“Have you always wanted to go to Brazil?”
This is a question often posed when acquaintances learn of the next two-month trip my husband and I will take with our two young daughters. Perhaps they think we’ve held a long fascination with Brazilian culture, or imagine that one of us speaks Portuguese. Or maybe they picture us spinning a globe and stopping it with a single finger to reveal our next destination.
In reality, we rarely choose the locations of our travels, and many people who embrace the vagabonding and digital nomad movements will tell you the same. It’s less about traveling to the destination of your choice and more about seeing where the world takes you.
Some explorers follow a route determined by temporary jobs, from teaching English in Eastern Europe to serving as a deckhand in the South Pacific. My husband and I are more the digital nomad type, able to sustain our careers anywhere in the world, as long as we have our laptops and an Internet connection.
With our two young daughters in tow, though, we’re not quite willing to hike through Latin America sleeping in a tent each night. We also can’t afford renting a home or hotel room for two months overseas while still keeping current with our mortgage and expenses at home. So for us, the destination is simple: We go where we have a free place to stay.
We’ve swapped homes, bartered services, and unabashedly taken friends and relatives up on kind offers. There is no bucket list of must-see destinations, no ranking of countries or landmarks. Our desire to experience the world with our children isn’t constrained by exchange rates or native languages or predominant religions. We’re open to the world and we’ve found, as a result, that the world has welcomed us with open arms.
Our upcoming trip will take place because we’ve connected with a Brazilian family who share our thinking. We’ll trade homes and cars for two months, reducing the main expense of the experience to airfare (and here’s where airline miles come in handy) and the general costs of daily living. When we finalized dates and details, both parties committing to the exchange, I was ecstatic. I can’t Samba and the Portuguese lessons are grueling, but I’m ecstatic.
Have I always wanted to go to Brazil? No.
But I sure do now.