I haven’t much in the way of wisdom to pass on to future generations. The only advice I’ll stand by is this: if you marry, find someone at least as crazy as yourself, but twice as patient. I credit this as both the reason I’m currently living overseas, and the reason I’m still married. (Sam must go by some other criteria.)
The fact is, it takes two nut jobs to do this. Marriage is a promise that all significant, bat-crap crazy decisions will be made together. Dropping everything to move around the world falls this category.
First off, you both must agree to do it. It’s one thing to share the dream, it’s another to synchronize. Are you both ready, right now, to walk away from careers, family, friends, social commitments, your car, your Xbox, 90% of your clothes, all of your books, and cheese?
And even if you want to do it, can you? Most thirty-something Americans still have decades of student loan payments ahead of them. Outstanding credit card debt and car payments. It’s not just the cost of travel that doubles with two people—so do potential impediments.
The fear doubles too. Leaving home for the unknown is a scary business. Sure, couples have each other to lean on, but they also have twice as much baggage to get out the door. Emotional and otherwise.
And even if that all works out, there’s the stigma. Long-term travel is supposed to be for freewheeling twenty-somethings. It’s what you do before settling down. Jumping ship as a married couple subverts the normal order. Some people will think it’s cool. Many will find it inexplicable or irresponsible. What about careers, health insurance, retirement accounts?*
Marriage = home + children. This is the basic expectation worldwide. Marriage = plane tickets + backpacks. This is just as abnormal wherever you're going as where you've been.
People you meet will puzzle over two homeless married people. They will all but frisk you in their efforts to locate your babies. The only thing weirder would be if you actually traveled with children.
This is a pertinent topic, because we’re about to do it again. For two years, Chungju, South Korea has been our home. But in a few months my contract with EPIK ends, and we’ll be on the road again. As we sort out visas and vaccinations, and wade through the amazing amount of crap we’ve managed to cram into our studio apartment, it feels in many ways like we’re doing it for the first time.
It’s scary. It’s hard. It’s weird. And remembering how we did it before, how we took a leap and traded our “regular lives” for a single salary, a single room, and a twin bed, and how our quality of life and happiness actually went up, encourages us that we can do it again.
*As if travel and these things are mutually exclusive, which is rather silly.
UPDATE: New plan! We're staying one more year in Chungju! We're excited; there are so many things we haven't seen, done, or blogged about yet. :)