About the Author, Jen Beck SeymourDefying the mantra “work more, spend more”, Jen stepped off the corporate treadmill in 2013 and moved with her husband to Costa Rica, where she lived for 4 years and came to appreciate a more minimalistic and meaningful life. She thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2017 and in 2018 completed the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain. She is the author of six books, including her latest best-seller Chicas on the Appalachian Trail, all of which can be found on Amazon under “Jen Beck Seymour.” When she’s not hiking or writing, she enjoys playing the piano, reading, and making jewelry (check out her line of hiking and AT jewelry!). Find her on her blog, or on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook under “Chica and Sunsets”.

Hi, my name is Jen, and I’m a quitter.

In 2013 I quit my corporate job, and along with my husband, sold almost everything we owned and moved abroad to Costa Rica. It was one of the best decisions of my life!

Kind of crazy for someone like me – I’m obsessed with being on time, organized and having a well-planned out life.  Giving up a good income and moving to a foreign country without a full time job didn’t quite fit in my notion of how life was supposed to go.

But sometimes, it’s good to mix things up. And if something feels intriguing, exciting and right (after careful consideration, of course) – taking a leap of faith can be a good thing.

Of course, I did not make this decision lightly. My husband, Greg, is totally different than me, and this is one of the reasons we work so well together. While he adds spice to my routine way-of-life, I in turn, add sometimes much-needed structure to his. Greg has always been a dreamer, and frequently starts sentences with “You know, I’ve been thinking…” I always listen to him (at least with one ear), and usually respond with something like, “That sounds nice honey. Something to think about…” (and hope he soon forgets all about it).

So when he started talking about quitting our jobs, moving to a foreign country, and drinking 50-cent beer – I basically just tuned him out. He had really reached his dreamer limit this time. What kind of crazy talk was this?
But he didn’t forget about it, and didn’t stop talking about it either. So I finally started listening. Smart guy that he is, he had already done his research, and showed me on paper how we could stretch our money to make this work for us, at least for several years. I started researching on my own (I’m not a girl who just takes someone else’s word for things), and soon found for myself that it really could work.
After dozens of spreadsheets, oodles of discussions, a 10-day due diligence trip to Costa Rica – it was time to make a decision together. What did we have to lose? Greg was absolutely miserable in his job, and it was affecting his health and our marriage. We only have this one life to live. What’s the worst that could happen? We could always move back if things didn’t work out. The verdict, to my surprise? Let’s do it!
We subsequently sold most of our possessions over a period of a year and a half, saved up as much money as we could, quit our jobs, and moved to Costa Rica in June of 2013 with just 9 suitcases.
We had an amazing time living in Costa Rica. We discovered so much about ourselves, really worked at simplifying our lives, and found ourselves relaxing and enjoying life so much more than ever before. And because we had time, we discovered new passions. Greg got into photography, we both started writing and publishing books, I got into cooking from scratch and practicing yoga, and I started my own jewelry business. And the biggest new passion for us – we discovered that we loved hiking!
Hiking soon became part of our daily routine (see, routines are good!). The area in which we lived was very mountainous and was our natural stair master. We loved being out in nature and hearing parrots squawking all around us. We’d hike every day early in the morning, as this was the coolest and most quiet time of the day. We found that hiking was really good for our communication as well. We would talk about everything, including projects we were currently working on as well as future endeavors we were thinking about.

One Adventure Leads to Another

After four years of living in Costa Rica, we started feeling like we wanted a new adventure; and thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail sounded intriguing to us both. Neither of us can remember who first brought this up, but amazingly enough, I think it was me! I constantly vacillated between thinking who was this new person? and I’m an adventure badass now!

We soon were fully immersed with learning about hiking the AT and all it entailed – researching gear, watching YouTube videos of current and past hikers, and learning everything we could. We couldn’t wait!

On March 22, 2017 we started our hike of the Appalachian Trail and began living in the woods. It took us six months to thru-hike northbound from Amicalola Falls, GA, through 14 states and covering 2,189.8 miles, to Mt. Katahdin, Maine.

My thru-hike was amazing! I loved being a woman in a male-dominated playing field (one reason my trail name Chica came about). I went days without showering, didn’t wear make-up or deodorant, yet never felt more beautiful. I worked my body hard, and slept like a baby each night. I developed calf muscles I never knew were possible and lost all my cottage cheese back-of-thigh fat. I did things out of my comfort zone daily, yet I have never been more comfortable. I lost 38 pounds while eating as much as I could.
I wasn’t the fastest hiker out there, but I have never felt stronger. I learned not to compare myself to others, only to myself. I’m introverted by nature, but made friends with the most amazing people of all ages. It was one of the best times of my life, and also was the most challenging thing I have ever done.
By the time we reached Mt. Katahdin on Day 179 of our hike, Greg and I were both ready to be done, but at the same time didn’t want our journey to end. Such a strange mix of emotions. We flew up Mt. Katahdin (which is one of the hardest ascents on the AT) fueled primarily by adrenaline. It was a surreal, emotional and joyous day.

Post Trail

We had heard from previous hikers that PTD (post trail depression) was a problem. Living in the woods for 5-7 months where basics like sleeping, food and water trump “normal” things like work and the buzz of typical life – can make you want to run back to the woods. Returning to your previous life after a thru-hike is shocking and can be very difficult for many.

I took PTD very seriously, and worked hard both before our hike and while on our hike to avoid this common malady. My main objective was to have ideas, plans and dreams for both my husband and I to work on and think about – things we would look forward to doing. For us – this included some work projects as well as planning a future hike. It helped that we didn’t have cubicle or maddening jobs that we had to return to.
Our plans, ideas, adventures and dreams included:

-Writing a book together. This was fun, challenging, and kept us focused and occupied. We are both authors, but had never written a book together before (which soon presented its own set of difficulties). We liked to go to the public library and sit at separate tables to write, then have a weekly “book club” where we’d look over and edit each other’s chapters and exchange advice.

-Focusing on joy and comfort in small things – a sofa to sit on, ice cubes and water already filtered for us, a hot shower, a comfortable bed to sleep in, hot coffee each morning (we had given this up on the trail), etc.

-Making a photo book of our AT journey (through Shutterfly). This took a lot of work, but my finished product is something I’m quite proud of. I included tons of pictures, but also a small snippet from my journal for each day we were on the trail.

-Traveling to Michigan to housesit for friends (who hiked the AT the year after us) for several months, and fully embracing the Traverse City area – hiking, wineries, music, breweries, and more hiking!

-Having our book edited, working on the edits and then publishing our book!

-Dreaming, planning, and then getting ready for our next hike, the Camino de Santiago in Spain (which we did in the fall of 2018!).

-Keeping in contact with trail family, helping future thru-hikers with questions on Facebook groups and following future thru-hikers on social media.

Get “Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail: 100 Tips, Tricks, Traps, and Facts” here!

My plan worked, and although we miss the trail (the Appalachian Trail will always be the trail) every day, we never experienced any depression. We continue to live our lives on our terms, working to live instead of living to work. I may not know exactly where I “see myself” in five years, but I do know this: it will not be rising up the ranks in a corporate job that makes me miserable and sucks the life out of me.

I guess you could say, being a quitter has lead to the most amazing “winning moments” of my life!