On June 4th 2017, I crossed the border of Canada around 7pm to come back home from a 1 year RV trip. I spent the most amazing year of my life with my wife and three children. For 12 months, I drove for over 35,000 km visiting 9 countries. We started our adventure in Quebec and went all the way down to Costa Rica. Unfortunately, we had to come back to Canada. I use the word “unfortunately” because all I wanted back then was to sell everything and keep travelling the world. The freedom, the adrenaline, the beauty of the world; I wanted to make them part of my daily life forever. After a year being back home, did I change my mind? What was I able to bring back from this trip? Here are my thoughts on this crazy trip one year later.
First, money wasn’t, is not and will not be an issue
One of the first question people ask me about when I tell them I left for a year is “How much did it cost? You must be broke now?” or they ask me if I’m rich! Haha!
The trip cost roughly under $100,000 when I include the loss in value on my RV. I did a recap of my spending after 8 months here. I know, some of you will be ready to scream that I am an idiot. Just hit the “pause button” for a second. Most of those expense is money that would have been spent anyway. My monthly budget home is about $6,000/month.
Therefore, the real cost of taking a year off with my family and travel the world (and let’s be honest, feel like a millionaire many times!) was about $25,000. That’s the price of a small car! Wouldn’t you trade 365 days of pure happiness and adrenaline for a small $25K?
A year later, I can tell you I don’t feel the financial weight of my decisions. The main difference is I’m temporarily stuck with my RV payment. Freefall’s value is down compared to what I owe on my loan, therefore I must keep it for a year or two before I can sell it. On the good side of things, I’m going in the Maritimes for 2 weeks and it will cost me almost nothing for 2 great weeks of vacations!
As for my financial independence plan and retiring plan, I’m far from losing anything on this side. I’ve recently discussed my retirement plan C and D which include having over $1M at the age of 59 (plan C) or 65 (plan D). Those are the worst case scenarios. To be honest, I retired at 35 to do my trip and I still consider myself a retiree today. One of the most important impact of my trip was to make me invincible. This is how I could quit my job upon my return and continue living an exciting life day after day now.
So for those who think they have to starve to death and live an ultra boring life without any luxury to finally “make it” and reach financial independence, I have a secret for you; you can achieve a lot more than financial independence and you can do it a lot faster than you think. I’m not talking about being content or happy here; I’m thinking about going to sleep and tell yourself “OH Man, Today was AMAZING”. How many times did it happened to you last week? I can easily count 4 days out of 7 you?
Do something amazing with your life
One of the most important piece of wisdom I got from this trip is to get out of my comfort zone all the time and do amazing things. We have this stupid reflex to create fences in our own mind. Those barriers look like 10 feet tall military walls, but they are as solid as a Popsicle stick. When we let them down and cross the “line” we have in our mind, we can achieve incredible things. I’ve experienced it myself, but my kids did the same thing:
At the age of 4, Caleb hiked mountains like a pro. He did many 4-5 hours (10Km+) hikes, learned to swim (in the ocean) and, to this date, is the youngest kid ever to have climbed the Cerro Negro and did volcano boarding in Nicaragua. He’s now willing to try anything and he understands English (we are French) better than most adults in Quebec.
At the age of 10, Amy has developed its taste for entrepreneurship. She sees me building my business and asks so many clever questions. She doesn’t have a project yet, but it will happen soon. Upon her return, she made more friends and jumped 3 levels at her hip-hop dance school (it’s not like she learned that from latinos! Haha!). Oh! And she became a paddle surf pro too (no jokes!).
At the age of 12, William has learned to become a man before becoming a teenager. Throughout the trip, he was the “second man” in charge. He helped me and took care of other family members. I will always remember when he walked with me through the village in Guatemala when I was having a nervous breakdown (my brakes were fuming and I drove 10km downhill doing slalom in crazy curves…). He recently ran 45km in 2 days during Le Grand Defi Pierre Lavoie and won a prize for his academic grades. Not bad for a kid who didn’t want to study at the beginning of the year!
Finally, Josee, my wife, has discovered her passions and gained confidence during this trip. She is the one who had this crazy idea to quit everything and jump into the rabbit’s hole. She inspired us and is now working on inspiring others to change their life. She was the girl behind the camera, behind the scene for so long, I know that she will take the place she deserves in the upcoming years.
We all changed, we became better humans and we all found an unlimited source of happiness. This is something money can’t buy and FI or FIRE can’t do. When I think about it, I rather be in fire than FIRE…
So what’s next?
If there is one certainty, you can’t travel through Wonderland and come back like nothing happened, because “now you know”. I can say that we all had a hard time adapting to this comfortable life we have in North America. We all ran into our challenges and in the end, it takes a full year to “come back”.
I would have sold everything I own a thousand times this year. But I didn’t. I didn’t because my children were happy to get back to their friends, going back to their schools and living this life. My family’s happiness is more important than anything else. But this doesn’t mean we won’t travel anymore.
I still have my eyes on Vietnam for next year. Money is not always easy to earn when you build a business, but I know I’ll find a way to make it happen. I made a promise to myself to never feel comfortable anymore. The only way I’m going to respect that promise is to always get out of my comfort zone. I found how I want to live my days on this earth and for that, I’ll be forever grateful.
What about you? What makes you smile when you go to sleep?