“You’re living my dream!”
It’s one of the most common refrains we hear from people we meet. No matter where we go, the dream of a nomadic life of freedom and travel is alive and well. We remind ourselves every day that this is a rare and unique time in our lives that we are extremely thankful to experience.
How we got here is a winding story of sustainable choices, self-employment, travel hacking, job searches, cross country moves, and a Plan B that just wouldn’t let us go.
Our first Plan B evolved out of a frustrating time and experience in our lives. We won’t get into that here, but it was an idea to pack everything we loved and wanted to keep in some type of campervan or RV and drive across the US visiting friends and family that we dearly loved and missed. For various reasons, it never came to fruition and started to collect dust.
We did however, decide that time was short and life was precious, and that if we wanted to travel, we were going to do it. So we booked tickets to Paris for August 2012, a milestone month for our lives and marriage. That trip was the first European trip for Ron (aka “Reyn”) and a lifelong dream fulfilled for Mystère (aka “Myst“), who had wanted to visit Paris since she was 8 years old. The travel bug got its teeth into us good on that two-week trip and never let go.
Fast-forward two years and a lot of google searches later, and Myst had uncovered the hidden world of travel hacking. Thanks to a small lump sum payment for the trauma and injuries caused by a car accident, we decided to start planning an epic family trip to Europe. 4 Dawsons, 4 backpacks, 3 countries, 2 1/2 weeks.
We chose Paris, London, and Scotland to introduce Europe to our children, “Faith” and “Son.” We wanted so much for them to experience Europe and world travel much earlier in life than we had… for their minds to be expanded, their hearts to be opened and their vision to see how big this beautiful world we live on really is.
Just over a year later, in 2015, Myst, Reyn and Son made an even more epic adventure through 4 countries in 4 weeks (while Faith continued her college education). Paris, Italy, Germany, Norway. An obligatory climb up the leaning tower of Pisa, a 6-day road trip along the Romantik Road leading to Burg Eltz (a must-see), a week in Trondheim, Norway and we never wanted to come home.
Myst got the crazy (or not-so-crazy) idea in her head that she wanted to move abroad to Trondheim and attend their local university to earn an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) degree. She had discovered the unbelievable reality of free education in many European countries. An MFA degree, delivered in English, with an art studio of your own, for FREE? How could you say no to something like that?
Reyn was a little less enthusiastic. Ever the typical caughtupinhishead man, he wanted to know “how are we going to pay for this?’ and “where would I work?” Being self-employed, we could technically work anywhere, but it’s a little harder to book and complete jobs when you’re living across the pond.
Ever the creative teacher and innovative thinker, Myst began compiling a youtube playlist called DREAM LIFE. It was full of videos about people living location independent, traveling the world, and finding freedom. She’d make dinner, set up the laptop and projector, and each family meal would include an inspirational video about lifestyle freedom.
And then it happened…
She found and shared this video with the family. It tells how landscape and portrait photographer Elias Locardi, and his wife, file for bankruptcy and turn that low-point into one of the most important milestones in their lives.
The moment the video ended, Son turned to Reyn and Myst to exclaim, “Why aren’t WE doing this?”
Reyn could think of no more objections and that moment was the turning point in our travel plans of going global. We immediately began brainstorming, dreaming and planning how we could donate, sell or store what we owned and travel the world.
We realized we already had a treasure trove of images and videos from our previous adventures, so Reyn created our own inspirational teaser trailer to motivate us further.
In the summer of 2017, the dream became a reality. After months of planning, and giving away and selling about 90% of our stuff, on July 1, 2017 we officially became nomads.
For six months we explored the west coast and Canada, then drove cross country from Seattle to New York. You can follow all of our adventures through Son’s Travel Diary Season 1.
In December, we hopped “the pond” to the south of France on 1-way tickets that cost about $14 each. Yes, you read that right. Myst has acquired magical powers for travel hacking. Stay tuned for tips and insights on how we did it.
Words cannot express how amazing it is to be able to provide such an experience to our son, Joshua. Through his travel diary videos, Myst’s art, images and writing, and Reyn’s vlogs and films, we plan to bring the sights, sounds, and beauty of other cultures to you. And of course we’ll share all the details of what we learn as international travelers and location independent nomads.