Have you ever dreamed of just selling all of your belongings, walking away from your job and taking off on a great adventure? Maybe sailing around the world? Or hiking somewhere remote? Or living in another country? Well, that’s exactly what San Elijo residents, Melissa & Michael Harlow are doing in 2016.
In mid-January, Melissa & Michael are setting sail for a year, heading down the coast of Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Galapagos Islands and then to the French Polynesian Islands. They are calling it a “Safe Water Sabbatical” as they will be taking safe drinking water filters and giving them to people who need them as part of their “Pay it Forward” lifestyle.
Michael and Melissa have been preparing for the voyage for the last couple years. They are both very adventurous world travelers. Michael was with the U.S. Coast Guard as a divemaster. Melissa has been working in the healthcare industry. They got married about 11 years ago and bought their home in San Elijo.
Like many of us, they were busy working away. However, always underneath the surface was this lifelong dream – to unplug and lead a more simple life. With both of their kids now in college, the window of opportunity seemed right for them. So, they began planning their adventure – saving up money and paring down on their belongings as they started to make their dream a reality. This meant preparing their family for the separation. (Melissa grew up right here in Escondido her whole life – so as you can imagine, saying goodbye for a year is quite a big challenge.)
For Michael and Melissa, it was important that this trip be a true adventure – no safety net. No back up plan. They are all in 100%. They want the full experience of unplugging and experiencing a more simple life. That means they have quit their jobs and released most of their belongings – including selling their home. They purchased a 38 ft. sailboat this summer and are prepared to set sail as the weather permits later this month.
For Melissa it was critical that their journey include an element of service – a way to have a lasting impact throughout their travels and to make lasting connections with local people along the way. When she discovered Waves for Water, it was a perfect match for their values. Through this organization, they have been able to fundraise and will be acting as ‘clean water couriers’ as they help fund and deliver fresh water filters and train local people how to use them throughout their trip.
We SHARE this story with you for two reasons.
First, to inspire you. Whatever that dream you hold for yourself, you can make it happen. And, perhaps seeing Michael & Melissa in motion will encourage you to take a step toward your own dream.
Secondly, we encourage you to follow along on their journey and to consider donating to the cause. Through their eyes (videos & blog posts along the way), you will see firsthand where your filter goes and the people it impacts. Each filter helps 100 people with 1,000,000 gallons of safe drinking water for 5 years! You can contribute to the number of filters they take with them by going to www.wavesforwater.org/courier/safe-water-sabbatical and making a donation.
Pretty cool, right? Vicariously, you can follow along and witness the adventure that is about to unfold for these two San Elijo residents. Watch your neighbors set sail on their dream voyage and watch their lives morph as a result of seeing the world through a different lens – a lens of simplicity, gratitude and adventure.
Michael and Melissa are working on their website for the adventure (www.theadventuretravelers.com).
To learn more about the trip itself and the cause, Melissa put together a video about their adventure. Watch the video and contribute to the water filters by visiting their page at: www.wavesforwater.org/courier/safe-water-sabbatical.