In 2010, Karen Sargent and Paul Farrugia had $15,000 of savings burning a hole in their pocket.
At first, they thought they would buy a flat in London, where they were living.
However, Sargent remembers, “We’d daydream about traveling, and we decided the money was better spent on travel.” Instead of putting a down payment on a home, the couple left their jobs — Karen, a business psychologist for a business-training company, and Paul in retail — to spend a year traveling from London through Asia by land.
“Six months into our trip,” Sargent says, “we realized a year would not be enough.”
They ended up traveling for 18 months, and today, they’ve built a life that allows them the best of both worlds: Half the year in a London flat and half of the year spent abroad, a lifestyle they chronicle on their website, Global Help Swap, and on their Instagram. They spoke with Business Insider about how they’ve made it work.
“In those 18 months, we just loved the sense of freedom,” says Sargent. “I always wanted to be self-employed, but I was afraid of not earning a lot of money.”
New Years Eve 2012, Sydney Harbour, Australia
However, traversing Europe, Russia, and Mongolia by train, the couple found themselves meeting a lot of people who were of limited means. “With such a small budget, we were poor financially as well, but realized that money doesn’t make any difference with happiness,” Sargent says.
“When we came back, we both felt freer,” she explains. Looking for a new job, Sargent came across a position as a senior psychologist in Dubai that she knew “would be perfect for me — and my heart sank. I knew I had to try being self-employed.”