Hannah and Chris run online consultancy businesses which have been designed so they can travel for about 6 months a year, usually split into 2 or 3 month segments. This year they wanted to see if they could relocate for longer whilst still keeping their UK base. In June 2012 they set out on a Round the World in Home Exchanges experiment.
This gives them reliable internet for their businesses, a chance to “live like locals”, new adventures, and a home away from home (which often turns out to be much better than the home they left behind)! Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Hannah and Chris at the beginning of their RTW Home Exchange adventure, in central Oregon.
This week-in-the-life was originally published in 2012, and has since been updated for accuracy of links.
Day One: Thursday
10am – Amble over to our next door neighbours, Karen and Jeff’s where preparations are underway for taking the boat out. Two young guys from a nearby town are coming along. You don’t need particularly strong credentials to get treated like family around here as our invite shows! Karen has packed us a picnic and waves us off with reminders about wearing our life jackets.
11am – We arrive at Cultis Lake which is one of a string of beautiful spots along the scenic Cascades Lakes Highway. It’s pretty deserted. The sky is cloudless and the huge lake shimmers. With the clean mountain air and emerald hills, it’s all breathtaking.
11.30am – We set up camp and Jeff throws open a cooler full of speciality local beers. I don’t usually like to drink in the day but somehow on beach surrounded by mountains it works! The boys stick to soda as they reckon beer ‘tastes like dirt’.
12pm – Time for tubing, where Jeff spins each of us in turn around the lake on a giant inflatable while he does his best to toss us into the water. He generally succeeds.
1pm – Over massive sandwiches we chat to the boys about their forthcoming church mission to Peru whilst a puppy chases his own shadow along the beach.
2pm – Time to try wake-boarding. It turns out to be awesome fun; I even forget to notice how cold the water is. I’m amazed to find I can almost stand up on just my second go and quickly find myself hooked!
3pm – Head back across the lake, sun-kissed and tired.
6pm – Received an email from a journalist who wants to write an article about us for a national newspaper. We might be able to get a reference in to a new website that we’ve been working on but is in really early stages. It’s all systems go on making a start on getting content written and the website framework mapped out for the rest of the evening.
Day Two: Friday
9am – My exertions from yesterday are catching up with me and I feel every muscle as I gingerly navigate our overgrown steps for breakfast on the dock. After a hectic couple of weeks being hosted by home exchangers, attending meetings and networking, it feels nice to be doing things at our own pace in our new temporary home.
11am – We’ve set up our ‘desks’ on sun loungers where we can watch tourists on inflatable flotillas drift by. I hang the washing out, creating a makeshift line out of a length of rope and fence posts.
1pm – I need a break from the mind numbing task of inbox management so decide to make a luxury salad. I go a little overboard and am chewing for half an hour while Chris polishes off his sandwich and flops back into his chair to resume work. I still have over 140 emails to sort, respond to and file.
3pm – Skype call with the marketing director at www.homeexchange.com. We are helping them host meet-ups for home exchange members and need to iron out a few glitches. We have over 50% of our home exchange accommodation sorted for the trip but still have a few gaps we need to discuss.
6pm – Call it a night with working. Another neighbour, John, wanders over with a napkin full of raw meat as he heard we’ve not been having much luck catching any crayfish. Chris throws the pot into the water where it sinks gently amongst the reeds, ready to catch any unsuspecting crayfish with a taste for bacon.
8pm – We grab some food and settle down to watch the Olympic opening ceremony from our laptop on the deck.
Day Three: Saturday
10am – I’m writing content, sales copy and auto-responders. Chris is building a new site. I’m also getting distracted by obligations to write blog posts. It’s feeling a little hectic as peaceful as it looks lounging here by the river.
4pm – We forgot to have lunch so grab a Skinny cow ice-cream and decide to keep going. At least the emails are quiet on a Saturday.
5pm – We need to stock up for a guest arriving later; someone we first met in Berlin a few months ago and again recently in Portland. That’s one of the great things about travelling; you never know where you are going to meet new friends next! I decide to give driving a go as Chris has done it all until now. So far so good, I stay on the correct side of the road.
7pm – Our friend’s bus doesn’t get in until late so we meet up with someone we met at the recent World Domination Summit in Portland who happens to live in Bend, our local town. We sink our first beer over conversation ranging from business to spiritual retreats. He brought a list of all the local breweries for us. There are 8 in Bend and we need to get a stamp from each to qualify for a freezable, silicon/rubber beer glass. This is my kind of challenge!
10.30pm – The bus station isn’t where we thought and our mobile modem is out of action. We have to put the sim card in a spare phone to make calls and transfer the sim into a ‘dongle’ when we are on the road and want to set up our own ‘wifi bubble’. This involves a careful operation using a needle and dexterous fingers and tonight we’ve forgotten the needle. We have to rely on the TomTom app on our iPhone. Luckily we are only 10 mins late.
Day Four: Sunday
10am – We’re keen to show off the amazing place we are living so we drive to a hidden trail head and hike uphill for a couple of miles before arriving at a pristine and secluded mountain lake. We’re the only ones swimming in the clear water, just us and hundreds of blue dragon flies. Exchanging cars as well as homes make it so much easier to find gems like this which are a bit off the beaten track.
3pm – We grab some French bread and cheese on the deck before borrowing our neighbour’s car to drive us back after leaving our truck downriver. Back at our dock we tether inflatable rings together and hop in, a little too enthusiastically as it turns out as the water is freezing! We lie back in as the current drags us down river with our bag of beers trailing behind.
6pm – We finally reach the end of our float, 6 beers down and desperate for the bathroom! As we paddle frantically to battle the strong current and head towards the narrow beach we spot a huge bald eagle watching us from the bank. He spreads his wings and soars away.
8pm – The coals have turned white so the BBQ is finally ready. It’s a warm night so we eat outside and watch the geese as they fly noisily and low along the river in perfect formation. We spot 6 deer and foals prancing through the trees and pausing for a drink on the opposite bank.
10pm – It’s a perfect night for some star-gazing from the hot tub as we unwind and talk about business and travel amongst the bubbles.
Day Five: Monday
10am – Drive up to a national park viewpoint to a massive expanse of volcanic scenery with craters, lakes and solidified lava flows. We climb down to walk on the obsidian field, where shards of glassy black rock glisten in the sun. It’s like walking on the moon.
1pm – We stop for lunch in a lakeside lodge where we have to show ID to use the bathroom. There’s a giant bear stuffed on the wall. Nice touch.
2pm – We hike around the lake to find the place where fissures in the ground have created hot springs. We stand with one foot in the cool lake water and the other in a makeshift pool created by logs which is bath temperature. The terrain seems like something from Lord of the Rings with vibrantly coloured hollows and strange moss formations protruding from the water.
5pm – Back to Sun River for a luxurious ice cream sundae. In contract to the magnificent scenery, the town has a Disney-esque quality to it. Perfect for kids but we don’t hang around.
8pm – We cook pizza and play cards before a late night dip in the hot tub. The full moon ripples on the river and the trees in deep shadow seem ghostly and mysterious.
Day Six: Tuesday
10am – We drop our friend off in Bend and go for breakfast. Bend is a really cool little town with lots of independent cafes with a distinctly organic vibe. And plenty of wifi luckily. We take a pad and do some business planning. We need to re-vamp our loveplaywork.com page and plan our priorities for passyour.com. We head home motivated to make progress.
1pm – Our neighbour Jeff swings by to find his dog Annie who regularly chills on our porch. He is heading off for a kayak- do we want to join him? It’s a dilemma but we need to remind ourselves that as easy as it is to get sucked into work, it is opportunities like this that we are here for. We set off in a double kayak from next door’s dock, Jeff following closely behind on a paddle board. We reach the conclusion he is no ordinary 62 year old.
1.30pm – As we paddle around a bend we see a tornado gather frenetic pace in the near distance. It’s clearly visible and it’s is picking up spray as it goes. Residents line the river banks shading their eyes to watch as it gathers speed and volume, before whisking off towards the golf course.
3pm – We have a couple of Skype calls with our team. It’s great to know they are taking care of things in our absence. Then we get an email from the home exchangers staying in our home. They left the lights on in our car and the battery is flat. Luckily neighbours have stepped in with a battery charger and my mum is on the case.
9pm – We spend a lot of time escaping the UK but tonight we settle down with Netflix to start watching Downtown Abbey. This could keep us going for a while. Chris doesn’t seem overly thrilled.
Day Seven: Wednesday
10am – Each task seems to be leading on to a new one. Write the blog post about a competition we’re holding. The prize is for the winner to fly out to one of our next destinations and work with us for a week. We want them to see how achievable working and travelling is. And to enjoy a taster. I’m hoping cocktails will feature heavily.
5pm – We have 2 applicants already!
6pm – Drive for an hour to the Deschutes County Fair for our first rodeo. Chris has a cowboy hat but refuses to wear it- I’m not sure we would have fitted in even if he had. We watch some cowgirls parade round the ring, skittish calves being lassoed as they try to escape and men being flung around like rag dolls from wild-eyed horses. It’s not really for me. We head home via Bend where we stop at a Mexican seafood place for the biggest plates of food we have ever seen.
Hannah and Chris’s next stop is Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where they’ll be ready for the next intake of their mentoring programme 180daystoyourofficeonthebeach.com. They work with business owners, freelancers or anyone ready to start working for themselves who are ready to learn how to establish a more location independent way of earning and living.