Designing the Life I Love to Live

Designing Life - Weekend Travel Inspiration

I don’t know about you , but sometimes I feel like  freak!

I have chosen to live my life in a way that seems foreign to others. I can remember my mother-in-law asking very early on in our marriage when Jim and I would move back to the US. I’m sure she expected us to get that wild travel impulse out of our system and settle down. However, it didn’t really happen that way.  

After dating and getting married in Germany many moons ago, Jim and I have always treasured our time spent wandering through the tiny villages of the Benelux where we lived. Villages with enchanting names like Echternach and Bernkastel-Kues captured our imaginations with fortresses and festivals. Ancient cities (much older than anything in the US) captivated us with stories of intrigue and warring tribes. We took our children to all kinds of museums, sobering cemeteries, massive cathedrals, and we all tried everything. We fell in love there, not just with each other, but with this life. We never planned to give it up, and still don’t.

We tried that American dream stuff. We did go to the States for one eight-year stint. We bought a house; the kids were in Girl Scouts and bands and soccer teams. We were still living a bit on the edge, the Last Frontier, in Alaska. So, adventure and wildlife were what we chased. We never stopped adventuring or even traveling during that time, and we loved every minute of it. But, we longed to get back to our life of exploration, traveling through unknown countries, eating new foods, meeting people that were basically the same as us but lived life so differently. We couldn’t wait to find a way back into that life.  So, yeah, we sold the house.

We both became teachers because we knew that was one way we could continue to travel, living in other places, and visiting that many more. We made that choice purposefully, and it’s worked out for us. After living together on three continents and six different countries, we still can’t get enough. We still love it.

We don’t own a house and really don’t plan to. As a rule, we don’t have much stuff. Long ago we realized that it wasn’t things that made us happy. We’ve given up shopping. Jim and I really love to do things, to spend our money on memories rather than things I have to dust. I really hate to dust! Even for birthdays, anniversaries, and other gift-giving times, we choose to find something fun to do rather than buy something.

This week was our anniversary. Let’s just say, we’ve been married quite a few years. So, many of my friends and co-workers asked me what we are doing to celebrate? Will we buy a gift, give cards, receive flowers? Nope. None of the above. This weekend we are splurging a little as we travel to the south of France and Monaco. We would have traveled there anyway. In fact, we’ve been planning this trip for some time, because the main purpose for going is to see the Menton Lemon Festival. The fact that it happens to be near our anniversary is just happenstance and allows us the opportunity to justify going to Monte Carlo and living it up for one night, spending just a bit more on our hotel and dinner restaurant, with a dessert of a little gambling. Just because we can.

So, it’s okay to be a freak sometimes. I’m happy. Jim’s happy. We’ve built our lives around what we love most…exploration!

How about you?  Have you built the life that makes you happy?


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  1. Happy anniversary from one pair of long-marrieds to another. I totally agree with your attitude to gifts. After 30+ years we have all we need so why get more stuff? One of us has a big birthday coming up and, yes, we’ve chosen to travel for it.

  2. I completely agree! I love stuff but, if I had to choose, I’d pick memories. We do like having a home to come back from our travels though – it’s like an old, comfortable tee-shirt where I know everything works and I can sip my favourite tea in my favourite old chipped cup (ie. – nesting!!).

  3. Happy Anniversary! And I get it – wanderlust has made me a freak in a family of non-travelers, a freak living in the Southern US where many don’t like to leave the south, a freak amongst friends who don’t get it and say “Where are you going this time?” and a freak who loves to learn about and visit new places instead of purchasing a new tv, house or car. And I don’t even travel full-time! Wanderlust is a special club with interesting members and I would rather be in it than any other!

  4. We don’t buy presents for each other either but will plan a trip. Since retiring we have downsized to a condo and spend the winter months away. This year Mexico, last year Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Last year we also went to Ireland (for the millionth time) and Berlin and Frankfurt.
    I could easily live out of a suitcase, John not so much. We just love exploring and learning.

  5. Happy anniversary to you both, from Gordon and I. We are a little different, in that we love to have our home to come back to. I can never see us giving this base up. I don’t think you are ‘freaks’ at all; I just think that we all make our different choices, and that is what life is. We don’t buy gifts for one another, as in material things. We do however, take one another on different experiences. A different walk, a different drive, a different beach, an eclipse of the sun in Turkey. It works.

  6. You and Jim certainly inspired us to step up our travel game and to fill our lives with great experiences instead of stuff — being is way better than having.

    Happy Anniversary!

  7. Corinne, you are not the only “freak” out there. My husband and I have very similar practices. For Valentine’s Day, we went to Palm Springs to eat, see a balloon festival and experience some events related to Modernist Week (we went the day before and went back home to avoid paying the crazy hotel prices, we can use the money for another adventure). Our families wonder what is going on with us. But, every time we come back home after a trip, we get reaffirmation that this is the life we want to live.

  8. Happy anniversary Corinne and Jim! I hope you had a great time over my way in Menton. I love your attitude to life and feel very similarly. However I don’t feel like a freak as all my family are big travellers too so I’m just one of the tribe!

  9. I hope to have a story like yours one day! I’ve come to the realization recently that there’s so much to see and I don’t want to miss out on it. Planning on moving to Europe next year (from Chicago) and continuing my journey – it’s so wonderful to read about people who have made similar decisions. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  10. Thoughtful post and I often wonder what makes people – who don’t have the same passion for travel as I do – happy. What is the key to finding happiness and getting the right balance? It’s different for everyone and many people scratch their heads at us and probably think we’re freaks too (after 2 years of full-time travel and no plans to come home).

    We’re in Bamberg right now. Germany is fantastic and I totally get why you want to live here. You’re in the heart of Europe with easy transport links anywhere, the food is great, the beer even better…and we actually also really like the Germans.

    We don’t know where we’ll end up settling in the future but it most likely won’t be anywhere in N. America. As you say, its about recognizing what it important to you having the strength to build your life around that.

    Good post,
    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Frank, I am happy if everyone can find their happiness….but I do find it funny that travel isn’t part of some people. I guess that’s what makes us all unique. (P.S. I’m going to email you!)

  11. It’s truly wonderful that both of your desires for a traveling life match up so nicely. My dad loves living around the world and was a serial expat for about a decade. My mom, however, hates to go anywhere, so she never did the trailing spouse bit. She stayed back in Texas, and they saw each other only a few months of every year. My kids seem to not have inherited my love of travel. (They take after grandma.) The last few years living abroad were very difficult for them. So, I think that we’ll be staying put until they are off to uni at least.

    1. Michele, I hear you. I think many people are under the impression that just being exposed to travel, makes one want to travel more and more. In my case, that’s true, but I’ve known many people where the opposite is true. We’re all different!

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