A free-spirited American couple with the guts to pack up and go on a moment's notice is discovering how crucial skills like agility, flexibility and resilience are in extraordinary times like these.

Liezl Van Riper, 44, and her husband, Viet Nguyen, 49, took their kids out of school last fall to let them learn some life lessons on the road, subscribing to a motivational mantra that spontaneous travel is the most valuable type of travel.

When the COVID-19 pandemic changed not only their travel plans but their lives for the foreseeable future, they decided to surrender, accept and act by making a soft, if temporary, landing in Japan.