Updated: Aug 2, 2019
by Patricia Giniger Snyder
That’s almost always the response we get when people ask us where we live and we say,“nowhere.” Usually they want to know more, so we explain that since December 2016, when we sold our house and put our “stuff” in storage, we have been vagabonds. “Our home is wherever our heads hit the pillow.” Like in Kotor, Montenegro.
Our Untethered Life Isn’t as Radical as it Sounds
People are generally intrigued and think our lifestyle is pretty cool. Though in the same breath, most say either “I couldn’t do that” or “I wish I could do it.” The truth is, our untethered life isn't as radical as it sounds.
Like you, we wake up each morning, eat breakfast, pull out our computers or cell phones and check in on the world. More often than not, we’d prefer going back to sleep after reading the depressing news, but that aside, we then figure out our day, which can be working on our computers and combining that with sightseeing. Long walks along the Algarve coast was high on our favorite list, but so was watching the final episodes of Game of Thrones using DirectTVNOW.
The hardest thing for me is adjusting to different beds. Sometimes I feel like Goldilocks. Some beds too hard; others too soft; and some (thank goodness) are just right.
Being "On the Road" is in My Blood
I've wanted to be “on the road” for as long as I can remember. My dad was a traveling salesman. Every Monday he would leave our New Jersey home in his Ford Country Squire station wagon to sell ladies’ hats and costume jewelry in Pennsylvania and Ohio. I’d watch him from our small bay window thinking, “Take me with you!” I was pretty sure that wherever he was going had to be more interesting! By the time I was ten, I'd accompany him for a week or two, having life-changing adventures, including my first flight on Allegheny Airlines. It was also a boon for my dad -- his sales skyrocketed during those weeks we were together!
When I was 13, we moved from New Jersey to Atlanta, and later when I applied to college, my parents gave me a 500-mile radius limit from home. I chose Washington University in St. Louis, just over the boundary at 565 miles away. I majored in political science, and ended up in Washington DC, where I met Adam working in Congressman Ogden R. Reid’s office. He was a 20-year-old press secretary and a rebel with many causes (still is).
Living Life Untethered Isn't New to Us
This is the third time we’ve lived untethered. The first time was when we decided to get married and leave our jobs in Congress and travel for as long as our money held out. We built up our savings by attending nightly lobbying firms’ receptions and eating/drinking like royalty. We also traded in our wedding gifts for cash (much to the chagrin of my parents), and cashed in savings bonds.
We went to Europe, sailing across the Atlantic on the QEII on a $250 youth fare. And we bought (and at the end of our trip resold) a used car, stayed in pensions, inexpensive hotels, and at a friend’s flat in London. We even tried camping, but learned that wasn't for us.
Five months later we returned to the US, and still having savings, we hit the road again in our VW Rabbit. We traveled another 4 months across America, staying mostly in Motel 6’s, and even considered settling in California. But walking around San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, we decided to "do New York City.”
Our Somewhat Conventional Life
So we headed back East and began a somewhat conventional life. Adam became a freelance writer, and I worked in the Government/Community Affairs Department at WNET, NYC’s main PBS station. I learned video production, and after a few years, I became a freelancer too, as an independent video producer.
The ropes definitely tightened when we got serious about making a living, but we did a second untethered stint for 18 months when we moved to Barcelona in the 1980's. Adam was working on a corporate history book being paid in US dollars, and I taught film at the University of Barcelona. The Spanish peseta was really weak at the time so we lived like Rockefeller’s! We spent most of my pregnancy with our first child there, but had to go back to the US for Adam’s book. However, we returned to Barcelona the next year for another 4 months with our daughter, so I could produce a documentary about the Jews of Catalonia.
Then we settled down for decades, as we had another kid, bought a home in exurbia, and soon were paying for college tuitions. Adam traveled a lot, especially when he took over his Dad’s animation company, Rembrandt Films. I went to different places for my work, and we traveled some with our kids, but we always had our home to go back to.
Untethered One More Time
Once our kids were off the payroll and sadly when we no longer had our parents, we again untethered.
We know that being 50+ travelers, the time to travel is now.
In the past three years we’ve slept in more than a hundred beds, traveled across the United States twice by car and a dozen more times by air. We’ve spent extended time in Cape Cod, Westchester County (NY), Vermont, Texas, Utah, Las Vegas, Shanghai, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Portugal, Spain, and Montenegro. But clearly, the world is a big place and we’ve just skimmed the surface. So far, we have no plans to stop, and hope continuing freelance jobs and our Living Life Untethered “brand” will make it possible to keep going.