We’re now back in the US of A after our 2-month adventure in Mexico. Before grandma’s fruit cake alters my memory of the experience, I thought I’d share a few successes, failures, and lessons learned.

Our overriding goal was simple: live in Mexico for 2 months, and see how well we can keep up our family and professional endeavors. In case you missed my initial mention of the trip, this was not a vacation. In every aspect possible, we wanted a sustainable lifestyle- something we could have kept up indefinitely.

Make Money

Financially, our goal was to come home with more money in our bank account than we had when we left. Grabbing cheap airfare and subletting our apartment got us off to a great start; working for the duration of the trip carried us through successfully.

Be More Productive

Despite potential tropical distractions, I was actually able to focus more on my work than usual. Creating a wide-sweeping auto-responder on my email and leaving my cell phone at home (kind of– more on that later) drastically cut down on less-than-vital communication. No TV. No newspapers.

Authentic Living

As part of the “make money” goal, and due to a desire to have a more culturally “authentic” experience, we kept our accommodations pretty simple. Unfortunately, we took it too far. It’s true that most Mexicans (at least in the towns we visited) don’t have air conditioning, microwave, washer/dryer, and drinkable water. In that sense we lived somewhat authentically, but it wasn’t sustainable for us. The simple fact is that if we moved down there long term, we would have those modern conveniences, and we would bring our car. Dealing with a toddler who has diarrhea and a severe diaper rash when the nearest laundry facility is a 15 minute walk away is not something my wife and I care to go through again.

Time Together

This one was easy: the lack of social commitments and the fact that I worked at home most of the time made it possible for me to spend a ton of time with my wife and daughter, both one-on-one and as a whole family.

Unfortunate Surprises

This was our first experiment in living the vagabond lifestyle, and based on the above points we’d call it a success. However, it wasn’t all roses, particularly for my wife. There were a few hard and unexpected lessons learned:

  • Rather than adapting to all the lifestyle differences over time, each stomach bug we caught, meltdown that our daughter had, and giant flying cockroach I had to kill had an accumulative negative effect that sapped our adventurous spirit and left us all a little anxious to get back to home base (I partially blame “Authentic Living” from above). At this point I’m just not sure how well we could pull off doing this for 6 months at a time.
  • Raising a busy toddler on the road was just plain hard. We didn’t have our usual support network of friends and family. We only spoke a little Spanish. There were times when my poor wife thought she was going to lose her mind from lack of simple and easily accessible activities that wouldn’t leave her exhausted. Sure, a trip to the beach is blast for everyone, but it takes a lot of work.
  • My laptop had a major problem, and trying to solve it in rural Mexico was the pits. Slow and intermittent internet connectivity got really annoying too, although I can’t say that it had much of an effect on my overall work productivity (fortunately).
  • Our increased time together as a family had the unintended side effect of further blending our roles and making us more dependent on each other than we usually are. That’s actually a wonderful thing to some extent. I think married couples need to be more interdependent. However, now that we’re back in the States, reinstating our usual routines and roles is going to take some adjusting.

And so the big question is: will we do it again? We both say yes, but our timelines differ. ;) If you’d like, you can help us out by recommending our next destination- just leave it in the comments.

For a full travel travel log with lots of photos, check out the site Chelsey made just for this trip, as well as a few posts on Jed’s personal blog.