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  • Jill

Changing Tack

Well, last time we posted here, we'd barely dipped our toes into this "social distancing" thing, and were still able to write about fresh boat shopping adventures.


Amazing the difference only a few weeks makes.


As you may have guessed, we, like pretty much every other person on the planet, have had to shift our thinking about our not-so-distant future due to the pandemic. Schools are closed until the fall (my primary income was as a substitute teacher) and non-essential construction has been put on pause. (Andrew is a survey drafter.) While we've been unbelievably blessed by an increase in remote work needs from my mom's company, Work Well Northwest----thanks to a pretty cool new project called BeHere Cloud----our earning potential isn't what it was shaping up to be even a few weeks ago. Boat listings have completely ceased, and while it's still possible a slip will open up as soon as lockdowns lift just a little (and boats get moving again) that doesn't feel secure enough to bank on.


So, unsurprisingly, we've come to terms with the fact that becoming boat owners in time for the summer season probably isn't in the cards for us. Having only been back in the workforce full-time for three months or less, and now with COVID-19 impacting our income for an indeterminate amount of time, it would be irresponsible to take out a $40k loan and risk needing to spend more on repairs and maintenance right away.



A poor, innocent Andrew, unaware of what was about to happen to us all


On top of that, our summer trip to Portugal, Paris, Spain, and Morocco has been cancelled. Well, postponed a year. We don't know if we can replicate our exact itinerary in 2021, but I'd like to hit the same major highlights. I know we're both deeply grateful we chose to do our big trip last year instead of this one; I can't imagine what it's like to navigate the current situation for backpackers in this moment. We're safely on home turf with our support network in reach.


We are shifting gears. Our major goals for this phase of our lives remain the same: find a balance amongst the things we value most in our day to day life, while also looking towards the next adventure. We can still do that, it will just look a little different than we thought it would a month ago.


Yesterday, we signed the lease on a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Tacoma. For the first time since our senior year of college, we are looking at living on our own, and it will be our first married home! Apartment hunting while socially distancing has been strange, but weirdly efficient. Landlords left units unlocked for us, sometimes hanging out in their cars at the curb to answer questions and lock up when we were done. There doesn't quite seem to be the same mad dash to sign the lease as my best friend Leanna experienced two years ago moving into the same spot; her apartment is actually across the street from the unit we are moving into. We signed the lease using a free program on Andrew's Surface Book and sent it back via email, so apart from chatting from about 10 feet away with the masked property manager who showed us the unit, we haven't really met our landlord?


But tomorrow----with gloves and disinfecting wipes----we'll be given the code to a lockbox that holds our keys!


I'd be lying if I said we weren't disappointed that our visions of sailing around in our own floating home aren't going to become a reality this year. Neither of us let go of that easily. And then, once it sort of sunk in that it wasn't the reality right now, came the panic and anxiety. We've been staying with our very dear friends, and it means the absolute world to us that they've given us a home while we haven't been ready to make our next move, but transitionary periods only feel manageable when there's something to build towards. Being nestled up in the attic felt a little less cozy and fun when we suddenly had no plan for a Next Step, and while we love Melina and John and their sweet son Oliver, I can't say either of us imagined bumming off our friends in the finished upstairs indefinitely in our mid-twenties and year two of marriage... Nope. I needed to know what we were going to do instead. I needed a plan and a direction.


Definitely a major perk of being quarantined with good friends and a huge yard, that we will certainly miss!


Everyone is dealing with similar and yet individual internal crises at the moment. For now, we've been privileged to not have to face death or severe illness in our circle of loved ones, or total losses of employment. We are in the midst of the actual opposite of losing our home. We have access to food delivery and curbside pickup at nearby stores, because we can afford to plan ahead with our groceries. We are by no means amongst the most impacted by the pandemic. But we are facing some interesting waves of emotions around identity, and that was a little unexpected.


I think I can speak for Andrew as well as myself when I say we really liked the people we were while we traveled. We were proud of the things we accomplished, the risks we took, and our creative problem-solving. We felt inspired and adventurous and energetic. We were both holding onto the month-long trip planned for June, along with a crazy live-aboard lifestyle, as a means to live up to the people we were while trekking through Europe this time last year. The sudden and unexpected vanishing of those prospects left both of us feeling lost and uncertain, not just about our next plans, but about who we are. We feel strongly about our identity as travelers, or as a couple who tries out weird and challenging things just for the sake of trying them. (Like living out of a Honda Element for two months... or buying a sailboat.)


We are practicing and learning how to control our own narrative, which is easier said than done. We can live in a comfortable apartment on land, own a car, and work "normal" jobs while still being the same people who are willing to live with strangers who don't speak English in a country thousands of miles away. We can stay put in one place for a couple of years, and simultaneously plan for our next big adventure. We can find ways to integrate the life lessons we learned while backpacking with our daily lives here.


We'll enjoy a wild adventure soon, when the globe has had a chance to heal. It's just a truly surreal feeling to try to come to terms with a totally changed world, when we've been at home this whole time and haven't gotten to see the change yet with our own eyes.


Meanwhile, we are THRILLED about the apartment we snagged. The location is great, it's an old and slowly crumbling building with a ton of character, it has hardwood floors throughout, and huge windows. It is unit #7 (the most powerfully magical number) and is situated under the staircase for the building, so we literally have a cupboard under the stairs. That feels fitting for our first married home, doesn't it?


More pictures to come once we're moved in!


We absolutely adored the apartment we had to ourselves in college up in Bellingham, so as devastating as it is to postpone the boat dream, this still fits in with a part of ourselves we haven't gotten to indulge in years. (Just for fun, I've added some photos of that apartment below.) Putting together a beautiful and functional living space----on a budget----is fun and creative and inspiring. That's who we'll be for a little bit here.


Our version of college living.



If only a corner unit with the view of the bay was only $825/mo in 2020...


It's funny how something so simple as an apartment can carry so much weight. We all need a place to live, but having one that feels like your own (even when you don't own it!) is more meaningful than we often realize. When we rented Andrew's childhood home, his parents had it so well stocked and furnished, we didn't need to add or change much; actually, a lot of the furnishings we now call ours came from them originally. Then we spent a year staying in a new place every few weeks, and since being home, we lived with my parents in the guest room, and with our friends. We haven't had a little cozy space to furnish and decorate ourselves in actual years.


I think we need a little symbol of progress and control while living in Tacoma, and our adventure for now will be getting used to domestic life as a couple again. Someday we'll cook eggs in our tiny kitchen on the water before letting loose the dock lines and setting sail, but for now, we'll settle into our favorite couch and get to know the view.


We won't be renting a moving van this time around, instead, the old Mazda minivan will be earning its keep!

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