The year – or should I say the 326 days – have come and gone. A distant memory really. When people tell me they’re going on a 1 or 2 week vacation I am honestly jealous. They usually say something along the lines of, “but you were just gone for 11 months…?!?” And they’re right, we did. That being said, it’s over. Back to the grind. It’s almost like it didn’t happen. We’re settled into a small 1-bedroom apartment in Lincoln Park, signed up for internet, going grocery shopping, filling the car up with gas and doing everything else that we do.
So – now what? What’s going to happen with this website? Am I working? Is Lindsay back at Walgreens? Do we miss traveling? Are we going to do it again? Was Mr. Tripp (our cat) cool with us being gone for so long? Is it hard to adjust to “normal life”?
These are the questions that were getting quite often. All very good questions. I figured I would take some time to answer them.
No Approval Needed. We had so much dang fun keeping up with this blog. The pictures and real-time memory capturing are going to be with us forever. Outside of making the decision to actually do the trip creating the blog might have been our best decision. It costs around $100 year to maintain. My plan is to begin to tweak some of the existing content and add some additional pieces in an effort to create a more general or mass-appealing website. The hope is that I can increase our traffic and capitalize that (to the tune of $100/year) via either some type of display ads or through an Amazon affiliate integration. I don’t think that generating $10/month should be hard but who the heck knows. A couple of A+ blog posts and I could be set.
Am I working? Ha. Um, yes. Although not in the traditional sense. BTW – Lindsay is back at Walgreens working in a similar position that she was before we left. We are currently a one-income family. Thanks baby! 🙂
So I am working, but not earning at money at this point. I am in the midst of building a team and a company called Free Chicago Walking Tours (www.freechicagowalkingtours.com). In short these style of tours are very popular in South America. We wrote about them a few times and took maybe 15 or 16 total while we were there. I learned a lot and I am attempting to bring that concept to Chicago – and hopefully at some point in the short term to other cities in the great US of A. I am going to have an entire post about what’s going on with this so don’t you worry.
What’s funny about this I realized is …well, if you have say what is considered a “real” job people (friends, family) don’t really press you too much. When I was a Category Manager at Topco (two things the average person wouldn’t know much about) no one really questioned me on what it was I did exactly. People would throw softball-type questions at you. “Is it fun?” “Is it a good company?” “Do you have to travel a lot?” Now, if you tell people you are trying to launch a walking tour business…watch out! The questions are intense and pointed. “How much are you charging?” “Do you know anything about walking tours?” “Are you going to give tours in the winter?” “How will you find people to take your tour?” “Do you know there is like 1,000 tour companies in Chicago?”
These ..are AWESOME questions. My issue was in the beginning I wasn’t prepared for this line of interrogation. It took me a couple of weeks to realize that this is an advantage. People kind of “get” tours and walking and Chicago – so they’re much more interested and can ask these good questions. I caught off guard in the beginning and probably had people rolling their eyes saying “Ah…Lindsay, get Jeff to do something else…”
As I mentioned, I am going to share a lot more on Free Chicago Walking Tours in a few days. Stay tuned.
Yes, of course we miss traveling. But there are advantages of being settled. It’s nice to sleep in our own bed and have our own dedicated space. Traveling the way we did (average of about 3 days per stay) is a grind and wears you out. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to see all a city or town had to offer in 3 days. It’s nice to look forward to learning a neighborhood over the next year or so. We’re honestly happy to be back. Adjusting to some of the regular day-to-day stuff has been more difficult than I anticipated but we’re all but back to “normal” now.
Are we going to do it again? I don’t know. It’s hard to imagine we will be in the same position in the future. In terms of no kids, me willing to walk away from my job, Lindsay getting an OK from her company to travel for a year, etc… I think were more open than we ever have been at relocating to a better climate, but we have no immediate or even medium term plans to do so. Or heck we don’t have any plans at all to do so. We absolutely loved being in warm, sunny weather with access to the ocean though and I can see ourselves in that environment at some point. I love Chicago, but the winters are terrible. Really.
Was Mr. Tripp (our cat) cool with us being gone for so long? Ha. Yes, he was OK with it I think. Big Thank You to Lindsay’s parents for watching and putting up with him the entire time that we were gone. I don’t know if Lindsay would have been able to leave him if she didn’t know that he was in good hands.
Is it hard to adjust to “normal life”? Sort of. I mean, it’s not like I am struggling with say…how to start or drive a car or pay a bill online or whatever. We’re very capable of all these tasks. What has taken some getting used to is the amount and frequency of these everyday “tasks”. They’re basically never ending. Haha – always cooking, then cleaning and probably a little more cleaning. Grocery shopping. Making a Dr. appointment. Then a dentist appointment. Fill your car up with gas cause it’s low. I think that I am acting like a complete pansy. When we were on the road there were no complex decisions. We did what we wanted when we wanted and only had to own up to each other. It was very simple. Stressful to constantly be on the move, sure – but simple – very. I miss that simplicity, that’s all.
OK, now that you have heard from Jeff it’s my turn to share with you a few thoughts as I reflect on our past year.
Pure joy: I am so happy we did it. Honestly, it’s probably one of the best decisions I have made and the fact I got to do with with my best friend makes it even better. A lot of people ask me how Jeff and I got along and if it was hard being together constantly. No it was not hard, it was awesome and our relationship is even better because of it. Sure we got in an arguement or two after traveling for 30 hours straight, but that’s only human. What’s more impotant is that we were able to ‘get over it” and move on. You have to be able to do this and we should all remember that life is too short to sweat the small stuff and be thankful for what we have.
Was it hard to go back? I was actually excited, not to get back to the daily grind but to rejoin a company I truly enjoy being a part of. Walgreens has supported be throughout this journey and it’s great to be back doing work I feel good about. The transition was also fairly easy because my role is very similar to before I left. I think that’s what helped most with the transition- it was not stressful. I had a good base of knowledge to jump right back in. As Jeff mentioned we are back and adjusted to the new routine but it did take a few weeks for me. Things as simple as getting ready in the morning for work- this use to be a habit and I didn’t have to think about it. After a year, well it took some time, do I shower first, eat breakfast, brush my teeth? I was all over the board for the first 2 weeks trying to get ready in the morning. It’s funny how your brain runs on autopilot when you do something for so long.
Time flies. I remember before we left thinking OK if I can get 6 months approved that would be awesome! Wow, a year later and I feel like we could have kept going easily for one more year. I find myself often looking back at our blog and through all the photos we took I am instantly reminded of the things we did and really had the best year of our lives yet!
Am I a changed person? Nope, not really. But I do have a much greater appreciation and interest in life outside of our daily routine and beyond the US. It’s a big world out there and I defintaely want to see more of it. It may not be leaving for another year right away, but the idea of retiring when I am 60+ is not my game plan. 😉