Leaving the treadmill with Gabi and Skip Yetter
Change is a large part of human nature and it is something many people are not fond of. However, there are some who pray for change in their lives, wanting more out of the mundane life they live every day, and of these people, only a few will actually go out and make the change happen. Married couple Frank (Skip) and Gabi Yetter were part of the few that were tired of the mundane, wanted change, and made it happen. They decided to travel and they continue to travel to this day. They even wrote Just Go!: Leave the Treadmill for a World of Adventure to tell the world of their travels and to encourage those looking for change to not just sit by, but to take action.
One would think that while traveling, publishing a book would be a difficult task; however, it may not take as long as one assumes. It took the Yetters nearly three years to self-publish Just Go!, working with an editor/ designer in Florida who they had many Skype calls and email conversations with. “We worked in coffee shops, hotel rooms, and house-sitting homes around the world and at the back of the book, we list every place we wrote in, from England to Ecuador to Italy to Cyprus,” Gabi said. The section that proved to be most challenging was on retirement statistics and attitudes, for Gabi said Skip spent many hours researching and talking to people and then compiling all of his data into a readable chapter. “We made sure to include all the details that anyone might need to know if they are planning on living or spending time abroad, including tips on finance, safety, health, and creating new networks,” Gabi said.
When it comes to traveling, Gabi said her and her husband normally just wing it and wait to see where they will end up next, but they do make plans when they want to be in a specific place at a specific time. “Since we mostly house-sit, we can look ahead and see what’s available and where we’d like to be,” Gabi said. “It’s a great adventure to be able to pick a place on the map that we want to visit and have a ready-made home there with a couple or more pets to keep us company.” However, the very first time they traveled, they did have a plan and they had a specific place in mind: Cambodia. The experience of moving to Cambodia was different for both Skip and Gabi. “Interestingly I, who have travelled considerably and lived in many places throughout my life; born in India, raised in Bahrain, lived in South Africa and England; took a while to settle into Cambodia as it first struck me as a place I didn’t much care for,” Gabi said. “Skip, on the other hand, jumped in with both feet and fell in love with it right away. I’d say it was probably a couple of months before I felt comfortable there and now it’s the country which is dearest in both of our hearts. While we love many things about it, we both agree that the people are the shining stars: gentle, childlike, warm, and embracing. It’s hard to find a population that is more beautiful, both inside and out.”
As they mentioned in Just Go!, leaving their family behind to travel was the hardest thing they had to do. Skip has two daughters and a grandson in the United States while Gabi’s family lives in England. The Yetters miss their families very much and they do whatever they can to spend time in both the United States and England to visit. “For the past two years, we’ve been house-sitting and we find that to be a fantastic way to be in the countries of our choice,” Gabi said. “We’ve been in homes in England several times and have house-sat in Italy, Greece, Cyprus, France, Spain, Portugal, and Nicaragua since we began. Not only do we meet some lovely people and visit places we didn’t know existed, we now have new surrogate pets all over the world.” By traveling and staying in so many unique and wonderful places, the Yetters are not afraid of where they travel. “Living [in Cambodia] prepared us for anything we might encounter anywhere in the world as, while it’s a gentle and embracing country, it’s also very much third-world and presents a number of challenges,” Gabi said. “We traveled throughout India, China, Vietnam, and Thailand and the only time we were fearful was in Vietnam when we were on an illegal bus with an out-of-control driver who had us fearful for our lives! In South America, we felt unsafe walking in the streets of Quito where we’d been warned about gangs, so we trusted our instincts and hot-footed it out of areas that felt dodgy.”
Even during all of their travels, the Yetters still have down time to do what they enjoy. “We both love to explore new places so we’ll generally hop in the car or take a bus to areas we want to see,” Gabi said. “Since we’re both writers, we’ll often take our laptops to coffee shops in new cities and get to meet local people or go for long walks in the countryside. Since we completed Just Go!, Skip has published a cookbook, K.I.S.S. Kooking, and has almost completed writing a novel. I have written several freelance articles and completed a history of my father’s history. We haven’t developed new hobbies, but we have developed new skills in getting to know new neighborhoods pretty fast!”
After their three year journey to publish their book, Skip and Gabi got to see Just Go! for the first time in printed form over Skype. “A copy was sent to our editor in Florida for him to proof and he called us on Skype so we could see it in living color,” Gabi said. “Naturally, it was a pretty exciting moment to see our words in print after all the work we’d put into it.” After all of the research and all of the interviews, the Yetters hope Just Go! will inspire those who wish for change and wish to see the world to get up and take action to make their dreams come true. “We interviewed dozens of people for Just Go! who have packed up, picked up, and started new lives in other parts of the world and all of them have the same message: Do it now,” Gabi said. “If you have a dream, if you want to live in another part of the world or even just explore new horizons for a short while, find a way to make it happen. It’s easier than you think and people around the world are kinder, more hospitable, and more embracing than you would imagine.”
Originally published at www.examiner.com on January 9, 2016.