This Married Couple Sold All Their Possessions So They Could Travel the World

Adventurous Thrifty Nomads Jen and Ted Avery have sold all of their possessions so they could travel around the world for several years.

In this interview, they share advantages and disadvantages of having a nomadic lifestyle. You will also learn how their lifestyle makes Jen and Ted more carefree and more trusting in humanity than ever!

Nomads Ted and Jen Avery

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

We are Jen and Ted Avery, a husband-wife duo originally from Toronto, Canada. In 2013, we sold all of our possessions to pursue long-term travel. We ventured for 6 months before living a year in Australia, then went on to travel for an additional two years nomadically. We are now based permanently in Sydney, Australia but at the moment we are in Montreal, Canada visiting friends and family.

Jen is more the outgoing, chatty one while Ted is a bit more reserved and calculated. We both take on different tasks of trip planning (Jen generally plans out itineraries while Ted does the logistics such as finding cheap flights).

Nomads Jen and Ted Avery

How and why did you become nomads?

We became nomadic in 2013 for six months and then again in 2014 for another two years. Before becoming nomadic, Jen worked as a pediatric Registered Nurse as The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Ted was a web developer and was completing his Masters in Computer Science at the University of Toronto just before we left.

Jen was interested in pursuing her Masters degree in International Public Health. A co-worker of hers had completed the same program in Australia and convinced Jen in the span of a hospital night shift to study abroad. Once we’d decided to commit to Jen studying abroad, we thought it made sense to squeeze some travel (six months) in before arriving.

After that decision, we began seeking inspiration to make that dream a reality. One of the best resources was probably Rolf Pott’s book, Vagabonding: The Uncommon Guide to Long-Term Travel. This clearly spelled out how much more feasible travel is than most realize, and gave us the push to take the plunge. The main points that struck home from that book was the notion of, “if not now, when?”. It made us both realize that if travel was something we really wanted to do, then we just had to do it!

Nomads Jen and Ted Avery

Why is having a nomadic life important for you?

Being nomadic has made us much more care-free, less attached to material possessions, and overall more trusting of humankind. It’s important to remove yourself from your comfort zone, see how other people leave, be self-reliant, and push yourself past your limits. It will make you grow as a person in ways you could never have predicted, and only for the better!

Like for example, shortly into our very first time backpacking, Ted and I became separated in Colombia. I had no wallet, phone, a map, or even keys to our hostel. We were waiting for the public train and when it arrived, the doors closed immediately behind Jen, whisking her off on an express train to Cartagena. At this point, neither of us spoke any Spanish. Jen had to rely on the help of strangers and eventually we were reunited!

Nomads Jen and Ted Avery

What have been the best and most difficult parts of being a nomad?

Definitely the flexibility in both travel and work has been the best part of being a nomad. Being a nomad makes it a lot easier to explore affordably and comfortably than when you are confined by annual holiday time or a tight itinerary. It’s also liberating to have no plans and travel wherever you feel like going to next (or where the current hottest flight deals are going!).

The lack of continuity in your social life is definitely one of the most difficult parts of nomadic living. You meet people on the road but they are only in your life for a brief period of time. When you’re nomadic, you are no longer accessible to your usual social circles and you will miss events, parties, and special occasions, or even just casual couch-side movie nights with friends.

Being immersed in different cultures is exciting but can also be challenging in its own ways at times. Some destinations feel more abrasive than others (China was probably one of the most confronting places we’ve been), but you have to be mindful of the fact that you have the incredible opportunity to travel. One of the downfalls of travel is the travel itself – you are experiencing a new place and new customs. Patience is a virtue!

Nomads Jen and Ted Avery

Where do you live as nomads?

Since we travel as a couple, we usually travel in hostels with a private room (typically this is cheaper than dorms), or AirBNBs, which are increasingly becoming cheaper than private hostel accommodation. Planning food can be a challenge when you don’t have a permanent kitchen/fridge, so you need to be more mindful of planning how much food to keep on hand and so on. If we are transporting food, we try not to overstock on perishables and stick to more hardy produce such as apples, oranges, carrot, etc.

Nomads Jen and Ted Avery

Where do you usually work?

Typically we try to find a café or co-working space to work in – separating your work environment from “home” is something that we find fairly important. It helps you switch on into “work mode” more easily, and makes “home” (wherever that may be) a true place for unwinding and switching “off”.

Internet connectivity is often a challenge – wifi has become more readily available but speeds and accessibility can vary between countries. Moving around quickly can make it hard to get into a routine because you must balance sightseeing in a new place with accomplishing work. As such, we often try to spend at least a few weeks in one destination to maintain a work/travel balance.

Nomads Jen and Ted Avery

How do you build a social life as nomads?

Keeping close friendships on the road (and long after) definitely requires a conscious effort and hostels and bars are a great place to meet people. Nomad List is another great website to connect people who are living the nomadic lifestyle and want to make friends too. We have made lifelong friends from people we met in hostels over four years ago now. It just depends on how intent people are to keep in touch, and whether the friendship is for that season of your life (e.g. a week at an epic party hostel), or beyond that.

Nomads Jen and Ted Avery

What kind of gear do you bring with you?

For long-term backpacking we both travel with Deuter backpacks – the size varies depending on the trip. We have a detailed packing guide here, which goes more in-depth around what gear we use and why. Both of us use Mac laptops and could not travel without them!

What has been your best gear purchase below $100?

Why has this been the best purchase? Please mention brand and model of your purchase (it’s fine if you want to mention a few things)

We would narrow it down to three items – our Aeropress coffee maker (for portable, decent coffee when you tire of instant), our fast-drying PackTowl, and our portable Tarriss luggage scale. These items are all on our “must pack” list of items that save you money when travelling.

How do you finance your nomadic lifestyle?

We both do freelance work (Jen in academic writing and Ted in web programming), and our blog is a source of income for us. While nomadic, our biggest expenses are accommodation, food, and transport.

Nomads Jen and Ted Avery

What is your best advice for new nomads?

Simply keep the mantra in mind to live your life regret free. If you don’t do this now, then when? More importantly, what have you got to lose? Most responsibilities and life paths can be put on hold and resumed after, and the “worst case scenarios” aren’t actually that bad. Too many people rush into a “strings attached” lifestyle that then makes it too difficult to leave and pursue their nomadic dreams. Let go of your fear and start living your life with intent!

Many new nomads travel quickly and burn out. It is hard enough to move around swiftly as you are constantly planning new trips, making new bookings, figuring out a route, visas, etc. Trying to squeeze in work days with this mix can be daunting. Our best tip for this is take it slow – stay at least a few weeks in each place. Feeling burnt out? Slow down! Rent a place for a month. You don’t always have to be doing things, sometimes it’s just best to be still!

Nomads Jen and Ted Avery

What will the future bring?

We are continuing to expand our blog and website with content, and are hoping to launch some other spin-off projects of Thrifty Nomads later this year. Stay tuned!

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