The idea of “packing up your things and setting off on an adventure,” is not a new one. Many of us have tested the travel waters before, with a short road trip or perhaps a one or two-week tour through the Caribbean. But have you ever considered literally testing the ocean waters? As in, taking off around the globe on a sailboat?
If you’re into expeditions that are a little more unique, you’re going to love hearing the wild adventures of Pat and Ali Schulte from Bumfuzzle.com. This incredible couple have realised big dreams and spent the last 15 years in wanderlust heaven. They’ve sailed around the globe (with no prior experience), raced across the US, and driven from Alaska to South America and across Europe in a ’58 VW Bus…just to name a few of their adventures.
It all started over pizza late one night in November 2002. Sitting at Lou Malnati’s, their favorite pizza place in Chicago, the high school sweethearts were discussing the complexities of the future. Having moved to Chicago a few years earlier so Pat could pursue a career in commodities trading, the 28 year-old pair were hesitant about locking in a “traditional American lifestyle” for the rest of their lives, slaving away over jobs and mortgage repayments before they’d even had a chance to explore the world.
Ali and Pat made the bold decision to ditch their careers, buy a sailboat and head off for the seven seas. Well sorta. The initial plan was to sail the Caribbean for a year. After reading the book Sailing Promise, about a couple that sailed a catamaran around the world, the plan grew, and grew. The couple had never set foot on a sailboat before, but they’d heard some cool stories about the excitement it entailed and decided it was worth figuring out.
Five months later the couple broke the startling news to their families, and by September 2003 they had sold their belongings, bought a boat and taken off. Leaving Florida and setting sail on their 35-foot catamaran named “Bumfuzzle.”
You can imagine the backlash the novice travellers received upon announcing their travel adventure. Surprisingly, it was the online sailing community that was the most hostile toward their plans to quit their jobs and sail without a lick of experience between them. Maybe it was something about disrespecting the prestige of the activity they were naively undertaking.
This didn’t faze Pat and Ali though, and they did more than just prove the critics wrong. In 2011, Pat ended up writing inspirational articles about their trip for one of the most influential sailing community websites.
The inspiring truth of the story is how the couple used their childlike passion for adventure as fuel to take real action on their dreams. It’s not hard to make big, bold decisions over a night of pizza and good beers. Yet when you wake up sober to an urgent phone call from your boss and emails flooding your inbox, it’s easiest to toss that idea into the novelty pile of “forbidden dreams.” The Schultes didn’t.
Pat Schulte is very passionate about changing the traditional mindset about careers, life, and adventure. He constantly encourages his readers to stop dreaming, and start setting real goals. He adamantly declares that we must stop trying to have it all together before we start.
Your expedition doesn’t have to be fully planned before you get going. It really is as simple as opening that first door, walking through, and then deciding which door to open next, when you get to a fork in the road. Or sea.
Pat says that the best part of living an adventurous lifestyle is “avoiding the hum-drum life. “Instead living one where each day is a question mark. Where will we go? Who will we meet? Where will we eat? All of the questions that are answered before most people roll out of bed in the morning are left unanswered until we go out and answer them ourselves.”
After 4 years of sailing, Ali and Pat made the executive decision to commence circumnavigating the dry land. The year 2007 saw them participate in The Great Race through America with their ’65 Porsche 356C. They navigated great trials and triumphs of bad weather, missed road signs and the occasional heated argument. They met proud Bumfuzzle fans at the event, and learned a little about the mechanics of old-school VW’s. Overall the couple won 1st place in the rookie class, and 4th place overall, all while they savoured incredible memories for life.
After the race was over, a beautiful, hand-crafted ’58 VW Bus took them on unforgettable adventures across America and overseas to explore the sights of Europe. Through each adventure the Schultes share the details, including costs and other important information on their website, bumfuzzle.com.
When asked if the couple preferred dry land adventures or sailing the high seas, Pat declared the comparison to be as different as apples and oranges. “Boat life is fantastic,” he said. “But at the same time that you are free, you are also confined. RV life opens up the populated world to you more, you’re no longer bound by the sea to exploring only coastal areas, but at the same time you give up that feeling of freedom that you get anchored alone in a bay.”
In 2009, Ali gave birth to their daughter, Ouest (pronounced “West”). A few years later, their son Lowe, was born. It’s crystal clear from Pat’s writing that they find travelling with kids an incredibly rewarding experience. Some say having kids is your life cue to settle down, find a good school and force yourself into the routine of only travelling on holidays.
Rejecting this idea entirely, Pat and Ali figured out how to raise kids “on the road.” Their kids are now 7 and 5 and are doing better than ever. They’re travelling and learning to communicate with unique individuals of many diverse cultures across the globe. They have learned to swim, surf and ride bikes. They can fixed the VW when it broke down and are developed math skills through dealing with real-life situations like budgeting and the measurements of never-ending van renovations.
Pat recently began sharing his financial trading expertise through his website and newsletter, WandererFinancial.com. He has some advice he’d give others wanting to earn money while travelling. He reassures readers that rarely does he meet travellers who made an entire career change to fund their lifestyle. In his own words, you should “find a way to turn what you are already an expert in, into a way to make money. Trying to go out and reinvent the wheel is going to be extremely difficult.”
He also points out that you can save money, by being mindful of collecting experiences instead of stuff. The treasure is in the adventures. Pat says that travelling has changed his personality and whole outlook on life. You only need to read his interactions with his loyal online fans or listen to his podcast interviews, to get a glimpse of the kind-hearted man that he is. He’s very down to earth and writes in a raw, real and relatable way.
It is refreshing to know that you can bet on this couple to fill you in on the scary mishaps and crazy dangers of full-time travel. But you can also bet on them to have an unwavering belief in their abilities and continually muster the courage to make the most of their life. They don’t spend much time looking in the rear view mirror.
If you’re afraid of taking that leap into your own adventures, Pat wants to be clear that they’ve never made an irreversible decision that negatively affected the rest of their lives. Normally the fear is only in your mind. You must simply take your idea, make an initial decision about how to get started and figure out the rest as you go.
There’s no point waiting until your retirement money kicks in, or you win the lottery. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is uncertain. Today is what you have right now.
As of May 2017, Ali and Pat Schulte are travelling with their kids through Puerto Vallarta in a ’66 22-foot Airsteam towed with their ’68 International Travelalll. Where will they go next? No one knows. Pat says they have plans enough to keep them busy and exploring for the rest of their lives. They like to keep the public in suspense on these juicy details, to add to the fun of the adventure. Pat did leave a few hints though, from the imagination of his children. “The other day,” Pat recalled, “my kids listed all the trips they’d like to make in their lives and the list filled a page—everything from hot air balloons, to motorcycles, to spaceships. Hopefully my wife and I can help them knock a few off of that list together.”