MARYSVILLE – Raising four boys, Roger and Amy Sullivan didn’t travel much.
But that’s about to change – drastically. They plan to sell everything they own and travel the world.
“We’re going to get rid of everything, except our most-cherished possessions, memories and collectibles,” Roger said, adding they are going to have a huge garage sale next month and again in November before they leave.
The Sullivans have been preparing for this for some time. They sold their house in 2010 and have been renting ever since. They’ve also been paying down their debts.
Roger said the couple married young so they didn’t get a chance to explore like others do. Now that their kids are grown, they can.
The Sullivans read two books to further inspire them. One is called the “Four Hour Workweek.” They learned about being rich in time not money, “to have the freedom to move around.”
The other book, called “Vagabonding,” is about globetrotting on “next to nothing.” It explained how you don’t have to get a large inheritance to do something like this – quite the opposite.
He said it costs them $5,000 a month to live in Marysville. “We can cut that in half and live about anywhere in the world,” Roger said.
For example, the first place they are going to live is Vietnam. They said they can “live like kings” there, with maid service and everything, for about $1,000 a month.
The couple, who have been married for 27 years, said before making this decision they wanted to try a practice run by taking a big trip. So they went to China.
“We were like little kids. We liked getting lost in the big city,” Roger said, adding they ordered dinner off a poster on a wall at one restaurant. They were on a set tour in Beijing when they asked the bus driver if they could get off. Asked how they would get back, they said they’d find a way.
“It was the best decision we ever made,” Roger said. Amy added, “It was the China I wanted to see.”
Roger said the market was “ablaze” with people living for the day. People were “rushing” past us, Amy added.
“We would not have seen it if we were getting our feet rubbed” with the rest of the tour, she said.
They decided why live in Marysville when they can live anywhere in the world.
“With technology today, we can do stuff from anywhere,” Roger said. “We’re not tied to anything.”
Amy is already teaching English to students in China via the internet. She does it via Skype in the early morning hours, teaching kids ages 3-13. English as a Second Language teachers are in high demand all over the world, not only is schools, but also at businesses. The Sullivans said while they love going on vacation, they often do so much they need a vacation from the vacation. By living in these different areas, it will be like they are always on vacation, and they can get immersed in the cultures.
“If we fall in love with a place we can stay a little longer,” Roger said. “Lets Vagabond” is their motto, and they are inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s “To travel is to live.”
They plan to travel out of their backpacks. “We’ll figure out what we don’t know,” Roger said.
They plan to hang out near universities, where there are usually English-speaking cafes where college students worldwide practice conversational English. The couple have been entrepreneurs for years. One of their inventions, called the Wired Waffle, actually was on the TV show “Shark Tank.” The millionaires didn’t like the idea because it would be too much caffeine for kids. Up until then, 7-11 had shown interest in the product. But the Sullivans have been successful in the coffee business for 20 years. They also were doing well as wholesale coffee distributors until the economy tanked. They are involved in Cashmere with the Eve Moonshine Co., known for its Apple Pie distillery.
Along with China, the Sullivans have gone to California, New Orleans and took a five-country cruise in Central America. In Central America, there were some plane troubles so they went around in a golf cart.
“Take us around to the local stuff,” Roger said he told the driver. Again, they bypassed the touristy stuff and ended up seeing rope bridges and waterfalls in the jungle. Off-the-beaten path they went to a bar and restaurant in Guatemala.
“You get to know the people and culture – it’s more personal,” Roger said.
They said their church family at Allen Creek Community Church, where they’ve gone for a decade, is taking the decision to leave hard. But they are going to keep in touch, so they can “live vicariously through us,” Roger said.
As they get closer to leaving, they said they are trying to cut back and look at what they “need or want.” When a hair dryer recently broke they decided to get a new one.
“That twenty dollars really stung,” Roger said. “We value experience over things.”
Roger, 47, and Amy, 45, say many people want to do this type of thing “some day.” But since that’s not promised, why not do it now?
“This is what we want to do. What’s the worst thing that could happen? If we don’t like it we can come back and get a job. Oh, the horror,” Roger said. “And in the meantime we get to vagabond around the world.”