Life Updates from J + M | Intentional Travelers

As you may or may not have noticed, we’ve been posting a bit less on this blog lately. We’re shifting our focus toward our travel blog (now travel business). We do plan to keep posting “simply intentional” reflections here but most of our travels and adventure updates will come from, like our life update below:

 New Transformational Travel Business

As we’ve mentioned briefly over the past month or two, we are in the works of launching a business around transformational travel. We are passionate about seeing our culture grow in understanding and appreciation for the world we live in, and be inspired by its beauty and diversity to become more generous, responsible, passionate global citizens.

The primary aim of our business is connecting people to resources for transformational travel. This includes a range of opportunities from long-term travel or living abroad, to vacations with a purpose. We can provide travel resources in a variety of forms. Online, we will be sharing information, products, and trip opportunities from partner organizations we believe in as well as creating our own books, blog posts, and e-guides.

We will also operate as travel consultants, which is meant to be broad and vague. It includes, but is not limited to, using official travel agency status under the umbrella organization of our mentor at Travel Team Brokers. This means we can book travel and put customized trip itineraries together for clients. Our hope is to be “team leaders” on different organized trips throughout the year and eventually coordinate some of our own small group tours to places like Jamaica.

To be completely honest, we’re not really sure what is going to come of this business. We have multiple “revenue streams” in the works and by trial and error, we’ll see which – if any – take off. As always, we appreciate your feedback and constructive ideas- a big thanks to those of you who already took our market survey!

Website and E-mail changes

In order to reflect the upgrade at from hobby blog to business, we’re getting a make-over. We’re currently in the process of rebranding with the help of a friend and colleague who has been assisting us with projects in our freelance web services business.

The website changes will be happening in phases over the next few months. We appreciate your patience if things get wonky while our site is under construction!

We’re also developing a new e-newsletter to share our best tips, travel ideas, and updates once or twice a month. You can now subscribe to the newsletter as well as choose from a daily, weekly, or monthly digest of our blog posts to make sure you don’t miss out.

Travel Plans

We’ve been in Honolulu, Hawaii since February helping Jedd’s parents make a big move to Iwakuni, Japan and fix up their condo. We’ve been running errands, packing, doing home repair projects, visiting friends and relatives, squeezing in work time on our laptops, and trying to do as much hiking as possible in our free time.

On Saturday, we’re on to our next big adventure. We’re making our first trip west of the Hawaiian islands to Asia! We’ll be staying about two and half weeks with friends who are living in Hanoi. Then we’ll make our way to Japan to visit Jedd’s parents in their new home for another two and a half weeks. In early May, we’ll head back to Oregon for the summer.

We’re planning to keep this trip very low budget. Thanks to travel hacking, our flight costs are minimal. Our accommodations are covered by the generosity of the friends and family who are hosting us in their homes. Since we’re pretty sure we’ll have another opportunity to visit these places again, there’s no pressure to see all the sights or do a lot of traveling once we arrive. Instead, we’re looking forward to seeing where friends and family live, spending time with them, eating local food, and continuing to work from our laptops!

Thanks for tuning in and being a part of our journey.


via Life Updates from J + M | Intentional Travelers.

Available for Family


Apparently I have a twin (he is my real brother, btw)

When you tell people you are going to Hawaii, immediately people think: vacation. Even if you are from Hawaii and now live elsewhere- when you return, people think you are on a break, enjoying your vacation. This trip was not a vacation (though we tried to have some fun – surfing, hiking, eating, etc…). What this trip was really about was family.


Working on the condo

When my parents told me they were going to move to Japan, I knew we had the time and flexibility in our schedule to help them. For the last month or so, it has been a full-time job to help them pack, sort through their belongings, donate items, as well as clean and repair their condo (due to unforeseen water damage). My brothers wanted to help more but their jobs wouldn’t allow them to take off the time. It got me thinking how lucky and fortunate we are to have time. What if we had conventional jobs or other commitments that didn’t allow us to take leave? What if my parents needed more help?

When we committed to living this unconventional lifestyle, to become full-time digital nomads, we did so because we knew it would give us two things we valued a lot: time, and the ability to use that time to spend with others. Often when we catch others up with what we are doing, a lot of people tell us they wish they could do something similar but can’t because of time and money.

It makes sense. One of the biggest decisions that led us to our current lives was when we decided not to buy a house. It’s not that we don’t want to at some point. But we realized that owning a home would create a financial commitment, which would become a burden that we didn’t want. In order to keep our house we would have had to both keep working full time. This is not a bad thing. It’s the conventional path. Whereas some might want to set down roots in a community by buying a home, we saw those roots as limiting us from being able to travel and have flexibility with our time and finances.

It doesn’t help that the current American work model does not allow people to spend time with loved ones on a daily basis. We spend more time at work than we do with our family and friends. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to technology and due to the changing economic climate, there are new, flexible ways to do work. The internet has made it possible to work from home and on the road. It’s also a shame that America has not adopted policies similar to Canada and countries in Europe that are more flexible and generous with leave time. What if a loved one needed extra help that would require you to take more time off than you had vacation or paid-leave for? What would you do? You could lose your job for trying to help.

As we’ve said before, there is no perfect scenario. Though it seems great that we have so much time and flexibility, there are days where I know Michelle and both wish we had a little bit more stability and security with our finances. Also, conventional employment typically offers better health care and even retirement benefits that most entrepreneurs like us struggle to afford. But the trade-off for us is a life that better fits our values of time and relationships. It’s about spending time with loved ones while we can. Michelle and I have treasured the family get togethers, reconnecting with high school and college friends, and also taking the time to enjoy each other’s company. I know a lot of couples wish they had time for that, too.

If anyone asks me what I’ll remember most about our time being “digital nomads,” I’ll say the ability to travel and being available for family.


My great Aunts play with the newest addition to our family.


pineapple Dole whip


Old Pali highway hike


Got to meet Skylar of Hi Sky hats at the H.I.M. conference – an amazing and courageous girl


Michelle and I volunteered at the H.I.M. conference photo booth


My hilarious great uncle

Attention Fellow Travelers

Many of you may or may not know that Michelle and I have been blogging about our travels in more detail on another blog called The original intent for Intentional Travelers was to document our travels, but mostly to help others learn about the joys and benefits of travel from the failures and little victories of our own experiences. Through this experience we realized there was a need and a tiny hole in the travel market for information for travelers like ourselves – those that want a more meaningful and transformational experience through authentic cross-cultural exchange.

Long story short, we are planning to start our own travel business that focuses on providing resources, training, and opportunities for those that want to do more intentional, meaningful, and transformational travel. Here’s where you come in. We are doing some research to figure out if a need for this kind of travel information exists. Do you love to travel or wish you could travel more? If so, would you mind filling out this quick survey for us by clicking on the picture or link below? Or, if you know someone that this description fits, could you share the link below?

Thanks! J&M

Intentional Travelers

The Thief of Joy

Taking a break from Facebook and Linkedin
I think I need to take a break from Facebook and LinkedIn.

I have a problem. The other day I found myself spending a couple hours browsing through friends and acquaintances’ FB timelines and Linkedin profiles.

Someone had a baby. Another person is traveling somewhere awesome. They are eating something that looks really good. He got a promotion. She’s doing something cool. They are hanging out with each other.

Seems all standard stuff right?

For the most part, social media is a pretty handy tool. It helps us stay somewhat connected and aware of what others are doing. But what happens when we start to look at other peoples’ lives and start to compare them to our own?

Therein lies my problem.

I’m sure this is an issue many of us face. It just so happens that I am the perfect combination of things that make online social networks very problematic.

First, I am self-conscious. I worry about perceptions. I think about myself a lot (narcissism, I guess). And yes, sociology friends, I analyze what I think others think about me.

Second, I love information. Particularly, new information. I want to know everything, and the internet feeds this addiction.

Lastly, I am competitive. Thanks to my family, being Asian, human nature, and American culture, I have a drive to be “the best.”

So when I spend time looking at profiles, updates, and job titles, I start to think about my life in comparison to others.

When I see that a friend of mine is a Vice-President of a huge, world-renown company, I think, “Wow. I am behind. Do I have financial security?”

When I see a post of my friends’ beautiful kids and what seems like their perfect family, I’m wondering, “Is something wrong with us not having a family?”

When I see people’s talents on display, I wonder, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could have a special talent.”

When I look at pictures of people and their amazing adventures, I wish I could do those things too.

I’m reminded of a quote Michelle shared with me a while back that reminds me how foolish and damaging some of these thoughts can be.

When we focus our attention on the things we don’t have, we take for granted the blessings we do have. We become petty, jealous, and distracted. We allow comparison to become the lens in which we view ourselves and all we see is faults, have nots, and concerns. We devalue ourselves into thinking that I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not talented enough to achieve things that others have.

We start to wonder if the happiness in our lives- the things we ought to be thankful for- is as good as others. The answer is it will NEVER be. What I mean is that you can always find something or someone that may be doing something bigger or supposedly better. Living this way, you’ll always set yourself up for failure.

We start to realize that when we compare our lives to others, we feel like failures because we are trying to live a life not our own. This was one of the biggest realizations of my life. There is no other me. We are all unique.

The best years of my life so far have been the ones when I started to make choices for me. Choices that helped me feel authentic and true to myself. I started to set goals for the life I wanted, my own bucket list. And one by one, as I achieve these milestones, I work toward the ultimate goal: living a fulfilled life, one that I am ALWAYS thankful for.

So there’s a good chance I won’t be on Facebook and LinkedIn as much as I used to be. Not because they aren’t great tools for connecting, but because I’ll be choosing to spend that time elsewhere for the purpose of bettering myself. To increase joy in my life.

Glacier National Park Highline Trail

Never Too Old

Wendell and Blanche Cake

After living in Hawaii for over 40+ years my parents said goodbye yesterday and moved to Japan.

What’s amazing about this story is that if you knew my parents, you would know that this is a big deal. When most people at their age are trying to enjoy retirement, my parents packed their suitcases (let’s be fair: they shipped a bunch of their things ahead of time), said goodbye to their family, friends, and well-established lives and headed out for a new adventure.

Wendell and Blanche

Mom & Dad

My parents are what you would call “experienced,” honored citizens. They don’t move as fast as they used to and have both admitted that traveling is difficult. A lot of times when I ask my Dad how he’s doing, he replies in his deep, low voice, “I’m tired.”

They have always been that quiet, simple couple that enjoyed watching television and movies together at home rather than going out. I was extremely happy when they flew to Oregon for Michelle and I’s wedding and again to Omaha Nebraska for my brother’s college graduation. But that was over 6 years ago. If you asked them if they enjoyed traveling, they would tell you that they are still trying to recover from the last trip.

So why would they make such a huge life change?

It all started with a dream and vision. Dad said it was about 10 years ago (Mom would probably dispute that) where they felt called to go to Japan. At the time, they had made a lot of friends with the Japanese congregation of their Church. They felt a connection to the people and culture. I recently discovered that they had traveled to Japan years ago, after they got married. It was a trip that they both remember fondly. So 10 years go, they started to dream out loud and question, “What if we moved to Japan?”

Dream on hold

Being realistic, well-reasoned people (which I am not), my parents’ dream to move to Japan seemed far fetched. They had a great life in Hawaii. Most of their family and friends were there. They didn’t like to travel and go on adventures. They don’t like change. They said they were too old.

When there’s a will, there’s a way 

But they never closed the door to their dream. No matter how crazy or unreasonable it might have seemed to them, they couldn’t shake the idea. By being open to the possibility of moving to Japan, they made big moves that helped move them closer and closer (whether they knew it or not).

Packing for Japan

Packing for Japan

One of the major changes they made was moving from their home of over 30+ years to a smaller condo. It forced them to deal with a lot of their things they had collected over the years, but more importantly, they let go of the emotional and financial attachment they had with the house.

Another big change happened when my Dad shut down his company that he had been running for a long time and started a new job. This new job had some overseas transfer opportunities that included Japan. They started talking about their dream again and Dad sent in some applications. Over the next 5 years he continued to apply until finally last year he found a match.*

*Side Note: It just so happened that the area where they are moving to in Japan is the same area where my mom’s family is originally from, and a place that both Dad and Mom had visited on their beloved trip. 

The combination of big life changes and seizing opportunities made the move possible.

Never too old

My parents’ move is very inspiring to me. I’ll be honest, when we first heard about their dream to live abroad, I thought it was a nice sentiment but didn’t think too much of it. As more and more things started to happen, I started to realize that despite the challenges they foresaw for themselves, they did everything they needed to do to make their dream a reality.

My mom stood in front of her church congregation recently and said, “When we thought we were too old to do something like this, God made a way.”

Though they realized that their age is a valid reason for not moving abroad, they never let that stop them. What my parents did to prepare themselves for their journey reminds me of one of our favorite quotes:

Don’t let any excuses prevent you from something you believe in, something that is important to you.  Make it happen.

My parents did.