Family turns tail on rat race for nine months

THE FIRST STEP TO A NEW LIFE—Craig and Danielle Parrent with their children, Morgan, 8, Ryann, 6 and Jaxon, 3 preparing to leave on their journey. “We want to experience life in a new way and show our children first-hand that life is what you make of it,” Danielle said. The couple closed their business, sold their home and hit the road.

THE FIRST STEP TO A NEW LIFE—Craig and Danielle Parrent with their children, Morgan, 8, Ryann, 6 and Jaxon, 3 preparing to leave on their journey. “We want to experience life in a new way and show our children first-hand that life is what you make of it,” Danielle said. The couple closed their business, sold their home and hit the road.

 

Craig and Danielle Parrent had it all—a beautiful, 4,500 square foot home, their own business that employed 16 and was thriving, and three healthy young children. Yet the couple felt they were missing out.

Craig felt he was putting the hours of his life into paying for the home and lifestyle, and spending all his time with customers instead of the people he loved most, his family. After a boat trip in Saugatuk, he had a conversation with his wife, who graduated Rockford in 1993 as Danielle Lewis. He wanted to get rid of it all and see the country with his family.

“We knew it was the right thing to do and we never looked back,” Danielle said. Her husband, who has several heart conditions, was tired of missing out on his family’s life.

“He felt he was working for the granite counter tops, large home, expensive cars. There had to Parrentcampbe more to life than driving himself into a stressed workaholic,” Danielle said of her husband.

When the couple married 13 years ago, they had only $1,000 between the two of them. Deciding to jump off the fast track and spend nine months touring the country by motor home and with a ten-foot dinghy was a prospect that did not scare them.

“You get back to the basics of life,” Danielle said. The kids were home schooled during the trip, which lasted from September 2008 until May 2009. They are back now, with plans to live life to the fullest and are planning their next trip. “We were simple people who were not leading simple lives, until now,” Danielle said.

She said living like this is something many people dream about, but never do. They may wait until retirement. “We knew we weren’t getting any younger. The older the kids get, the harder it is to home school them, and for them to leave their friends. Now was the time.”

They went as far east as it is possible to get with their time in Maine. They went as far south as well, to the Florida Keys, where they went beachcombing and watched manatees swim under their small boat. They walked in the depths of Carlsbad Caverns and Death Valley.

“We weren’t sorry to give up the house. Houses don’t really mean that much to us and we knew the value of homes was going down, so it was only a matter of time before we lost our investment,” Danielle said. The money they made on the sale and their prior investments made the trip possible without dipping into savings.

“We are like other families, but we want more out of life,” Danielle said. She advised others to do the same, not dream about it. A t-shirt they saw on the trip reaffirmed their decision. It said, “Instead of spending the next 20 years talking about what I wish I had done, I’ll spend the next 40 talking about what I have done.”

“Don’t let life get away from you. There is more to life than money,” Danielle said. “If you truly want more out of life than what you have, you have to go for it.”

Craig and Danielle Parrent had it all—a beautiful, 4,500 square foot home, their own business that employed 16 and was thriving, and three healthy young children. Yet the couple felt they were missing out.

Craig felt he was putting the hours of his life into paying for the home and lifestyle, and spending all his time with customers instead of the people he loved most, his family. After a boat trip in Saugatuk, he had a conversation with his wife, who graduated Rockford in 1993 as Danielle Lewis. He wanted to get rid of it all and see the country with his family.

“We knew it was the right thing to do and we never looked back,” Danielle said. Her husband, who has several heart conditions, was tired of missing out on his family’s life.

“He felt he was working for the granite counter tops, large home, expensive cars. There had to be more to life than driving himself into a stressed workaholic,” Danielle said of her husband.

When the couple married 13 years ago, they had only $1,000 between the two of them. Deciding to jump off the fast track and spend nine months touring the country by motor home and with a ten-foot dinghy was a prospect that did not scare them.

“You get back to the basics of life,” Danielle said. The kids were home schooled during the trip, which lasted from September 2008 until May 2009. They are back now, with plans to live life to the fullest and are planning their next trip. “We were simple people who were not leading simple lives, until now,” Danielle said.

She said living like this is something many people dream about, but never do. They may wait until retirement. “We knew we weren’t getting any younger. The older the kids get, the harder it is to home school them, and for them to leave their friends. Now was the time.”

They went as far east as it is possible to get with their time in Maine. They went as far south as well, to the Florida Keys, where they went beachcombing and watched manatees swim under their small boat. They walked in the depths of Carlsbad Caverns and Death Valley.

“We weren’t sorry to give up the house. Houses don’t really mean that much to us and we knew the value of homes was going down, so it was only a matter of time before we lost our investment,” Danielle said. The money they made on the sale and their prior investments made the trip possible without dipping into savings.

“We are like other families, but we want more out of life,” Danielle said. She advised others to do the same, not dream about it. A t-shirt they saw on the trip reaffirmed their decision. It said, “Instead of spending the next 20 years talking about what I wish I had done, I’ll spend the next 40 talking about what I have done.”

“Don’t let life get away from you. There is more to life than money,” Danielle said. “If you truly want more out of life than what you have, you have to go for it.”

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