Over the summer, Josh and I have had the pleasure to work at Camp Coeur d’ Alene and meet some wonderful people. From guests to coworkers, we were able to meet interesting characters from all over the world. Jim, Rhonda and Aspen (their sweet lab) are from Oregon but have been to many countries and have been traveling in their truck camper for the last few years. From Mexico to Egypt to Italy, they have seen and experienced different culture norms over the years. Not many people can say they have even left the country. Sadly, I am one of them, but I plan to to explore the world as well! People like Jim and Rhonda inspire me to just go for it. Life is all about experiences and I want to experience it in a way that opens up my views about the world.
So thank you Jim and Rhonda for being wonderful coworkers over the summer and telling us all about your travels over the years! If you would like to follow Jim and Rhonda’s adventures, they have a blog called The Next Big Adventure. Follow them for updates while in Mexico for the winter.
Can you please describe yourselves?
I like to think of us as middle-aged nomads. In reality, we simply aren’t good at fitting into the norm that society deems acceptable. We have never cared about big careers, big houses, or a lot of stuff. What lights our fire is adventure, great food, and travel.
What made you want to travel the world and back pack?
I was in college planning to be an international lawyer and live in Paris. Then Jim and I got married, my parents cut off their funding. I headed to travel school instead and our life of travel began! There is no greater high than arriving in a new country/city where everything is unknown.
Where has been your favorite country so far?
Favorite? That is an impossible question! I love places like Egypt and China for sheer history- France and Italy for food- and anywhere in South East Asia for cheap, easy living and great food. Africa is a dream and every time we leave, I miss it before the plane even leaves the tarmac. India is the place we talk about most often and where I feel most alive. I want to live in New Zealand but Mexico is where we’ve spent years of our time. Favorite? All of them!!
Can you describe a time you both thought “what were we thinking?”
Haha – Yesterday? The reality is that life on the road is just that life. Jim and I have dealt with the deaths of parents, siblings and pets. We’ve learned that everything has a price and by gaining adventure and freedom you give up friends, family and familiarity. Even sitting on a stunning beach sucks if you’re sick. Everyone believes we’re constantly on vacation but the challenge of foreign culture, language barriers, moving often, and a multitude of other …… along with the 24/7 living in a small space can be trying. Add trying to work from the road and it is really not a vacation. It’s an amazing life but it has all the challenges, and more, that everyone else experiences.
How is it traveling with a dog?
Wonderful! We left home with both Porter and Aspen, sadly losing Porter to cancer only 3 months into our latest adventure. Aspen has proved to be an amazing traveler. In typical lab fashion, she gets each day with a sense of adventure. Thats not to say its not without challenges, border crossings, weather concerns, street dogs and sticking to a schedule make life a bit of a hassle. But having a fur baby along brings with it a sense of home and comfort.
Was it hard to downsize into a truck camper?
No. And Yes. The months and months of selling on Craigslist/donating were painful to say the least. And even though we sold our house mostly furnished and really downsized twice because we sold so quickly and had to rent for 4 months, it was still just a long process. And we didn’t have much to begin with! So no, the mental process of downsizing was a breeze. But the very internal act is tough. Just when you think its almost done, you find another junk drawer or a box that needs to be accounted for.
What has been the craziest part of your travels?
Most of our craziest times have been on past trips- India is chaos personified and day to day travel in countries such as Egypt and Vietnam is also a challenge. Australia and Africa are a whole different world and you truly just can not wander off the beaten track because you are surrounded by animals that can kill you. Cambodia also requires caution but due to landmines rather than wildlife!
And then there is the basic travel challenges. Our first trip home from South Africa involved fue plane and 32 hours of travel time (internal travel time not including time change!)
We’ve spend spent days and probably weeks of our life stranded overnight at random airports, sitting in roadblock traffic and caught up in military check points. We’ve been forced to travel by convoy in Egypt, required government sponsored handlers in China and been guarded by Masai warriors in Tanzania. All just part of the next big adventure.
Can you give any words of advise for those who would love to travel the like you do?
DO IT! Life is uncertain. You may live to a healthy 100, but odds are better that you’ll end up wishing you’d follow your dream. With the intended has come unprecedented ways to earn money online. We often meet older people or even those our age or younger, who say “I wish I would do what you’ve done.” The secret is… you can- but it requires sacrificing the new cars, big house, lots of toys and 5 TV’s . But the memories and adventures are totally worth it.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like to mention?
There is a commercial that says “Live a life that would make your grandkids proud.” Life should be about living each day to the fullest not about waiting for some magical future that may never come.
Once again, I want to thank you Jim and Rhonda for taking the time to answer these questions about your lives. Stories like yours, inspires.