Hi, we’re Stephen & Jane! Welcome to My Five Acres, our mindful travel blog.
In 2013, we sold our amazing house in LA, our two cars, and all of our stuff and set out on a journey that would change our lives forever.
For almost two years, we travelled the world by bicycle, cycling through 22 countries in Europe and Asia. We pedalled more than 16,000 km and learned so much about the world — and about ourselves — along the way.
What was the biggest lesson we learned?
We could never back to a “normal” life.
We couldn’t go back to a huge monthly mortgage payment, office jobs that sapped our will to live, colleagues whose only goal was to climb the corporate ladder, and a house full of stuff we didn’t need and never used.
For us, happiness wasn’t to be found in big pay checks and buying new stuff.
We wanted more.
Instead of shrinking into the box created for us by society, we choose to expand—our minds, our hearts, and our lives—every single day.
We learned that we were far happier living with just a few possessions and the freedom to go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted.
So we decided to figure out how to earn a living on the road and just keep travelling.
We’ve been full-time nomads for more than five years now and we finally feel happy, engaged, and excited about life!
What is My Five Acres about — and what can we do for you?
My Five Acres is a mindful travel blog, where we focus on the kind of journeys that get you out of your comfort zone and change your life. These mindful journeys can be worldwide adventures or deep explorations into your own heart.
We started our travel blog as a way to tell the daily stories of our life on the road. During our 2-years of cycle touring, we wrote a blog post for every single day of the trip! It’s an epic tale of adventure, love, challenges and triumphs.
(If you want to know what it’s really like to cycle tour the world, I highly suggest you dive into our cycle touring adventure) →
After our bike tour, we realized that blogging every day was not sustainable! That’s a heck of a lot of work.
Now, on My Five Acres, we aim to inspire you to more travel and more mindful travel while providing tools and strategies to make finding and living your own adventure easier for you.
Our goal is to:
- Inspire you to seek out your own adventures and completely change your life
- Give you the tools to set goals and accomplish your dreams
- Help you save money and plan your mindful travels
- Help you travel more mindfully and make travel more fulfilling for you
What is mindful travel?
We focus on mindful travel because we want you to get more—much more—out of the time you spend travelling, whether you’re away for a weekend or a year.
There are many ways to bring more mindfulness into your travels. A few of our favourites are to:
- Slow down. Instead of flying from city to city and packing every moment with activity, slow down. By seeing less and doing less, you’ll have a chance to immerse yourself in local cultures, explore more deeply, and take time to let what you’ve experienced change you.
Leave your expectations at home. Instead of being influenced by the experiences of travellers before you, leave your prejudices and presuppositions at home. Let the people and the place surprise you, be open to whatever you find, whether it meets your expectations or not.
Make connections. Don’t forget that everyone you meet—from the taxi driver, to the museum ticket seller, to your fellow travellers—has a story to tell. Hearing the stories of the people you meet around the world will change your perspective and open your mind to the possibilities life has to offer.
We are also a part of the Eco Companion Journalist network. Find out more about Eco Companion.
How do we afford to travel all the time?
The first thing you need to know is that travel doesn’t have to be expensive. Our yearly income is about 1/4 of what it was when we lived in LA — but our expenses are much lower, too. We’re living proof that you don’t have to be a rich digital entrepreneur to afford travel.
As we travel Stephen teaches Adventure Yoga to students around the world. In his classes, he helps students find their own inner strength and confidence to make it possible to follow their own adventurous dreams.
In his yoga workshops, Stephen teaches you to listen FOR your heart and to listen TO it. He’ll focus on increasing your confidence and strength so you have the courage to take the next step towards your adventure —
whatever it is that you want out of life.
Jane is a freelance writer but spends most of her time managing My Five Acres. Right now, our website brings in a small income and we’re working hard to increase that every month.
Our last 20 years in three minutes or less.
On our first weekend mini-break back in 1994, just a few months after we started dating, we went camping on the astonishingly beautiful Saltspring Island in British Columbia. That campsite, at Ruckle Point Provincial Park, is still the most beautiful we’ve ever seen!
In 1997, Stephen crashed Jane’s car. We took the insurance money and took off from Vancouver for a backpacking trip around Europe. During that trip, we saw way too many churches, slept in the world’s worst hostels, and argued all the time.
Our relationship couldn’t handle the stress of travel and — on a Greek Island over Christmas — we broke up.
Alone, out of money, and miserable, we were tempted to just go home.
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.” – Paulo Coelho
Instead, we moved to London separately, got jobs, fought a lot, and finally figured our shit out…
Over New Year’s in 2000, right after we were sure the Millennium Bug wasn’t going to end the world, we got married.
We worked in London for almost 10 years. Stephen’s job was to babysit manage rock bands. Meanwhile, Jane was playing in her own 60s-inspired rock band, The Lollies, and working full-time as an internet jack-of-all-trades, designing, writing, and producing content.
When we could find the time, we travelled, eventually visiting every country in Western Europe.
After getting sick of London’s pubs and the terminally dull weather, we took an eye-opening 6-month trip through Morrocco, Egypt, and the Middle East. Our travels in Syria are still some of the most amazing we’ve done.
Eventually, we moved to LA, just because it’s always sunny there. In LA, Jane accidentally got sucked into the Hellmouth of corporate America while Stephen discovered his calling as a yoga teacher.
Seven years later, the US had chewed us up and spit us out (in other words, our visa expired). That’s when we decided it would be a smart idea to cycle around the world. And it was.
Those 2 years in 22 countries and 16,000 km of pedalling were awesome, breath-taking, mind-altering, holy-smoking, staggering, shocking and utterly life-changing.
(If you want to know what cycle touring is really like, start at the beginning of our cycle tour diary) →
As you might expect, we learned a metric fuckton of stuff, from the terminally practical to the absolutely whimsical.
This is where you come in to our story:
If you’re an adventure-seeker…
If you can handle some discomfort on the path to a more adventurous life…
If you’re ready to face the challenges of breaking a new path…
If you are driven to expand outside of the box society wants you to be in…
We want to share everything we’ve learned with you.
It is possible to live an extraordinary life.
Yes, it takes courage. Yes, it takes putting up with your parents asking you when you’ll get a real job. And yes, your friends might be jealous or resentful or just plain think you’re weird. You may have to give things up and you will have to make big, bold choices.
We want to help you find the courage to do just that.
Be warned. Adventure is not for everyone. The world doesn’t make it easy to live weird: family and friends don’t get it, employers are confused by it, and banks, governments and other red-tape-loving officials actively discourage it.
The world says we SHOULD work in a neon-lit office, have 2.5 kids and two cars in the garage. Above all, we shouldn’t do anything to disturb the status quo.
We’d rather fight against the system than spend our lives being comfortably numb.
“All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.” – Baruch Spinoza
If you would, too, then let’s go make your life excellent!
What the heck does My Five Acres mean?
There’s a finite amount of land in the world. If you divided it equally between all the people on earth, we’d each get about five acres (two hectares) to supply all of our food, clothing, houses, electricity… everything. Right now, in the Western world, we each use almost 5 times that. My Five Acres is a reminder to tread lightly, whether we’re across the globe or right at home.
11 things you might already know about us.
- We are both Canadian.
- We’re both British.
- Some people think we’re crazy, but we’re not.
- Stephen teaches yoga around the world.
- Jane is a very good writer.
- We’re vegan (about 98% of the time).
- We don’t do the same things as everyone else.
- Stephen loves coffee. And beer.
- Jane loves chocolate — the darker the better.
- We rode our bicycles around the world (almost).
- We’re passionate about minimizing our impact on the planet.
And 22 things you probably don’t know.
- Stephen is a politics junkie. He probably knows more about the politicians in your country than you do.
- Jane was in a 60s-inspired girl group called The Lollies.
- We’ve met most of our idols — and usually been disappointed.
- Jane cries during almost every movie and TV show. Commercials sometimes too.
- We climbed the fence at Glastonbury in 1998. Mud city.
- Stephen was arrested in London. Jane had to pick him up from the police station at 4am.
- Jane hates almost all music from the 70s. Hates it.
- Jane would love to see So You Think You Can Dance live.
- Stephen loves Miley Cyrus. Jane does not.
- With our friend Kris (under pseudonyms) we started an awesome zine called Slampiece.
- Stephen crashed Jane’s car in 1997. The insurance money funded our 1998 trip around Europe.
- Jane can’t go inside a pet store. It’s too sad.
- The first record Stephen owned was the Muppet Movie Soundtrack. He won it at church.
- Once we didn’t pay for our train ticket and had to run through Liverpool Street station to escape the guards.
- Jane’s favourite book is A Room with a View.
- Jane has seen Clueless at least 20 times.
- The first concert Jane went to was Platinum Blonde, a Canadian 80s hair band.
- Stephen’s was Crowded House with Richard Thompson.
- Jane once played bass on stage with Neil Finn.
- We’ve been married for 15 years.
- Stephen bites his nails. All the freaking time.
- We watch Elf every Christmas. Smiling’s our favourite!
OK, that’s the whole shebang. If you made it this far, you’re probably looking for something awesome from your life. Yay you! We’re here to back you up every step of the way.
♥Happy adventures, Stephen & Jane