During the build-up to Christmas last month, we blew right through the anniversary of our first six months of location independence. Things are working out great! We are extremely happy with our decision overall, and are excited to build further on this preliminary foundation.
Last year as we were planning for Pete’s departure from his job, we set some travel objectives: we wanted to visit all 7 continents and all 50 states together. Where we had each individually been previously didn’t count. So when Pete resigned in June of 2011, we had a fairly comprehensive travel plan for our first six months of location independence mapped out.
Location independence to us means keeping a home base. Perhaps a purist would take issue with that, but we weren’t ready to go completely nomad. The rental townhouse we moved into last February required even more downsizing than we had done when combining two households, as the intervening five years had seen a bit of “clutter creep.” So we simplified our lifestyle by removing unused belongings even more, and now are on a mission to keep the clutter to a minimum. We’re loving this move! No yard work, snow removal or exterior maintenance – yeah! The main convenience is being able to go when we want; we just lock the door. Location independence also should mean few worries about what’s going on at home base when you’re traveling, whether it’s a road trip or an overseas excursion.
We’ve spent about 40% of our time away from home in these past six months. We headed up to the Wuebker cabin in northern Minnesota for the remainder of June, and then used a family wedding in Iowa as a springboard for a road trip (Close Encounters of the Western Kind) through South Dakota (Why Did My Teacher Make Me Read Giants in the Earth), Wyoming, Montana (Reclaiming Love in Your Business) and North Dakota, returning here the latter part of July.
Using PassingThru Travel for all the arrangements couldn’t have been easier – reservations were convenient to make and Preferred Customer pricing levels (are you signed up? it’s free and easy!) were great on the budget. One little logistical issue was easily attended to and resolved by a friendly, live representative while we waited over drinks in a cowboy bar. The rest of our experience has been smooth and reliable.
This road trip was remarkably hassle-free. We discovered how much we enjoyed location independence as a lifestyle. We also realized that flexibility in our travel arrangements and timing led to more meaningful experiences wherever we were. You can’t get to know a place overnight. Taking an extended road trip is a great way to get your travel buzz on during a recession when you might not be able to afford a more expensive alternative. Even a visit to a neighboring state – Minnesota to Michigan, for example – can be a great way to get out of your box and gain a different perspective.
In early August, I headed up to Lake Superior for a fun girls’ weekend with a friend. Later that month, Pete and I drove up the North Shore, through Ontario and around the top half of the Big Lake, re-entering the U.S. through Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Then it was across the Mackinac Bridge into the Lower Peninsula for Michigan family visiting and my high school reunion. We headed back to Minnesota by way of Galena, Illinois and enjoyed a delightful evening with my uncle and his partner in a French bistro. We enjoyed more cabin time through September, and then Pete returned to Michigan to meet up with my brother for an annual fishing trip out of Drummond Island, in northern Lake Huron.
In October, we were supposed to be in Romania, but some unexpectedly disappointing changes to the itinerary in the trip we had booked spurred us to cancel. Again, this was easy with PassingThru Travel’s DreamTrips – a full refund was credited to our bank account within 48 hours. This cancellation turned out to be more of a blessing – details and tasks pertaining to the estate of Pete’s parents added up into a time-consuming, and unexpectedly complicated personal commitment. It may not have been possible to pay such close attention to filings and deadlines from Eastern Europe.
We spent October and November at home, and then coordinated another road trip to Memphis (At the Crossroads of Blues and Rock’n’Roll) with a visit to Branson, MO in December, where Pete’s sisters had arranged for a condo rental. We hightailed it home just ahead of our six months anniversary of location independence with time to jump into holiday festivities with friends and family.
Throughout our first six months of location independence, we’ve managed to work almost every day we’ve been on the road, sometimes in interesting conditions. We learned quickly to look for the following amenities in a hotel room setup upon arrival:
- Strong, free wi-fi connection
- Workspace area sufficient for two – a larger conference-size table winds up being more versatile than a single desk for our purposes
- Electrics: microwave, coffee-maker, hairdryer, iron, etc.
- Extra pillows, towels and blankets
We’ve supplemented our laptops – a MacBook Air for me and a MacBook Pro for Pete – on the go by using our iPhones, and occasionally our NookColor e-readers, to remain connected. We picked up a well-priced, travel-sized printer, and a surge-protector power strip. (Some hotel rooms are sadly deficient in electrical outlets, or the interior furnishings are poorly planned around them.) All office equipment and files travel in a gusseted, rolling suitcase. We can easily duplicate almost any home office function on a road trip with this simple setup.
Six months into location independence and we’ve realized that we can fund this lifestyle in reasonable ways without compromising comfort (important to old people!) and safety. We’ve made good use of the Travel Hacking Cartel: in ten months we have accumulated about 70,000 points between various hotel rewards programs – enough for several free stays, all courtesy of the frequent notifications on new deals to earn free miles from the Cartel in my email inbox.
We’re putting those benefits to good use on our next trip in two weeks: Hawaii. This, obviously, won’t be another road trip, but it’s a significant milestone in our states goal. Neither Pete nor I have ever visited the Aloha State, and we thought the end of January/early February would be the perfect time for Minnesotans to do it! Plus, our airline mileage accounts “need” a trip of this length in order to jumpstart some redemptions I’ve planned to fund additional travel.
In late February, it’s back to Michigan for a visit with my brother and his family. A new grandnephew (another son for Buttercup Baby!) is expected to join his cousin, our grandniece who was born in July. A road trip to Michigan in winter isn’t necessarily a good cup of tea, so we’re exploring the possibility of taking the train, and renting a car for the few days we’ll be there.
While in Michigan, we’ll be sharing what we know about how to make location independence (Declaring Economic Independence) a practical reality with entrepreneurial relatives whose support and encouragement has been so wonderful.
Throughout this six months of location independence, we have solidified our work habits and strengthened our product offerings. In another post for the near future (certainly before we go to Michigan), we’ll be taking a look at how we’ve done with our strategy of revenue diversity to fund a lifestyle with location independence. We’ll be sharing how our income sources break down, and the progress we’ve made with our various business units.
Pete wants to return to Memphis for more in depth blues and music experience. From there we could branch off in any direction and tick off more states from our list. We would love if the Michigan relatives might be tempted to meet up with us somewhere (hint, hint), so perhaps that’s a topic of discussion we’ll take with us when we return to the cold!
All in all, this has been a fabulous decision. We talked yesterday about how it already seems so long ago that Pete had to commute to his employer. We love our current commute of just several steps into the next room! And we’re confident that the building momentum with our businesses is going to accomplish what we hope for down the road: an active lifestyle with residual income from various sources. Until then, check out Clues You Can Use in Our Services Page and Travel Resources.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful ride, and we’ll look forward to sharing more in additional posts!
- My Three Words for 2012 (passingthru.com)
- Work and Travel – Making the Leap (businesstravellogue.com)
- Making Money Online: Be the Tortoise, Not the Hare (passingthru.com)
- What Our Move to Location Independence is Not (passingthru.com)