We’re Jake and Ashley, best friends who love to travel! We’re about to embark on a big adventure.
We met in December of 2015 while working at the same tech company in Seattle, WA. Both transplants to the Pacific Northwest, we had a similar history, each having lived in multiple states across the country before moving to Washington. We each seem to have an unquenchable thirst for trying new things, which led to fencing classes, tai chi, photography, and a lot of new hikes. By June of 2016, we were planning our first vacation abroad. At the time, neither of us could have guessed where that trip would ultimately lead us.
We quickly decided on Iceland. This would be our first trip abroad as adults, so we wanted a destination where communication wouldn’t be much of an issue. That was our practical reason for selecting Iceland. However, the real attraction to Iceland was the natural beauty of untouched wilderness… and of course, Vikings. It makes perfect sense that we were drawn to Iceland, given that we both moved to the Pacific Northwest for the nature. We are big time planners, so we booked tickets and started the process of getting our passports right away.
An Icelandic Adventure
After a few months of research and planning, we took our big trip in October of 2016. Over the course of our 10-day trip, we fell in love with Iceland. We wore mud-masks in the Blue Lagoon, drove across the country, walked miles in darkness to see plane wreckage on the Black Sand Beach, explored lava cubes, witnessed the Northern Lights, hiked a glacier, found hidden waterfalls, photographed ice caves, trekked across the Highlands, ate MANY hot dogs, stayed in a downtown apartment, and spent a few days exploring Reykjavik on foot. We even ran through a hurricane with our camera gear in an attempt to get “the perfect shot”. And that’s just the short version! Honestly, we didn’t want to come home.
When we got back and told our friends and family about the trip, we were met with “you’re crazy” and “that sounds exhausting”. Well, maybe we are crazy and the trip was exhausting, but we agreed that we had the best 10 days of our lives. We experienced more excitement in those 10 days than we had in years. Inspired and stricken with wanderlust, we decided that traveling the world was no longer just an option, but something we had to do. We knew that we would have to save up more vacation time and money before we could start planning another trip. So after getting past the initial adjustment period that follows a good vacation, we begrudgingly settled back into our routine lives with a goal of continuing to travel as much as possible.
Cut to two years later and here we are with no new adventures. Somehow we got sucked right back into the miserable grind of daily life and the perpetual rat race had taken hold once more. We were working to line someone else’s pockets, exchanging our precious time on this planet for money that goes straight into a mortgage, utilities, and consumer goods. Weighing our happiness against material items. Measuring our success by the amount of figures in a bank account. We have had enough.
We are no longer willing to accept this lifestyle that’s been sold to us our entire lives as “The American Dream”. This is not us giving up because life is hard. After all, we gave this lifestyle a real shot! We worked hard for everything that we have. We live in our favorite city in the US, have jobs making good money, a home that suits us, the proverbial white-picket fence, and even a dog. Even though we are “living the dream” in the “Land of the Free”, we certainly do not feel it and we are definitely not happy. At the risk of sounding too “millennial”, we dare to say that we feel trapped and unfulfilled.
That’s not to say that we haven’t been working to change our situation. On the side, we have started a completely new business that we’re passionate about and enjoy doing. We are currently planning our next trip to Norway in November of 2018, which is just a couple of months away now.
A Lifestyle Change
Today, we have the bigger picture in mind. For this trip, we’re limiting ourselves to one carry-on backpack each. We’ll have a little over 2 1/2 weeks to test out our gear and a new minimalist lifestyle while we’re in Norway. The real work will start when we get back. We’re planning to sell, donate, and get rid of everything we own that doesn’t fit in our travel packs. Then we’ll quit the 9-5 job, sell the house, and hit the road.
We’re starting this journey with a road trip from Washington to California, Arizona, and Maryland. We’ll stop off and see some sights and our family along the way. In Maryland, we’ll sell the car and take a one-way flight to another continent. Our goal is to travel slowly and live in each country we visit for as long as they’ll have us. We plan to stop back in the US periodically, but this time around, we’re not just planning a vacation. We’re embarking on a lifestyle change. Maybe a year from now, we’ll realize long term travel isn’t for us. Maybe in 5 years, settling back into stability may sound appealing. But for now, we’re just focused on the road ahead.
This blog will be a diary, a way for our family to follow us, and a guidebook for others planning their travels. We will be sharing beautiful images and drone footage from all corners of the globe so that you can read about, watch, and experience this journey right alongside us. This is Pixels Abroad. We sincerely hope you enjoy it.
-Ashley & Jake