Ryan and Jessica Terry celebrated the 4th of July, 2011, like many of us, at the Riverside Park. Their children Eden, Ty and Lydia played games and the family enjoyed visiting with old and new friends. One particular conversation changed their lives forever.
They listened to Greg and Rachel Denning talk about their world travel with their children. While many families enjoy taking trips, the Dennings’ travel is unconventional; instead of week-long vacations, they leave for long periods of time. As Ryan and Jessica listened to the Dennings, they realized, “Holy cow! We could do that too!”
The family of five began their life of travel and experience by liquidating their junk. Jessica described, “It feels so liberating to do that. One begins to realize that they don’t need all that stuff to be happy!” Along with selling all their items they felt held them to one place, they also worked out a business buy out to enable them to follow their dreams.
With money saved from these steps, the family acquired passports and AAA licenses to drive internationally. With mounds of paperwork and to do lists, the family felt adequately prepared to begin their dream life.
Ryan secured “location independent” work, which means he will be able to continue his work wherever internet access is available. “We could live anywhere and it wouldn’t hinder work or income.” Jessica explains Ryan has always been an entrepreneur, “I love it because it makes our lifestyle possible.”
In February 2013, the family said their goodbyes to friends and family in Morgan, St. George, and Arizona as they drove their car full of all their belongings into the unknown but long dreamed of destinations. They made stops along the way to visit “La Casa Grande,” ruins of the Sonoran Desert Native Americans, The Alamo, beautiful beaches, and others along the way to their new, however temaporary home in Panajachel, Guatemala.
Three of their children have always been homeschooled, so the move did not disrupt their education. In fact it appears to have amplified it.
“My kids are seeing things and experiencing things that they would normally read in a book!” Jessica exclaims as she explains how they are experiencing all of this on top of their daily lessons in reading, writing and arithmetic. The family is working on their Spanish, which they find sometimes comes easily and they gain confidence, yet other times they find it can be frustrating.
While the family expected to see poverty, they were still surprised some of the circumstances they have seen while in Guatemala.
Dire circumstances are not usually discovered until they are invited into homes. One of their favorite experiences was helping install stoves in poverty stricken homes in a Mayan village in the mountains.
In this particular area, families still used fires in their homes to cook, and with no escape for smoke, the people suffer from lung infirmities. One young man in the area raised money to install stoves in the homes. These stoves use less wood and pipes ran through the ceiling to ensure the families would no longer be afflicted by the unhealthy smoke. Jessica handed out handmade dolls she prepared before the trip, “Ohhhhh I loved it! I had Mayan children gathering and flocking around me! It was out of a dream!”
They have found the cost of living very inexpensive. They rent a beautiful gated home for $400 and find delicious food at the market very affordable. The Terry family has always enjoyed eating healthy and enjoys the experience of trying new foods.
Ryan and Jessica don’t plan on calling Guatemala or any one spot on earth their home again. Their life’s blueprint is to travel the world indefinitely. “We want to try living for months at a time in many countries around the world,” Jessica explains. They want to experience the real culture of an area, beyond what tourists would find.
Their families here in Utah are not to be forgotten. They have plans to visit Utah for a season every year. Their family relationships are extremely important to them and they would not want to lose those strong ties.
The Terrys are excited to travel in the not-so-common countries. “The experiences are so rich and fulfilling and real,” Jessica encourages, “Go to a third world country at some point with your family, and enjoy the culture, the untouched by ‘gringo’ areas! Go to small little towns where you get a real authentic experience.” They are seeking to learn from and about others.
The Terrys have stepped out of convention to live their dreams. While this type of life is not for everyone, their story can encourage others to go for their dream no matter how unreachable or crazy it may be.
“Your Dreams come true when you act to turn them into realities.” ~Anonymous