Man Leaves Behind His Old Life To Embark On An Epic Journey With His Best Friend

Some people want little more than a sense of stability, but for people like Richard East of Tasmania, Australia, there had to be more to life. Although he was living comfortably and had plenty of friends and family, he just couldn’t shake the feeling that he was destined for something more.

So Richard did something drastic: he gave it all up. With his trusty companion by his side—a beautiful black rescue cat named Willow—he embarked on an epic adventure. Thankfully, he and Willow documented their entire wild ride!

After working his way up to a well-paying corporate job in Tasmania, Australia, Richard East was living what most would consider the good life. Yet, somehow, he just didn’t feel satisfied.

Richard felt like something was missing, but what that may have been was unclear. “I knew I had to change but I wasn’t quite sure what that change would be,” he said in an interview with Australia’s ABC Radio Holbart.

Van Cat Meow

Richard decided that the best thing for him to do was make the most drastic change possible: he quit his job, sold his house and most of his other material possessions, and mobilized his daily life by moving into a customized van.

The idea of simply “riding off into the sunset” on a whim might have sounded too good to be true in the real world, but Richard knew he could make it work. Plus, he had a wonderful traveling companion: his black rescue cat, Willow!

vancatmeow / Instagram

After all, Richard wasn’t the only one who seemed like he needed to make a change. “I vowed to look after her for the rest of her days,” Richard explained of his decision to take Willow along for the ride.

vancatmeow / Instagram

At that point, Richard still wasn’t entirely sure where his life would take him next. “At the time I was making that commitment to her, I didn’t realize what my future plans were,” he said. Soon, he’d discover their future had quite a lot in store!

In May 2015, instead of settling down in any particular place, Richard started using his newfound freedom to travel around the vast Australian wilderness. There was so much to do and so much to see…

As crazy as it might’ve sounded, it quickly turned into a life that Richard and Willow adored. There wasn’t anything quite like the feeling of being completely untethered to anything beyond a sense of adventure!

From the get-go, the cat took it all in stride. “I don’t think Willow really cared, to be honest,” Richard recalled about the start of their trip. Perhaps it was because cats were naturally free spirits? After all, Willow wasn’t the first cat to go on such a journey…

vancatmeow / Instagram

According to Richard, Willow was far from the only cat to do something like that. “You’d be surprised how many cats are traveling around Australia as we speak,” he said. “I’ve met quite a few people … with their cats.”

But Richard and Willow had to bid adieu to their new friends. Their journey took them everywhere, from the Australian coasts, various deserts, and even the Great Barrier Reef. If everything worked out as “planned,” they still had a long way to go!

That was because, from the beginning, Richard knew he was in it for the long haul. “In the back of my mind, I sort of knew it would be long-term,” he explained. “I’m talking 10 years.”

vancatmeow / Instagram

Richard didn’t completely cut himself off from society, however. He shared his journey with the world through his website and Instagram pages, and he even visited his friends and family back in Tasmania for Christmas.

However, even those closest to Richard didn’t always understand his unconventional lifestyle. “When I booked my ticket back on the Spirit of Tasmania, they thought that’s it, I’d settle back into a house and get a job,” he said.

vancatmeow / Instagram

But Richard didn’t plan on cutting his expedition short anytime soon just to regain a sense of stability. “I sold my house, I won’t be getting my job back,” he insisted. “I’m happy with what I’m doing.”

That wasn’t to say that Richard didn’t get lonely and homesick every now and then; he sometimes missed certain luxuries, like an oven. But he still felt like everything he needed was in his van, thanks to Willow. “It’s been made my home by my cat, pretty much,” he said.

vancatmeow / Instagram

With Richard’s increased online visibility, he did face some criticism for the unconventional life he gave Willow, and he was sympathetic to these concerns. “I think it’s justified, but they have to understand that she’s supervised 24/7,” he explained.

vancatmeow / Instagram

Richard gave Willow a great deal of freedom, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t careful. “When she goes out she’s 50 percent of the time off the leash, but she has a tracking collar, so if she decides to wander off, I can nab her in 10 seconds,” he said.

Richard may not have been particularly wealthy, but he was far from poor. He was able to afford his nomadic lifestyle thanks to a combination of online sales, investments, and a few odd jobs he picked up during his travels.

vancatmeow / Instagram

Richard also saved a remarkable amount simply by not being tied down to any single place. “When you don’t have a mortgage or the council rates and all your bills … you can live really simply,” he advised. Talk about the good life!

vancatmeow / Instagram

While it’s not necessarily advisable that everybody takes the same path that Richard did, it’s certainly admirable that he’s living so well on so little. Hopefully, he’ll be able to see his decade-long journey through to the end! To follow more of his and Willow’s journeys, head over to their Instagram page.

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