How are you doing this?

How are you not working for six months? How are you going on these adventures? How are you doing this? I wish I could do that. 

People ask me these things all the time. The answer is that I am simply prioritizing travel and adventure and experiences over other things. I'm choosing travel over owning a car, owning a house, eating something other than PB&J sandwiches for lunch, going to bars, having a big retirement account, starting a family. I am not doing anything that you couldn't do. It just comes down to the choices you make. Choices are tough.

I understand that not everybody should prioritize travel over everything else. If you have a child or a spouse then you have a commitment to put them at the top of your list. Although I have seen some adventuring families, and they are pretty bad ass, so it's not impossible. But outside of your commitments to other people, all your other priorities are negotiable. "I have a house." Sell it. "I have a car." Get rid of it. "I have a job." Good. Save up as much money as you can, pay off your debt, then quit and go see the world. "I can't do that." You could if you wanted to, but it doesn't sound like you do, so you're right. 

It's not easy. That's why most people don't do it. It's not easy to save money, pay off debt, leave a steady job for something completely unknown, or leave people you love for people you don't know yet. It's not easy to bike to work in a thunderstorm, eat ramen for dinner several nights in a row, choose not to go out to eat with friends, or work on the weekends. You have to be dedicated and know why you are doing what you are doing. 

I am lucky to be able to do what I am doing. But that's not to say that this just happened. You can influence your own luck. Most of luck is working hard, putting yourself in a good position, being prepared, and not being afraid to take a risk.

I've always worked hard. In school I always did all my work, studied when I needed to study, and made good grades. That put me in a good position to get a scholarship. At the University of Alabama I did the same thing and after getting turned down for several jobs I was hired for a co-op engineering position with the US Army. I did my job there, and the government hired me full time once I graduated.

I'm lucky to have met some amazing people in my life, but none of them did I meet by staying in my room watching Seinfeld reruns. You got to put yourself out there. You will meet some pretty terrible people too, but you will learn just as much from them. 

I took a risk by quitting my job, and I'm still not sure how it will turn out. Of course that makes me kind of nervous and afraid, but you can't let that stop you. Nothing great has ever happened without some risk involved. Fear always precedes greatness. 

The Northern Presidential Range in New Hampshire is one of the few places in the world to find this flower - the Alpine Goldenrod

So in summary: I did well in school which allowed me to receive a scholarship and stay out of debt. I worked in a co-op position while in school and then was hired full time upon graduation. I saved money, managed money well, and lived within my means while working full time. I realized that sitting behind a desk all day was not making me happy, so I did something about it. 

You always have to live within your means, so as soon as I was not receiving a paycheck every two weeks my means of living went way down. Like living in a tent in the woods, way down. But I was prepared for that, and it was an amazing experience. I posted before that the entire thru hike cost me about $1000/month. If you show up to Springer Mountain with the right gear, three days worth of food, $5000, and nothing other than a phone bill every month, you can have a great time walking all the way to Maine. 

When I returned to Huntsville after my hike and a brief road trip out west, I began working as many hours at Mountain High Outfitters as I could just to cover my living expenses. Mountain High is a great place, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to work there and meet so many passionate people. Again I had to live within my means so I sold my car and bought a bike for transportation. I had forgotten how much fun riding a bike is! I managed to sustain and not eat up my savings. 

So now I am heading out on another adventure. I am not sure how much money it will cost, but I've learn how to live cheaply. Use your legs for transportation, don't over indulge in anything, eat local food, sleep in camp or hostels, entertain yourself with conversation, and see the free attractions like mountains, lakes, rivers, and oceans. It's actually really great. 

Sunrise in the Santa Fe National Forest