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BYUH alumni say their desire to gain meaning inspired them to travel the world with their three kids

Jonathan and Alyssa Scalese stand on a stone street with their three children

After feeling as if they were accumulating too many physical possessions and not enough memories, Jonathan Scalese and his wife Alyssa, both BYUH alumni from Maryland, decided to sell their house and cars to travel the world.

The couple took their three young children, in a journey that will last a year. Only seven weeks into their travels across the world, the couple and their children said selling everything and traveling was the most rewarding thing they could do.

Jonathan Scalese, a BYUH 2015 business graduate, said, “We have always dreamt of traveling, but couldn’t justify leaving behind a car payment, house payment, bills, etc. So, we sold everything. Our cars, beds, clothes, and we also rented out our house. On the trip, we took only 5 or 6 outfits each and two pairs of shoes.

“One major reason we decided to leave everything for travel was feeling like we were accumulating so much ‘stuff’ in life and not enough memories. We were spending our money on things that didn’t bring us joy. We also wanted to be together as a family and have an adventure. Traveling has always helped us feel closer and more united as a family as we meet new people and explore new places.”

In only six weeks, the Scalese Family visited six countries, including England, Italy and Croatia. “We will be traveling to 26 countries over this entire journey,” Scalese explained. “The whole family finds value and joy in spreading good throughout the world and we're doing service projects along the way.”

With a self-running pest control business he built up over the last year, Jonathan Scalese said his family will not need to worry about finances very much as they travel.

Alyssa Scalese, an alumna of BYUH who graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s in exercise physiology, commented on how she and her husband’s spirit of adventure came from their marriage.

“The first time we traveled together was to move to BYUH two weeks after we got married. Since then, we have traveled a lot and love the closeness it brings to us as a family, and the opportunity to experience new things together. Adventure brings us so much happiness, and that’s the point, right?”

Jonathan Scalese explained their children are still young, ages 3, 4, and 9 months old. “They love it now and are great travelers. The kids chose a few small toys they could carry in their backpack.”

All the Scalese Family’s possessions are now able to fit into one checked bag and two carry-ons.

“We have been infinitely happy being surrounded by each other than when we were surrounded by all of our things. Every day is not a vacation for us, but we do make time for an adventure every single day,” Jonathan Scalese continued.

“People everywhere could do this regardless if they are traveling or not. The years are too short to let the days of our lives pass us by without an adventure. We still keep somewhat of a schedule for the kids as we would before, but now we have 3 to 6 hours a day where we explore our new city or go on an adventure together. It’s been a life-changing experience.”

Four-year-old, LJ Scalese, the couple’s oldest child, excitedly said his favorite place the family had visited so far was “the London Eye,” while Kaden, 3, exclaimed, “The beach!” LJ Scalese added one of his favorite experiences so far was “going on speed boats.”

Jonathan and Alyssa Scalese said their favorite visit was the island of Brac in Croatia, which, according to Alyssa Scalese, was an “incredible place with incredible people, culture, and food.”

Jonathan Scalese added, “Part of the fun is we don’t tell family, friends or Instagram until we arrive at our new cities, so you’ll have to stay tuned to find out.” The Scalese Family posts updates about their journeys on their Instagram page, @fullheartedtravelers.

As to the future of their journeys as a family, Alyssa Scalese said, “We will never fully stop traveling. Our oldest, LJ, starts school next year, and so we will have to cut down to one or two trips a month, and then we will still travel all summer.”

When asked how the travels around the globe would set his family apart from others, Jonathan Scalese responded, “Every family is inherently different, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. For us, this has helped our family grow closer and learn to be happy with less, which was really important for us.”