You both live a pretty amazing life. Global travel on an ongoing basis and living what you call a ‘location independent life’. Can you tell us your story of how this came to be?
Elia: I had left my job as a College Professor as the economy was crashing. We were upside down in debt with our home and during that time we were working towards bankruptcy. It was a small comfort to learn that we weren’t alone and so much of America was in the same situation. We were eventually able to get out of that hole that kept us in a really dark place for so many years, leave it all behind, and simplify our lives.
We had realized that we had spent all of our time focused on careers. For us, focusing on a career meant getting a better title at work, financing a new car, buying a home and trying to live the American dream.
Once we were able to shed all that, we realized that travel was something we always wanted to do but always had excuses why we couldn’t do it. Reasons such as 'we don’t have time', 'there’s an important project deadline', 'there’s no money, debt, bills are stacking up' – whatever it was, you name it, we had let 8 years go by without taking a single vacation.
Our first trip wasn’t just about visiting Italy, it was also the first time we were able to genuinely escape what we thought were the shackles of our own life and do something we had always wanted to do.
When I picked up photography I realized that this was what I had always loved to do, and all the other stuff (my former career) was just work. This was passion. This was art. That was the transformation for me where picking up the camera meant ‘this is what I want to do with my life’.
The actual move to become location independent happened halfway through 2011 when we traveled to Thailand. At that time we were asking ourselves, ‘why are we living in the United States, why don’t we live somewhere like Thailand where you can stay in luxury accommodation for $18 a night?' That thought process slowly grew throughout the year. There are so many more affordable places to live that the question came to be ‘what’s holding us to the United States?'
We were traveling back and forth so much that our house became a temporary location that we would go to before going someplace else. It very rapidly stopped feeling like a home. So, we hatched up this plan in Stockholm, Sweden over coffee (because all we could afford was coffee). While there we had a conversation about whether or not it could be possible for us to stay on the road full-time.
At the time, in 2011, there weren’t many people doing that and there weren’t many people blogging about it. It was sort of an emerging thing. So, right there over coffee we talked about it and committed to it. Then, the process of actually doing it ended up being much more difficult than we had anticipated.
Naomi: If you come back to a place after being gone for a while, you’ll find the less you are there, the less it will feel like home. You’ll also feel less attached to the things there. You come back and ask yourself ‘why do I have all this stuff’? So, the process of let go of those things began as we started to travel. Then, when the time came to physically let go of those things, it was ...