Rachel and Greg Denning are creating an unconventional life for themselves and their five children: they travel almost constantly, live independently (no 9-5 job) and do humanitarian projects. No, they are not retired. They are a young family that decided one day to live their dream—and they made it happen.
As Rachel put it: “When we first married, my husband was hired as a seminary teacher at Morgan High School, and we were in for life. A regular job and a paycheck were the long term plan. He worked at MHS for four years, but slowly this desire for travel, exploration and humanitarian work began to grow. Eventually, he left his position and we attempted other sources of entrepreneurial income.”
After a few years of riding the real estate market and living “the American Dream,” the bubble burst, and they ended up with just a few possessions. They were living in the Dominican Republic at the time. They had to decide whether to start over--searching for a high paying job, a house, and cars--or to change their focus from accumulation, possessions, and travel in the distant future, to creating the life they wanted now. Both Rachel and Greg wanted to travel. To quote Rachel’s words: “It’s the exhilaration of exploration, the intoxication of discovery, the pleasure of pioneering. To travel slowly with inspiration as our guide – free from the confines or restraints of time and location. To ‘live deliberately, live deeply and really suck the marrow out of life.’ That’s what we want.”
They have now been living the nomadic lifestyle for five years and have been figuring out how to finance it. Rachel says, “We’re finally figuring it out.” Some of their adventures include: traveling from Utah to Costa Rica, living in Costa Rica, India and Alaska, and they are now on a journey from Alaska to Argentina. They are presently living in Guatemala. Rachel home schools their children, and they do a lot of field trips as part of their everyday activities.
How do they do this with a family of seven? Travel is the priority--part of the master plan to raise and educate their children. They travel in a veggie-powered truck with few amenities. Greg will stop to get fuel from local restaurants, and it takes about 30 minutes to refuel their vehicle. Their veggie conversion system was donated by Golden Fuel Systems and can be fueled with diesel or veggie fuel.
How do they finance this lifestyle? They have income from affiliate marketing, free-lance writing, and building websites. Rachel has written a book: Living Deliberately: How We Created a Ridiculously Awesome Life. She also sells essential oils on line. They received one-time donations such as the roof-top tent, a veggie system (which powers their truck) and essential oils for their family’s health care needs.
They also have donors for their humanitarian efforts and projects. “We’ve just started accepting donations on our website for our humanitarian projects. It’s a very one-on-one thing. We share what project we have in mind, and what person/family will benefit and then ask others to contribute if they would like. When we’ve completed the project, we post pictures on our website, so they can see where their donations have gone.”
So far, as documented on their blog, they helped build a composting toilet for a family in Guatemala, planted a garden for two Guatemalan families, installed two smoke-reducing stoves, installed solar heated water system, and visited orphanages.
“Humanitarian projects are a part of our travel adventures, but they are just one part of the whole. We travel for education, experience, family connection, personal growth and to make a contribution—to improve the world in some small way. Travel has helped our family to become better. It gives us the opportunity to gain confidence, to see how the world really is, and to find solutions for making the world a better place.”
When asked “What is the single most important thing they would like to impart to others?” Rachel said, “It’s been said that ‘the world is a book and those who don’t travel read only a page.’ The more we travel, the more the truth of that statement comes to light. Travel teaches you so many lessons in life, people and yourself that can’t be learned in any other way. It opens your heart and mind and makes you a more compassionate human being. It helps you to see what really matters, and puts things into perspective in a way that’s not otherwise possible. You can read and philosophize all you want, but until you experience it for yourself, it’s all just theory. Travel has changed who we are.”
You can follow this amazing family and their current adventures at www.discovershareinspire.com.