Yesterday you said tomorrow… just DO IT.
– Shia LaBeouf 2015
Shia may be right about this one, but I can’t rightly give him credit. Any, really, but it’s a good meme.
Hi, we’re Josh and Ashley Brown, so-called millennials, but most definitely adventure travel seeking non-conformists. True to our generational stereotype, we see the world as our home, all humans as one race, and a boring 9-5 job as death.
Our adventure began together in 2007 where we pledged eternal love and commitment to each other, to love and protect. We’ve since traveled to or lived in over a dozen places together from Portland Oregon to Beijing China (and lots in between). It’s not that we are trying to eschew this world’s convention of settling down and raising a family… it just sort of happened.
Despite getting married at 20 and spending almost a decade together now, Ashley and I are still very different people. We love each other but often want very different things. Somehow we both agreed this would be a good idea, and I think you deserve to know why from each of our viewpoints. At least, I am curious as to what is going on in her head.
From an early age, it was clear that I was a weirdo. As a kid, I would wander around the neighborhood or after church asking for work, usually to save up for a BB gun or my yearly July stash of fireworks. I told my mom I wanted to be a pyrotechnician, she kindly explained that was a dangerous and unprofitable career path but somehow thought that herding cattle by helicopter was ok. With a short stint as a cowboy, a (junior) Olympic athlete, and a Nuclear Qualified Substrate Specialist (?!), I finally settled on being completely unemployable.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a good hard worker with a clean conscience, but I don’t work well for others, especially when I feel smarter than them. I know, I know, I’m an arrogant a**hole, I am fully aware, but perhaps I can use that to my advantage.
It’s not like I just figured this out, I was always working on some brilliant scheme to make me rich. Family would joke that they’d be surprised if I wasn’t a millionaire before I was 18, friends though I might already be but was keeping it a secret. You’d think they’d find my superiority complex off-putting; perhaps they did.
An entrepreneur, that’s what I’ll call myself! Work for yourself, make tons of money, provide for your family, give tons back to charity, travel the world. Alas, only that last one is true. I’ve traveled the world, a lot of it in fact. Turns out you can do it pretty inexpensively, and the people I’ve met in all the places I’ve been? Priceless.
I struggle often with what my purpose in life is. I really want to know. I want to be able to look back and say, “yeah, that meant something”. My vanity again. But I have learned something already, relationships are key.
See, I could travel the world having wine and tapas in Madrid one night, then cafes and art museums in Paris the next. But on my death bed, I don’t think I’ll be reflecting on all the good food and views, I’ll be looking back on my relationships. Was I a loving husband, a compassionate father, a good friend? Did I enrich the lives of everyone I met?
Some of the most humble, and gracious people I’ve ever met were in little pockets of the world you can’t even imagine exist. They would offer me tea or the local rice wine, their last meal, their last dollar, a ride, a smile. I can never forget this. It is these relationships I want to make on our travels. I want to see the world. But not simply the grand vistas of Northern Italy, or the soaring Alps. I want to meet the people that live there and share in life with them. I believe we are one people, and I want to get to know us better.
As fluffy B.S. as this may sound, it’s the truth. I want to experience joy and beauty in a way that seems more difficult to do in the sedentary common culture of a permanent home. Am I running away? Possibly. But what I might find along the way will be worth it not only in the end but every day.
To be fair, I find that saying “Nine to five jobs are death” is a little dramatic as I truly don’t mind the security of having a biweekly paycheck or receiving health benefits. Not to mention building relationships with those I work with on a daily basis.
I do not loathe working a nine to five (or whatever buttcrack of dawn hour I get up to work) because I know that the things I love have little to do with what I do, but instead have everything to do with how I live.
For the last several years since we returned from Asia, I had wanted to get back to travelling more often. Then two years ago I had the idea of traveling Europe, as it seemed to be the only location I could get Josh excited about. While in bed one morning after chewing on the idea for about a week I brought it up to Josh.
Wouldn’t it be awesome to travel Europe for a year and be in a different country each month?
At the time, it was just an idea, nowhere near a reality and it was not the right time. Josh wanted to commit to another year in LA and see what happens with his business(s). I agreed to another year with the understanding that a year later we would revisit the idea of leaving everything to live out our adventure travel dreams.
I know what we are doing is unconventional and many people don’t understand. It’s hard to explain the peace I have about leaving our home, our friendships, a reliable job, and selling everything (again) to travel the world. It’s a gamble, an adventure!
Building a legacy with people through relationships and service, as well as being challenged by language and learning culture is where I thrive. I’ve seen myself excel in uncomfortable situations and grow to love people because of their unique pride in long-lasting culture and tradition. I yearn to be a part of that in my daily life.
Europe (or Yearoupe) is not simply a fun vacation to me. It’s the way I’m choosing to live life. I will serve constantly, I will problem solve daily, I will influence those around me with positivity, great work ethics, and lots of laughter. I understand that the way we are traveling, by living in community and working with others on their projects, will be hard work and will not come easily. I am determined to approach these experiences with an understanding that this is my job. I just happen to LOVE my job and get to travel the world building relationships and serving alongside my best friend.
Is this where the #blessed goes?
And so we begin the journey of a lifetime that will last us the next year. We don’t exactly know what to expect, and will likely have extreme highs and lows throughout our time. But this next year of traveling Europe will be unforgettable to say the least.
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