Bryan Waugh, age 34
Kristin (Munch) Waugh , age 31
Previously resided in Hampton Roads area, VA
I’ve been traveling the globe for more than a decade now hitting 38 countries, numerous islands, and 33 of the States. Some for work, but mostly for pleasure. To me, there’s no bigger thrill than ending up in some far away remote location and discovering all of the culture, people, and sites that there are to see. I love to try new places and new things. The only thing that’s been holding me back is the amount of vacation time that I get a year. It’s really hard to dig deep into the roots of a foreign society when you only have a week or two to do it. I’ve dreamed of the day when I could just venture at my own pace and have no time constraints for my next flight home. To the typical American that’s retirement age, but who wants to be in their 60′s trying to hop on a crowded bus filled with livestock? Or teetering off the side of a cliff for the perfect action photo? I’ve worked hard for my money. I’ve saved for the future. But how long will the future be? The more I got to thinking, the more it came clear that we never know when our last day will be. Why wait another 25 years to fulfill my dream?
Well, initially it was all Bryan’s idea and I was not “happy to be homeless.” I didn’t want to give up my job, house, family, friends, and dogs to travel for that long. However, I knew that if I didn’t support his dream I would be a pretty lousy wife. Bryan would never stand in the way of any of my dreams. Gradually things started to happen and fall into place so well that I knew this whole trip was meant to be. Now, I think I’m as passionate and excited about our adventure as Bryan is.
A job’s just a job. I’ve always looked at my job as just a means of financing my extra-curricular activities. Sure, I took pride in what I did. But it was time for a change, and I had saved up enough to not need it to support what I wanted to do outside of work. As far as a house goes…. are you kidding me? That thing was nothing but work. Between cutting the grass, staining the deck, painting rooms, making renovations and other household chores, there wasn’t much time in my evenings after work to do anything else. Plus it’s just a materialistic thing; I can always get another one. Friends and family are probably the hardest things to leave behind. On the upside, we’ve had almost 6 months of apartment living and free-time (from no house) to visit our friends and family more often. We’ve probably seen my family more in the past couple months than we have in the past couple of years.
It was really hard for me to come to terms of everything I was giving up. After some time of “grieving” for all that we were “losing,” my attitude began to drastically change. Now I’m looking at all that we’re gaining through this experience.
I graduated from Virginia Tech in December 2001 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Go HOKIES! Since then, I’ve been working as a Test Engineer on Nuclear Aircraft Carriers at Newport News Shipbuilding. In my 10 years at the shipyard I worked on 7 of the 10 Nuclear Carriers that are in the U.S. Navy Fleet. And I’ve been lucky enough to ride a few of them around and partake in their port calls.
I graduated cum laude from Christopher Newport University in May 2004 with a degree in Psychology and Writing. I worked at Head Start and then at the end of the school year, I accepted a job as a “governess.”. (fancy name for a nanny with a college degree who works with school age children). I worked there for six and a half years. The kids were much older and more independent at that point so I wasn’t needed on a full-time basis. It was a good indication that it was time to start our extensive traveling.
You name it! Having no agenda, flying by the seat of our pants, and seeing where life sends us.
Everything! I can’t wait to live life to the absolute fullest for two years and experience different places, cultures, and events. I can’t wait to see all of the beautiful places and animals around the world.
Absolutely none. However, I do have a couple of fears for things I may encounter during the trip:
1) Sometimes Kristin can be in her own little world. Situational awareness is not her strong point. Without a doubt, we’re going to encounter unsafe surroundings, and in those situations I’m going to have to have one eye on her and another on whatever other dangers are lurking around us.
2) I can’t wait to try strange foods. Whether it be guinea pig, tarantulas, or my favorite….meat on a stick! The question is, how will my body handle these things? I think my worst fear is being in a country where I can’t understand the language, don’t know where I’m at, and I’m in dire need of a bathroom!
Leaving my family and friends and two dogs was definitely the most difficult part. I’m also a little nervous about roughing it for so long. I like to be warm and clean all the time. When I’m cold and dirty I get pretty cranky. I need to just relax and go with the flow.
I’m not trying to think that far ahead. At this point in time all I’m looking to do is have a great time, see as much as possible, and take in everything the world has to offer.
Yes, after our big adventure I’d like to start a family and eventually buy another home. We aren’t sure where we will reside. I hope we settle somewhere near our family and friends. I always want to continue to travel.
I’ve taken up a wide range of hobbies over the years. From muscle-car restoration to photography. For years I thought I enjoyed doing projects around the house (bathroom renovations, kitchen remodeling, etc), but once I sold off both houses I learned how much I love not doing those things. I tend to live a life on the water. I worked on boats, I owned a boat (until I sunk it), and in my free time I used to race sailboats.
I really enjoy volunteering with animals. For the last four years, I helped weekly at Animal Aid Society in Hampton, VA, which is a shelter for homeless dogs. I also help with the Suffolk Humane Society’s Mutt Strut fundraiser. I also am an avid runner. I ran two half-marathons this past year and also ran the Richmond Marathon two weeks before we left for our big trip. I also enjoy scuba diving and look forward to diving in lots of exotic locations during our upcoming travels.
I don’t think I’m going to even attempt to answer this question. I’ve been asked it numerous times. And there’s just no good answer. My love of travel derives from the fact that I like to see different places and different cultures. No two places are alike. So why should I try to compare them and pick a best? That’s like comparing steak and strawberries. Both completely different things, but I like them both.
So far, Costa Rica, Panama, Bora Bora (Tahiti), and Germany are some of my favorite places. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to add to that list in the next few years. It’s impossible to pick one favorite place.
We started out our marriage with the best of the best. My now-husband Bryan proposed to me on a picture-perfect beach in Costa Rica with a blindingly large diamond ring. We were married on a cliff overlooking the crystal clear Caribbean Sea in Jamaica. A month later, we left for a 12-day honeymoon in Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, and Rangiroa, staying in overwater bungalows that cost upwards of $1,000 a night. After a few years of marriage, we sold our ranch-style home and purchased a larger, newer home on the water, complete with a boat and jetski. We were also fulfilled career-wise. I had landed my dream job a year out of college; a job that I was both passionate about, but that also paid extremely well. We continued to travel to exotic locales at least twice a year. We had a happy, healthy marriage, a large group of good friends, and a loving, supportive family. By only our mid-twenties, we were living the American dream-life.
It would come as a huge shock that not long after, I would be homeless, unemployed, and living on the money we saved, with only a bag of belongings. I would be sleeping in rooms with up to twenty other people, and trading my fancy SUV for crowded, noisy and often smelly public transportation. However, unlike many Americans who are forced into this state by our economy’s tragic downturn, my decision to give up my dream life was completely voluntary. In fact, I was almost certain it would be some of the happiest times of my entire life.
So how did a spoiled Coach-purse-carrying, high-end traveling princess of 28-years suddenly become a gypsy vagabond who’s only luxury was an occasional hot shower?
My husband Bryan and I have always followed the cookie-cutter path of what Americans should do. We made excellent grades and graduated with degrees from respected universities. Even before his college graduation, Bryan landed a high-paying engineering job on nuclear aircraft carriers at a large defense contracting company. He purchased a lovely home only a few months after college. I was pulling in a hefty salary at my job that I found both intrinsically and extrinsically rewarding. I was also extremely involved in community service, which was my favorite weekly past-time. We paid off our loans quickly, invested smartly, paid our hefty mortgage, did yardwork, commuted, and worked 50+ hours a week. We were living the American dream life, and running the American rat race. All that was missing from our white picket fence life were the 2.8 kids. We had been happily married for seven years, so the question never ceased – when were we having kids? We eventually wanted to be parents but kept saying we wanted to wait another five to ten years.
In college Bryan was bit hard by the travel bug. Before his junior year of college, Bryan had never lived outside of Virginia and his only travel abroad was to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. In a literally spur of the moment decision, Bryan decided to spend a semester of his Junior year in college “studying” abroad in Sweden. In reality, Bryan spent very little time studying and only came back with 3 college credits. But he did come back with a strong passion for travel and photography and had backpacked throughout much of Europe.
I grew up as an Army brat. We never lived in one house longer than two years, some places we stayed in less than nine months. I loved the thrill of living in a new place. I especially loved the two years my family spent living in Garmisch, Germany. We took weekend trips to Austria, spent Spring Break in Paris and the Spanish Island of Mallorca, and took Girl Scout trips to Venice, Italy. Every Wednesday, the little Army base’s tiny American school closed down early and all the students spent the afternoon and evening taking skiing lessons. I experienced more during those two years of my childhood than many people do their entire lives.
I assumed I would continue to move around as an adult. Somehow though, time slipped away from Bryan and I. We suddenly realized that we had spent the last 11 years in the same area, running the rat race and keeping up with the Joneses’. All of a sudden we were adults and everyone our age was having multiple children, while we still felt several years away from wanting our first.
During one of Bryan’s month long trips through Europe in 2010, he met an Australian couple who were around our age and were traveling the world. They, too, had spent the last several years in the workforce but weren’t completely ready to settle down. They quit their jobs, sold their house, and began their life of travel. Bryan was intrigued by the idea and immediately emailed me that this was something he wanted to consider…. and soon. He had mentioned similar ideas before but I always dismissed them as just a phase. I thought that he would be like most other husbands and would want a baby soon. I thought a switch would flip and Bryan would suddenly be ready for the responsibility of fatherhood. Bryan continued to mention the idea and selling our home. I continued to assume that he would want to wait for the lousy housing market to improve so we would make money from selling our home. I wasn’t ready to quit my job, or leave my friends and family, or leave my beautiful home and sweet dogs. I wasn’t ready to give up my perfect life to wander like a homeless girl around the globe.
The more I dismissed Bryan’s fantasies, the more I realized just how serious he was. I went through a deep depression as I thought about all I was going to lose. But I had to do it…I couldn’t pick my job, house, career, or dogs over my husband. That would make me the worst wife ever. Suddenly my mindset began to drastically change. I started to think about how much I could gain from the experience, rather than how much I would be giving up. Bryan also promised me that we would plan our trips in “legs” by region and fly back for a month in between the three or four legs to visit. Soon my family and friends got over their initial shock and sadness and became extremely supportive. I also began to think about how incredible it would be to have two full years of freedom and adventure with my best friend. There would be no stress of mortgages, bills, yardwork, cleaning, and most importantly – no jobs. Over the last six years, Bryan and I had been working completely opposite shifts. He worked normal early morning to late afternoon hours, while I worked early afternoon to late night. When he left for work, I was sound asleep. By the time I returned home from work at night, he was sound asleep. Was that really a marriage? Somedays it seemed like we were more like roommates than husband and wife. How much longer could I put my marriage on the backburner to pursue my “dream” job and pay for our large “dream” house?