Goin' global: Fargo couple embarking on epic year-long adventure
FARGO — Contrary to the now viral notion that millennials should give up avocado toast and traveling to afford a home or plan for retirement, one Fargo couple is preparing to embark this week on a year-long trip around the world, leaving their house, businesses and pets behind.
Matthew and Lindsey Lee, both 26 years old, don't actually eat avocado toast, but they do have a grand adventure in the works — one they can afford and find appropriate at this time in their lives before more inevitable adulting unfolds.
"You don't want to be told how it is. You want to go see things for yourself and experience it, and that's what we're doing," Lindsey said.
"The opportunity came up, and it worked out now, before we have kids or even more responsibilities that wouldn't allow us to travel," Matt said. "It's sort of now or never."
That's the explanation they give family, friends and customers at their stores, Goin' Postal and Corner Drugstore on 8th Street South in Fargo. "That's what we tell people to let them understand," Lindsey said.
"People don't get it," Matt added.
The concept of packing up, selling their furniture, car and home, sending their female cat named Kevin to live with a friend in Dallas and dropping Watkins, a cute Corgi, off at Matt's parents' place in Lisbon while they proceed to take off on an epic adventure for a year is a little foreign to folks in Fargo.
Not to mention they also recently hired someone to take care of their stores while they're away.
"It's a pretty bold move. Sounds like fun to do some traveling — a whole year, that seems like a long time," said Matt's father, Pete Lee, who added that he and his wife, Deb, are "not much for traveling."
"Are you nuts?" was Deb's reaction to first hearing of her son and daughter-in-law's plans. "As their mom, it's still my job to worry. Some of these countries they're going to I'm not familiar with. So to see some of the world through their eyes — with social media that's the nice part," she said. "I think they're ready for it."
'We are a little crazy'
Matt grew up in Lisbon, N.D., and Lindsey moved there from east Texas in eighth grade. The two started dating in high school at the end of their senior year in 2009 and got married in 2013.
That's when the now self-employed, small business owners got their first taste of international travel in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, on their "kick-ass" honeymoon via Groupon and "an extreme budget."
They returned to Mexico in July 2016. Otherwise their passports are pretty open to more destinations.
So what inspired the couple to plan such an adventure? Basically, a lot of travel blogs and watching TV shows about other people experiencing the world. Travel is something they've always wanted to do, and this trip will allow them to "see it, smell it, taste it" in real life, Matt said.
"People don't seem to move away or travel as much around here. They kind of give us this crazy look like, 'What are you doing?'" Matt said.
"And I think we are a little crazy. We started a business and got married and did lots of things within a short period of time, and we've kind of always done that," Lindsey added.
There's a lot of flexibility embedded in their itinerary, but the Lees plan on first driving a rental car — they sold their silver Grand Prix two weeks ago — to see Lindsey's family in Texas.
She said her parents are pretty "blanketly supportive" of her and all her siblings, though they were, too, like Matt's parents a little shocked at first.
After Texas, they'll fly to El Cuyo, Mexico, a small fishing village "close to where we went on our honeymoon," Lindsey said.
This summer will be spent exploring southeast Asia, seeing places like Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar. On the agenda for the fall is Europe to see Scandinavia and then the United Kingdom. The Lees will head to Argentina to work their way north through South America until the end of May 2018 when their adventure is expected to come to an end.
Airbnb, an online short-term rental marketplace, is what the couple plans on using throughout the entire trip. Unlike a hostel or hotel, rentals through the website will allow the Lees to have an actual kitchen so they can cook and live comfortably.
"Matt loves to cook, so to experience new things and bring that back to do it yourself, we get new ideas," Lindsey said.
Asked what they are most excited for, the Lees without hesitation both said, "the food," with the locals coming in at a close second.
Trip for flip
The Lees got lucky earlier this month when the 100-year-old house they flipped — after purchasing it three years ago for $58,000 — sold for much more than they anticipated just 30 hours after listing. Their house, 1102 3rd St. N. in Fargo, with years of sweat equity, ultimately went for $159,000. "That's mostly what's funding our trip," Matt said.
They took the sale as a sign and decided to start planning, but in reality they've been anticipating an adventure like this for years. Matt and Lindsey actually announced to all their friends in September at their joint birthday party that they would soon set off to do what they're about to do now.
"You can do anything as long as you really want to do it. Travel doesn't have to be expensive. Most of the places we're going you can do for under $100 a day," Matt said, adding that daily expenses include food, lodging and transportation. "With the internet, pretty much anything is possible at this point."
On Thursday, June 1, the Lees plan to finalize the sale of their house and then drive straight to Texas where the journey begins. They will fly to Mexico next week but haven't bought plane tickets yet.
"I think being spontaneous keeps you open to a lot of opportunities that you wouldn't have if you were stuck making money somewhere you weren't happy," Lindsey said. "Experiences are definitely the best thing to spend your money on, and that's what we're doing."
To live vicariously through Matt and Lindsey Lee's year-long travels, check out their blog and social media accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Just search for UnsettledRoots.