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It Started With a Question

Back in September of 2018, John and I decided to make a HUGE life change. We were both working full-time jobs, we owned a house, and absolutely loved the one vacation a year we usually took…SO it was time to have a baby, right? WRONG. We were happy, but always talked about more: our big dreams, our long-term life goals, our what-ifs. For us, this didn’t include having a baby and starting a family. We decided early on in our relationship that we didn’t want to have children; what we did want was to make travel as much of a priority as we could while living the traditional full-time job, house, mortgage, student loan debt lifestyle. We are by no means saying this lifestyle is wrong, it served us well.

It just wasn’t US.

One conversation we had during a hike several months earlier will always stand out as a catalyst in my head. It started with, “What would it take for us to give it all up and travel the world?” Could we do it? Were we willing to step out of our comfort zone, take a chance, do something brave, and pursue our dream? We laughed as we talked about this crazy idea that ended with, “Maybe in five years…you know, when our house is worth more, when we have more money in savings, when it makes more sense.”

Our Road to Living on the Road Full-Time

Fast forward about six months—John was asked to relocate for work. One thing you should know about us is we both LOVE Montana. We didn’t want to move to a place we didn’t love just to continue doing something that was merely fine, simply because that’s what was expected of us. This is our chance, I thought. Amidst my freaking out about what to do, this thought kept popping into my head.

Take the chance. You can do it. What do you have to lose?

One night I turned to John and asked, “What if we sell our house and travel the world?” His response, “That seems like a really irresponsible decision.” Now, if you know John, this should make you laugh because, for a very long time, he was the king of irresponsible decisions. Personally, I think he turned it down so quickly because he was mad that he didn’t come up with the idea himself.

By nature, I am the planner and the stressor-outer. John calls me “Worst-Case-Scenario” Barber because before I do something, I tend to think of everything that could go wrong and then how we should approach it if everything goes awry. He says it’s too much; I say it’s just being prepared.

After taking some time to think about my suggestion, John eventually decided it may not be the worst idea. And so it began. We spent the next few days talking about what this crazy idea would look like. This slowly evolved into us deciding to buy a van, planning to spend eight months driving across the United States, and then heading abroad. Before this trip, John had been to 46 states and 13 different countries. I was a little less well-traveled but ached to do and see everything this amazing world had to offer. Once our minds were made up, the real planning started.

We spent the next five months saving every penny we could while we figured out logistics: health insurance, selling our house (and most of our possessions), finding a van, planning a rough route across the country, sharing our idea with family and friends and getting a lot of you guys are crazy, looks and responses.

Fast forward again and we have been full-time on the road since the beginning of 2019. We love waking up every morning knowing there is someplace new to explore and that we get to explore it together. We decided to document our travels in the hopes of inspiring other adventurers.

And that is how Backpacks & Road Maps was born—a place where we can provide travel tips, destination guides, and share our travel adventures with you, with the goal of inspiring you to take that trip you’ve been dreaming about, or at least helping you decide on where to go next or what to do while you’re there.

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