Though the idea of traveling the world remains a dream for many, Lisa Barber has made it her reality.
In 2014 the Rochester, New York native took a trip to London and Paris to scratch visiting the two countries off her bucket list. But after her two week vacation she thought about how much more time she needed to explore places beyond America. She discussed long-term travel with her husband Lucas, and he was on board. Soon after they resigned from their careers, sold their home and everything in it, then purchased two one-way tickets from New York to New Zealand. Barber, who was once the Assistant Director of Customer Relations and Social Media Marketing, now makes a living as a freelancer as she travels.
In the past seven months, the Barbers have traveled extensively throughout New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia and South East Asia. They also plan to explore Africa and Europe.
Read Lisa’s story below on what it was like to prepare to move to the other side of the world.
Without much fan fare, I resigned from my career, sold my home and left behind loved ones and a comfortable yet unfulfilling life in preparation of a multi-year global experience. It began with a passion for travel and a one-way ticket from New York to New Zealand. A wanderlust dream that was considered many years ago for reasons more than one.
Picking up and selling everything is easier for the fresh college graduate that has yet to accept a 9 – 5 commitment or accumulate a house with possessions to fill it. But for those with a robust professional network and a surmounting level of obligations, a wanderlust dream can be easily differed. A mere pipe dream at its finest.
Regardless of the difficultly of leaving a comfortable life behind, I was certain that this life change was well overdue as I became dispassionate about the direction of my life. Over time, I witnessed my keen sense for perfectionism, which is closely tied to workaholism, morph into a compulsive obligation to be available to everyone and everything except for myself, my husband and most of all God. The fallout led to late nights glued to the computer, constant communication updates from communities I was involved in and an incredible amount of time wasted as loved ones awaited the completion of the “last” personal or professional project. We rarely had consecutive evenings at home as we continued to pay mortgage for a residence that remained unoccupied. However well intended our goal were as model citizens, the truth is my career and community obligations left me exhausted. Specifically speaking, burnt out. At one point, the community involvement section on my curriculum vitae seemed to be scaling to new heights compared to my relevant experience. An overly scheduled routine and an attendance of the year complex allowed my obligations to manage me rather than the reverse. It took a Twelve Step program with a specific focus on workaholism and a conscious decision to evaluate whether my behaviors accurately aligned with my definition of living life to the fullest. Like many people, I was living the illusion of a life well balanced but constantly trying to catch my breath in the years that were considered my prime. On top of that, I was constantly living my wanderlust dreams through others while promoting the idea of taking more risks to everyone except myself. It was time to take my own advice.
After mustering the courage to commit to long-term travel, you start asking yourself Where do I start? Do I sell everything? What do I keep? Can I truly commit to cutting the safety net and go boldly into the unknown? My husband and I asked ourselves these very questions and share our story to inspire others. Once you get beyond the initial shock of it all, the very thought of de-cluttering your life and home can be nerving before bidding adieu. In preparation of this life transition, every piece of furniture was sold. I downsized my wardrobe by more than 50% through donations and by selling timeless pieces for a fraction of the price, including a Burberry jacket which found a very good home for a very good price. I even held a yard sale on Facebook where items were gone in a matter of minutes as my cell phone lit up non-stop from comments, messages, texts and phone calls. [Editors note: If you do this, make sure to add first come, first serve to every item avoid any bad blood. I’m pretty sure lives were threatened when I started the selling price at $15 for my vintage Dooney & Bourke]. Tough decisions had to be made regarding which items would be traveling with me on this journey. What skirts would I bring? How many pairs of shoes do I need? Should I bring a blazer for formal occasions?
The questions seemed endless as I attempted to provide balance to dressy and functional clothing. Over the course of a month, my entire style has changed. I no longer needed the 4 inch heels that were collecting dust in my closet. But it took this journey for me to realize it. To be honest, my wardrobe was a representation of my past life. A medley of looks for music listening parties, dinners, festivals and Mercedes-Benz fashion week memories. My wardrobe reached the point of overload due to two reasons: 1). I accumulated a great deal of pieces from shopping finds because I’ve always had a talent for scoring brands at a fraction of the price and 2). I can wear anything, as my friends would often remind me. Anything. Show me and I’ll rock it with flair including any silhouette, colour palette and trend. You name it.
However things have changed.
Now that my load is lighter because I am a traveling nomad, I now look forward to refining my wardrobe and living more minimally. I am giddy with anticipation for the opportunity to identify trends that are most relevant to me through my connection to cultural trendsetters and my observations of emerging sub-cultures. Who knows, maybe I’ll start reporting a few trends from around the world during my indefinite time abroad ^_^.