How We Got Started
We met while studying at the University of Virginia. Immediately after graduating, we both found typical office jobs and lived the standard 9 to 5 city life. We’d always loved to travel and hike, but never dreamed we could do it permanently. That is until the COVID19 pandemic forced the world to shut down, and after a year stuck inside the walls of our apartment, we decided to sell most of our belongings, pack up what was left, and hit the road!
Over the next six months, we drove from our home in Virginia to Denver, Southern California, Utah, Northern California, Idaho, South Dakota, and Minnesota.
We became addicted to the nomad life and couldn’t imagine living any other way again, so we both secured permanently remote jobs and have no plans to stop traveling for the foreseeable future. We love having the freedom to explore somewhere new whenever we want and visit places we never knew existed, all while still working full time.
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The Motivation Behind Our Dream Cross-Country Road Trip Across The United StatesWe’ve both always had an adventurous spirit, and we found ourselves with a growing discontent with our “normal” lives, aching for something new, something we were truly passionate about.
The pandemic gave us that final nudge that we’d been waiting for, and we decided to finally take the leap and go all-in on nomad life! We had both been working remotely for over a year and were feeling very stuck in the four walls of our apartment. It dawned on us that if we were going to be working remotely, we didn’t need to be in any particular location and could make life on the road work, so that’s exactly what we did!
How We Prepared For Our Trip
To prepare for our trip, we basically sold or got rid of all our belongings, with the exception of a few boxes of items of sentimental value that remain stashed at our parents’ houses. We had been living in a fairly small apartment, so we didn’t have a ton of stuff, and most of what we did have were hand-me-downs without much monetary value anyways.
We whittled down our possessions to just the essentials. When faced with the task of fitting everything you own in a Jeep Cherokee, it becomes pretty clear what you actually need to get by. The whole packing process was actually pretty cathartic, and we’ve learned to be so much more intentional about the things we buy.
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How We Choose Where We Want To Go NextWe haven’t followed any specific itinerary but we also don’t fly by the seat of our pants. A ton of planning goes into choosing our next destination and planning out our weekends to get the most out of our travels. Given the fact that we are working full time while on the road, we need to make sure we have a comfortable place to live each month with space for us both to work (i.e. have meetings at the same time). I’d say we typically plan things out at least a few months in advance. More generally, we look for places with easy access to as many outdoor activities as possible and we like staying in smaller towns, where prices are typically lower.
How We Budget For Our Trips & A Few Of Our Highlights
We are very cognizant of costs. We try only to live in places where the monthly rent is similar to what we would be paying if we had stayed in Virginia. Sometimes that means we need to stay in smaller towns or more remote locations, but it is worth it. Besides that, we try to stick to a monthly budget, eat out as little as possible, and make sure that when we do spend money, it is for an experience or something we really need.
We have had tons of cool experiences, almost too many to list! A few highlights include watching the sunrise from Bad Water Basin, rock climbing in Joshua Tree, backpacking and hiking all over Utah, exploring almost every trail in the Tetons, climbing Half Dome, and being woken by moose in Glacier.
Meeting New People: Our Favorite Memory
When we were in Joshua Tree, we rock climbed with a local guide who had lived and had adventures all over the world. At the time, we were still trying to figure out where we wanted to live for the summer and had been thinking about Idaho but weren’t sure. We mentioned to him that we were still figuring out where we wanted to live and he recommended Idaho! He specifically mentioned the Sawtooth mountains, which we had never heard about.
Based on his recommendation, we eventually decided to go to Idaho for the summer, which ended up being our favorite stop of the trip. In fact, we loved it so much that we bought 2.5 acres of land in Eastern Idaho with Teton views!
Read more: Boredom Pushed This Couple To Quit Their Job & Embark On An Epic Adventure Around The World
Our Bucket List
Our bucket list is never-ending! Every time we tick something off the list, we find 10 more things to add. At this point, I think the last year living as nomads has been our biggest adventure. But more specifically, our favorite adventures have been backpacking through the Tetons, Sawtooths, and Canyonlands
We also backpacked in Yosemite and climbed Half Dome and Clouds Rest in a single day. We have a few upcoming adventures that we’re very excited about, including backpacking through Paria Canyon and a five-day trek through the Andes in Peru!
Inspiration For Starting Our BlogFirst and foremost, we always felt like it was difficult to find the information we needed to plan our adventures. Sure, there are plenty of blogs covering the most popular hikes and destinations, but not much about many of the more off-the-beaten-path adventures, and even then, most didn’t have the information we needed in an organized, concise format.
I (Matt) have always enjoyed writing and Sarah loves photography so it felt like a natural fit. In addition, we were both drawn to the idea of working for ourselves and building something that is entirely ours. We both love our “day jobs” but seeing something that you have made continue to evolve, improve, and grow has been very rewarding.
The mission of Two Outliers is twofold - first, we want to help people like us, who are often looking for off-the-beaten-path experiences, plan their adventures. Second, we want to inspire people who might not be inclined toward such experiences to feel empowered to do things outside of their comfort zone.
Sacrifices & Challenges We Made In Order To Become Full-Time Nomads
The biggest compromise of life on the road for us is leaving behind family and friends in Virginia. It can be lonely on the road when you really only have each other. Seeing our friends and family together back home without us can be challenging, but we try to get back to the east coast for at least a couple of months.
Additionally, when you move every month, you never really know what you’re going to get when you check into a new place.
There is no opportunity to “tour” a place before you move in, as you would in buying a home or renting an apartment. We have generally been lucky with accommodations but did have one nightmare experience on our first day at a new place we planned to live at for 2 months.
Basic amenities (think heating and electricity) did not work and there was no effort from our host to fix them, so we ended up filing a complaint with Airbnb, moving out, and scrambling to find a new place to live.
Not having any of your own “stuff” like cookware, bedding, a comfortable mattress, etc can also be annoying, but these are all super small inconveniences compared to the amazing experiences we are able to have on the road!
Read more: Nina's Courage To Travel Alone For The First Time Transformed Her Into A Digital Nomad Who Has Been Traveling For Over A Decade
Some Of Our Most Significant Challenges
As previously mentioned, the hardest part of life on the road is being away from friends and family. All of our family lives on the east coast, so it has been difficult to keep up with everyone while we are living in different places across the western US. Similarly, because we move so much and are never in one place for too long, we don’t often get the chance to meet many people in the places we live, so the lack of a close community can be tough.
Getting started was also tough. Selling our stuff, finding someone to sublet our apartment, saying goodbye to family and friends, and leaving the comforts of home for life on the road were all very difficult. But it has been so worth it! We love life on the road and can’t imagine living in one place anymore.
Our Travel Plans In The Next Few Years
Over the next five years, we’d like to continue to live nomadically across the US. We’d also love to explore Canada and make it up to Alaska!
How We Think GAFFL Helps Solo TravelersGAFFL
helps to solve one of the ongoing problems that we have experienced on the road meeting like-minded people! As noted above, it can be really hard to meet people when you are constantly on the move, and GAFFL provides an easy way to meet people on the road
We often use Airbnb, Hipcamp, and the Dyrt to find campgrounds, dispersed camping, and lodging. We also started using a new app called Wanderlog to plan our trips. And we are constantly using AllTrails Pro to map out our hikes.
Safety Tips For Travelers Who Want To Become Nomads
The biggest safety tip we can give is to always tell other people where you are going and what your plans are so they know to check in if they haven’t heard from you.
We spend a lot of time outdoors, hiking, camping, and backpacking, often in fairly remote areas, so our biggest safety concerns are typically weather, water, wildlife, and navigation.
We’ve become very careful about sending our plans to one of our parents before we set off on the weekend, especially if we are backpacking.
The best piece of advice we can give to anyone thinking about being a nomad is to just go for it! The hardest part is getting started. It can be overwhelming to think about selling your belongings or saying goodbye to family and friends but you won’t regret life on the road!
You will regret never taking the chance. If you hate being a nomad, then you can always move back. But if you never give it a try, you will always be thinking about “what if…”
What We Learned Through Traveling & Living A Nomadic Lifestyle
We have learned a ton while living on the road! From backpacking and hiking tips to road trip insights and traveling hints, there are so many practical skills we have developed.
But even more so, we have learned a lot about ourselves and each other. We have learned how to be flexible. You can try to plan every detail of a perfect weekend and it can all go terribly wrong.
You can either let that ruin your weekend or you can make the best of it. We have learned how to be patient with each other. We spend all day with each other and sometimes you are just in a bad mood! That is okay! Perhaps, most importantly, we have realized what is important to us.
We don’t care about the house we own, the clothes we wear, or the car we drive. We don't care what other people think about us. We care about living a life full of adventure and experiencing as much of the world as possible!
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