroline: Yeah. So we kind of were trying to blend in as locals, and some places we probably did that better than others. But in general, I think it helped us out.
Jason: Which is why I stopped wearing my fanny pack, because my cross body bag, because I looked less like a tourist without it. You know, like, oh, that guy’s just local. He’s got his wallet in his pocket.
Caroline: It’s funny because it’s such a European fashion thing to wear the crossbody bag, but I just think you didn’t wear it in such a way that it felt like a piece of you.
Jason: It did really…
Caroline: You really sort of like…
Jason: It’s an accessory. The other thing in this category of better is a lack of Airbnb fails.
Caroline: We definitely prepared for. We had more Airbnb fails staying at places in the States than we did this entire year of staying at whatever we said.
Caroline: 35, 31. I expected things to be not as pictured. I expected things to have weird smells. I expected there to be terrible construction. Like, all the things that you hear of people being like this was not as the listing said. But thankfully, we only had one Airbnb fail that we had to move. And the people were extremely nice about it, did not fight us on refunds at all. And I will say, going back to kind of the money conversation, I have to acknowledge that a lot of times we weren’t staying at the budget accommodations, so hosts weren’t like, nickel and diming us and things like that.
Jason: Yeah, but I think in comparison to places we’ve stayed in the US of the exact same dollar value, we’ve run into more problems in the US than we did in Europe, which is just wild. And also the other thing I want to say is just the friendliness of especially Airbnb hosts. And again, we’re not trying to make the US out to look worse than Europe.
Caroline: Definitely not, no.
Jason: It’s just the experience that we had on Airbnb throughout all of Europe the entire year was phenomenal. There were people who were willing to take us to their favorite restaurants to tell us about all the best spots in town, to come and bring something to the house if we need. Like, all of these things. Have not had that happen.
Caroline: Yeah, a couple of anecdotes that come to mind is like when you got COVID in Portugal and our food tour guide is sending you the days that you need to be inside. And like, do you need anything?
Jason: Yeah, the updated government information on what to do.
Caroline: I’m going to send you where to get a test, like, just help… being a lifeline in that country. Or when we were in Croatia and I got COVID and our other tour guide stopped by with just bottles of wine and like a little care package and said, I hope you feel better soon, which was unbelievably sweet. Or our actual friend that we made in Ireland, the Ballybunion place, of, like, you know, we’ll go back and visit her, and it’s just like the friendliness of people, the friends that we made this year, even if they were just more than acquaintances. I truly feel like people welcomed us into their hometown and really were a lifeline, and I just think that made the whole experience better.
Jason: Yeah. And I think in general, again, that we can only speak to the ten countries that we went to in Europe, but for the majority of them, we did not run into any angry people who were mad that we were tourists in a place and it was just more of like, oh, you don’t speak English. Like, I can’t really help you that much, but I can point a lot and you can point a lot and we can figure this thing out.
Jason: And that was it. All right, let’s move into a new category. Were we happy with our itinerary? What would we do differently planning wise, if we were to plan this trip again?
Caroline: So, again, for those of you who are just tuning in, kind of our loose plan at the beginning of this year was to stay in 20 different kind of cities or destinations and to stay in places about two and a half weeks at a time. We ended up well, I mean, you know, by the numbers now that we end up kind of in 30 different places. So that means that some of these places we didn’t stay longer than the two and a half weeks that we were planning on. But in general, I felt like that was a really good plan for us. Do I feel like the year and the itinerary got hectic at times, namely, like, in the spring, like, kind of when things started to gear up and we did France, and we were bopping around in France, then to Greece, then to Netherlands. I felt like that was a little hectic. And then in the fall, it got really hectic because it was Italy, and then back to Portugal and then England, and it was a lot. But I will say, overall, we made all of those decisions for reasons.
Caroline: And I feel good about it.
Jason: Yeah. I think if anything, if you’re looking at doing a trip like this, it’s best to create a plan that you feel really comfortable with, how long you think.
Caroline: That aligns with you and how you like to travel. Like, I obviously need more rest time, so the longer stays were really helpful.
Jason: Yeah, the one thing that we were really happy that we did was we started in Lisbon, which is a very, very tourist friendly city. It’s very easy to get around. English is spoken very easily. It also is kind of one of the quickest to get to from the US. So you have a little bit of a less length of a flight. And I think that was such a good decision.
Jason: Because it just started our trip off on such a good foot. We had those two weeks, which actually ended up being four weeks because I ended up getting COVID, so we had to stay a little bit longer and change our plans. But it really was a great city to be in because you could order food, you could go to a bunch of places really easily. It just was a good spot.
Caroline: Definitely. And then on the same note there as starting in an easy place, we ended the trip in Switzerland, which was basically at the top of our list, like, destination wise, and it was just spectacular. Like, it lived up to the hype in our minds. And so I’m really glad that we ended things on such a high note because it just was like the perfect cap to the end of the trip.
Jason: Yeah. And I think if you’re looking at planning out a year and you think, okay, let me start with something easier, like a Lisbon, if you will, or even just like a bigger city where it’s like there’s a lot of options of things and then end with a country that you’re like that one might feel like maybe a little bit uncomfortable and just like, maybe things will take longer to get to. There’s more driving, et cetera. But you’re going to be so much more comfortable with travel. Do that one later on. Don’t start with the one that might be a little bit more challenging.
Jason: And then I think from there, for us, as you mentioned, we’re huge planners. We love to plan. We love a good Notion database. We love a good organized Google Calendar. And it would have been really nice had we, at the beginning of this trip, had the first three months fully booked.
Caroline: Yes. Because in hindsight, something that really added more stress to our plate and I think didn’t help us acclimate as quickly as we could have was that we were so busy trying to sell all of our stuff at the end of 2021 and get ready for the trip.
Jason: Were you managing a lot of Offer Up auctions or things on eBay or…?
Caroline: I was managing the Notion database.
Jason: Or putting together all the price things for…?
Caroline: I listed a couple of things on eBay once my husband showed me how to do that.
Jason: Okay. I’m just kidding.
Caroline: I know you are. That was all of our time was spent kind of doing that at the end of the year. And so that time we could have been spending planning out the first three months, because what happened was we didn’t have the first three months very well planned out. We had our first two destinations, basically.
Jason: Yeah. Which is our first month.
Caroline: Which was our first month. And then we had to change plans, like you said, because of COVID But then it just became, like, really difficult to be, as we said, doing the decision fatigue that it requires in the moment of being in a place, and on top of that, to try and carve out time, to then plan a month ahead. And then your options are less, your Airbnbs are less, because now you’re down to the wire. And so it just became too hectic. So I wish we had started the year with, like, locked in, fully loaded, our first three months of destinations and accommodations booked.
Jason: Yeah. And I think what makes it a little bit easier, if you are a person who is thinking about a trip like this, you have some rules you have to follow, which is the Schengen travel visa thing. So you can’t just stay in France for four months. Like, you have to leave after three months, and you have to go outside of the region, so you’d have to go somewhere else for three months and then come back and blah, blah, blah. So knowing that ahead of time, I think we did a great job picking out all of our countries that we were going to go to the time in and out of them. It just would have been so great to have the Airbnbs booked, the flights booked, even have planned out a couple of restaurants and grocery store things just so when you hit the ground, you don’t have to then go, okay, now I have to figure all this out and I’m exhausted.
Jason: Cool. All right, let’s pivot over from kind of just like travel stuff to business and travel.
Jason: So we have some fun stuff we want to chat about as this is a business podcast, but we do talk about life as well. We wanted to talk about how hard it was to manage our two businesses while traveling for a year.
Caroline: Yeah, I mean, listen, would it have been more fun and cooler and better had we not had to work at all?
Caroline: Absolutely. Is that feasible for most people? Probably not.
Jason: Not even us.
Caroline: Not even us.
Jason: Who try really hard to…
Caroline: We did. And our businesses are extremely self-sufficient, but they do take maintenance effort. And so I’m not going to lie, it was really hard to try to find ways to work consistently while also managing all the things that we mentioned. But I give us a lot of credit for our only goal was just to maintain the businesses. That was it. We weren’t going to do any major growth initiatives. I think we did a good job of not putting, like, too too much stuff on our plate. There are things that I think we could have done better, which we’ll talk about in a second, but in general, I think we did a pretty good job.
Jason: Well, I think what helped us the most was before we left, we said 2022 is not a growth year.
Jason: And anybody who runs their own business knows every year you’re trying to grow by something, and even if it’s just a little bit like you’re just trying to do a little bit better than you did last year. And that’s what we’ve done every single year. And we’ve not tried to like…
Caroline: And by the way, that could be not just grow revenue wise. That could be we’re trying to grow as in optimize and make processes better.
Jason: Yeah, but for this year, we set the intention ahead of time, which was we are not trying to grow in any capacity whatsoever. So if we can just stay afloat, if we can just deliver what we promised to our customers and our members, that will be good enough. And we just got to make it through the year. And have a great time while we’re traveling.
Caroline: Exactly. Yeah, and we did that. And I think the biggest part of the biggest thing that I learned is just how to pick and choose the things that you’re going to put your attention on because your capacity is not going to be at a 100%. Looking back, we talk about like I probably worked at like a 30 to 40. 30…
Jason: Don’t go up to 40. Don’t you dare.
Caroline: 30% capacity, which is just so abysmal. But it’s true. This lifestyle is so much harder on my sensibilities, and it is Jason’s, and we have gone over what those sensibilities are ad nauseam on the podcast. And so it was impossible for me to work as much as he did. You probably worked at like 75% capacity.
Jason: Yeah, I think so.
Caroline: As a robot. Even robots still can’t work at a 100% capacity.
Jason: I wasn’t happy about it, to be honest.
Caroline: I know. But I think the biggest thing about that was just understanding, OK, if I can only work at 30% capacity, where am I going to put that 30% capacity?
Jason: And actually, if we quantify this into actual hours in a week, it might be helpful for someone to hear just to know what that is. So for me, I’m used to working in the morning for like 2 to 3 hours every morning and then getting probably another two to 3 hours in later in the day at some point. That was like my previous work life. And I think in the full-time travel life, it was more like an hour or two in the morning, depending on if I needed to go anywhere, I needed to get groceries, like whatever. And then maybe an hour or two in the afternoon, depending on if we were doing anything, I definitely wouldn’t have any time. And so I think for you, it was probably about an hour a day on good days, and then some days you would have more because we just have nothing to do. Would you say that was fair? And like, the amount of hours worked.
Caroline: When you think about coaching sessions, though, those are logging five hour days, three days in a row.
Jason: For sure.
Caroline: So it’s like, that’s, what, once a month? So then that’s hard to try to quantify. That’s why I was just like, I’m like 30% feels right.
Jason: Yeah, but I say that so that you listen to this, might know, oh, okay, I might only be able to work 2 to 3 hours a day at most if I want to be in the full time travel life. Because even if you’re not doing things every day, which we were not doing things every day, you just end up being so exhausted that you don’t have the energy to work. So I think I’m just sharing that so that you know the reality of you see people on YouTube who work and travel full time, it’s like, yeah, but their work is creating that YouTube video.
Caroline: Exactly. And we’ve talked about this before. The difference between us and someone who is traveling…
Jason: This is all of us, everyone listening to us.
Caroline: No, just you and me and a full time content creator is that when they are doing adventures, they are technically contributing to their work because they’re going to film that, they’re going to go home, they’re going to edit it. And so it’s like every time they do something, they’re pouring into their business in a way. For us, every time we go do something, it’s a distraction from our business. It’s taking time away. It’s a trade off. And that’s okay, we chose that. But it’s different. It is a little different than being just a full-time content creator for that. But going back to what I was saying before, I think the keys are knowing what moves the needle in your business and saying, if I can only work 30% capacity, what is going to fall away in that 70% that is not going to actually make a difference in my business?
Caroline: For us, that was social media. For us, that was sometimes…
Jason: Content creation.
Caroline: Sometimes content creation, sometimes pushing videos, sometimes pushing podcasts. We took a full month off from the podcast when things got too hectic.
Jason: How was your email inbox?
Caroline: Honestly, not as worse than it was in the other year, Jason. I’m going to be honest. Nobody emails me.
Jason: No, no, they email you. It’s just full.
Caroline: Meh. Not in my mind, they don’t.
Jason: That’s how it works.
Caroline: Shout out to nobody emailing me. Listen. Some people are gifted in some areas in life and some people are note.
Jason: And you are at ignoring emails.
Caroline: Yeah. That’s my gift.
Jason: Let’s get to this question that your friend Nicole also asked that I thought was an interesting one. Did you ever feel resentful of the business while you were traveling?
Caroline: Which I read this out loud to Jason, I thought, Isn’t that an interesting question? And he said, don’t you mean did you ever feel resentful of the trip?
Caroline: And it was a good point, which is that I never felt resentful of the business while we were traveling. Of like, oh, this is taking me away. But probably sometimes I felt resentful of the trip because it was so… And I know, listen, caveat city, I’m not saying that from a perspective. I understand it’s such a privilege. I understand it’s like a dream come true. Please do not hear what I’m about to say and think that I’m not grateful. I am. This is coming from a place of, yes, it’s amazing, but it was also so far outside of my comfort zone doing this in my life. It was such a risk for me personally to do this, because it is not… I’m not just saying this as like a story I’m telling myself. I’m telling you in the factual sense, I’m not built for this life, okay? It is hard on me. And so there were times when in the micro moment, I would be like, why am I doing this? I don’t want to be doing this.
Jason: This whole trip?
Caroline: This trip, I truly… And it happened a lot less towards the end of the year. I would say this is like the first two months. After the summer, I really found my groove. But the first two months I just thought like, what am I doing?
Jason: Where do you think was your lowest trip?
Caroline: Oh. The two places immediately come to mind. And it was funny enough when I was not where my health wasn’t good.
Jason: When you were sick both times?
Caroline: Yeah, because when I got COVID in Croatia, that was a low point. Not just because I physically felt well, but all of the fears and stories that brought up within me about being really… and it was the first time I had ever gotten COVID and we had avoided it for two and a half years. We were extremely COVID cautious, but we knew it was a risk taking this trip. And so despite being boosted and all these things, I was so scared. And we were also like, Croatia was one of those places where it was so beautiful, but it was definitely more outside of our comfort zone, I would say, just because of the language and you just have less ideas in my head about what Croatian culture is. And so that felt very kind of alienating as well. Of course, come to find out, this is one of the stories that we were saying before. The people were so accommodating. The testing site that we went to for COVID was so helpful and great and anyway, it all works out, right? But that was a low point for me. And then also when I got shingles.
Jason: In France.
Caroline: In France, and we happened to be staying at an Airbnb that was very uncomfortable for us that week as well. And so the combination. I was on these antivirals that were very like, mood altering for me. So it was also just putting me in this very… a temporary but depressive state on top of not feeling well, on top of being in a place that was uncomfortable. And I was just like, what the fuck am I doing?
Jason: I thought in France you were going to ask to be done with the trip.
Caroline: Which is funny because I never once actually considered stopping.
Caroline: Never once did I actually consider stopping. It was more of like these moments of where I would go like, am I actually… why am I doing this? And so that’s what I wanted to share, is that even in the micro moments, where I would be resentful of this choice that I had made to put myself in such utter discomfort, you know, and I would be like, I’m having these magical moments, but those are not outweighing the discomfort at this point. In the micro, that’s how it would feel to me. So I’d be like, is this really worth it? But always in those moments I would look at it from the macro perspective and my sort of like value of personal growth and my competitive spirit would kick in and I would go, A, I know this is changing me in a positive way in the macro sense. And so I have enough grit that I will stick this out because I know that it’s going to be beneficial in the long term even if it doesn’t feel beneficial in the short term. And then B, it’s like I said, the competitive spirit within me that’s like, I know my own self and I know even when I’m experiencing temporary discomfort, I know when I don’t want to quit something. And I did not want to quit this trip. And so I always kind of was like, let me stick it out. I don’t think I even shared this with you, but my sort of internal compass was always like, if I’m at a really low point, I’ll give myself a week, and if I still feel extremely low one week from now, I will reevaluate. And 100% of the time when I felt low, I would feel amazing a week later. And so it was just like, okay.
Jason: Yeah. And I think that’s also just a testament to like, yes, it would have been nice to stay in places longer, but also we started to get into this groove where when anything wasn’t great, it’s like, well, we’re moving to a new place next week.
Caroline: Exactly. That’s why that two-week period…
Jason: So it’s like, this place kinda sucks.
Caroline: Was like perfect.
Jason: So it’s like, but next week we’re going to be somewhere else. So it’ll be different and it’ll feel maybe easier. It might even feel harder, but it’s just going to be different.
Jason: And that’s what we’re looking forward to.
Caroline: Absolutely. So never resentful. Were you ever resentful of the business? You were never resentful of the trip.
Jason: No, not at all. I mean, I actually was very grateful for our businesses and that it showed me and I think a lot of people who own their own businesses and have for a long time, I think it’s different when you’re first getting started because there’s so many unknowns, there are so many things. And I know we have a lot of listeners who work full time jobs and they don’t, you know, they have a side hustle and they can only work on it for an hour or whatever a day. But I think for anybody who has been working in their business for a while knows it really doesn’t take that long every day to do what you need to do to keep the business afloat because the businesses…
Caroline: And that’s what it showed us.
Jason: And that’s exactly what it showed me. Like if I was really focused, like if I put on my synthwave soundtrack and I had a good cup of coffee that I made that morning with some beans that I found somewhere in town that I was able to scope out, I could get everything done in 1 hour, everything would be done. I could have all my emails answered. But I’m also like, it’s a huge cognitive load to focus that much every single day and then also being a full time travel life. So I didn’t do that to myself because then I would run out of steam and I would get to this point where I’m like, oh, I am having a hard time making a decision on where to eat lunch and what a stupid position to be in because I forced myself to get an hour of focused work done when I can just take it easy in the morning and be like, I’ll get to the rest of that work tomorrow or later or whatever. So, yeah, I think that was, for me, kind of what it showed. And I was just very grateful for our two businesses.
Caroline: I know, and me too. And we talk about it often, but this entire podcast is called What Is It All For? And to me, this was the year of what is it all for? It’s like those years that we put in of not knowing where the business was headed or if it would pay off. That huge risk that we took when we combined businesses. And I didn’t know if I was going to like it or if we’re going to work well together, or like, what was this going to mean for the future of our business. And it turned out to be the best decision we ever made. It’s like those risks, like, this year was the payoff. And I’m so glad. Going back to the conversation about spending money, too, it’s like, well, what is it all for if you’re not going to spend it on something that deeply fills up your soul and makes you happy to be alive? And this year made me happy to be alive.
Jason: Oh. And you’ll hear in the part two of this next episode, like, we have created some memories that we will keep forever. And it’s like, what is working for if not to provide you the opportunity to make memories for the rest of your life through…
Caroline: Yeah, it doesn’t have to be in our interpretation. It doesn’t have to be traveling around the world, but what is that for you?
Caroline: What does your money do for you? Is it to spend more time with your kids and make memories with them? Is it to give back to your parents who took… I don’t know.
Jason: And maybe it’s not a full time travel trip. Maybe it’s just the one trip that you want to take with your family to a country in Europe that you’ve been dreaming about and you saved up for ten years to do it. Like, yes, do that with your money.
Caroline: Or not Europe. Anywhere in the world.
Jason: Okay, let’s talk about a couple more businessy things. What helped with our workflow? So what were some things that we did?
Caroline: Okay, so the first one is going to sound silly, but it’s the charging station. Tell the people about the charging station.
Jason: This was something that I was thinking about as we got into our first Airbnb and then into our second Airbnb, and I was like, oh, every single time we change places, we’re going to need to be able to charge two laptops, an iPad, two iPhones, and a bunch of ancillary random devices.
Caroline: 21st century problems.
Jason: All these things. And I was like, it’s going to be a pain if we don’t have a system for this. And like, a dedicated charging spot for all of our things. So we had a little power strip that we brought. We have some converters. And I just basically kept all of our plugs. The majority of them, you had your own. But every time we got to an Airbnb, the first thing I would do, pull out my little electronics bags. I had two little dock kits. You can see them in our packing video if you want to see what they were. I would set up a little spot for a charging station.
Caroline: You would scout it out. You would look at like, okay, where are we probably going to work?
Jason: Yeah, it’s not just like, oh, put it on the nearest outlet or whatever.
Caroline: No, no, no.
Jason: Where is it going to be a good spot that stuff is out of the way?
Caroline: That you could put stuff down. Oh my gosh. It was like, fully a part of our routine. And I always get so excited because usually when we’re changing Airbnbs, it’s a travel day, right? So it’s like, by the time we get to the place and settle in, I know my phone is going to be low, my iPad is probably going to be low.
Jason: You’re going to be low.
Caroline: I’m going to be low. And so it’s always so satisfying to know within the first hour, Jason’s going to have the charging station set up, and it’s going to be so easy for me to just go and go, [phone notification sounds].
Jason: Plug it all in.
Caroline: And so the reason why that ties into what made it effective for us to be able to work is because going back to the decision fatigue thing, that was like one point of friction that we could remove that then made it that much easier to get into work every day because you didn’t have to worry about oh, crap. The thing is dead and I got to put the charger and blah, blah. It was like whenever you felt the urge to work, you could because you had this system for keeping your thing charged. And it sounds so silly, but I’m telling you, it was like a huge facilitating point for being able to work whenever the mood would strike.
Jason: I’ll let you talk about Notion, but for me, Google Calendar is and has been the most extremely helpful thing, I think, for my productivity over many years of working for myself. And so just always having my little time blocks set up, little tasks, excuse me, that I set up for myself. Previous Jason a couple of weeks ago put on my calendar so that I could just like wake up and go, oh, I needed to get these couple of things done today. And I see them right there, listed my Google Calendar for the day. A game changer for me.
Caroline: I recently came to the conclusion of why you always love Google Calendar so much and why I like Notion better. And it’s because of the way that our brains work. Your brain is so good at setting, you’re not mood driven.
Caroline: For working at all.
Caroline: You just like… Tell me what to do.
Jason: The robot needs to work.
Caroline: The robot needs to work. The robot will work, and so that’s like wonderful. So if you say that you’re going to do something at 3:00, there’s not a lot of reasons why you wouldn’t be able to do that.
Caroline: I have so many reasons why I wouldn’t be able to do…
Jason: The wind could be blowing…
Caroline: The wind is blowing north by northwest, and everyone knows that makes me sad.
Jason: The blanket was set up horizontally, not vertically.
Caroline: Not vertically. And that reminds me of a memory I had when I was eight and I now can’t work.
Caroline: And so we laugh, but it’s true. I have all these different reasons of like…
Caroline: Sensitivities that I need the flexibility to be able to rearrange my tasks based on where’s my energy at, where’s my mood at or whatever. And so that’s why I love Notion, because it’s a building block system and so I can rearrange my tasks very easily. But I think that if it was absolutely necessary, and if this kind of skips ahead to a question that we’ll get to later, which is what advice would we give to someone who is trying to kind of do a trip like this in the future? Without a doubt, I think you need some type of like what you would call a second brain system. A place where you can dump your task, a place where you can dump your project so that it doesn’t live inside your brain because I needed my first brain to do things like grocery store shopping and Google Maps and where… navigate a new city and Google Translate. And so it was great because I never needed my brain to be clogging up that cognitive power with like, what do I need to do for work? Instead, I kept it all in my Notion. And when I did finally get that little burst of energy to sit down and do work, I could say, here’s everything that’s been piling up and here’s how I can tackle it. So having some type of system, I think, is pretty key.
Jason: And the next one pomodoro timers for you.
Caroline: The Pomodoro timers work incredibly well for me, and I think it’s because I know that not everyone is like this, but for me, having a time constraint is very helpful and also because if I set a timer for myself and I say, okay, I don’t need to be focused for the whole day. I just need to be focused for two pomodoro, meaning a 25 minutes on a five minute break. Right. That’s helpful for me because that feels doable suddenly, instead of just like, I have, like, three big things I have to do today. So the app that I use is called PomoFocus.io, and it just allows you to set these little timers for yourself.
Jason: And it’s free.
Caroline: Yeah, there’s a free version. So that worked well for me, so that when I did have, like I said, that window of motivation, I could turn on my motivation playlist, set up my pomodoro timers, have that little time constraint and actually get stuff done.
Jason: Nice. OK. Next up is trying to fit in some exercise as much as possible. And again, this is the question, you know, kind of here is what helps with workflow, or just like, getting into the workflow?
Caroline: Yeah. And I think we discovered, at least especially for me, days where I work out in the morning, I get more work done on the business because it starts me off in such an, A, it’s such an anxiety relief for me. It’s a good mental health like, hygiene thing for me. It makes me feel like I already accomplished something. So now I’m like, what else can I accomplish? And it also just starts my whole day on a familiar routine where we go, we work out, we come home, we make breakfast, I sit at my computer and I do work. And so that’s sort of a combo, which is some type of routine that your brain can alert your brain that you’re going into work mode. And for me, the added benefit of making that an exercise trigger was helpful.
Jason: And I think for people listening, that might be in a yoga practice, it might be a meditation practice, it might be any of those things.
Caroline: A journal practice.
Jason: For me, I think it’s actually my morning coffee routine. And I think that’s what gets me. Like, I’m a person who gets out of bed and I’m ready to go. So I have the very luck… and fortunate that I can do that. And I don’t know why that is, but that’s just how I’m wired DNA-wise. So all I need is, like, a nice pour over coffee that I make with whatever random kettle I’ve found in a place or a pot of boiling water in an AeroPress.
Caroline: I can’t believe I lucked out just in finding you, because this is not like an interview question that I gave you when we had our first date. I really should have fielded potential mates for this characteristic of just being able to. I just lucked out.
Jason: Yeah, I just get up and do things. I think the other thing that really helped us is in booking Airbnbs, where we clearly saw a place that work could be done. I will tell you, there were many Airbnbs that we looked at throughout the year that we didn’t book because as beautiful as it was and as like, well decorated as it was, there wasn’t a place to work.
Caroline: Which really just amounts to a dining room table or like a table.
Jason: Yeah. And that might sound silly and it might be like, well, yeah, it’s just like we’ll work from a couch. But remember, we’re traveling full time. We’re talking about living a full time life. It’s very different than just going to a hotel for a few nights and like, yeah, you can work from the bed. It’s no big deal. But every single week when you need to be getting work done and you’re then changing environments, it’s good to have a table, a desk of some kind, some place to sit where you can do some…
Caroline: Some ergonomics, you know.
Jason: Some ergonomics, as they say.
Caroline: So that answers the question about our workflow, our business workflow. Now moving into as far as the business goes, though, looking back now, what would we do differently to prep our businesses for this year of travel?
Jason: Yeah, so I think the thing just like maybe a caveat here or just a little note, our businesses are both recurring income businesses. We have an online course platform, Teachery, and that has customers that pay us every month to use Teachery. And then we have Wandering Aimfully Unlimited, which is a coaching program that people pay every month to get access to our coaching program, along with a whole bunch of other stuff and a Teachery account. So both of those businesses are recurring income businesses. So we don’t have to necessarily do a bunch of work to sell them. We do launches for Wandering Aimfully twice a year, which we did twice during this year. And we were able to do those and we’ll talk more about that. But the thing for me that I would have done differently, even though we have all this stuff set up, we have all these systems in place. We’ve created so much stuff in Notion that’s helpful. We have a lot of processes. We have really great customers. Thank you so much, anybody who’s listening to this, because you make our lives so much easier. It would have been nice to think ahead to have a customer service person, a customer support person that could have basically just done like 1 hour a day.
Caroline: Because we should also say that we intentionally keep both of those businesses with very few… no employees, but very few even contractors and freelancers. So we don’t like managing a huge team. Some people want to grow their team. Some people, that’s how they want to grow their business. They like that. For us, we try to keep it intentionally small. And so Jason does all the customer service, even for…
Caroline: It’s a software product. But if you have a problem, you’re messaging with basically the CEO of the company.
Jason: Excuse me, co-CEO.
Jason: Yeah. So I think that would have been nice to try and find somebody that could have done those tasks every day and then I could have just done like a quick check in with them, like in Slack or via email. And also with the time zone thing, it would have been nice too because being on European time, having been in US time forever, like people kind of get used to that cadence of things and that’s where most of our customers are anyway. So it would be like 6:00 p.m. on a day where we had done like a fun travel adventure, which we’ll talk more about in part two next episode. And I would just be exhausted and not want to do any customer support stuff. But that’s like the beginning of the day for some people.
Caroline: Right. So then it’s not basically like you’re calling it a day early. It’s like you’re taking a day off.
Caroline: And you don’t want to do that.
Jason: And I never had a problem with that. I never had anybody complain about that. It was just more for me and how I operate. I felt bad for our customers.
Caroline: That was my follow up question was do you think that that actually negatively impacted our customers experience or do you think it’s just a values thing for you of wanting to provide a good experience and knowing that you’re falling short?
Jason: Yes, more of a values thing, less of a bad experience. I mean, I do think there were a couple occasions where someone had something break like in Teachery because they broke it, because they put some bad code in and it would have been nice to get back to them quicker. But at the end of the day, they broke it and they just had to wait until someone could fix it. Anyway. What about our coaching session?
Caroline: Yes, so this is the other big thing that looking back in hindsight probably would have done differently is for those of you that don’t know and you’re not WAIMers, so the big main deliverable that we offer for our monthly unboring coaching sessions is like we do a three-hour live coaching. It’s always on a different topic.
Jason: We’ve now done 40 of them.
Caroline: And we’ve done 40 of them now. And when I tell you this is not a little like I write an agenda and we get on live and just like shoot the shit for 3 hours like we do in the podcast, am I right? It is like truly something that I take a lot of pride in. Well, we do together.
Jason: But you’re creating an entire curriculum every single month.
Caroline: And I put a lot of love into it, and there’s fun illustrations, and there’s usually a story, and there’s a thing I’m trying to teach. And the thing is, we really tried. I will say we did try to change the format going into this year, to go from something that I spent 30 hours on a month to something that I spend 10 hours. That was kind of our goal. But the format that we chose, which was this idea of unsolved businesses, turns out that I thought teaching something… Teaching something is like our main format where we pick a topic like we just did one on how to use a quiz to grow your email subscribers. Right. We teach the whole thing from start to finish. I thought going from that to this unsolved businesses format, which is just a fun way of basically taking a WAIMer’s business, a case study, and using our five-step business framework to improve their business. And I thought, well, it’s just that will be so much more simple because we’re not teaching anything. We’ll just offer some suggestions. OK. What I didn’t realize was that I was actually going to care way more about that because it was a person and it was their business and I wanted to really give them contextual advice that would actually be helpful and not just like bullshit them. Right, so then that took longer.
Jason: Yes. And I think looking back, like it would have been smart of us for 2022 to go, okay, we have to deliver a monthly coaching session curriculum thing every month to our customers. What’s a simplified version?
Caroline: What is something that we could provide value-wise that we could do and also to make it shorter because I know not every one of our WAIMers has 3 hours to spend. Although a lot of you like that.
Caroline: But what could we deliver in a third of the time that still was tremendous amount of value? And we’re going to test that out for this upcoming year, which I hope will be better and more kind of learned from the past. But if we had really used the last quarter of 2021 to test out a couple of different frameworks and really been serious about tracking the time for the format, I think we would have done ourselves a big and by us, I mean me a big favor.
Jason: Yeah. I think the other thing that would have made this year full time travel a little bit easier on our businesses is if we would have planned a couple more three to four week stays in one spot. Especially a spot that had good WiFi.
Caroline: Yes. Because we did have this one stretch of time in June where we went to Scotland and we only stayed in two different Airbnbs for two and a half weeks each. So it was basically like…
Jason: And 30 minutes apart.
Caroline: And they were 30 minutes apart. So it was basically like staying in a place for a month and we got caught up on so much business stuff, we got ahead on stuff. It was such a good reset. I think it’s what actually made the second half of the year goes so much better. And if we had just done that one or two more times where it didn’t have to be like a four to five week. It could have just been like three weeks in a place where we really knew the WiFi was good, and we just said, don’t travel. Don’t even try to see stuff, just get caught up on work. I think we would have actually gotten ahead and made it a better for ourselves.
Jason: Yeah. And I think a quick pivot on the same note here, that’s different from business and just making a year of travel work is, and we got this advice from a couple people, is literally plan a vacation from your travel as often as possible. So maybe it’s once a quarter, maybe it’s once every six months. I would say if we were just doing this over, every quarter, we would have to take at least one week completely off, and so it would just be off from everything. It’s no plans. Like, you’re probably going to a hotel, maybe an all-inclusive hotel. You don’t have to think. There’s no cognitive load is where you’re going for.
Caroline: If you were planning your trip, I would say you have three types of blocks. You have an adventure block where it’s like you’re exploring a new place. You’re going, you’re seeing stuff, you’re going to cool restaurants, whatever. Adventure. Work block, where it’s like you’re staying inside. You don’t care you’re not seeing anything. Maybe you’re ordering takeout and you’re just getting caught up on work and then relax, and it’s like you’re not going anywhere. You’re kind of just recharging the batteries, and you don’t feel that FOMO of like, I need to go and explore.
Jason: And you don’t have any decisions to make. I think that’s the thing. When we stayed at the Royal Senses in Crete, that week was very rejuvenative for me, because the hardest decision to make was, well, there are two restaurants for dinner. Which one do we go to?
Caroline: And by the way, that was immediately after my low point when we were in France and I got shingles, and I’m pretty sure that’s why I didn’t quit, because I was like, oh, it’s okay.
Jason: Yeah. So I would just say if you’re thinking about doing a year of travel or an extended time of travel, plan some longer stays to get caught up in work and make sure they have good WiFi. And then also make sure you’re planning on some regular vacation from your trip. Which I know sounds ridiculous, but really it’s just to have more time to think.
Caroline: I’m going to skip ahead for a second based on our notes, and just wrap up the business section, this whole section, by saying, answering the question of, okay, now you said you can only work 30% or 75% or whatever. What was the overall impact on your business? Did we accomplish our goal of keeping our businesses afloat even while we were traveling?
Jason: I think this will shock you listeners.
Caroline: This is our BuzzFeed clickbait. You’ll be shocked.
Jason: Yeah. Literally.
Jason: Almost the exact same revenue year to year between last year and this year.
Caroline: 1% difference.
Caroline: Also, we’re extrapolating in December, but we have recurring revenue. So we can guess.
Jason: Yeah, we can guess and we’re not doing anything different. And it’ll all be pretty much the same. It’s pretty wild. Like, when we looked at the numbers, I actually expected there to be like a $20,000 to $30,000 difference from this year, making less money this year than the last year, 1% difference, which is just incredible. And again, super thankful that we have been able to create this. We’ve been able to build sustainable, predictable businesses because just five years ago, that was not a thing for us. And so, just to let you all know, and we talk about this often in five years, like, your world can vastly change when it comes to business stuff. And it just takes experimentation. Listening to all 150 other episodes of this podcast, reading all those business books you have stacked up that you haven’t read, but just like, applying those things and experimenting.
Caroline: Yeah, and applying is the biggest part. Right. It’s like you can listen to advice all day long, but everything… There is no blueprint. As much as I know that everyone wants to believe there is, it is about taking the best nuggets that you feel like will work for your business. And then you have to go and experiment and see what works for you and what industry you’re in and what offer you have and what your unique gifts are. And it’s just like there’s so many variables. It really does take experimentation. Now, that being said, this is where a caveat’s important, because revenue is different than profit, right? So even though our revenue stayed within the same of 1%, we paid $20,000 more in expenses for the business.
Jason: Which I would say is like a 10% difference if we’re doing that…
Caroline: Sure. And really the majority, really, all of that is to pay out our affiliates. So that’s our main marketing engine for our main offer, which is WAIM Unlimited, our coaching program. And we love using affiliate marketing. When I say affiliate marketing, all I mean is that our existing WAIM members can basically market WAIM for us. And then every person that they bring in, they get a percentage of that revenue. And the reason we like this is because I would so much rather pay our customers back money that they gave to us. I would so much rather give them money back. That’s the way I view it. Then pay, like, for Facebook ads or pay for whatever other paid marketing channels.
Jason: And when you actually boil that down, it’s less than $2,000 a month that we spent this year to basically have our businesses run very simply and without us having to do a whole bunch of other stuff.
Caroline: Absolutely. And then I’m like, okay, well, I’m not even mad at $20,000 because I’m like that $20,000 went directly to people who we know and love, and if we can create an income stream for people in our coaching program, that makes me really happy.
Caroline: That is money well spent in my book. So that’s the impact on the business. So I think we did succeed in keeping it. You know, we didn’t grow, but we still kept the businesses bringing in a very strong and healthy revenue stream. And what’s really cool that… Here’s an unanticipated benefit. I didn’t write this down in the notes, so if you’re like, where is she…?
Jason: Oh, it’s off script.
Caroline: One thing I didn’t anticipate is basically taking maybe I mentioned this on a previous episode, but my friend Margaret had this observation where she called it. I was like, I don’t know. I’m just feeling this, like, different type of energy, motivation, creativity. I want to spend time on the business. And she’s like, oh, yeah, because this year was, like, a creative dam. And so what it did was, like, it prevented me from creating. It prevented me from adding new things to WAIM. It prevented me from really starting anything new. And what that has done is it’s kind of, like, kind of created this, like, inert or, like, pent up energy that I now am so excited to release. I’ve never been so excited going into a new year. I mean, granted, some of it is, like, we’re in a new country. We’re starting a new chapter. There’s a lot of excitement. But I’m just creatively feeling very energized right now. Like, what can WAIM become? Where is our business going to be five years from now? And that is an unintended benefit of having a non-growth year is that it’s like, you know, there’s a season for just, like, enjoying what you’ve done and then you kind of like you know, it’s like I picture the little, you know, those little, like, Hot Wheels cars that you, like, roll backwards and then they, like, wind up and then you let them go?
Jason: Yeah. You’ve been rolled backwards.
Caroline: I’ve been rolled backwards. And so now I’m ready to take off, and I don’t know where I’m going to go, but I’m going to do something.
Jason: All right, now, do I get to go off script with something?
Caroline: But it’s a bad idea when you do it.
Jason: I’m not doing it. I just had to be funny. All right, the last thing here in the what would we do differently? Kind of preparing for a year of travel. The question, are we glad we sold every single thing that we owned pretty much before leaving Southern California to do this trip? My answer is, without a doubt, 100% yes. I love a clean reset. The fact that we went through–I went through–all of the stuff that we had hidden away in cabinets and cupboards, and we were, quote unquote “minimalists” by most people’s definition, and we still had a ton of things that piled up. I’m so glad that I don’t have to… Like, those things… They already were, like, nonexistent because they were in cupboards, but it’s like once you get that all out and once it’s all gone, I know this sounds ridiculous to some people, but when you do it, it is so freeing. And I love that we now have moved into this home. We brought nothing but two small rolling suitcases and two travel backpacks with our things. And we don’t have a whole bunch of other stuff we have to unpack.
Caroline: The house is furnished, in case you’re like…
Caroline: Where are you sleeping? The house is furnished. Okay. My answer, first of all, obviously 100% yes is your answer.
Caroline: And I respect that about you.
Jason: Thank you.
Caroline: And I love you. I am going to agree with you 90% of the way because I am still very happy that we sold everything. And just as you’re describing all the things, hidden cabinets, I’m like, yes. So glad that we went through that stuff. There is a small part of me, and it’s just me being honest and being real. I wish that I would have kept, like, three boxes of my favorite couple of clothing items, my favorite couple of art supplies, my favorite couple of, like, little Trotskies from my art room. I wish I would have kept, like, a couple things so that when we started fresh here in a brand new country. Even though there’s beautiful furniture and this house is amazing, and I love the fresh start of it all. There is this little piece of me that just wishes I had, like, a little couple of things that felt like home, that felt like our home from the before times that I could use as, like, a touchstone to start our new life here. And I don’t regret it. There’s no part of me that’s, like, mad about it. But I’m like, man, if I wish that I had just a couple of little things, because sometimes the flip side is that, like, for as exciting and fresh start feeling as it is to start everything back from zero, it’s also very daunting. You’re like, oh, my art room. I’m not saying that I’m even in any rush to totally just haphazardly repopulate an art room, but it’s more of like, literally, I had to buy glue sticks because I wanted to do a little DIY project for my nieces for Christmas, and I was like, I don’t have glue sticks. And I’m like, God, I have to buy glue sticks. That’s such an annoying thing to have to buy and spend my money on now where I had plenty of glue sticks back home.
Jason: Yeah. In fact, you had, like, seven and we had to throw them away because you accumulated too many. Which goes to my point.
Caroline: My answer is 90% yes and 10% wish I would have kept a little handful of things. Granted, the glue sticks would not have made it in the boxes, but I think you get what I’m saying.
Jason: Yeah. All right, so that wraps up that category. I think we have this is our last question here.
Caroline: To answer the last one, we’re going to do sort of like a rapid fire, and then you’ll have to wait for part two.
Jason: Yeah. So the last question is what advice would we give to someone wanting to do a year of full time travel or just an extended travel trip while working, even if they aren’t well established as a business?
Caroline: And I think we’ve touched on a lot of these things because in talking about what we would have done differently. But in general, what would you say?
Jason: The first thing would be you’re going to have to work, and you’re probably going to have full workdays, like an eight hour work day. So just plan for it. So when you’re building your itinerary, just know, hey, my business requires my time. My clients maybe I’m working with, require my time. So three days out of the week, I have to block those off as full work days. So I may be, quote unquote, traveling full time, but three days out of the week, I have to be stationary so that I can work and get consistent work done.
Caroline: And be okay with that.
Caroline: Definitely. And then I do think I’m not saying you have to this is not necessary, but in our experience, it was very helpful to have recurring revenue. So I think it would be probably as hard as it was for us, I think it would be ten times harder for someone doing this who had to go out and get clients consistently. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I do think if there’s anything that you can set up in your business, like, for example, if you’re trying to do this in 2024, maybe 2023, your goal is, let me get some recurring revenue into my business.
Jason: Yeah. Building a membership program, building a coaching program, building some type of like a small, SaaS product, if you can do that, whatever those things are. And if you’re not someone who wants to build products like those things, maybe it’s about turning your clients from kind of like project-based to retainer-based.
Jason: So you’re trying to pivot all of your clients to six-month or twelve-month contracts.
Jason: And so that way you have that recurring income and you don’t have to think about going and getting new income.
Caroline: Definitely. And then before you go and start the year, no matter where you are in your business, identify the most important three things that are contributing to your overall revenue. Because like I said, if you are in the boat like me, let’s say you can only work 30% of the time, or let’s say you’re more of a Jason and you’re working anywhere between 30% to 75% of the time. That means that things that you’re doing right now are going to have to fall away. And you’re not… Like, if you picture every tactic you do in your business as like a ball that you’re juggling, some of those balls are going to have to drop to the ground. You need to be in control of deciding which of those balls can drop. So for us, we talked about this before, like, the three most important things in our business are the coaching sessions and offering customer support that’s Teachery and WAIM, but, like, being there for our customers, Jason’s in Slack and doing emails and then the coaching sessions. Then outside marketing, it’s our newsletter.
Jason: Technically is marketing.
Caroline: That was a non-negotiable. It’s like, let’s keep the newsletter afloat. And then finally making our affiliates happy and providing a launch window for them to share WAIM with their audience as well. And so the things that fell by the wayside are social media. We were not on Instagram this year. The things that fell by the wayside were sometimes this podcast. We took off a month. The things that fell by the wayside were we wanted to be very consistent with our YouTube videos.
Jason: We were not.
Caroline: We were not. We couldn’t do it. And that’s okay because those three things that I just mentioned were things that we did not compromise on.
Jason: Yes. The other thing that definitely would make this year or an extended period of travel a little bit easier is having savings or at least an emergency buffer. And I know this is easier said than done for some people, but it may be delaying the start of your trip if you need to have more time to squirrel away some money. But just having a couple of $1,000 set aside so that you can have an “oh-shit” fund if something goes wrong, if you run into an Airbnb, that’s an absolute nightmare. If you have your luggage get stolen and your credit card for some reason doesn’t cover it soon enough and you have to buy a bunch of stuff. Like just having this little buffer set aside. We had one all year. We only had to dip into it a little bit one time when we had a bad Airbnb experience, and otherwise it was just really nice that it was there so that we could always know in the back of our minds, oh, if we’re getting into a tricky situation, it’s going to be okay. We have this buffer, it’s set aside to be spent.
Jason: But if we don’t have to spend it, that’s going to be great, but it is to be spent on something.
Caroline: And we didn’t feel bad about it when we changed Airbnbs, even though they gave us a refund, but we didn’t know if they were going to give us a refund when we booked the other place. And it was because we knew we had that fund there for that.
Jason: Yeah, I think the other thing in this category that we didn’t write down, but just, like, advice if you want to do a full time year of travel, probably the biggest piece of advice that we would give based on our experience is plan the year out to the best of your ability, leaving in as much flexibility as you want, but have a full picture so that you can just like you said, those blocks, have your adventure blocks, have your work blocks, have your rest blocks, and just have everything set up in at least a loose format ahead of time so that, you know, going in, I don’t have to make all of the decisions all the time. I just need to make some smaller decisions on where I’m staying, where I’m flying, if I’m pivoting things. But the majority of the trip is loosely planned out so that you have a good idea of what you’re doing.
Jason: All right, so the last thing here is a little note that says, what did we learn about ourselves? Like, a really small question.
Caroline: And we are going to keep it short, because this has been so long and this is the only part one. So we are going to keep it short. But I just want to know what you learned about yourself.
Jason: What did you learn about yourself? Do you want to start? Or do you want me to?
Caroline: Well, I learned that a lot of the things that I worry about are actually not as scary when I encounter them in real life. That’s a very important lesson that I’ll take forward in my life. I learned that I am capable of changing. Like, I’ve talked about it many times before now, but, like, the way that my anxiety has transformed this year into something that used to be a seven out of ten bad into, like, a four to three out of ten bad is incredible. And I never would have thought that I could have that drastic of a change in my overall mental health. I think that the things that contribute to that are expanding my comfort zone, being off of social media, and…
Jason: Like, way too much Enya.
Caroline: I have definitely over indexed on Enya this year, so maybe that has something to do with it. Yeah.
Jason: What’s the original question?
Caroline: What have you learned about yourself?
Jason: Oh, I’m very efficiently minded.
Caroline: (laughing) New information. New information.
Jason: Breaking news.
Caroline: Wow. Brand new information twelve years into our relationship.
Jason: No, I think that I learned that I don’t have to be as efficient in all the things that I do to live a good life, and that letting go of a lot of wanting to have everything planned out ahead of time and know all of the outcomes. It doesn’t have to be done that way.
Caroline: Even though your advice, the literal last thing that you said before this question was, like, I probably would have planned more. (laughing)
Jason: I didn’t say, plan more. I just said, plan some. So previous me would have been, like, planned every single week. And everything set up, booked everything ahead of time. Blah, blah, blah.
Caroline: Oh, you’re right. That is… That’s progress.
Jason: It’s just to have, like, a container to do some planning.
Caroline: That’s good. I’m just giving you a hard time.
Jason: Yeah, no, and I get it. But I do truly believe folks who are like me, who maybe are a little bit more on the scale of and not diagnosed, but, like, I can obsess over getting things a certain way. This year was really helpful for me to go, Good luck. And a lot of times I couldn’t do that, and so I just had to really sit with those uncomfortable feelings. What was the question again? I keep forgetting what the actual question is.
Caroline: This has to mean something about your brain, because it’s what did you learn about yourself? Your brain is I’m like, hey, did you share some self-awareness or some meaningful emotional content for me? And your brain’s like, what was the question? And I’m like, no, just like an emotion or, like, a feeling that you have. Your brain like, wait, what?
Jason: But when we talk about business stuff, I could write off all of our analytics and every single customer’s name we’ve had in the past year.
Caroline: (laughing) I’m dying.
Jason: The other thing that I learned about myself is that I truly, truly love, besides you, an American-style cinnamon roll.
Caroline: Oh, wow. Wow.
Jason: There are a lot of things in Europe that I think are fantastic and I think are positives. In the like…
Caroline: Haven’t found it.
Jason: 20 different cinnamon rolls that I experienced this year.
Caroline: They don’t do cinnamon rolls the way the Americans do.
Jason: It’s my preference. It is my personal preference. The sticky buns, the cinnamon buns, the hot cross buns, all the buns. They’re all great in their own ways, but for me as a person, I love a bready, swirled, cream cheese frosted.
Caroline: Sufficiently wet.
Jason: Thick boy, plump, wet, moist, creamy.
Caroline: I’m honestly sweating just from the words you’re saying.
Jason: Because of how sexy. It’s a very silly thing, but I went into this year wanting to just explore the culinary adventures of cinnamon rolls in Europe. I just found that I’m basic.
Caroline: You’re just a basic… That’s fine. I learned that I can step up more in our relationship, in assertiveness, in, like, the logistics of the way that we…
Jason: I also learned that you can do that.
Caroline: Operate. I know. This is very bad for me because you now know that I’m actually not fully…
Caroline: Inept in a lot of ways.
Jason: And I never thought that, obviously.
Caroline: I can call and make reservations in languages I don’t understand. I can pick out things. I can plan full dates. I can grocery shop. I can’t drive by myself yet, but one day. So I learned that about myself.
Jason: Yeah, I think just on the whole, too, I think we learned that we can pretty much weather any storm, and the last storm that we will weather as a couple will be having kids.
Caroline: Well, you say the last storm like we’re going to die after that.
Jason: No, but I mean, when you’re listing all the difficult things that couples do in life.
Caroline: That’s the gauntlet.
Jason: Moving in together, starting a business together, full time travel together.
Caroline: Mental health crisis.
Jason: Mental health crisis together, COVID together, having a kid together.
Jason: I think in the list of all those things, we’ve done now a lot of them, and this one this year really showed…
Caroline: It’s a relationship test.
Jason: Oh, absolutely.
Caroline: For sure.
Jason: That’s my main point, is, like, this will test your relationship in so many ways, especially if you are two very different-minded people in the way that you think and operate in the world, especially if one is more sensitive, especially if one more is a robot. And I’m not saying one is better than the other, but it sets you up for a whole new set of challenges. And I think it just really showed that we can weather those challenges.
Caroline: Yes. And piggybacking on that. I learned that our communication is solid.
Jason: What? Got them.
Caroline: That’s too easy. Stop it. But I think that’s what inevitably gets us through every single challenge that we encounter as a couple is, despite our differences, we are both willing to sit at a metaphorical table and talk until we see the other person’s point of view. And we respect each other so much, and we love each other so much that, like, we’ll do whatever it takes in order to kind of, like, find common ground there and apologize when it needed and try to be better when needed, and try to be more and better means more intentional just being, like, a better person. And so I’m really proud of that.
Jason: Great. All right, folks, I think that wraps up our year of travel wrap up. And we hope this was really helpful for those of you who might be thinking about doing this in the future, whether it’s next year, five years, ten years, 20 years down the road. Whatever it is.
Caroline: I hope this can live on a sort of like a time capsule of our entire year. I hope we listen to it again in five years and we remember how amazing this year was.
Jason: Well, really, what’s going to be the time capsule is part two, up next.
Caroline: Which is coming next soon.
Jason: Yeah. So stick around for that. And then remember, we will be on a break after that episode until January 26, and then we’ll be back with you. We hope you enjoyed this.
Caroline: Thanks for listening. Whether you just showed up, whether you listen to every episode, whether you’re still binging our old episodes, we appreciate you so much, and we love hearing why you love the podcast. And thanks for just putting up with us, basically.
Jason: Great job.
Jason: Really… I thought you had it.
Caroline: Me, too. I felt solid going into it.
Jason: And just like, [puttering sound].
Caroline: I don’t know where I went.
Jason: Really putter really, like, a long putter fart out there.
Caroline: I think it’s because I got really sentimental and serious, and I didn’t like it. I was like, uh.
Jason: Okay. All right, bye.