There are no two ways about it. We had to slow down in order to speed up.

As working folk, we traveled for years as a family. Even before we were a proper family (I.e., with children), we traveled as a married couple.

Before we were married, you guessed it. We traveled. A lot.

Two children in Junior Ranger hats sitting in the grass overlooking Glacier National Park

Reflecting in Glacier National Park

Neither Normal, Nor Reasonable

We traveled so much, our neighbors and friends knew, and often times told us, we weren’t normal.

Heck, we even moved to Albuquerque to be among the western states. (All those national parks!)

Nothing felt better than blowing town on a three-day weekend, official or otherwise. Or heading for a week of vacation in a remote spot.

The West is the Best when it comes to amazing national and state parks with amazing geology all throughout. That’s our cup of tea.

A family explores Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California

Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California

Is This All There Is?

But we knew that, one day, somehow, travel and exploration, learning and growing, would take an even more central role in our lives.

At least we hoped. We discussed. We visualized.

It was always there, the nagging feeling that we needed to break out in a fundamental way.

A family descending hundreds of steps to Point Reyes Lighthouse on Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore

As it turned out for us, this meant quitting our 9-to-5 grind (and it had become a grind) and taking a planned 3-year hiatus.

We would travel – as a family – across the United States for a year  before settling and living in Europe for two more years.

We would further our personal and familial journey in a fundamental way. And no doubt about it, we would change the trajectory of our very lives.

We Took a Hiatus to Slow Down

In less dramatic terms, we would travel the US for a year, camping and couchsurfing (we spent not a dime on hotels, not even once), before moving to Europe to live with our family in Slovakia.

We embraced our core values and leveraged our resources for all they were worth.

A family hikes in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho

Hiking in the Sawtooths of Idaho

Emotional Costs > Financial Ones

We found that breaking out and slowing down were much harder than we’d imagined.

For years, we’d thought that, if only our financial resources were sufficient to take a year or more off, we’d do it in a heartbeat. No excuses, no regrets. No looking back.

But the choice to take hiatus, to actually go through with it, was tough. We were hesitant, emotionally more than financially.

A family enjoys a beach swing along the Oregon coastline

Beach swing on the Oregon Coast

We faced a lifetime of social conditioning that says responsible adults (especially those with children, for Gods sake) maintain a home, are gainfully employed, pay their taxes (we still pay taxes), opt for security over passion, and grind it out for decades.

Only then do they earn the right to retire. Only in their golden years are they allowed to live out whatever manner they please.

That is, according to the limitations imposed upon them by their health – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – having reached such a pinnacle.

Mini-Retirements and the Four Hour Workweek

Bestselling author, Tim Ferris, cracked the code for a lot of folks in his seminal book on optimizing your life, The 4-Hour Workweek.

A recurring theme in his book, as well as his blog, is how to look at retirement differently.

Standing in the middle of a trail, a boy stares up at a moss-covered tree in the Ho Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State

Mesmerized in the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State

He prefers to approach financing his retirement in spurts.

Or, to take a mini-retirement every few years (at least) rather than working straight through to retirement age.

This allows you to enjoy “retirement” while you still can. Who wants to retire in poor health only to realize you spent your best years in the office?

We’ didn’t.

1 Mini-Retirement = 12 Years Worth of Vacation (at least)

We’re not anti-work, nor are we anti-establishment. Its just that we’d never worked as hard as we had during our four years in Albuquerque.

To slow down was a life changing experience and we wouldn’t have traded it. We knew we were ready for a break. And we knew we would get to see so much!

Because I’d been at my job 20 years, I had 5 weeks of vacation each year. A ton, right working folks?

At the time of writing this, we’ve been on hiatus for over 14 months, or about 60 weeks. Divide 60 by the 5 weeks to get 12.

It would have taken twelve years.

Still working, it would be 2028 before I accomplished those same 60 weeks of travel.

But you know how it is. You don’t spend every week of your work vacation doing this kind of bucket list travel.

No, even if you’re lucky enough to have five weeks of vacation, you’d be lucky to spend half of that amount on pure travel.

Contrast that with 14 months of concentrated travel where, having time to focus, you learn to travel better.

30 Years (A lifetime) in 14 Months

If you followed the math above, let’s take it a step further and consider this. In the ‘real world,’ 5 weeks of vacation is actually quite a bit of time.

What if, instead of 5 weeks of vacation per year, we’d only had 2?

Even if we could have somehow used both weeks each year only to travel, it would take 30 years(!), at two weeks per year, to cover the same ground we covered in the last 14 months.

Think of it.

A family hikes into the distance along the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park

On the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park

Hiatus as a Redemption

We imagined a hiatus would help us in a lot of ways, and it did. More than we could have imagined.

To slow down was to reclaim health and to recreate our vision of life.

A family stands inside a shoreline cliff above tidal pools on Vancouver Island

Exploring Tidal Pools on Vancouver Island

Our journey became as much about remembering old ideas as it was about learning new ones.

Indeed, we had to slow down to speed up.

Do you need to slow down?

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