We are Len and JJ, happily married from Fort Worth, TX, and in April 2019, we are taking a year off from work to travel the world. Come follow us on our epic adventure that will span 5 Continents, 35 Countries, 40,000 Miles, 365 Days, and over 100 Segments of travel by land, air, and sea.
LenandJJ.com is all about travel, from traveling as a digitally nomadic married couple, and traveling on a budget, to cruises, to the occasional luxury travel splurge (Bora Bora anyone? We’ve been, and it’s definitely so nice they named it twice). We’ll be sharing our most helpful travel tips and tricks that make any kind of travel possible. Day Trip? Weekend Getaway? 2 Weeks in Paradise? Or how it’s possible to take a month or even a full year off. Any kind of travel is possible with a little help and planning.
Most importantly, we want to inspire you to get back in touch with that child-like sense of wonder and exploration, that, let’s face it, might have gone dormant (especially if you’re an American, where less than half the population has a passport,) and where we work entirely too much and have much too little vacation time. We encourage you to get out and explore the world around you, whether it be across the globe or across the street. Carpe Diem, Life is Short, Work hard, Play Hard, Travel Harder, Wanderlust… #LenandJJ.
Our Travel DNA
Travel seems to be in the very DNA of our relationship. In the beginning, from the moment we met in person, it was actually on a trip. Travel has become as natural a part of our lives as eating, drinking, sleeping, and breathing. We’ve found that when we are working, we are thinking about traveling. And when we are traveling, we are still thinking about traveling and the next trip. Thankfully we’ve found that the more of each other’s shared air we breathe, especially when traveling, the more we have felt at home with ourselves and each other.
There’s something special about stepping off a plane or a ship into a place you’ve never been before, that is truly magical. It’s one of the few times as an adult that we can regain our child-like whimsy, like walking down the stairs on Christmas morning and looking for presents from Santa under the tree, or playing with a new puppy. We find ourselves being more in tune with each other and with all 5 of our senses when we are taking in new surroundings in a strange new place for the first time.
Many will know JJ as “Jennifer” in the professional world, or “Jen” and even just “J” to a few close friends or family. JJ is a finance guru, with a simultaneously nauseating, yet impressively head spinning resume’ of work experience that includes over 3 Fortune 500 companies. She is WAY less expendable than Len is, as far as the work front goes, and is a seasoned and talented veteran of the corporate setting. Having read all that, many people will think we are crazy in that she has chosen to take a full year off / sabbatical, with no guarantee of a position or title to return to, at her former company or any company for that matter. But we don’t feel that we are crazy at all. In fact, if you Re-read that “Life is Short” mantra above and step outside of the mythical “slave and save” view of retirement for a moment, then think about how much harder it will be to truly enjoy travel, much less aggressively travel at age 70+, and you’ll start to get an idea of why we are doing what we are doing RIGHT NOW instead of the typical, and tragically unrealized “Later”.
JJ’s love of travel stemmed from her teenage years of traveling with her grandparents. She has fond memories of visiting Europe with her grandparents and cousins, and specifically visiting amazing places like Paris and London as young as 15. At the risk of aging her, This was so long ago that JJ remembers they still allowed smoking on planes! She remembers her grandfather being very worried about this with her severe asthma.
Her grandfather, Dr. Stovall of Crockett, TX had one very important rule “you must be able to carry whatever you bring by yourself, because I’m not carrying that crap around for you.” Thus JJ’s training as a light packer began. By the next summer trip, which went to Italy, JJ started to realize just how special and impressive this experience was. She thought to herself, and still tells me many times to this day, how there are so many people that will never see once in their lives some of the things she’s seen as only a teenager. She is very grateful for these experiences.
This was the first time that JJ started to realize that the world was a MUCH bigger place than just her home town of Abilene, TX, and that she was ready for the next chapter in her life and all the possibilities it would bring. JJ started becoming the wide-eyed, irresistibly fearless woman with a zest for life that I’ve never found in anyone else.
Some of our closest friends and family might affectionately call Len “Leonard”, “Lenny”, or even “Skinny Lenny” (from his Hardin Simmons University football days). Len is a bit of a Maverick and a Wild Card when it comes to a career. He is an e-commerce and real-estate investing entrepreneur who has no actual resume’ and has never so much as interviewed for a corporate position. The last “job” he had was as a waiter in college. He is far more expendable from a corporate desirability or career stability standpoint, and JJ would get along swimmingly without him (from a strictly financial / career longevity standpoint, let’s not get carried away people!). Len is not fully taking the year off either, but will work limited hours monitoring his e-commerce business, while he and JJ monitor their real-estate business from the road.
Many people think that being an Entrepreneur is the epitome of the American dream. Set your own hours, unlimited income potential that directly correlates with the profitability and growth of the company (instead of an ascribed salary), unlimited vacation days (instead of 2 weeks if you’re lucky), and my personal favorite pipe dream of “make money while you sleep”.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being an entrepreneur, and it beats working for the man any day. 15 years into it, with no formal training or business education, some have told me I was born for it. But make no mistake, being an entrepreneur is the equivalent of riding a manic depressive emotional roller coaster that you’re not quite sure how to ever get off of. And no matter how many times you read the 4 Hour Workweek or Rich Dad Poor Dad, there is just no such thing as a fully automated business that just “runs itself” in my experience. It’s a fallacy. It doesn’t exist. Running a business takes effort and time, even with the best employees (which I do have). You show me a business where the owner isn’t personally involved in the day to day and I’ll show you a business that’s going down. If that weren’t true then why are the best of the best like Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet still fully engrossed in their respective companies, Billionaires or not?
My own personal wanderlust took much longer to germinate. My first flight was not until age 15, and it was only a domestic flight from Texas to California for my grandparent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary. I’m not sure I realized it before, but it’s interesting that another commonality JJ and I share is that our grandparents, in one way or another, were at the root of our travel adventures. But I personally, outside of a missions trip to Mexico (via church van from Texas, that only required a birth certificate), had not really been outside of the States at any other point in time, even through college, save another mission trip to the Bahamas.
Then in 2007 (at age 25) my great friends Trey and Drew convinced me to accompany them to Prague, Czech Republic to visit our friend Clay who was living and teaching internationally there. That was the first time I ever got a passport, and it almost seems like another lifetime ago now. The short version of that trip, is that I had so much stinking fun with my friends, mindlessly ambling about the streets of Prague, sleeping in a communist-era flat with an elevator that no more than 2 people could comfortably fit in, and I started wondering where this mythical thing called “travel” had been all my life.
Our Travel Style
For starters, and contrary to what you might hear from our friends and family, we are NOT professional travelers. Far from it actually. Yes, we are avid travelers, who have individually or collectively been to about 30 countries each before this year-long trip. Yes we have packed for a full year with only an Away 21” Carry-On and Tumi Backpack each:
but we are honestly just working stiffs with full-time jobs (until very recently for JJ) just like most people in the world. We deal with limited funds, limited vacation days, and limited time on this earth just like anyone else.
The primary takeaway regarding trying to understand Len and JJ as a couple or Len and JJ as world travelers is this: Len and JJ individually are independent, self-sufficient, capable travelers and people, but Len and JJ together are collectively greater than the sum of their individual parts, whether in business, life, love, or travel.
We’ve both taken solo trips and loved them, sure, but isn’t life and especially travel, more fun if you share it with somebody? What’s the point of running with bulls, swimming with sharks, or kayaking the Nepali Coast line if you don’t have someone to share it with? What good is being somebody if you have nobody? Thus, JJ and I are beyond blessed and fortunate to have found each other, and even more so to be able to share this great travel adventure with each other only 1 day into our 1 Year Wedding Anniversary! Most of all, we are excited to share our adventure and our journey with all of you! Thanks for being here, and we hope to see you and Kerouac out there On the Road.