Who we are
I’m Amanda Northcutt. My husband, Travis, and son, Kyle (6), and I started traveling full-time on April 22, 2016. We lived a fairly ordinary life in Bryan, TX from 2004-2016, but our lives turned upside down in 2011 and sent us on a path we never expected, and frankly, I can’t believe we survived. Over the last few years we’ve started living intentionally for the first time. We sold our house of 8 years, most of our possessions, our cars, and hit the road with a new Subaru, 5 bikes, our kiddo, and not much else.
We have been traveling consistently and increasingly so since 2012 and finally got tired of paying our mortgage while our house sat unused as we adventured around the US and Europe. We own a small software development and consulting company so we can go anywhere with an internet connection. We both play an active role in running our business, educating our son, and doing day to day adulting tasks.
We enjoy every outdoor sport you can think of and are especially into hiking, cycling, and mountain biking. Kyle is an amazing, brilliant, and funny kid. He loves travel and we love watching him grow in his empathy, kindness, adaptability, and extroversion as we expose him to new situations, places, and cultures.
We are traveling indefinitely and for once, not planning too far ahead.
Why we travel
Travis and I went to Costa Rica on a vacation in March of 2013. This was a dream come true for us. We actually toyed with the idea of moving to Costa Rica after college in 2008 to learn Spanish and experience a different culture. Instead, we took the path of least resistance and jumped head first in to our careers, remodeling the house we purchased two weeks before we graduated, and had a kid in 2011. Genius.
By the time we made it to Costa Rica in 2013, I had been suffering from insomnia, recurring Epstein Barr Virus infections, multiple auto-immune diseases, hormonal upheaval, near constant stomach aches that left me doubled over on the couch most of the day, debilitating allergies, and extreme fatigue for over a year.
For a detailed look at my health journey, click here.
BUT, when we arrived in Costa Rica, something completely crazy and surreal happened: most of the symptoms of disease disappeared. They just went away. The first day we arrived I didn’t mention anything to Travis because I thought I was just imagining it, but several days in to the trip I didn’t have any body pain, my stomach didn’t hurt, I was hiking, swimming, and having so much fun! I had hope. Then on the two hour drive back to the airport, the pain in my body came raging back. I burst in to tears (for anyone who doesn’t know me, I am not a crier, like seriously, water does not fall from my eyeballs). I felt confused and betrayed by my body and my mind.
Things pretty much went back to crap health-wise when we returned home. But as I worked less, we traveled more. The more we traveled (particularly to the mountains), the better I felt while we were gone. When we came home, things went back to pot – every single time. While traveling, we discovered some things: we all three love travel, the mountains, cool weather, and pretty much every mountain and water sport under the sun.
All the diet and lifestyle changes I made at home were helpful to my health, but there were two major problems that we could not overcome while living in Bryan/College Station, TX: allergies and lack of access to outdoor activities in reasonable weather.
Allergies have been a problem for me for as long as I can remember, but the stuff in the air back home was unreasonably hampering my immune system and I felt like I hit a wall with my health. By 2015 I couldn’t continue to heal while constantly battling sinus infections and living from antihistamine to antihistamine.
We spent 2 months in Lake Tahoe the summer of 2015. One morning I did a long hike by myself and I’m not sure how this came to be in my mind, but I spent the entire 4 hours devising a way for us to sell our house and travel full time. After mustering up the courage, I jokingly mentioned the idea to Travis. After several conversations, and him realizing that I was serious, deliberations began.
We sought counsel from family, friends, our church community, and marriage counselor. The idea made a lot of sense to those who knew us well and had been deeply entrenched in my health crisis. We were asked a lot of hard questions about how we would handle having community while away, how we would educate Kyle, how Kyle would have community and deep friendships, how we would continue to run our business, what we would do with our stuff – the list goes on and on. We wrestled through those questions, had more conversations, and got the blessing of the most important people to us.
After agonizing over multiple potential scenarios as far as our living arrangement was concerned, it made the most sense to sell our house, most of our belongings, cars, and hit the road.
I devoured blogs and podcasts about how other families and couples handled transitioning from a “normal” life to becoming full-time nomads. I, being the type-A that I am, made color-coded spreadsheets outlining exactly what was going to happen to all of our worldly possessions and began the process of getting our home ready for sale. We knocked out one thing at a time and the beginning of 2016 flew by. We quickly sold our house to a wonderful couple and everything fell in to place. We said goodbye to our home, community, friends, and neighbors on April 22, 2016 and are still pinching ourselves to see if this is really happening. We have no debt, no house to deal with or fix, one car, not many things or clothes, and as I write this, I’m sitting outside soaking up the view of our North Lake Tahoe rental home, the gorgeous weather, and breathing in crisp, clean air mountain air. This is amazing and I can’t believe it’s real.
There are trade-offs, obviously. We dearly miss our family, friends, and church, but have regular visitors wherever we are and try to establish a temporary community, usually with other like-minded travelers, wherever we go. Our business is sustaining us and helping us pursue some even longer term goals and my health is steadily improving, but not without setbacks. We are planning to travel as long as it works for us. I hope that’s a long time, but we’re flexible and okay with wherever the road takes us.
How we travel
I’ve encountered a number of traveling families who bounce around quite a bit and cover ground really quickly. That’s cool and all, but it’s not for us. We did a long Europe trip in the fall of 2015 and hit London, several spots in Germany, and France. We survived and made a lot of good memories, but came back to Texas completely exhausted and burnt out. In hindsight, I wish we would have seen 2 places during our stay, maybe just one.
We work full time everywhere we go with few exceptions. We manipulate working hours each day to be more flexible for daytime activities, but it’s hectic to move around a bunch and get re-settled each time. A travel day usually means we lose several working hours that have to be made up at other times and figuring out the internet situation at each new place can be stressful too. Finding the food we eat on the fly is no simple task either. It requires planning and lots of prep work. There is no such thing as popping in to McDonalds in our world. Kyle seems to function and behave better when we’re settled in to a place and things feel more homey and familiar to him. So, we are embracing the art of slow travel.
Life for us looks a lot like regular life, just in different places. We cook the vast majority of our meals at home, work, clean, do home school, make friends, go to church, sleep, poop, you get the idea. Our living expenses are vastly simpler than they were at home. We have rental payments, food, auto insurance for our paid off car, gas, renters insurance, giving, and some miscellaneous expenses here and there. We don’t spend much extra on touristy stuff. Our entertainment usually consists of exploring the town/city/area where we’re staying, hiking, biking, going to the beach, and attending local free events like the summer concert series in Tahoe.
We are offsetting some higher cost places (like Tahoe, Boulder, the UK) by staying in less expensive places other times of the year, or staying with family. We aren’t doing much air travel this calendar year, so that saves a lot as well. Our annual spend should work out to be very similar to what we were spending at home in Texas. We live off of our regular income and are not staying in luxury resorts or dining at five star restaurants. We are extremely mindful of our spending, just as we were at home.
Oh, I almost forgot – this is hard. We left our community, support system, family, church, and familiarity to travel. We have hard days, often harder than they were at home, but we love our life. We love our choice to do this – to adventure, to be intentional, and to be together. We’re not constantly torn in different directions. My calendar is no longer full, and although I miss a lot of the events and play dates with familiar faces, it’s so refreshing to have an open schedule and ask every single morning, “what awesome thing do we want to do today?” – and then go freaking do it!