Going Gypsy: If You’ve Ever Dreamed of A Traveling Lifestyle, the Gypsy Nesters Have Got Ideas For You

I first came across David and Veronica James, aka the Gypsy Nesters, from a blog post “Fear Conquering & Gliding in a Sailplane” which they did in the Southern Finger Lakes region earlier this year. I love stories of ordinary people facing their fears to do fun or meaningful things and I had my heart in my mouth reading about their tiny motorless plane getting towed into the air by a plane with an engine (shouldn’t all planes have engines???) and then released to waft its way down.


That tow plane is going to disengage and then…Eek! Credit: GypsyNest.com

Try to look at their pictures and watch the video at their blog without gasping or shrieking out loud!

Then in perusing their site I realized that this was just one of many, many adventures for the couple, because once their youngest went off to college they sold everything for a life on the road (or in the air, as the case may be) and they have been full time travelers since 2008. Their memoir, Going Gypsy: One Couple’s Adventure Going from Empty Nest to No Nest At All 


released in February. Kent and I are a decade away from becoming empty nesters but who doesn’t dream now and then about where we would go and what we could do? I was thrilled to have Veronica answer a few questions for Facing Forty Upside Down:


That’s Veronica James jumping out of a plane!

1) Veronica, you have jumped out of an airplane in Australia and paraglided off sea cliffs in Peru, so I know you’re very brave! But did you have to overcome any fears in order to go gypsy? And what have been the greatest rewards?

The biggest obstacle wasn’t so much a fear, but a personality trait. I was the quintessential helicopter mom, hovering over every aspect of my children’s lives. I even worked at the school that they all graduated from! That was a huge factor in our decision to go gypsy, I could hardly imagine going back to the school without the kids.

A big part of my transition — or perhaps I should say recovery — from my helicopter-mommy ways was taming my fears. I started a series on our website, GypsyNester.com, called Fear Conquering. As a mother, I was fearful about all sorts of things. I would fear for the kid’s safety, a part of the protective instinct I guess, but also for myself. I certainly didn’t want to take any chances because I feared for the kids should something happen to me (see the vicious circle I created?). Once my children became adults, I set out to purposely overcome that. They are happy, healthy, self-reliant people who can certainly survive on their own now. That makes me proud, and a lot less fearful… now let’s go jump out of a plane!

2) You’ve had so many adventures – what are your absolute favorites?

We usually say that our favorite adventure is whatever we are doing right now. I know it sounds clichéd, but we really do try to embrace the moment and get everything we can out of each new place we see. That doesn’t mean that there haven’t been many standouts along the way.

At, or near the top of the list has to be the Galapagos Islands. We expected the wildlife to be remarkable, but the way all of the creatures are so completely unafraid of humans meant that we could observe them unbelievably close up. Plus the landscapes of each of the islands are so varied and unique. We looked into an active volcano, and walked on some of the newest land on the planet. There are parts that plants haven’t even had the chance to take hold yet, as volcanoes continued to add to the landmass of the islands. http://www.gypsynester.com/galapagos.htm

Another favorite of ours is Queensland Australia. We had so much fun, and I got to do some serious fear conquering by skydiving and feeding crocodiles. http://www.gypsynester.com/?tag=Australia

We have also fallen in love with the Yucatan region in Mexico. The culture is so rich in the history of the Mayan people, and we have had absolutely incredible adventures exploring ancient ruins and underground rivers. Add to that beautiful beaches and the amazing food that is unique to the area, and how could this be anything but one of our favorite places? http://www.gypsynester.com/?tag=mayan

There are dozens more, and untold new places we want to explore, so our journey continues because we are constantly looking ahead, beyond the horizon and over the next hill.

3) For couples who can’t hit the road because they’re taking care of kids or parents are there ways to GypsyNest relationships without selling the farm?  

There are always a lot of things nearby that couples can explore in just a day trip or overnight. We so often miss the attractions right by where we live because they seem commonplace, but they can be great. We call it GypsyNesting in your own backyard.
We discovered that doing things together that neither one of us had any prior experience at brought us closer together. We learn at the same time, no one has the position of teaching the other or being the “expert” so we discuss much more. It gives us plenty to talk about. For us this has been mostly through traveling to new places, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be almost anything, and this goes along with the GypsyNesting in your own backyard idea too, dance lesson, volunteering, cooking classes, a writers group or book club, there are endless possibilities.
As for me and Kent – with 14 yo G, 9 yo R, and Mochi (our puppy!) our nest is still very full. But we’re going to be GypsyNesting it this weekend by going to the Nantucket Triathlon, just the two of us. It’s my first sprint triathlon and biking and running together in our neighborhood while training has definitely brought us closer. With the GypsyNesters paving the way, we know there can be countless adventures to come! Many thanks to Veronica James for sharing her wisdom. And what about you – will you be hitting the road this summer? Share your favorite stories here!

1 Comment

  1. Wow. Love how radical they went from empty to no nest. Good for them!