Last week Facebook kindly reminded me that a year ago we were vacationing in Mexico, with our good friends, Jake and Laura White.
As I looked back through the pictures, I realized, that trip was one of those defining times that helped lead us to where we are now.
I have narrowed our trip down to the five things we learned about travel and ourselves.
5. Be Ready and Open
Nate and I had our passports and the kids just needed birth certificates, as we would be driving across the border. Nate and I had been searching for the right opportunity for our family to move outside the country, and one of the steps to accomplishing that was getting the kids’ passports. I decided this was the time, instead of just kicking that task further down the road, when we would be stressed, and possibly tight on money and time. Plus, the passports would only be good for five years, which also gave us a deadline.
The second part to this is being open. Jake was in the middle of his residency, so their availability was limited and we needed to be willing to plan around that. They set the date and we worked to narrow down the location. A co-worker of Jake’s overheard that he was looking for a vacation spot and offered their beach house in Mexico, for the price of the cleaning fee. Mexico hadn’t even been in the discussion, but how could we say no? We had no pictures, no real details, just some vague directions and a promise of a roof over our heads. We were open to the idea of a challenge.
Before leaving, many people warned us of the dangers lurking around every corner in Mexico. Luckily, I had done the research and also heard from many well-traveled families, that as long as your being smart, Mexico was no different and that a family could have fun and be perfectly safe. Remember when I said we had vague directions? We took a few wrong turns and had to make some course corrections, but we ended up seeing parts of Mexico that we never would have purposely ventured to see.
The house turned out to be more than we had expected, it was in a quiet and safe gated ex-pat community and had steps leading right down to the sea. We could have spent the whole week, relaxing in our private paradise.
Instead, over the next few days, we took little trips exploring the area around us. We even drove back to one little town that Nate and I stumbled across on one of our wrong turns. We fell in love with this little corner of Mexico and talked about all coming back, to buy a cheap little vacation house together.
We brought activities to entertain the kids, but they were having so much fun playing and exploring that the activities turned out to be unnecessary. Yes, we did quite a bit of exploring, but not everyone went on every excursion. There was a reason why we didn’t plan our vacation where either of us lived, because there is always something that needs to be done at home.
We swam when we wanted to, we explored, we napped, we ate when we were hungry. Hadley did have some homework and Nate had something come up with work that took about an hour but we took it all in stride and fully enjoyed ourselves for that week.
Any kind of trip can be a pain to plan and make happen, whether its a day-trip, weekend, couple’s get-away, or move overseas, but I have yet to regret any trip I’ve ever taken!
Be willing to inconvenience yourself to make memories and have adventures. Do your research, make your lists, try not to forget anything, and then let the adventure unfold, let life unfold.
1. Keep the Fire Burning
The day that we were leaving Mexico, we had everything, including the kids, packed in the car, ready to go, and Nate and I walked back out to look across the sea one more time. We talked about how much we loved the ocean and how hard it was to say goodbye. We discussed again, what options we could explore to make a move like this possible. We took one last deep breath of the salty air and got in our car and drove away. As we were driving back to the border, Nate said, “We could just turn around and not go home. We could keep driving and make it work.”
We didn’t have anything set up to really make it work at the time. We can’t all travel indefinitely, and not everyone wants to. After we returned back home to the cold of Idaho, we kept discussing possibilities, kept looking at the Mexico pictures (even when it hurt because it seemed so distant), kept that burning desire to do something more, to live out our dreams. Fast-forward a year and here we are, living on a tropical island, learning a foreign language, eating foreign foods, making friends and memories that will last a lifetime. It no longer hurts to look back at those pictures of Mexico because we are living the dream. It has taken a lot of hard work and motivation, and we’re not done yet. There is still so much of this earth that we have yet to explore!
Honorable Mention- Good Company
Everything is more fun when you’re among friends. We have been friends with Jake and Laura for so many years that we’re comfortable sharing a house for a week. Hadley, our oldest, met Hannah, their oldest at two weeks old, when Hannah was born, and our kids have been best friends since. There is something to be said for time to yourself, but when you get the chance, traveling with good friends is a great way to go.