For the past few months Dave and I have been busy. Like most people in the world, we’ve noticed that we are finding less time to spend relaxing and enjoying the little things in life and more time running around making ourselves stressed and being over worked. As our careers as travel personalities fall in to place, the commitments begin to pile up and we in turn find that we’re not taking the time to smell the roses.

The other day we were talking with a producer from The Social (a TV Talk Show here in Canada that we pop in as guests on every couple of months). We were retelling our story of when we took the plunge to become full time travellers. It was 2006, six years after taking a five week trip to Thailand that changed our lives. Before that trip to Thailand in 2000, we were stuck in a rut. We’d already been together for 9 years, and didn’t even realize that we were slowly drifting apart.

The First Six Years

A couple of years into our relationship we moved to Vancouver where we stumbled in to the film business. In 1994, we switched our goals of being famous musicians to creating a life behind the scenes in movies. For six years we worked hard trying to make a name for ourselves. Dave got in to the film union and paid his dues working as crew on several blockbuster movies, while I took daily calls on TV shows and smaller budget films to try to break in to the make-up department. We were spending so much time focusing on trying to create successful careers that we were ignoring each other. We were living separate lives and simply weren’t very interesting people. We didn’t do anything exciting outside of our jobs. We’d work all week, run errands on the weekend and maybe catch a movie or go out for dinner.

Life was boring. 

The Start of a Great New 6 Years

In 2000, after working very hard for two solid years on back to back movies, we decided to take a five week trip to Thailand for a break. It opened our eyes and introduced us to a new way of thinking about life. In Thailand, we met people who were traveling the world for months, even years at a time. We didn’t know that people actually lived this way. We thought that everyone did what they were supposed to do like us – Work hard, try to make a lot of money for retirement, buy a house and spend two weeks or so a year on vacation in the Caribbean. Suddenly, we realized we were thinking about life all wrong.

When we returned to Canada we made drastic changes that helped us to focus on more than just our careers. We were inspired by the adventures we did while travelling and took them up when we came home. We signed up for indoor rock climbing lessons after falling in love with climbing in Railay, Thailand, we took up scuba diving after snorkelling there, we bought new bikes and started mountain biking, and we even took an adventure racing course.

Taking up Adventures in Canada

Scuba Diving in the Chilly Waters of Ontario, Canada

Our lives were fulfilled outside of our careers and in turn opportunities fell in to our lap at work. Dave was promoted to Rigging Gaffer and ran crews on huge films. I was called out of the blue to work on contract with a popular TV station. We recall thinking that because we opened ourselves up to new possibilities in life, we became more interesting people. People wanted to be around us because we had a new sense of confidence. We opened the door and let out the negative which made room for great things to happen at work and in life. Everything fell in to place beautifully and we achieved many of the goals we made.

The next 6 years were spent balancing our careers in the film business with our life of adventure. We set aside weeks, even months each year to travel the world. However, 6 years later, we found ourselves starting to feel unfulfilled again. Even though we kept busy with travel and work, we weren’t fulfilled because we felt we were living two half lives. We weren’t 100% focused on our career and we weren’t 100% a part of the travel world. We knew that we didn’t want to spend the rest of our lives on a film set and wait for retirement to finally travel full time, so we had to make a choice. It was on December 31st, 2006 that we decided once and for all to become full time adventurers. We didn’t know how yet, but we made a pact that by this time next year, we’d be on our way to doing so.

cycling africa

It was time to stop living half lives with one foot in our careers in the Film Business and one foot in travel. We spent 2007 preparing, saving money and training for a cycling race from Cairo to Cape Town. That was going to be our ticket out. We would enter that 12,000 km cycling race and make a name for ourselves as an adventure couple. By January 2008 we were on our way to Cairo. We had created ThePlanetD and we had taken an huge leap in our lives. It miraculously worked, because we’ve now been making a full time living from our travel blog. We haven’t gone back to our jobs in the film industry and we’re thrilled to say that we are full time adventurers!

It’s been 6 years since we left to cycle Africa 

Our Most Recent Adventure, Ice Climbing in Alberta

Our Most Recent Adventure, Ice Climbing in Alberta

During the Christmas break of 2007, we were busy packing our bikes and gear for our 12,000 km odyssey ahead. That was exactly six years ago and even though we are living our dreams, we’re already feeling the itch again. I think, no matter how happy you are in your careers or your relationship, there is always something in life that keeps you from feeling completely content. Or maybe it is simply our personalities. We are constantly searching and yearning for more.

The Start of The Next Six Years. 

We’ve noticed that this past year has been a difficult one for us. We’ve been short and frustrated with each other and life. We’ve been edgy and anxious about everything and we never feel content. Could it be the six year cycle catching up to us again?

I was thinking the other day about how much Dave and I complain to each other. All year we’ve been balls of stress and we don’t know why. Especially during travel days. If I were a little bird standing in line at the airport listening to our conversations about slow people at security, crappy airport lounges and our frustration with tickets, I’d wonder why these two people decided to travel at all? We did the math came to the conclusion that in 2013, we were in one airport or another at least 30 times this year. That’s 30 days – 1 month out of 12 spent in an airport or flying! No wonder we have grown short and frustrated with flying.

However, we are the luckiest people in the world, and to complain about the fact that we get to travel and fly for a living is ridiculous. And yet, we find things to complain about every day. “It’s a grind spending days in a hotel, we’re tired of eating at restaurants, if only we had our own bed and could unpack all our stuff.” Complaining is the easy way out. If you don’t check yourself, you can have the best life in the world, but still find something to complain about. I believe it is human nature to complain rather than have patience. Especially when you are feeling tired and overwhelmed. It’s so much easier when you are standing in a long line to absorb the bad energy of the crowd surrounding you and start complaining to each other rather than to take a deep breath, relax and go with the flow. We’ve found ourselves complaining over some very ridiculous things lately and it must stop. We’ve found that we are stressed about things that are beyond our control and that we worry about the small stuff.

So What is this Enlightenment Challenge? 

I believe that Dave and I have fallen in to some bad habits. We love each other, but lately we can be quite short with each other. When you travel together 24/7 it’s easy to blame each other for every little thing that goes wrong. We’ve lost patience with one another and with other people. We take our frustrations out on one another and it’s time to stop.

We’re at the start of another six year cycle. Only this time, we don’t want to make any drastic changes in life or careers. We love where we are, we just don’t like how we feel. We want to find that relaxed feeling again. We want to stop worrying so much and stop feeling that we are falling short every day. We want to feel content with our accomplishments rather than looking at our downfalls and failures. We don’t know when these negative feelings crept in to our lives, but for the past few months, instead of feeling good about things, we’ve been focusing on the things that go wrong. Up until now, we never noticed. We thought we were going along just fine until we had an epic day of travel where one thing after another went wrong. For some reason we were in a good mindset and went with the punches that day. Afterwards, we said to each other, why don’t we have this type of patience more often? It got us thinking. 

The Challenge

I think that now that we feel comfortable with our careers, our old habits, patterns and mindsets have come back without us even realizing it. Lucky for us, we realized it before it was too late. We don’t want to fall into a negative cycle that we can’t get out of. So we are going to break the pattern before it takes hold for good.

For the next 30 days, Dave and I have decided to take a challenge of having more patience. When our instinct is to complain about a situation, we’re going to stop each other and say something positive. When something negative is about to come out of our mouths, we’re going to turn it in to something positive. It’s like a Seinfeld episode. Remember the one where George did The Opposite of every one of his instincts? Well, we’re going to do the same thing. When we start to lose patience, we’re going to remind ourselves that we’ve got it good. When we start to bicker, lay blame, point fingers or criticize, we’re going to do the opposite.

I believe that life is a constant challenge. No matter how much money you have, how successful you are or how amazing things look on the outside, there are always struggles. We think this 30 day challenge will put us back on track. We’ve always felt that 30 days can change a life. After 30 days of being diligent, I know that we’ll come out on the other end with that relaxed mood that we had just a few short years ago. By consciously checking ourselves, I think we can change this mindset we are in and after 30 days, the positive will take over the negative. Happiness takes work and you must choose to be happy. We may be feeling a bit of negativity now, but by not sweating the small stuff anymore, we’re going to get back to that laid back vibe we’ve always had and live in the moment. Life is beautiful.

Have you been feeling stressed or finding yourself sweating the small stuff? Why not take the challenge with us? It’s going to be a great start to 2014! 

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    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thanks Ashley. I wish I could say that there is a point in life where everything is rainbows and unicorns, but I think that is a fantasy. There are definitely rainbow days, but there are always ups and downs. All the best to you in 2014!

  1. Matt Gibson

    I totally hear you. Managing travel, a relationship, and a career 24/7 365 is an overwhelming task!

    Emilie and I have been finding ourselves feeling the same way. It’s an amazing lifestyle, but it’s incredibly intense.

    We’re with you. The thirty-day challenge starts today.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Well said Matt. It’s amazing yet intense for sure. There are a lot of deadlines and responsibilities and sometimes after a full day of adventure, you just don’t want to write etc. However, we are so lucky to be able to do what we love and we have to step back and take notice! I’m so excited that you are going to take the challenge too! Let us know how it goes, I hope it has a positive impact. We’re already feeling a change and it’s only been a week!

  2. Katherine Belarmino

    This is definitely a challenge we should all take up. I know my husband and I get testy after a week of travel together, so full-time travel would be difficult at times, no matter how much fun. We just watched the documentary Happy on KPBS and it got us thinking about the concept of happiness and making sure we act in a way to promote happiness in our lives.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      That sounds like my type of documentary. I’m going to look it up. I remember reading the Dalai Lama’s book “The Art of Happiness” years ago. And something stuck with me. He said it takes work to be happy. (I’m paraphrasing) but I remember thinking before that, that happiness was supposed to just happen. Like when we were kids. Ever since then I have always tried to make a choice to be happy and to work on being happy. I think that when you get tired and a bit burnt out, it’s easy to make the negative choice. We’ve been busy these past few months so I must admit I haven’t worked on being happy. I’m glad I noticed though, because I already feel back on track.

  3. Laura

    You guys are so great for sharing these difficulties but more importantly striving to learn and grow from them. It’s so easy to get into a rut and let negativity get out of control. I wish more people were conscious of trying to improve themselves like you guys. In other words, way to go for doing this!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thank you Laura. I felt compelled to write about it because, for one thing, I was bothered by our complaints. For another, I find that telling everyone and putting it out there forces you to follow through with a goal. But more importantly we wanted to share with others. I think that in the day of social media, it’s easy for all of us to look at other people’s lives and think they are perfect and nothing is wrong. But life is a constant struggle for anyone. There are ups and downs and ins and outs. We wanted to let people know that they are not alone.

  4. Asha

    Dear Dave and Deb, I wish you could know the way I feel after reading such a wonderful post! I’m planning a trip to Bali to celebrate our 10th marriage anniversary, and that’s how I’ve landed here, for a moment while reading about your lives together and the decisions you’ve made together made me feel really excited, Anto runs a home biz and we hardly used to get the time to travel, and that made our relationship with no breaks really difficult, until a day arrived when we were pushed to the breaking-point, we stopped to think things over and that’s when it dawned on us, a really old saying “Too much of anything will turn it to bad”, and that’s what we were doing, putting too much into one thing without balancing it with a little bit of everything, we decided to turn over, accommodate time for all the little things in life and we’ve never been more happier, true we have our rainy days but we enjoy the sunny ones more, reading your blog gave us wonderful new ideas, keep posting more, there are soo many people who’d benefit knowing there is always a way to turn things around J – Thanks a million….

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Hi Asha, I am so glad that we could inspire some wonderful new ideas for you. It sounds like you and Anto have a very strong relationship as well. And that you are very aware of checking yourselves and making sure that you stay on track. Congratulations on 10 years. You are going to love Bali. We are definitely going to give updates on the challenge. I know that when we were searching for a new direction in life, we were constantly reading articles like this for inspiration. It’s amazing to be able to speak with like minded people.

  5. Carla Williams

    Hi, I love this article. I agree that focusing more of the positive will bring you more of the positive. I live my life by the law of attraction and it says that like attract like. It seems like you already realize that though because you said yourself that it felt like you two were stuck in a negative cycle. By using the universal laws, we never have to struggle. We simply have to change our thoughts, words and actions. Good luck on the challenge and I will be checking in to hear updates.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      So well said Carla. Changing thoughts can be very powerful! I used to find it cliche when people said “the power of positive thinking” but once I started, I realized that positive thinking can totally change your life. We sometimes forget and have to check ourselves, but knowing how powerful it can be, i’m always quick to make myself get back on track. I was a little slower this year because of the work load and our hectic schedule, but I’m glad I noticed before it was too late. Thanks for checking in and we’ll keep you posted on update too!

  6. Mariellen Ward

    Totally agree with you, and glad to hear you are actively bringing consciousness to your relationship, your lives and your work. Coincidentally, I am doing the same thing. I have felt very out of balance the last few years as I worked feverishly towards career success. Now, I feel burned out and ready to start a new cycle. New cycle is all about consciousness, balance, feeling grounded, eating better, more yoga and more joy!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Beautiful Mariellen. We always find you to be very balanced, but I know that what we portray on the outside can be very different on the inside. You’ve definitely been a busy person this past year. We’ve watched you have so much success it’s been awesome. I don know though that it can cause burn out and it’s great that you have caught it before it goes too far. I think many of us who started in this business of blogging at around the same time are feeling similar. The first few years were lean and the last few have been filled with exciting opportunities. It’s difficult to say no to anything, but there comes a time when we have to be choosier to really enjoy and relish it – get back to the reason we got in to it all in the first place. Thanks for sharing and best of luck with your quest for balance. We’ll talk about it in the months to come over some tea.

  7. Renuka

    Great read! It’s so so important to stop, relax and savor life around us. True, we human beings always find something or the other to complain about. But it’s good that you two realize it and are evolving as people, as travelers!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thanks Renuka, I love when you say “Savor life around us” I think we often stop ourselves from looking around and seeing the positive. It’s so easy to get caught up in a negative cycle. We’ve only been doing this challenge now for a few days, and we already feel better. We’ve been laughing a lot more and that’s cool.

  8. Jen Miner

    One of my friends loves music, all kinds of music, with a passion. He decided against going into music production and went into something else (well, TV shows, like that's stress-free) because he didn't want to kill his passion for music by working in the industry. I guess what I'm saying is, when people pursue careers in their area of passion, they see the less-romantic nitty-gritty aspects of those areas and can get burnt out. I hope you guys take this time to relax and reconnect and come back even more amazing than ever. ..I also hope you come to California one of these days, but that's a whole 'nother story.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      I am going to have to disagree with your friend even though I understand where he is coming from. I love being able to do what I’m passionate about for a living and wouldn’t have it any other way. We spent nearly a decade traveling part time in between working. We know what it’s like to have one foot in the door and one foot out of doing what you love. Now that we get to live our passion daily, we’re fulfilled. Sure there are rough patches, but there are rough patches in everything in life. I remember feeling so empty going to my job as a make up artist in movies. I don’t feel that emptiness anymore. Now we just need to find that balance.
      And yes! Next time we are in LA we are going out!

  9. Susan

    I have been reading this blog for last couple of days and I admit that it has motivated me to take up few more interesting things in life. Secondly, I think I can revive my relationship by exploring new places. Great blog and happy writing.


    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thank you so much Susan, your words made our day. That is exactly what we want people to feel when reading our blog. We want to inspire and motivate people to make their lives better. We’re only here once (as far as we know) and it’s a lot more fun when we keep pushing ourselves to create a more fulfilling life. I hope that you revive your relationship. Dave and I have found that we constantly keep working on it and we have so much fun together. Sure we fight, but we get through it and move on. Can’t wait to hear what interesting things you get up to!

  10. Heather

    I felt this way before moving to Shanghai two years ago. I complained about everything and didn’t realize how lucky I was. It’s amazing what two years in the world’s most populous nation can teach you about yourself. I have a whole new appreciation of the life I am lucky enough to lead and more patience than I thought it possible for me to ever have. Hopefully the lessons will stick now that I’ve moved home. Good luck to you guys!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      I am so happy that Shanghai changed your outlook on life. We feel that there is nothing better than mixing life up a bit to realize how lucky we all are. When you are forced to step out of your comfort zone, it teaches you a lot about yourself. You are so brave to move to a new country and bustling city and taking on the challenge. It sounds like you are thriving and I do believe that the lessons will stick. But most likely 6 or 7 years from now, you may need to take stock again. That’s what we’ve found anyway. All the best to you!

  11. Lunaguava

    Bad relationship habits can sneak up on you no matter how much fun you’re having. As long as some sort of routine sets in, the little devils are able to rear their ugly heads – even if said routine involves having crazy adventures around the world. Glad you guys found a way to try and sort it out. Patience is a much undervalued skill – it’s always much easier to blow up a fuse. Wishing you much luck! Oh, and love the Seinfeld reference…

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      So true. Dave and I have been together 22 years and we have always said that the problem with many couples these days (who give up on their relationships early) is that they don’t work on it. Nothing in life is perfect and that is the same when it comes to relationships. It’s easy to fall in to bad habits, take each other for granted, blame each other for problems etc. But when you stop and take a step back to look at what the problem is, it’s usually not so bad. We always communicate and discuss things and work on keeping things interesting, exciting and fun together. We’re aware that if we settle back and let things just go with the flow, things will fall apart. It’s true for career, friendships, family and every aspect of life. You have to constantly keep working to make things better in everything. But that’s the fun of it all. Staying one step ahead. I’m glad you like the Seinfeld reference. We always laugh and say that we can relate everything to a Seinfeld episode :-)

  12. Rob Schneider

    I admire your honesty. My challenge is a little different. I let myself sink into mild depression in 2013 after a chronic knee problem made riding my mountain bike impossible and walking very painful. After reading an inspiring Thanksgiving post by Jon Morrow, whose disability makes him unable to have physical exercise of any kind, I snapped out of it and started being grateful for what I still have. Since then, I’ve started swimming regularly and meditating again. Already it’s made an enormous difference in my outlook on life.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thanks Rob. I had this written for about two weeks before I finally posted. It’s sometimes difficult to let people know how you’ve been feeling. It’s much easier to paste on a smile and act like all is perfect. But in life, nothing is perfect. There are ups and downs and it would be quite boring if it were any other way. Part of the challenge is to figure out how to get to that place of Zen. I’m glad that you got out of your depression. I can completely understand how that can happen though if you were really active before and then suddenly couldn’t do anything. Swimming is such a great form of exercise after an injury, I’m glad you found something fulfilling to do. All the best to you in 2013!

  13. Devlin @ Marginal Boundaries

    I think everyone could benefit w/ a little more patience & positive thinking. I’ve been attempting to push myself toward a more positive mindset in my life. While it’s not the easiest thing, it’s definitely better than being a downer all the time.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Well said Devlin. I think that we can all fall in to negativity at one point or other. It’s important to catch yourself before it becomes an unbreakable habit. Once you get back to positive thinking it comes naturally.

  14. Kristin

    I loved reading your story of how you got where you are today– it makes sense of why your blog is so different from the others out there. You had other careers and lives before traveling and that gives you a perspective that you can’t find through travel alone. We all get annoyed and restless, if you guys come up with some tips that work for you, I’d love to hear about it in a future post. Saying positive things sounds like a great tangible step to take!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thank you for the kind words Kristin. I think that having a bit of age and experience has definitely helped us keep perspective. We realize that life is constantly going on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. We’ll definitely be doing an update next week after our half way point in the challenge.

  15. Charli | Wanderlusters

    You’ve put into words what myself and Ben have been battling with over the last 6 months. Perpetual travel is a gift but with it come additional stressors that a 9 to 5 just can’t compete with. We live in each others pockets and while i wouldn’t want it any other way i agree that we need to be more understanding of exactly what we need to do to keep a healthy balance in our lives. Full time travel is a balancing act between making the most of your circumstance and location, and earning enough money to keep you on the road. It’s a tricking act to keep both on the straight and narrow! We’ll be joining you on your challenge, here’s to a happy and healthy start to 2014!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Well said, yes, it is indeed a gift but the trick is to find balance. Too much of anything can be difficult. Looking forward to you joining us!

  16. Amber

    For us, it was a 5 year itch, which had us moving or changing our lives every five years. Now, we are 18 months into our new cycle, so we have time to go. But, living in Bali, some place most people consider a paradise, is not always easy and we find ourselves trying to take deep breaths, to be more positive, and to try to keep things in perspective. Living in uber-hippie Ubud, I bought Eric a black tourmaline crystal bracelet to ward off his negativity, and when I felt it wasn’t working, we returned to the shop to have it re-energized. Yep, that’s what we do now as Ubudians, but I think it is important to do something to improve your mental state once in a while. I will be very interested to see how your 30 day challenge works.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thanks for sharing Amber. I can see how it can be difficult, even though Bali is paradise, it is a different culture and it’s busy. We loved Ubud, but the last time we were there was in 2004. I am sure that it has changed a lot. I hope the bracelet works! And, glad that you are at the beginning of your cycle. Who knows, maybe you won’t have a five year itch this time! Best of luck to you!!

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  18. Joe

    This 30 day challenge is a great idea and something that I think everyone could benefit from. It’s so incredibly easy to get stuck in a mental or emotional rut, and without even realizing it, you could find yourself spending months or years like that. I found myself in a similar position earlier last year, in a “comfortable” job, not particularly going anywhere and (without totally realizing it at the time), not particularly fulfilled either. Reading blogs like yours has really helped me evaluate where I’m at and prepare myself for taking a beloved hobby and turning it into something more.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thank you Joe! I know what you mean when you say “without even knowing it” It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and never even notice. That’s what we felt about our relationship way back in 2000. We didn’t even realize it was going stale, but luckily we had the mind to smarten up and make life interesting again and in hindsight if we didn’t, I don’t think we’d be together today. Since that time, we’ve always checked ourselves. When we feel ourselves getting in to a negative cycle, we make sure to work to change our mindset and set things straight. Good luck with turning your hobby into something more! You are definitely taking steps to live a fulfilling life. ONce you know what you want, the sky is the limit.

  19. Jennifer

    I think when travel, which is typically a way for most people to escape from the daily stress and routine of their life, becomes your job you just need to take a vacation from it every now and again. No matter how enjoyable a career in travel is, we still need time for ourselves. I’m not saying not to travel, but do it for you and not for the blog. Even take just one week for yourselves.

  20. jim

    I like your blog it’s nice information provided. That’s very inspire & helpful in my life to travel time .
    Thanks :)

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