Put Up Or Shut Up

It’s time to stop wishing we were free, and finally make it happen.

Sailing Away

For over 10 years now our family has been dreaming of being location independent. Long before we even heard that term, being able to live where we want, move when we want and make a comfortable living while we travel has been at the core of our dreams.

Before I met my wife Kelly, I had done some traveling, of course, being in the Navy does tend to help with that. Even though I spent over 4 years in the Navy I spent exactly 7 days on a ship, and that was sailing around in circles off the California coast near San Diego. I did, however, get to spend some time in Antarctica which was the travel highlight of my service.

Growing up my dad liked to vacation in Hawaii and we would spend a week or two there each summer. That really founded my love for travel. As an adventure junkie, I have an innate desire to travel and to seek out new experiences.

Since Kelly has the same wanderlust that I do, we both really look forward to the time we can travel with our kids. We want to show them that there is so much more to the world than our little town or even the region we live in. There are beautiful people to meet and wonderous sights to see, not to mention all the great food we will get to sample as we move to each new location.

In the last 15 years we have tried a number of different means of earning an income that would support a life of travel.

I started out as a helicopter pilot and instructor when I got out of the Navy. While that sounds exciting and glamerous, it really turned out to be a risky job with a great view that doesn’t pay all that well.

We were introduced to the Multi Level Marketing world and dreamed of making it big so that we could afford to travel. Unfortunately, we followed bad financial advice and not only did we not make the money that we needed to travel, we ended up putting a bunch of expenses on credit cards. So what we had hoped to be a means to freedom only served to anchor us more tightly to the day job so we could service the debt we had built up.

I’ve had a number of hobbies that we considered turning into a side income. Things like bladesmithing custom made knives, making traditional archery equipment and being a photographer. The only one of those that ever generated any significant income was the photography. Much like the flying, I found that I am much more creative and enjoy the activity when it isn’t on someone else’s schedule. When it was our plan of escape, the task quickly lost its appeal and became a “job”.

I tell you all of this to convey the idea that we have been actively searching for a means to travel for over a decade now and to this point have been unsuccessful.

That is no longer going to be the case. We have decided that it is time to stop playing around and get serious about finding our freedom. Our kids are getting older and we want to start travelling before they get to the point where they would rather just stay where we are and spend time with their friends instead of with their family.

In order to make all of this happen, we have a few big roadblocks that we have to find a way over, under, around or blast through.

The four big roadblocks are debt, mobile income, possessions and mindset.

By eliminating our consumer debt, we won’t have as large a demand on our income in order to make a comfortable living.

In order to travel for more than a few weeks or months at a time, we will have to come up with at least one way to make money that is not dependent on us being tied to a single location. We are planning on diversifying our income so that we can have some active and some passive income sources.

In order to be truly mobile, we cannot take a house full of stuff with us. We will be eliminating most of the stuff that won’t fit into our backpacks and suitcases. Since we plan on traveling for more than just a few months, it doesn’t make any sense to pay for storage for all of our furniture (which isn’t all that great) and other trinkets that just don’t have any real meaning for us. So by selling our big items and donating the rest, we can help fund our travel account and we can help some people that are having a hard time.

Finally, everything else will be a waste of time and energy if we cannot cultivate a positive, flexible, adaptable, travelers’ mindset. Without it, we would quickly become miserable, start missing our ‘old life’ and end up giving up on the travel idea prematurely.

We have plans on how to overcome each of these obstacles that we will be implementing and sharing with you. Because we want to be an example of what it takes to reclaim your freedom, we will be showing you what works for us, and just as important, what doesn’t work. We’ll share the good, the bad and even the ugly. We expect to have ups and downs. You’ll hear about our wins, and you may even see an occasional rant if things are particularly tough one week.

Most of all, we just want to be real. We’ve had enough of the Pollyanna crap that so many are selling these days. This is where reality smacks you straight in the face and tells you to get on with life even when things are not going your way.

We are calling this our Year To Freedom project. (While it may take us a little over a year to be at a place where we are ready to travel, Year To Freedom sounds a lot better than 17 Months Until We Are Ready To Travel, doesn’t it?)

If this sounds interesting to you, or even just entertaining, then be sure to join our email list as we’ll be sharing extra details in the weekly emails that announce each week’s new post.

If you want to join us in this project and start our own Year To Freedom be sure to let us know in the comments so we can cheer you on as you make your dreams come true.

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13 Responses to Put Up Or Shut Up

  1. Jeremy June 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Right on point! It is so true that trying to dip your toe into the waters of the simplist/freedom lifestyle just makes the whole process take more time and effort. I know from experience! It can be challenging to dive into the unknown especially when there are consequences involved but I am more convinced then ever that it is the best motivation to follow through. Of course there is still an amount of logic needed to ensure you’re not tilting at windmills.

    The biggest keys that I need to work on are the mobile income and mindset (more accurately my wife’s mindset :). Debt and possession reduction are already in full swing for my family. This is not so much so we can be totally mobile like your family but more easily ready for movement as opportunities come up.

    I look forward to following along and taking steps beside you!

    • Mike Routen June 12, 2012 at 1:21 pm #


      Thanks for the support! It sounds like you and your wife have a good start on things.

      Keep things light and you’ll be able to take full advantage of the great opportunities that life presents.

  2. Vivienne June 13, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    Hi Mike
    It must seem very difficult with young children to consider – mine are all grown – however still difficult letting go of all the memories one hoards over the years. One has to be ruthless – you cant take it with you.
    Have been doing the big clean out and would like to live with all care and no responsibility so I can travel as I feel. Even though I have no dependents such as children to consider there are still so many decisions to make. To rent or sell – house & business to consider – plus all the “stuff” and can I really afford to? – or should the question be How can I afford not to??
    Did the garage sale last weekend and have a house lined up to sit in August, which will give me an idea of how it could be.
    I am heading for retirement in a few years and want to enjoy my life while I can – All the very best to you in your quest.
    Regards Viv

    • Mike Routen June 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm #


      Thank you for sharing. It sounds like you are off to a good start with the garage sale and with considering all the other things that must be addressed.

      I love your viewpoint, “How can (we) afford not to?” Indeed, that is the question we should all be asking ourselves.

      Also, please let us know how the house sitting goes in August! I hope you have a grand time.

  3. Paige | simple mindfulness June 15, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    I was thinking about the “mobile mindset.” I remember a trip to Costa Rica where I thought I was simply going for a vacation and would return to my normal life in a month. The month turned into a month and a half and I almost didn’t come back. The experience changed me. While I was there I quickly adapted to life as a local and, before the end of the trip, had two job offers to stay. If I didn’t have my first husband waiting for me back home, I probably wouldn’t have returned.

    The two years after that involved me travelling across the US with no real plan, just following my intuition. Making money was never a problem as I found jobs along the way and met some awesome people in the process. I didn’t have a whole lot in savings either. It was definitely one of those experiences where I jumped and many nets appeared, one after another.

    If you don’t wait until everything is perfect and all your ducks are in a row (which may never happen), you may find that you leave much sooner than 12 months from now. And the nets will appear. 🙂

  4. Clayton June 18, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    Hi Mike,

    It was great to meet you this weekend. I went on a similar one-year journey to freedom in 2010, and I think it’s time I started again.

    I’m 100% in!

    Best of luck with everything and I’m curious to see how the next year pans out for you 🙂

    • Mike Routen June 18, 2012 at 9:20 pm #


      It was great meeting you and Lezly at the Mastermind sessions!

      Great to hear you are in on your own freedom year!

      I hope to catch up with you again soon,


  5. Colleen June 19, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    Hello Mike and Kelly!

    Love the post and it is very timely for me (us). My husband and I just returned from a holiday in the Mediterranean and we both came home determined to change our circumstances and move overseas with our son. Ultimately, I would love to be location independent and able to travel all over the world, but believe me when I tell you that this is a huge step for my husband and I will gladly take this first step.

    I look forward to reading more about how you and Kelly are making the transition as we, too, begin to make our transition.

    Here’s to living the dream of freedom!

    • Mike Routen June 19, 2012 at 6:49 am #


      That is fantastic! It sounds like you really enjoyed your trip.

      If you don’t mind me asking, how old is your son?

      Our son Nathan (8yo) is really looking forward to traveling and making new friends all over the world.

      Here’s to freedom for you and your family!

      • Colleen June 26, 2012 at 5:34 am #

        Hi Mike!

        Our son, Jordan is 11 years old. He, too, is excited about the opportunity of making new friends in other places. We have taken him quite a few places for his age and everywhere we go he befriends a local child. I think that is a good sign! Oh to be young and not have any preconceived notions!


        • Mike Routen June 29, 2012 at 6:45 am #


          I’m always amazed how quickly our kids can make new friends. Wherever we go, they automatically find someone their height and make a beeline right for them. Within minutes they are running around, playing and having a grand time.

          It is too bad that we as adults don’t operate the same way. I think we’d all be a lot happier if we did.

  6. theDangerz May 9, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    Congrats on making the decision to regain your life!

    We made the same several years ago (although it took a lot longer than a year), and in July of last year we moved into our 67 vw bus and have been touring mexico and central america.

    We just back home to portland (for a while at least) and are experiencing home in our new mindset and without the baggage. Its fantastic!

    We are also still looking for that magical answer of how to make money from anywhere, so when you find that answer keep us posted! =) We look forward to hearing about your progress!



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