Our Journey: Beaches and Mountains

Ever think about leaving your desk job to travel full-time? Have any interest in finding out how we did it? What motivated us, how we prepared, our first hurdle, our first success, and every detail between?

This is the place we’re going to share these intimate details. Some of it you may not want to hear. Like how serious sacrifices are often necessary to make a dramatic lifestyle change. And other things you’ll find incredible. Such as how to travel regularly without spending every penny you have, or how to leverage technological tools to break free from an undesirable routine.

We’re going to lay out our insider tips, our best advice, and everything you need to take your traveling to the next level. And this does not mean you have to give up everything to do so. Stay at your job and figure out how to balance it all. Or push it to the extreme with us and hold on tight.

This is Our Journey from a life stuck in an office to life exploring the world.

Setting the Stage

Our lives were good. By a lot of standards, we were incredibly well-off. We both had stable jobs which paid the bills, a nice condo in a great part of downtown Denver, and the freedom to use our weekends however we pleased. But something was off. While we were happy in one sense, we were miserable in another. It seemed as if our dreams slipped away and were replaced with a work-rinse-repeat process. We wanted out. And I am absolutely certain that some of you can relate.

Before we talk about the recent past, let’s take a step further back. It would be impossible to understand where we’re going without knowing a bit on where we’ve been. Our short bios can be found on the About Us page. But this post is for those who want to know us on a deeper level. Understand where we’re coming from so you can appreciate where we’re going.

We’re opening our lives to show you that we are normal people with pasts that may be similar to yours. Everyone is different and everyone has their own timeline, but don’t think for a moment that you can’t follow in our footsteps. You can create a better life for yourself. Hopefully this material helps you figure out that path in some way, even if its different from our own.

One Part California Beaches

Kristina is from San Diego, California. A complete and utter beach person. Nothing pleases her more than spending time in water. As a matter of fact, on one of our first dates she shocked me by wanting to go for a swim in a small river in the foothills just outside of Boulder, Colorado. People don’t just go for a swim there! I said. But it made no difference. She was going in and that was the end of it. And yes, I followed her in.

Since then, she’s opened the world of incredible swimming opportunities to me. And soon will do the same for you. Whether we’re in Hawaii with an entire pod of spinner dolphins, in bat-filled cenotes on the Yucatan peninsula, or scuba diving with turtles, manta rays, and sharks, there is always a new aquatic adventure around the corner.

Like many people in San Diego, Kristina’s friends and family were spread across a city that stretches from Oceanside to Ensenada. From those of you that don’t know what that means, maybe this will help. Do you know Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas? Or perhaps Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota? Well, add another set of twin cities to your list: San Diego and Tijuana. While there might be a pretty strict border control at one point, these cities are unified through families, friends, and businesses spread across them both.

As a result, she is fully bilingual in Spanish and English. And has a lot of knowledge about Mexico as well as the United States. And while she isn’t a fan of bragging about her international travels, I’m going to spill the beans and let you know she’s visited 18 countries as of the launch of Off Path Travels. And has picked up a decent amount of French and Italian along the way. She is and always has been a traveler. This journey was bottled up inside and ready to come out for years.

One Part Colorado Mountains

And here’s my ying to Kristina’s yang. I am a mountain person. Not that big of a surprise after growing up in Denver, Colorado at the base of the Rocky Mountains. My weekends throughout most of my childhood were spent on the slopes or under the stars. My mom probably won’t like that I’m sharing this, but she actually lied about my age to get me on a pair of skis. Why wait until June when he actually turns three? She thought, as she strapped on a pair of planks to her two-and-a-half year old child. Needless to say, my mother has always enabled my adventurous spirit (and I am forever grateful for her support).

Of course, the summers were all about hiking and camping. Sure, I played various team sports and had other hobbies, but most of my fondest childhood memories are when I was deep in nature. Summer camps and other opportunities spent learning the basics of mountaineering and survival skills. They also taught me about the soul-enriching pleasure of hiking and getting lost in mountain forests.

And during our stint of time living in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, I was constantly scrambling into the forest behind our house – drumming up all sorts of trouble with my brother. We had a river to play in, trees to climb, and even a great vine to swing on… Well, it was great for a few years. Until it snapped at its maximum height when my best friend went for a try. Sorry about the fractured vertebrae, Jim. Glad you didn’t have any long-term damage.

As I grew up, my love for the mountains grew with me. Going to school in Boulder trained my mind, but living even closer to the mountains trained my heart and body.

Save the World

After studying International Political Science at the University of California San Diego, Kristina worked quite a few jobs with non-profit organizations. I Love a Clean San Diego was her favorite – a wonderful organization focused on environmental conservation and enhancement. While working there, she organized beach clean ups, educated others about recycling and caring for the environment, and pushed to create a better world for all.

Kristina has worked a variety of jobs with other non-profits, but nothing pleased her more than the time she spent as a health coach, working for herself, and doing something she’s always been passionate about. After obtaining a Wholistic Health Coach certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she bootstrapped her way into being a business owner. A fantastic website and solid social media presence were the foundation. But soon enough, she was hosting classes, issuing meal plans, and providing one-on-one coaching sessions helping people become the best versions of themselves.

While her health coaching career didn’t survive her move from San Diego to Colorado, it did something more important: it gave her a taste of a life she wanted. And moving to Colorado was the best decision she ever made… Okay, okay. Maybe I’m a little bit biased about that one. I wouldn’t have met her if she didn’t do that, so I think it’s the best decision she’s ever made.

The World of Numbers and Rules

My focus was, once again, on the other side of the spectrum. The truth is, I like working with numbers. A lot. I’ve also been obsessed with figuring out the way things work. (Sorry about breaking the computer and fax machine when I was 12, Dad.) This may sound like a great combination for engineering, but once I found economics, there was no turning back. To me, understanding the basics of supply and demand, price elasticity, and the flow of capital is like looking under the hood of the car. A car we call society.

The end of my undergraduate career happen to coincide with a special moment in history: the Great Recession in 2008. Unlike many of my peers, I was extremely lucky and landed a solid job at a financial firm. Here, I worked on the worst of the worst. The investments that were at the heart of the crisis: CDOs, leveraged loans, and other derivatives.

My team was responsible for writing off millions of dollars in value every single day. And every downgrade led to a new surprise. As you may already know, these mortgage-backed investments were NEVER supposed to fail. So the legal documents weren’t written well to handle it. We had to dive very deep into the compliance and legal side – where I found a new calling.

Law school. Yep, no joke. I took that financial knowledge and moved east for a brutal round of education at UCONN School of Law. And once again, my education gave me a deeper understanding of the way this world works. I studied anything and everything I could: business, finance, insurance, estate, tax, and more. My love of learning only intensified there, but my love for legal work never grew.

I earned my diploma and knew one thing was for certain: I did not want to practice law. And I needed to spend a lot more time in nature. Then the voice yelling in my head about working for myself continued to grow louder and louder.

Okay, probably more information than you ever wanted to know about two strangers. But now you understand a bit about us. One part beach, one part mountains, one part idealist, and one part realist. A balanced diet and a healthy understanding of finances.

So what happened next? Keep reading to find out where we were at immediately before starting Off Path Travels. Or as I like to call it, the Final Straw.

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