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Changing Travel Plans is Not Failing

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We planned to spend two years abroad. Now, we have a new plan and we’re better off for it.

Recently, I took a long break from working on hobbies and side projects, including writing for Verge Magazine. I could barely keep up with my day job. I was burnt-out, homesick, tired and lonely. I got sick of my husband’s 24/7 presence and he got sick of mine. Needless to say, it was rough. 

However, we have not been entirely miserable. We’ve been exploring abandoned castles, visiting tourist traps, shopping, working from scenic locations, and living like a local.

Digital nomadism isn't all bad. We love meeting new people and learning about new ideas and cultures—but we simply don’t want to do it for two years.

In short, we hate not owning anything. I know I’ve talked about our “life in bags” in the past. Living out of two backpacks and two duffle bags does make life simple. However, it also means we don’t own anything. No matter if we housesit, rent or become roommates, nothing is ours. Perhaps it’s a culture or personal thing, but we love yard work. We enjoy fixing up a house, working on a side project, or upgrading something on the weekends. When travelling, none of that is ours to do. 

However, that’s not all. We also realized slow travel was a bit too slow for us. Initially, we planned to stay in each place for a month or more at a time. After the first three places, we realized our golden time was three weeks. After three weeks, we grow bored with our city and our inability to change our home or go somewhere new. 

Lastly, we haven’t been able to “progress.” Though I am a business owner, it’s almost impossible to travel full-time while also growing a business “full steam ahead.” In addition, Carter has no way to grow in his business as construction isn’t the most “remote-friendly” industry. In order to grow and improve, we must have space and a home. 

Everyone knew we would be gone for “two amazing years.” Shortening the trip made us feel like we’d failed.

Why shorten the time? As you might suspect, wanting a “home” that we can make changes to influenced our needs greatly. In fact, we were about ready to call it quits and go home. However, we love exploring and we’ve enjoyed all that we’ve done. That’s why we shortened each of our planned stays to three weeks tops. Now, we get to see everything and go home earlier than expected.

When we first made this decision, we thought we were giving up.

Everyone knew we would be gone for “two amazing years.” Many were excited and thought we were brave and adventurous. While we didn’t feel like that, shortening the trip made us feel like we’d failed those people. Two weeks of letting our plan settle and seeing family made us look at things in a new perspective.

Two weeks after we’d made our decision to shorten our trip, we visited my family who were in Portugal. I’m the type of person who tells my mom everything and she’s the type of mom who always has the best advice. She told us it wasn’t giving up. She said not to come home right away and to stay for just one year. We would be exploring everything as before, only with a time that made more sense to us. 

Each person’s “digital nomad" experience is unique.

Many people love having no home, no responsibilities and no plans. That’s not us. We never planned to stay away forever. At first, we thought that coming back after one year instead of two was a failure. Now, we know it’s a success. We’ve learned what we are capable of and what we are comfortable with. 

We don’t mind walking eight kilometres every Sunday to get groceries (true story, four weeks and counting.) We love seeing new cultures and meeting new roommates. We’ve gotten great at planning and dealing with change. However, we hate not having our own place” We want a small farm, Freyja, Loki, family and friends.

When you decide to travel abroad, whether for a month or five years, success is learning about yourself and what you can handle, not sticking to the initial plan for no reason.

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Ashley Madden

Ashley Madden is a free-spirited digital nomad, writer, photographer and content creator. She owns Helianthus Advising through which she helps small businesses grow. In her free time, she creates videos to help the world.

Website: www.ashleymariemadden.com

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