How Gypsy Nesters Sold Everything and Traveled to 50 Countries After Their Kids Left Home

The GypsyNesters

We are David and Veronica James and have spent the last 36 years together, ever since a boy from the heartland met a Valley girl on the west coast and took off to Nashville for a wild ride through parenthood and the music business.

After sending three kids out into the big wide world, we set out to find it for ourselves, selling everything and taking off in a beat up old motorhome. Along the way, we accidentally created the top travel blog GypsyNester.com and authored the book Going Gypsy: One Couple’s Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All (Skyhorse 2015). In the past seven years, we have visited and written about 50 countries on six continents.

GypsyNesters

How and why did you get into traveling?

Initially, what got us wandering around the U.S. was as a way to catch up with family and friends. We had lived on the Caribbean Island of St. Croix all through our children’s high school years, so it was hard to visit relatives and friends up in the States. When our youngest graduated, we figured a good way to reconnect with overdue visits, which was to get a motorhome and make our way across the country. After everyone had been visited, we liked it so much we just kept going.

GypsyNester

How do you finance your travels?

We were completely surprised by the ability to travel by being sponsored. At first, we paid our own way but there was no way we could afford to continue that so we expected to settle back down after a year or so. When GypsyNester.com became more popular, we began to receive offers from many travel companies and expanded our travels all over the world.

Why is traveling important for you?

For us, traveling is a continuing part of our education. We have always traveled so it has been a part of our lives for a long time. However, we never dreamed that we would get the opportunities that we have had over the past few years. It’s been unbelievable! By far, our main satisfaction has been meeting people all over the world, which has led us to understand that we are all much more alike than different.

GypsyNester

How do you bring your things with you?

We have what we call our One Trip Rule. That means that we never pack more than we can carry all at once. There are two big reasons we do this: It saves a lot of time and provides an added safety factor. The One Trip Rule makes it so much easier to keep track of everything, and our belongings never get left unattended while moving between airports, taxis, trains, shuttle buses, and hotels. When no bags are feeling lonely and neglected, no bags mysteriously disappear. Using roller bags and backpacks are a must for this to work and Veronica especially likes the kind with four wheels.

The four wheel rollie bag that we like so much is made by Olympia and the backpack is Swiss Gear.

GypsyNesters

How do you organize things in your bags?

As much as we travel packing is almost automatic now, it turns out that we tend to carry about the same amount of stuff whether we are going for a week or a month. The only thing that really affects our packing is the weather wherever we are going. It takes a bit more doing to fit everything in when traveling to cold climates.

We always carry waterproof covering for ourselves, such as ponchos in our backpacks, which also cover the packs, and sealable plastic holders for our phones and computers. Otherwise rain is no big deal, we’re waterproof.

How do your bags and gear hold up?

We almost always carry on so the bags don’t get too beat up. They will usually last several years. We go through backpacks a little quicker.

GypsyNesters

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

At first internet access was an issue. We found WiFi wherever we could, lots of times with the motorhome parked behind a Starbucks or a hotel with an open connection. Over time technology got better and we found phones with hotspots so it got much better.

What has been your best travel-related purchase below $100?

It wasn’t really a purchase because it can be rented for each trip, but TEP Wireless is fantastic. They provide internet access through cell service worldwide. We never leave the country without it now and it has worked almost everywhere we have been.

As for the other favorite gear, we can’t live without our iPhones. The map and GPS have saved us too many times to count, this along with the hotspot we mentioned above make them indispensable.

GypsyNester Book

What inspired you to write your books?

When we rediscovered ourselves as a couple after the kids had grown, and encountered all kinds of adventures and misadventures along the way, we felt like sharing the journey.

Going Gypsy isn’t a how-to book; it’s a story, one that hopefully will inspire folks to find meaning in the post-kid trimester of their lives. But we had no idea what we were doing while we were writing it, so it took us several times revamping and restructuring. At first, we thought that it would be like the blog, but realized that we needed to tell our story, not as a series of separate posts, but as a narrative from start to finish. We ended up with the tale of our transformation from the time of our youngest leaving home until we made the decision to continue our travels on a more permanent basis.

The second book, Gone Gypsy, picks up the story after that and tells of our travels all around the world. However, it has proved even harder to finish than the first. Finding time has become more difficult but we hope to have it out next year.

The best part of writing a book was reliving all of the incredible adventures we have had. Most difficult has been getting a finished manuscript that we were happy with and was free of errors. It was way harder than we thought it would be.

GypsyNesters

What is your best advice for other travelers?

Relax. Take the time to really absorb a new destination. That took us a while, especially David, to embrace. It was hard to adjust our mindset from the scheduled got to be here at such and such a time of our work lives to the vagabond lifestyle, but once we did we are much happier in our travels. Even on a weekend getaway this attitude can make a big difference.

GypsyNester

What will the future bring?

We don’t generally plan very far in advance, we try to leave ourselves open to opportunities and jump on them as they arise. In fact, when we started out we had the motto: the plan is no plans. It really helped us learn to take things as they came and solve problems as they happened. There was no way we could foresee all of the issues that might crop up, so there was no need to borrow trouble by worrying about them ahead of time.

That said, we would like to somehow make it to Antarctica, which would complete our visiting every continent. It would be good to finish that second book too. More immediately, we have some exploring to do around California and then out to Hawaii to kick off the New Year.

Visit David and Veronica James on their website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter


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