There is something in me, calling me, yearning for adventure. I want to experience the world, get lost in an the narrow streets of an Italian city, relax on a beach in Australia, and see giraffes in Africa. I have an intense case of wanderlust.
In My Dreams
I desperately wanted to study abroad in college. It never worked out for me. My gpa was never high enough to qualify and I was terrified of the unknown. It was an unrealistic fantasy. Something I would love to experience, but was never meant to be.
So I quietly accepted the known world in front of me and told myself my wanderlust was only a dream. I told myself to leave my wanderlust in my dreams, because leaving the United States to go backpack and explore is only meant for the few who are fearless. And me - I was afraid. It wasn’t going to happen.
I would find myself thinking - wouldn’t it be so cool to go live in Australia for a year! Or someday I want to make it to Italy! My thoughts were beautiful, but empty. There was no depth to my dreams, because, well, they were just dreams. Never would I ever board a plane and leave to explore. I figured my destiny was here, in WI.
And I was OK with that. There is so much to love about Wisconsin. I am surrounded by family and friends. I met my husband, the love of my life, at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. We started a family and have three amazing little girls! I could not be more grateful for this life.
So wanderlust has stayed in my dreams.
It Can Be A Reality
Two years ago in 2015, my sister and her husband left for a two week trip to Italy. I was so excited for them and also jealous. Traveling to Italy was in my dreams. Wasn’t it in other people’s dreams too? By that, I mean, never to come true.
My mind has always said, “I would love to do that!” Then my mind would respond, “But that’s not possible.” So I would move on, content that my wanderlust was just a wish to never be. I accepted that. I was OK with that. Because to me, that was my reality.
So when my sister boarded a plane and experienced Italy with her husband, I was in shock. Is this really possible? Can people actually travel? I know, this seems so stupid. I mean, really, people travel all the time.
But I don’t. I’m safe in my own little bubble, never experiencing the rush of traveling to another country. Except twice:
- My college freshman year I traveled to Cancun with my family on Spring Break. We ended up spending time with other high school families at the same resort. I drank alcohol for the first time, found myself throwing up in someone else’s toilet, and passed out in someone else’s bed (that sounds really scandalous, i just passed out, nothing more). This happened because I kept drinking the homemade concoctions handed to me. I was shy, uncomfortable in my surroundings, and not wanting to miss out on a fun time. It ended with me insanely hungover and never wanting to touch hard alcohol again in my life.
- That following Fall, in 2004, I met the love of my life. In 2008 we married and set off on our honeymoon. I spent hours dreamily looking at different islands on my computer screen. I dreamt of the fun places we could explore together, but I was too afraid to pick somewhere. My parents and sisters had recently traveled to Punta Cana and loved it there. So in an effort to pick something safe, we booked the same resort and off we went. It was amazing, but my fear of the unknown kept us in our safe resort, opting out of excursions promising to bring us adventure.
While I have been out of the country two times in my life, they were safe and planned. I love that these experiences are in my back pocket, but I am longing for adventure, hitting the road, getting lost and being able to say, “Wow! We made it happen! Dreams can become reality.”
A year before my sister’s Italian vacation, she pushed me out of my vacation comfort zone. My sister was getting married. Not in our hometown, but in Arizona, 1,700 miles away.
Our oldest was 3 (almost 4) years old and our twins had just turned 2 years old. This was going to be a huge undertaking. I never imagined traveling with little ones. I figured our first family trip would be to Wisconsin Dells, only a 45 minute drive from our home. And only once the girls were full blown grade schoolers would we hit the road or board a plane with them.
So when my sister announced that her big day was going to take place in Arizona, 1,700 miles away, my internal response was, “Oh Shit!” This was not part of my safe little bubble.
Would we go or would we miss out on my sister’s special day? There was no way I was going to miss my sister’s wedding. I was forced to figure out how to get to Arizona.
This was the best thing that has ever happened. I was pushed out of my comfort zone. My husband and I spent the next few months planning an adventure that would forever change us.
Reality Becomes a Road Trip
My husband and I debated between the pros and cons of driving and flying to Arizona.
- Flying would be fast but expensive. Being a people pleaser, I was terrified of having 3 screaming kids on a plane with the rest of the passengers silently hating on me for putting them through a scream filled flight. We would also have to figure out how to pack everything we needed, including our stroller and 3 carseats. This was enough to prompt a silent panic attack in me. It was all too much.
- Driving would take a long time, but be less expensive. Once in Arizona we knew we would need a van to get around. So we could fly, rent a van, and pack up all our suitcases in the rental to get to the resort. Or, we could pack up our van and be good to go. This seemed simple to me. Simple was good. I needed simple if I was going to get to Arizona and watch my sister say I DO.
We decided to skip the airport maneuvering and pack up our van for a two week road trip. Once we made this decision, we agreed we wanted to make this an adventure of a lifetime for our little family. We created a football shaped route so we could visit as many states as possible on our drive out and back.
It was a magical time for us. We were on the road, visiting places I had never heard of, never thought I would step foot in. We picnicked at playgrounds, ran out of diapers while at the Albuquerque, NM Botanical Gardens, drove on the edge of a cliff driving out of Sedona, AZ, explored Arches National Park, drove through the Rocky Mountains, and most importantly - watched my sister get married to her soulmate, best friend, and high school sweetheart (I’m a hopeless romantic).
To say this road trip transformed me is an understatement. It bonded my husband, myself, and our girls in a unique way that traveling together only can. We came home liberated, exhausted, and ready to hit the road again. My husband and I decided then and there to visit all 50 states with our girls.
- In 2015 we drove down to Florida to visit Disney World.
- In, 2016 we drove the insanely 4,600 round trip miles to visit the coast of Oregon.
- In a week we will be on the road to visit my in-laws in Hilton Head, SC.
- This Summer we are tackling the East Coast
- In 2018 we hope to travel to California and Nevada.
- In 2019 to Alaska,
- And in 2020 we hope to complete our 50 state adventure in Hawaii.
I had never thought my husband and I would travel like this and take our young girls out on the road. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it. Every year I look forward to our next adventure. My dream of travel is unfolding and growing. It makes me excited and feel bold. It’s that feeling of - WOW! We made it happen!
Preparing for More
While, I am loving our road trips. I am still feeling called for a bigger adventure. I still want to experience living in another country for at least a few months. This desire is so deep in my heart.
I am yearning to pack up our little family for a year of adventure together. An adventure of a lifetime that will uniquely bond and change us forever. I dream of the five of us grabbing our backpacks, boarding a plane, and walking into a life of the unknown to navigate. I want to break out of my safe bubble.
Maybe this is why I am drawn to decluttering and living a minimalist lifestyle. I want to free my family from suburban life. I want us to have the freedom to follow our dreams. Every time I declutter, I feel a sense of freedom enter our life.
We currently sleep in sleeping bags on the floor, have one week’s worth of clothing, and minimal furniture. As far as possessions, I am confident that we could live out of a backpack.
On the other hand, our house is a remodeling mess. In my love for HGTV and figuring out how to embrace my suburban life, I decided to repaint our home and take down walls. This has left us with more than a few things to wrap up. We finally made the call to our contractor and said - let’s make a list and finish this up.
Once our home is ready to be on the market, we will have complete freedom to figure out where the calling for adventure will take us.
I’m ready. I’m ready to be fearless. I’ve got the love of my life and three amazing daughters to take a trip of a lifetime with. I don’t believe I was meant to backpack across Europe in my twenties by myself. I was meant to save this adventure to share with the loves of my life.
So now, we are preparing. Preparing for our future wanderlust. Preparing to make this a reality.
I have no idea what the future holds, but I know it’s exciting. I know everything we have gone through and my love of decluttering is leading our family in this direction.
I know that my dream is meant to be. My dream now has depth. This dream, that started as my own and has grown to be a shared dream with my husband can be a reality.
Every road trip we take prepares us for a bigger adventure. Every time I declutter, we get a step closer to this dream. Every remodeling project brings us a step closer to making our dream a reality. It may still be years away. And we may still end up in suburban Wisconsin (in a tiny house) after we have traveled. But I know that in the middle we will have an adventure of a lifetime.