As promised here is the start of our personal Travelogue for those who wish to follow our Full time Travel Life Adventure.
Up to this point, I have kept to writing articles, not personal travelogues on my site. Mostly, because I am sure no one is interested in the day to day details of my life. However, when we left home and family to embark on our crazy adventure I promised that I would keep everyone updated via this blog. And so, I take the plunge in sharing more of myself with you here than ever before. For those not interested in the crazy adventures of the Groves family don’t worry, just skip this post and any other that start with Travelogue and instead stick to my normal blog posts. For those who have been dying for more details of my life (though for the life of me, I can’t really imagine why you would) here you go.
Ok sooo…where to start….let see, I have always loved travel. It comes from reading too many books I am sure. Growing up I traveled the world and back through the pages of my favorite books. When I would close my eyes at night I would dream of far off places I wished I could visit yet never thought I could.
Some of my fondest memories were of the trips we took as a family growing up. Especially the one we took when I was 14 years old. That year both of my brothers graduated from High School and with some of the inheritance money from my Grandmother who had recently passed away my parents decided to take our family on a 12,000mile 6week camping and driving vacation across the country. We visited every state between Utah and the East Coast. We went down to key west Florida (the southern most part of the country) and all the way up to Prince Edward Island Canada.
We visited some amazing places on our 6-week adventure. Some of my favorites were staying with friends in New Orleans (since two of my siblings got really sick.), enjoying fun in the sun at the beach in Peniscola, driving through the blue ridge mountains, visiting the Smithsonian (in DC), taking the ferry to Prince Edward Island to see Anne of Green Gables home, visiting my Uncle George and his family in Chicago and exploring the Henry Ford museum in Michigan.
Of course traveling with 6 children (the youngest who was only 18months at the time) couldn’t have been easy on my parents. There were arguments, lost tempers, sickness and more. Yet none of us, least of all my parents, regret going. Not on that trip or any other family trip we took over the years. Why? Because the experiences and memories of those family adventures are priceless.
Fast forward to earlier last year. It had been a hard few years for my little family. We had weathered the ups and downs that came from my husband being laid off just 2 months after our youngest was born, not finding work (for while my husband is an extremely talented artist with an impressive portfolio and skill set, he does not have a degree so no one would give him the time of day.) and finally taking the plunge to start our own businesses.
I started this Blog and an Etsy shop as a creative outlet which I hoped would eventually be able to bring in money to help with finances. At the same time, my husband and his best friend started working together to design game apps. (my husband being the artist and his friend the programmer) It has taken a lot of upfront work this last year and a half but my husband and friend are finally close to releasing the first app, and my blog and Etsy shop have started to take off. However, this has all taken time. Thankfully, my husband and I have lived debt free and frugal our whole marriage so we were able to use savings squirreled away for years to get by until our endeavors could pay off.
Why am I telling you all this personal private information? (I am sure my husband is asking the same thing right now. He calls me his security breach way too often) Well because it plays a big part in what comes next.
It took hitting rock bottom, to force us to look at our lives and really decide what we wanted. Now that my husband and I both basically worked from home we surprisingly had a lot more option open up to us than we originally thought. We spent many months discussing those options and discussing our inner dreams and in the end, we made a crazy decision.
- 1. We decided to sell out beloved home. While we could currently afford it, the mortgage and bills were eating though our funds faster than we wanted while we were in the start-up phase of our businesses.
- 2. Rather than buy another home or rent a home or apartment we decided to become Technomads. What is that? Someone who utilizes technology (like a computer, and the internet) to work remotely while traveling full time.
Seriously, when (after much research) we realized that it would cost us the same amount or less to travel with our kids than to stay in one place in a leased home or apartment we said to heck with it, let’s go!
We had already decided to homeschool our children (the oldest is 6 right now) so that wasn’t an issue. And we had no problem living simpler for few years to facilitate our mobile lifestyle. And we knew we could easily still work as long we had our computers on us and could hook up to the internet frequently. So why not?
What was our plan? Well, we decided that we were going buy an RV (from a great RV company I found online in Tx.) which we would live in as we went on an epic cross-country adventure. We decided to call our adventure the American Dream RV tour (since I would be writing about it here on my blog as we went.) The thought behind the RV tour was to bond as a family, expose our children to the amazingness that is our beloved country, and at the same time show our kids that the American Dream is still alive. It’s not about owning a house and car or a 9 to 5 job. It’s about staying connected to the past while reaching for the future. It is that dream that makes our country great.
And so we started the process of selling our home and most of our worldly possessions. In the end, everything we owned fit into a 5×10 ft storage unit and a bedroom in my parents home. Which we temporarily moved into while we took care of all the logistics involved in leaving on such a long term journey. (That’s right all 5 of us in 1 bedroom for a few months. If that wasn’t going to prepare us for living in close quarters I don’t know what would. I should probably take a moment to publicly thank my parents and younger sister for letting us invade their home for a few months. I know it wasn’t easy on them. So Thank you Mom, Dad, & Mary. We are soo grateful for you putting up with our craziness. We love you!
Everything was on track for us to get the Rv and head out when in November we got a call that changed our plans (at least for the short term.) My husband’s friend and business partner aware that we had recently gotten passports for our whole family (in preparation for our RV tour in case we wanted to go up into Canada on our cross-country adventure) told us that we should delay leaving on our RV tour and come stay with him and his family in Greece first. You see they were housesitting a villa on the island of Styra in Greece for the winter and had gotten permission for our family to come stay there as well. How cool is that?!? With my love of history and Greek mythology, I have always wanted to go there.
** As a side note: My husbands business partner and his family are technomads as well. They have been traveling internationally for over a year now (his wife is a travel blogger) while working remotely with my husband.
We talked about it and decided why not?!? You only live once. Thankfully, we hadn’t bought the RV yet so there was nothing keeping us stateside. We looked up the cheapest flights available to Europe and discovered that if we left on dec 6th we could fly our whole family of 5 from San Fransisco/Oakland to London for only $812. (thank you google flights and budget airlines) Then we booked another flight from London to Athens with a day and a half stop in London in between so we could take the kids and explore a bit.
**We totally would have stayed in London longer but we were heading into the Christmas season and the closer we got to Christmas the more expensive our tickets from London to Athens was going to be. We will just have to make sure we stop there again and for longer this time on our way back.
Next, we set up a car rental to take us from SLC to Oakland and then another car rental (local this time) to use for the day in San Fransisco before flying out. Due to the short notice, the car rentals were more expensive than I would have liked but with the steal of a deal, we got for the flight to London it was still cheaper than flying out from Salt Lake City or Las Vegas.
The last thing we had to arrange was where we would stay for the 2 nights in San Fransisco and 1 night in London. Then it was just a matter of waiting in anticipation and a little nervousness (hey this was our first international trip and we were taking three kids with us aged 2, 4 & 6) for the day we would leave on our full-time travel adventure. Thankfully, since we weren’t leaving till the first week in December, we were able to enjoy the beginning of the holiday season with our families. That meant a lot to our parents, our siblings, and our kids. Ok, it meant a lot to me as well.
Have I shared enough or do you want a bit more?
I know I haven’t even gotten to us leaving yet but I know there were a lot of you wanting to know a bit of the backstory to how and why we ended up on our crazy adventure to start with. Ok so after a few crazy weeks (I think we had 3 between the official invite out to Greece and when we left) it was time to go.
Since we were picking up our rental to drive to California at the slc airport early Sunday morning we spent the night before at my in-laws home (they live way closer). This allowed us to leave our sleeping kids with my mother-in-law while Rory and I went to pick up the rental. Sadly, due to being up so late the night before taking care of last minute things we ended up sleeping in by 45 minutes necessitating a rush to the airport to get our rental car in time. We had never picked up a rental from the SLC airport before so when we finally spotted the rental area we were in the wrong lane. Yep, we were in the 2 minute drop off lane and running late. So Rory jumped out of the car saying to wait there he would quickly get the car and come back.
So there I was sitting in the car in an area (where you were only supposed to be for 2 minutes) waiting for my husband when I realized 2 things. First, the car was virtually on empty and second Rory had grabbed my phone by accident and I didn’t know the code to his phone….
Those who know me know that This is just the sort Of situation to make me sick to my stomach and my heart to start buzzing.
I noticed the airport people looking over at me as I sat there praying my husband would hurry up. At one point I even moved the car 20 feet forward so I Wasnt just sitting in the same spot. Alas, the dreaded moment occurred when a security officer knocked on my window and told me I had to move. I was totally at a loss for what to do. I am not familiar with the area around the airport. I couldn’t call my husband Rory. I couldn’t access the phone’s GPS to know where to go. I didn’t have enough gas to drive around, and obviously, I couldn’t stay where I was at. Ok, I admit I had a little panic attack. Then I said a quick prayer as I put the car into gear and started driving.
Thankfully, I was able to find a gas station near the airport where I was able to pull over, get gas and wait for my husband to call me (since he knew the code to my phone). It wasn’t long before my husband’s phone rang and I was able to tell Rory where I was and what had happened. He met me at the gas station a few minutes later explaining that he had to switch cars because the one I had reserved was a bit too small for the 5 of us and all our luggage.
We discovered at that point that the rental agency had forgotten to put the car seat in the back of the new car so Rory turned around and went back to get it while I went straight back to my in-laws home to get the kids up and ready to go. My mother-in-law was sweet enough to make us a hot breakfast to send us on off and before we knew it the car was packed with our luggage, snacks for the journey, and we were all buckled in and on our way.
All I can say is that after the events of that morning I was so thankful that the rest of the 12+hour trip from Salt Lake City to Oakland was uneventful. Rory and I spent most of the time either talking or listening to music while I finished reading The Q (a recently released book by one of my new favorite author Beth Brower. I had been given the book to review on my blog but in the craziness of leaving hadn’t finished yet. Stay tuned for my review soon.) And the kids? Well, they were great. Each kid had their own kindle loaded with their favorite movies and apps to keep them entertained during the long drive.
Ok, that’s enough for now. If you made it through reading this whole post and you are still interested in following our story my hats off to you for your fortitude. The next Travelogue post for our Family Travel adventure (all about our day in San Fransisco) will be coming soon and I promise it won’t be quite sooo long or wordy.