Home » Family Profiles
Where are you from:United States
Number of Children:2 Children
Age Range:17 months-8 years
Departure Date:17 March 2015
Travel Budget:Budget (< than $100/day)
Travel DestinationsCentral America, South America, South East Asia, Eastern Europe,
Jen, Jameson, Micah & Maddox Manley
We're planning our exit strategy from the Rat Race and looking to meet some adventurous families from all walks of life!. We're from the midwest USA, near St. Louis, Missouri. We, along with practically everyone in our family, have lived here in our little bubble our entire lives.
We've spent our entire nine years of marriage caught in the daily grind of waking up early, rushing to daycare/school/work, working our butts off all day long, pick the kids up, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up dinner, get everyone ready for bed and start it all over again the next day. We've been told that, because we wake up and do this every day, we're being "good parents"....
Most of our time on the weekends is spent doing house work, yard work, paying bills (or trying to anyways...) and grocery shopping; leaving very little time for us to spend together as a family. The little time we do manage to steal back from the hour glass is usually spent gardening veggies, playing & relaxing outside, swimming and hiking. I'm watching my children's lives flash before me and it's scary as hell how each day seems to pass even quicker than the one before!
My husband and I decided we want to spend every moment we can with our boys before they grow up and leave the nest... even if that means giving up the security of having a regular paycheck. Even if that means selling our home and everything in it. We want to trade our things for experiences. I want to spend my best years cherishing my babies, not saving for "retirement" (which is a little ironic considering that I work for a financial planning firm). We've decided to kick off a new life with a mixture of slow-travelling the world and homesteading in Belize (Central America).
We have designed the floor plan for our amazing (and amazingly cheap!) earthbag home. We will most likely be buying land in the Cayo district of Belize to build our natural disaster proof home, which will include a few small solar panels (we will be using very little electricity) and a rain water collection and filtration system.
We will be delving into organic permaculture so that our land can take care of us rather than us taking care of our land. We will be planting several fruit and nut trees (I'm crazy about avocados and coconuts!) along with a farm for various other crops to sustain us. We will also be planting cotton, bamboo, hemp that can be used for fabrics, furniture and other goods. We'll add some chickens for eggs and maybe some goats and a donkey just for fun :-)
After our homestead is well established, we'll build a few small guest cabanas for our friends and family to visit. When we feel like it, we'll rent them out and run a small eco-lodge, where my older son, who wants to be a chef, can help prepare freshly cooked meals for our guests :-)
We'll play around with other ways to make a little bit of travel money while doing things we enjoy as well. We'll use any over abundance of food from our crops to create delicious organic food products and brand it "Manley's Belize It or Not!". I'll use natural oils, clays and plant extracts to create natural health & beauty products such as sunscreen lotion bars, insect repellant, toothpaste, etc ("Jenn's JuJu Lotion Potions"). My husband will make Belizean hardwood & bamboo furniture and artwork ("Tarzan Creations") and who knows what else! We'll take weekly trips to various local beaches, caves, Mayan ruins and whatever else we discover.
Maybe the insects will eat us alive, the snakes will chase us away, our crops will fail us, no one will like the products we create, and we won't have a single visitor to our eco-lodge...These are unfortunately the feelings I see expressed the faces of most people as I excitedly tell them about our life plans, and guess what... I've already considered these scenarios myself! No one can do a better job of criticizing me or my ideas than myself! We can either take the risk and possibly reap the rewards or spend the rest of our mediocre lives wonder "what if."
The worst that can happen is we have to sell our homestead in BZ, turn around and come back to our current state of life in the USA. We will have had the experience, and our children will have learned much more about life than any school could ever teach them! There will undoubtedly be some bad, maybe some VERY bad times. There will also be some downright exhilerating moments; moments that could fill us with enough pride and accomplishment to overcome a lifetime of failures. It's the ying and the yang, the natural balance of life on Earth, and you can't truly appreciate the good things in life until you've suffered through the bad. We're prepared to ride that roller coaster!
So this is NOT OUR DREAM, BUT OUR PLAN, for our real life together as a family. Naysayers need not apply; anyone else, feel free to hop right on our crazy train!