When Amanda and I were dating we knew early on that we would one day be married. We loved spending every minute of time together and our personalities just clicked. Both of us were looking forward to marriage and didn’t want to waste time in a relationship that wasn’t headed that direction. In my youthful exuberance I told her “God says to come boldly before his throne; let’s pray and fast for a week and ask God if we should get married!” Thankfully my bold statements didn’t scare her off and we kept going down the road toward engagement and marriage.
Waiting to plan
There was a time before we were engaged that Amanda stayed away from wedding magazines. She’s a planner and couldn’t wait to start into the details of planning our wedding, but we decided that doing so before we were engaged would be a distraction while we were both finishing our university degrees.
Part of our engagement story is that while we were out at a fancy restaurant and right before dessert I arranged for the wait staff to bring a box to Amanda (Amanda calls it a t-shirt box when she tells the story). The box had wedding magazines in it. While she opened the box I walked around the table and got on one knee. She said ‘yes’ and it was finally time to plan our wedding!
Just like holding back on planning our wedding we tried to hold back on planning a trip until it was time to travel. We felt planning too much would be a distraction. Because we want our travel lifestyle to be sustainable we didn’t want to travel until the trip was prepaid in cash, we were out of debt, and the house was sold. We had a partial plan last fall, but with the kitchen fire that plan went up in smoke.
Slow travel and digital tentmaking
Normally we would smirk and shrug then say we didn’t know. We’d say “wherever the Lord leads” or we would list some places that we would like to visit to give an answer, but the reality was that we weren’t sure. We don’t know anyone who does exactly what we are trying to do so there wasn’t a model to make decisions by.
How we decided
Amanda muses that she thought when it was time to plan the trip God would let us know where to go. Maybe we both expected to be presented with a t-shirt box containing travel brochures of the places we were supposed to go.
But that didn’t really happen and we found it very difficult to decide on a destination. It’s been years since Amanda and I have traveled internationally together or as a family. I describe our situation to a starving person who opens doors to a grand buffet. The starving person would be overwhelmed by all of the options and the richness of the food. Since we can go almost anywhere in the world it has become a grand buffet waiting to be devoured.
We finally decided on an itinerary by choosing a travel theme.
Our theme is urban living. That’s it. We want to live urban in large cities in Europe. We want to exit without a car, use public transportation, and live in a smaller space. Plus, this first trip will help us know if we really are made for a travel lifestyle or if this is a huge mistake (we don’t think so).
We chose to use part of the proceeds of selling the house to fund our first trip. The house closed on a Friday, but didn’t fund until the following Monday. That gave us a weekend to plan and research. I have a trip coming up in June so we limited our planning to April and May.
In four days we will depart for eight weeks in Europe. One week in London, three weeks in Berlin, and four weeks in Paris.
If Amanda could only pick one city in the world to visit it would be London. She’s read every Jane Austen novel and watched a ton of BBC. Soaking up the streets of London is a dream come true. We found inexpensive tickets flying into London and we feel it’s a good place to get acclimated on this first trip.
After London we fly to Berlin. I’ve heard great things about the German capital from other freelancers who travel. Since this is a longer stay it will be less tourist events and more living. I’ll work and the kids will homeschool. I’ve already made a connection with a co-working space where I can work. Amanda has researched a ton of kid friendly places.
When I first visited Paris 12 years ago I knew I wanted to return for a longer time. And for 10 years of marriage I’ve promised Amanda that I’d take her there. Four weeks in Paris seems like enough time to really get to know the city. We are staying in the Marais district which is in the 3rd Arrondissement. It is a 13 minute walk from our door to the front of Notre Dame.
This will be our first taste of slow travel as a family, digital tentmaking, and urban living. We are beyond excited to go see and taste what the world has to offer!