It really wasn't that much to look at. An off white cover with Times New Roman font in black that stated an unimaginative title - How to Wake Up Your Financial Genius.

Very boring really.

But on a whim I bought it. Only $0.25 at the thrift store, I couldn't really go wrong.

Our 1st (100 yr old) home

I took it home to our 100 year old house that was nestled on a 1/2 acre in the middle of a farming town in the mountains of Utah.

My husband had been teaching at the local high school. He had a safe, secure job with medical, dental and a matching 401 (k).

We had a comfortable salary, yet we'd been conditioned by society to believe that we were on the 'low' end of the income scale.

So despite the amount we brought home, by the time we tried to keep up with the Joneses, we were barely able to make ends meet, even with just the two of us.

In the middle of the adoption process, I was researching ways to invest so that we would be able to provide a college education for our future children.

And so with 'investment' on my mind, this uninteresting book about 'financial genius' caught my eye.

Little did I know how profound an impact it would have on the rest of my life.

Simply written, it told the story of a man who had gone from broke to millionaire in four years by investing in real estate.


You mean to tell me that people who are not rich can actually become so? We're not damned to the life that fate has allotted us? Reality is negotiable?

This was a new and unprecedented  idea in my brain, that I was not some pawn in the game of life, but actually a player that could choose my path.

I distinctly remember the moment that my husband and I discussed these new ideas together - the possibility of taking a risk, putting ourselves out there, doing something different.

It was so frightening, and exciting, all at the same time.

Then, the idea was to invest in real estate - but...what if we failed? What if we went broke? What if we had to declare bankruptcy? What would we do??????

A Mind Once Expanded

By then our minds had been thoroughly expanded, and could not return to the dimensions they once maintained.

His dream truck

So we went for it. In a whirlwind of enthusiasm we bought two more homes, a condo and a four plex in the next year.

Everything was going great.

So great in fact that we moved into a nicer (newer) home, that we purchased at a great discount, and my husband bought the truck of his dreams.

Our new investment properties paid for it all.

We continued to read and devour books on investing, personal development, and business, and our dreams and plans got bigger and bigger.

The Travel Seed Starts to Sprout

Since we'd first been married, we discussed the idea about living abroad with our family at some point.

We'd take a job abroad so that our children could experience a different culture and learn Spanish (which my husband spoke fluently from living in Peru for two years).

Now we were expecting our third child (we adopted the first, gave birth to the second), and my husband had the chance to go on a humanitarian trip to Peru with a youth group (that also included three of my siblings).

He jumped on it, with my full support, despite the fact that he would leave me with three kids under the age of three.

Two weeks after our third addition joined our family, he left on a jet plane to the land of the Incas.

Cute little kids in Peru

They spent three weeks traversing the country, exploring ruins, building toilets and greenhouses, digging wells and having their lives changed forever.

I was at home with my children, longing to be with him.

At that point in our life, I didn't even consider it a possibility to take my kids to some place like Peru.

I just figured that we'd have to wait until our family grew up for our adventures together.

He returned home, and our life went on as usual.

Until about a year later when the opportunity for him to go on a free trip to Guatemala arose.

There's no way he could pass it up, so off he went for a week of more great experiences.

This time I was determined it wouldn't happen again. Next time I would go.

We still didn't know when or how that would happen. Still believing that travel would have to be an addendum to the life we were living, and would happen only when we had the 'extra' funds, we focused our efforts on 'getting rich' so we could live a life of travel, adventure and humanitarian work.

Continuing to invest in real estate at the height of the real estate bubble, our income grew until my husband decided to step out of his comfort zone, and leave his 'corporate' job, to commit himself to real estate full time.

It was a terrifying and terrific step. Scary to leave behind the 'security' of that steady paycheck.

But the idea for travel and adventure was firmly planted in our head, and that position wouldn't help us to get there.

Building Bigger Cages

That first month of 'freedom' he earned more than he had in a whole year at his job.

Knowing then what we know now, we could have taken off and spent a few years traveling with our family with that kind of money.

The basement of our bigger, more attractive 'cage'

But we didn't or couldn't do that - we were tied to the social mores and anchored with mortgages, monthly payments and the like.

So instead, still blinded to the truth, we created even more attractive cages for ourselves.

We moved into an even bigger house, bought two more cars, and lived the 'high life'. All with the delusional idea that if we kept making 'more' money, one day we'd be able to travel too.

Now expecting our fourth child, my husband surprised me with a second honeymoon. We jetted off to Playa del Carmen for a fabulous week together.

It was a great vacation. We soaked up the sun, explored ruins, swam with dolphins, and drank virgin daiquiris.

But on Sunday is when I got my first taste of 'real travel.'

We caught a taxi to take us to a local congregation for church. As we left the tourist district and entered the 'real Mexico', I started to feel uncomfortable.

This wasn't the 'prettied up' part that was presented to vacationers.

At Chichen Itza, Mexico on our 2nd Honeymoon

Arriving at the church, we were warmly and enthusiastically welcomed.

As I sat in the midst of the churchgoers, I was completely immersed - in the culture, the language, the experience.

A feeling of amazement and awe engulfed me. I was overcome by how incredible it was to be exposed to an environment that was completely foreign and new.

I knew then and there that our family needed to have these types of experiences - together.

It wasn't something that could wait until some future day down the road. We needed to make it happen now.

Moving in the Right Direction

By this time, along with real estate, my husband was trading options in the stock market and doing very well at it. A completely location independent income, we could live and work anywhere.

So returning to our home in Utah, we began making plans immediately for a move abroad.

We started liquidating a few properties, making arrangements to rent our home, and selling the majority of our stuff.

This isn't what we REALLy want - time to get rid of it

Planning and making preparations was exciting, unnerving and thrilling all at the same time.

Through research and talking to a few friends, we chose to move to Costa Rica, which we'd heard rave reviews about.

Our departure date was approaching, but we still hadn't figured out what do about a vehicle once we got down there.

Costa Rica at the time had high import taxes, so purchasing a vehicle would cost 50-75% more than it did in the States.

One night, as we cuddled in bed, my husband mentioned a crazy idea he'd been considering.

"What if I drove our car to Costa Rica? I could fill it up, so it would be a way to have a vehicle and get our stuff there."


Is there even a passable road that connects Utah to Costa Rica? We honestly didn't even know.

The more we discussed it and researched it, the more plausible it seemed. The part I didn't like was me flying by myself with four children ages four and under to meet up with him in Costa Rica.

So we asked ourselves - what if we all drove together?

No, too dangerous. Too scary. Too much time in a car with little kids. Impossible.

Or was it?

Once the idea entered our minds it began to grow and expand and alter itself until it no longer seemed like some strange and foreign concept, but something we could and MUST do, a life-altering experience that we needed to undertake.

And thus it was arranged.

We Can Do The 'Impossible'

Will it all fit??

We minimized and reduced our properties and belongings until we could pack what was left into our SUV, and then we drove out of town and headed south for the border.

What ensued was an incredible road trip where we crossed many borders, not just political boundaries, but we pushed the limits on what we believed was possible for our family to accomplish.

Exploring jungle rivers, sunning ourselves on beautiful beaches, tasting new and delicious cuisines and growing closer as a family, our travel addiction had begun.

But it had only just begun... within a few years it would take us to 12 countries and half way around the world (PLUS we would add two more kids to the bunch).

I don't have room to tell you all about it here. But I will. Just enter your email below.

(This post was inspired by Scott Dinsmore's telling your kick a_ story to influence the world).




Powered by New Facebook Comments

30 Responses

  1. Amy

    I always find it so interesting and informative to find out how other families not only finance but how they make the decision to take the plunge. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Rebecca

    What a great adventure to get to the point where you realised exactly what you wanted – and now you’re doing it! Not many people do that, so well done to you. Looking forward to reading about your next big road trip!

  3. Sean

    So awesome! Very interesting! We might end up in the same place if Heidi gets her way. I’m still a little weary about driving down through Central America. This post only strengthened Heidi’s resolve to do it.

    Now I’ve got some thinking to do…

    Anyway, thank you for a brief look into how your adventure started.

  4. Ted Garling

    this is crazy because this is exactly what my wife and I are going through right now. We close on the sale of our paid off home in Phoenix AZ and we are selling everything, so we can be completly mobile. Just got done teaching a year of Early Morning Seminary (5:45 am) and leaving 2 very nice salaries of $60,000 and $30,000 to reclaim our freedom!!

    Nice to hear that we are not the only wild mormon childs living on the edge of mental & social boundries… thanks for sharing
    Ted & Kaylee

  5. Alisa

    Just discovered you guys via an article written about, and saw the interview he did with you two. We said to ourselves, “they are SOOO LDS!” We just relocated to Lake Chapala, Mexico (from Alaska! Haha!). PLEASE keep us in mind as you travel through this area. We would loooove to meet up! Finally, a family we can relate to…wahoo!! Hope to hear from you guys…

  6. Erica

    AMAZING!!!! I “dream” of the day we can do this. If it was up to me, it would be happening already. Been trying to convince my hubby for a year already :o)
    I’ll get my way one of these days……
    One question, might be better suited for email, but I’ll ask it here. My youngest (3 yo) son has some special needs. I wonder how I would be able to meet his educational needs on the road. have you come across this at all in your travels?

    • Rachel


      I haven’t personally dealt with special needs & education, so I can’t really offer any expert advice.

      I can only give my opinion, which is biased toward home education anyway. I would imagine that a relaxed, exploratory, fun approach to learning on the road would be beneficial for a special needs child. The kind where you go beach combing, look for bugs, have picnics and explore ruins or waterfalls – the kind of stuff that expands your mind and enlivens your senses. I imagine that would be good for any child (and in my opinion the best way for any child to learn).

      • Erica

        Thank you for your reply!! I agree with learning through experience!!! I think it’s a great way to learn. He has severe speech/language delays, sensory integration and other sensory issues as well as low muscle tone and physical therapy needs. I wonder how I could meet his needs while on the road. I guess we will just have to try it and see how it
        Goes!!! Haha. I enjoy reading your blog thoroughly!!! It’s great!!

      • Rachel

        I think you’re right, trial and error is sometimes the best way to discover what works.

        Glad you enjoy reading!

  7. Harriet Jakowich

    I was so engrossed in your story, when are you going to continue. I am interested to know what you did with all your investment properties, and how did you actually get started living on the road. We totally want to do this!

    • Rachel

      Hi Harriet,

      We liquidated our investment properties during the economy ‘crash’. We decided it was a good thing, we didn’t want to continue managing them while we tried to travel and live abroad. We didn’t officially start living ‘on the road’ until the start of our trip from Alaska to Argentina. Before then we’ve usually lived in the countries we’ve traveled to.

  8. Kimberly

    So, is Greg still trading stock? I understand you are living very frugally, but must need some source(s) of income here and there? Also, do you purchase any home schooling curriculum?

    • Rachel

      No, he stopped doing that after we lost money in the market crash. Greg works at various jobs and we save money which we use for traveling, but our main area of focus is building our online business, with the help of mentors like and 🙂

      We don’t really use a specific curriculum – books are our curriculum. In Alaska they have a program that gives family’s money for home schooling, and we used that for the purchase of books last year.

  9. Stephanie

    Your family is awesome. I love hearing about people who are brave enough to step out of the status quo.

    Do you continue to use real estate to fund your travels?

    • Rachel

      Thanks Stephanie,

      No more real estate – we’ve had overseas employment, used savings, and now growing our online business.

  10. David

    Just stumbled upon your website…and I am absolutely amazed by what you guys are doing!

    Your children must be having the best (or most adventurous) childhood ever 🙂

    Take care, David.

  11. Pilar

    I Love your story. realistic, risky, adventurous, and inspirational hope you can write a book about your journey in life.

  12. BeckiAurorAddict

    You are my hero. My husband Chris and 4 children Aurora 10, Oceanna 8, Lyrica 3 and Caspian 1 are planning a similar mad road trip from our home in the South of the UK to the Arctic Circle in Norway. We have bought a motorhome and plan to chase Auroras across Finland, Sweden and Norway. SO far everything has seemed to make us think we won’t be able to do it but like you have described here we want and need to make it happen! We have a FB page if you ever fancy contacting us and joining us for some Northern light adventures…. 🙂 You sound like our kind of people!

    • RachelDenning

      BeckiAurorAddict Thanks Becki! We’d love to join your Northern Light adventures sometime… I’ve seen the aurora once in Alaska and it was incredible!!

  13. Hilary Forin

    I have loved reading your blog. My husband and I and our 3 kids 6,4 and 2 years old are planning to drive from Vancouver Island, BC, Canada to Panama. What would be your advice for us? We are planning to leave home Jan 1/16


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.