Couple gives up 'normal' life in Fargo to wander the world
Brad and Jenn Lindemann were living the American dream, but they gave it all up for a semi-nomadic life abroad. What do they miss most about Fargo? You might be surprised.
FARGO — On a blustery winter day, when the bills are piling up and the household clutter is getting the best of you, who hasn’t had that thought, be it ever so fleeting?
“I should just chuck everything and travel the world!”
It didn’t happen exactly like that for Fargoans Brad and Jenn Lindemann, but the end result is the same — they left their normal 8-to-5, suburban life in North Dakota for a life confined only by a Rand McNally map.
Their home is now the world as they’ve sold, donated or stored a good portion of their “old” life in Fargo for a semi-nomadic life abroad.
Friends and family at home can keep up with their travels on the website and blog they just started called Far from Far.
In the blog, Jenn explains their newly found lifestyle like this:
"Peripatetic is defined as 'traveling from place to place, in particular working or based in various places for relatively short periods.' A nomad is defined as 'a person who does not stay long in the same place; a wanderer.' Many other terms can be used to define our location-independent lifestyle, such as digital nomad, vagabond, wayfarer, adventurer, drifter, slomad, and traveler."
Jenn, a native of Portland, North Dakota who has worked as an executive assistant, and Brad, who grew up in Fargo and works in logistics for a grain processing and trading company, took off from Fargo’s Hector Airport on Nov. 7, 2022 to start their new life, spending two to three months at a time in different countries around the world, with no immediate plans to settle anywhere permanently.
Currently, they’re living in London where they sat down for a phone interview with Forum reporter Tracy Briggs to talk about how careful planning and out-of-box thinking got them to where they are today and the advice they have for anyone who might want to follow in their footsteps. Here is their conversation:
How did the idea to leave ‘normal’ life in Fargo behind to travel the world begin?
Jenn Lindemann: It was a process. Every time that we took a trip we couldn't wait until our next one. On our way home, if we didn't have another trip booked already we were both just so disappointed. We both just really recognized how much we love to travel. I started subscribing to blogs about travel and stumbled upon people that did this. I was like, it is possible to do this. Really, this is a thing?
So how did you broach the subject with Brad?
Jenn: I know him well enough to know that he's an adventurous spirit too. But his career was taking off and I thought well, maybe he wouldn’t be ready for another 10 or 15 years. But I just said “what do you think if we quit our jobs and travel the world?” and he just kind of sat there and looked at me.
Brad Lindemann: It took me about 10 seconds to immediately fall in love with the idea. I was born in Minot, moved to Fargo when I was six weeks old, then lived in Fargo my entire life. I always wanted to travel, but I didn’t know how to make it a reality.
Jenn: We talked about it off and on for a while. But we didn't really become serious about it until probably five years ago when we said, “let's absolutely just plan this, let's take care of it.”
So then you must have had to sell your house and get rid of a lot of your belongings?
Jenn: Yes, and it was a process! It's not an overnight thing. And I know, once we started, I think we just quickly realized how much this fits our priorities and our lifestyle and our plans for the future.
Brad: We realized pretty quickly in our marriage that “keeping up with the neighbors” wasn’t satisfying. Everyone is always going to have something you don’t. It’s pointless and no one wins. Some days are harder than others and it’s a never-ending process. I still have too much stuff and I only have a carry-on suitcase and a backpack. We’ve been working on this for five years and it’s still a work in progress. The $1 rule has been extremely helpful: Anything we buy needs to have a value of less than $1 per use. A $100 piece of clothing needs to be worn at least 100 times otherwise we don’t buy it.
When you went all-in for this new life, how did people react?
Jenn: When we actually started telling a wider variety of people we were going to do this, we got a lot of blank stares. I didn’t know how to interpret that. Other than I think people either didn't know even where to begin and what to ask or they just made their own assumptions about our life.
People must have assumed you are independently wealthy, right?
Jenn: Right, yes, exactly! And we are not by the way. Not even close. But if you think about it, we don’t have a mortgage, we don’t have car payments. We don’t have a lot of insurance anymore. We pay rent sometimes, but we’re also pet-sitting. So that’s free accommodation. Normally, our expenses are a lot less than when we lived in the U.S.
Tell me about the pet-sitting
Jenn: The place we're at right now we have one dog. Oh, he's just a sweetheart. His name is Max. And the owners — she's from New Zealand, he's from England — they hadn't been back there since 2020. So they took off for New Zealand for a month. So we’re with Max at their place. With pet-sitting you just meet the nicest people. And then they’re also great for giving you recommendations. So we already have recommendations for when we go to New Zealand. It's great to get that connection as well. We really love that. It's been one of our favorite things so far.
Do you get to do a lot of sightseeing? Is this a non-stop vacation?
Jenn: The majority of our days are actually spent at home, you know, behind computer screens, cooking meals, taking care of pets, planning our next destination and watching Netflix, like really just normal, everyday things. Brad works remotely, and I’m busy working on the blog and website. Our days are not glamorous. They really aren't. I mean, don't get me wrong, I think we're extremely fortunate to get to explore the world. I know that there are lots of people that don't have this opportunity. So I definitely am very thankful for that.
Where are you going next?
Jenn: We'll be going to Paris and then to the south of France for three weeks. Our daughter and her boyfriend will be visiting for spring break. (Jenn is the mother and Brad is the stepfather to two children; Noah Bolgrean, 23 and Laura Bolgrean, 21. Noah recently visited Jenn and Brad in England). We fly home in May. And then we will be going to Ireland and I think we're going to Germany in June. We’ve talked about Romania too, but we’re not sure about that, then Croatia in September.
How do you handle the language barrier in non-English speaking countries?
Jenn: Google Translate is just a godsend for anybody. I mean, it really is. But we always try and learn a little bit of the language in any country that we go to. Just the basics, "hello," "goodbye," "where’s the bathroom?" But we’ve also had great conversations with people who absolutely don't speak English. We basically play charades and we all have a good laugh about it!
We want to change people's views of the world. We honestly want to expand people's views and know that it's not a scary place.
Do you miss anything about Fargo?
Jenn: Obviously our family and friends. I mean, for sure Fargo will always hold a very special place in our hearts. But the other day, we started listing off the places we couldn’t wait to eat at when we come back home.
Brad: Buffalo Wild Wings, I can’t wait for Caribbean Jerk Wings and I'm planning to order 17 sides of ranch. A close second and third would be a Bison Turf burger and fried pickles at The Toasted Frog.
Jenn: Have you ever had the steak and cheese French sandwich at SouthTown PourHouse? It's like a 12 out of 10. It’s so delicious! Vinyl Taco, too! England isn't known for great food. Other than I will tell you, we came to England and fell in love with Indian food. Huge Indian population and Bangladeshi populations here. Oh my goodness. It is so delicious!
If anyone else ever does want to do this, my advice is just to do it. Get your passport. Go! Don't be afraid of the world. Whatever your dream is, do it! You get one life, right?
What have you enjoyed about your new life and what lessons have you learned?
Brad: Every day is a new adventure and the scenery is always changing. Don’t like the food? We’re only here two weeks. Too cold? We’ll be somewhere warmer next month. There is always something new right around the corner to look forward to.
Jenn: Over the years, I think we’ve just realized how small the world is, just seeing different perspectives but realizing basically, everyone wants the same things out of life. Everyone wants to have other people around them, to love them. They want security, they want safety, We’ve met people all over the world and they are still our friends. We want to change people's views of the world. We honestly want to expand people's views and know that it's not a scary place.
What tips do you have for people traveling internationally or even people looking to do what you’ve done?
Brad: Don’t over-plan. Part of the fun of being in another country is exploring and even getting a little lost. Pack light — you can actually buy most things in other countries. Get out of your comfort zone and explore beyond the regular “tourist” sites. Meet some locals. You will not regret it.
Jenn: If anyone else ever does want to do this, my advice is just to do it. Get your passport. Go! Don't be afraid of the world. Whatever your dream is, do it! You get one life, right? And you really need to figure out what you want to do with it. I'm glad we have figured out that this is what we want to do, for now at least. I absolutely could never have thought that this would be what I did, but we’re doing it.
To follow the Lindemann's travels, learn budget-saving travel tips and find out more about house and pet-sitting, visit their blog at farfromfar.com