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This Family Decided to 'Live Immediately'. Here's What Happened.

In a rut? You need to read this.

02/08/2016 2:41 PM AEST | Updated 07/08/2016 5:40 PM AEST
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Campbell with his daughter, Andy.

Mike Campbell and his wife Inga, along with their daughter Andy packed up, donated or sold everything they owned in Australia and hit the road for one year, attempting to house sit their way through North America.

"It was the combination of a number of things really," Campbell told The Huffington Post Australia.

"I discovered minimalism at a time when I wasn't happy or fulfilled with my current job and I was bringing a lot of my stress, sadness and worthlessness home with me each evening, and Inga was seeing a psychologist for her anxiety."

"We always liked travelling and Inga has always had this desire to live and work overseas for a year. One evening she said, "Why don't we try and travel next year?" As I wasn't enjoying my job, Andy was only three and a half years old at the time and we didn't have a connection to our possessions, so we thought, why not, and we decided to give it a try," Campbell said.

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Mike was a marketing manager for a property developer and Inga was running her design business at the time.

"As I wasn't enjoying my work and felt like I needed a change, making the decision to travel for a year was actually quite freeing for me. With Inga's business, we have been fortunate that we can take it on the road with us as long as we have internet connection."

In order to head to the other side of the world and hit the road, the small family first ditched most of their possessions.

"We went through a purging process and eventually discarded nearly 50 percent of our belongings from our home. It wasn't that our home was cluttered or that we owned many things, but the process completely changed our mindset and outlook on possessions, and it gave us the time to really question what we truly valued," Campbell said.

"When we told family and friends that we were going to take off on a year adventure, one of the first things people would say was, "What are you going to do with all your stuff?" Oddly enough, that is all we thought it was, just stuff. Apart from needing to rent out our home, our stuff was so far down our list of priorities we hadn't really thought about it. Our stuff didn't own us anymore."

Since departing, Campbell started a blog to document the family's journey. It is aptly named Live Immediately.

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"I wanted to document our journey, but not just our travels. I wanted to share the lessons I have learnt along the way, to encourage people to take the step in their lives, to live deliberately, to not put things off until tomorrow, to live immediately -- as 'right now' is all that is important," Campbell said.

"My message isn't literal. It doesn't have to be about packing your family up and moving overseas. It is about doing the thing that brings you the most joy as often as you can, about enjoying right now, being happy with what you've got, taking risks, finding the positive, that less is more."

Campbell emphasises that we often give up or don't start something because we believe there are too many steps between here and there.

"We often get in our own way by creating stories in our mind that aren't true. We think we can't do something before we have even tried. This is one of the reasons why I am launching a podcast soon. I will have conversations with people who are living life on their own terms, people who have pushed through the fears that seem to hold so many of us back."

"Live Immediately is about helping people to start today. Everyone's journey will be different, but there will be no journey if we don't begin. None of us have control of tomorrow, so we might as well be doing something we love and enjoy today."

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Touching on practicality and the logistics of packing up their lives, Campbell said they took it on by dealing with one obstacle at a time.

"The affordability question is always one that comes up when we tell people we are travelling for a year with our family. But what they are really thinking to themselves is, "how can I do this too?".

"Affordability was one of our initial hurdles as well and was the topic of conversation for many weeks. How could we afford to travel around North America for a year? We had the advantage that we could take Inga's design company with us, but this then meant we couldn't take the more affordable option of travelling in an RV or van," Campbell said.

"One of the most expensive costs when travelling is accommodation. We trade for everything in life - we trade money for a possession or experience, and we trade our time at a job for that money, in the form of a wage. I couldn't afford to trade money for accommodation, I needed to think of a situation where someone needed their home occupied when they were not there. I could trade my time caring for their home, for accommodation at their home."

"I quickly learnt though that securing house sits wasn't that easy. After three months of countless emails we finally secured our first house sit. It was a log cabin, in the middle of a state forest, in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, for four months during winter, in a town of 37 people. Our dream was finally becoming a reality."

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The family don't necessarily get to choose where they go. It really comes down to what is available and if the homeowner picks them.

"And that is how we have been able to travel for a year, by looking after people's homes and pets while they are away. Another thing I discovered when we were trying to figure out how to afford this adventure is that extended travel doesn't always cost as much as you might initially expect," Campbell said.

"I looked at our cost of living in Australia. I wrote a list of all our fixed costs (mortgage, car loans, insurances, monthly subscriptions, etc) and worked out our monthly averages of all our variable costs (electricity, gas, water, phones, food, entertainment etc) and arrived at our monthly expenses. When I first looked at the amount I was overwhelmed and I thought there is no way that we can afford to travel for a year."

"I then created another list to determine if each expense would still occur when we were travelling. So many of the costs wouldn't happen when we were travelling. For example, our mortgage cost was close to zero as the rent we receive from our tenants would cover it. We wouldn't have any car payments as we were selling our car, which means we had no insurance to pay on it. We weren't paying for utilities etc.The affordability hurdle was one that nearly stopped us from going on this little adventure, and I am certain, it is one that stops so many people from even attempting extended travel with their family," Campbell said.

"But before you give up, break it all down. Sure, you might need to get a little creative in some areas but the experiences are priceless."

On the topic of his daughter, Andy, Campbell believes the experience is positive for her.

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"Before we left we were worried that Andy would miss being around people her own age, and as much as she does talk about her little buddies back home, I don't think it has affected her in any great way, as Andy loves all the new places that we stay in and the new animals we look after."

"It is one of the benefits of slow travel, we're not rushing from one place to the next, we can take the time with Andy, stop off at the park we just drove past, or spend extra time at the beach if she has made a new friend, Campbell said.

When speaking with others who want to get out of a rut or take a risk, Campbell urges them to ask one important question.

"This one question was really the tipping point for me."

"I grabbed a piece of paper and at the top I wrote, What Is The Worst That Could Happen. I then drew a line down the middle and on the left hand side I wrote all the potential things that could go wrong. For example I wrote things like, Andy gets sick while we are away, we won't be able to find tenants to rent our home, Mike won't be able to find a job when we return, work from Inga's business will stop coming through,etc," Campbell said.

"Then on the right hand side, write what you would do if that thing did happen. What I discovered is that I could deal with the outcome "if" it did happen, and that the likelihood of it even happening was quite low. We all suffer from a disproportion of fears. We often think that something will be worse than it is. And more often than not, the worst outcome is the one in our mind.Instead of telling yourself why you can't do something, tell yourself three reasons why you can. You will find that they outweigh any reason why you shouldn't."

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