I once heard that if you read five books on any one subject you can consider yourself an expert. Angie and I both are avid readers of travelogues and adventure memoirs. Between the two of us we have read 31 such books over the past year, which should give us six times the expertise. Ha! I only have to recall our last camping trip – trying to hold down a tent in 30 MPH winds – or our first camping trip for that matter – where we nearly froze to death in Florida, of all places – to know that we’re no experts. We are hungry, adventurous souls that love to read about other hungry, adventurous souls.
Of the 30+ books we read, five of them stood apart from the rest and I dare say, were in part what inspired us to make this leap.
Vagabond Dreams by Ryan Murdock
This was the book that kickstarted my longing to leave normal behind and just take off for parts unknown. Ryan’s adventure in Central America is punctuated by true tidbits of wisdom about life and the desire to be free. Of all the books that I have read since, this is still the most inspiring travelogue of them all. In fact, we were so inspired that we went to Mexico, Honduras, and Belize soon after reading it.
Freeways to Flip-Flops by Sonia Marsh
Sonia and her husband packed up their family and moved to Belize where one crazy misadventure after another taught them (and us) that paradise is not a place; it’s an understanding and appreciation of the simple things in life. When things don’t go just right, this book always comes to mind and I think, if they survived scorpions falling into the bed and sabotaging neighbors, surely we can hold down a tent in the wind.
Dear Bob and Sue by Matt and Karen Smith
Peanut butter and parks and penning letters to the folks you wish could have come along – that’s basically the story of our travel life, so no wonder we loved this book. Through emails to their friends Bob and Sue, Matt and Karen told of their travels to every National Park in the US and through those stories, I saw my own country with a new set of eyes.
Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas
“You should read this book and we should get a van.” That was the first thing I said to Angie when I finished Ken’s story. The second was, “Oh my gosh, I think I know his friend.” In Walden on Wheels, Ken works a series of adventurous jobs from Mississippi to Alaska to pay off his undergrad student loans before deciding to live in a van on the Duke University campus. Like Thoreau’s Walden, this one is also full of wisdom. Reading it reaffirmed our aversion to debt and inspired us to approach our adventure in a more unconventional way. And as it turned out, I had met his friend once through my job. That little tidbit helped me realize that the people in these books are real – just like us – and if they can do it, so can we.
Leap of Faith: Quit Your Job and Live on a Boat by Ed Robinson
Leap of Faith speaks a lot to being owned by one’s possessions and letting go in order to experience freedom. I loved the book and soon started following Ed on Facebook. You see, for several years now, Ed and I have lived only a few miles apart – me in a cozy apartment surrounded by pools and an exotic landscape and him on his boat. I’ve never met Ed but I credit him with being the person who provided the swift kick in the rear that I needed to actually do something brave. One day on his blog, Ed assailed so-called-minimalists in their cozy apartments proclaiming to live simplified lives, while he lived in a 36’ x 12’ boat with only one pair of shoes. I admit, I was a little offended. Minimalism is a personal experience after all. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was more than a kernel of truth in Ed’s words and if I wanted to be a true minimalist, I needed to go all in. As an homage to freedom and a reminder to always live authentically, one of the last things that we did before embarking on our adventure was to go to the marina where Leap of Faith is docked and take this picture.