Traveling for me has been, and still is, a way of learning about myself, meeting people, visiting new and interesting destinations, getting out of my comfort zone and, more than anything, providing endless and effortless stimulation.
At this very moment I’m sitting here on the side of a mountain, using a school bus as a makeshift apartment, listening to the comforting sounds of a small fire and my finger tips on my laptop’s keyboard. Judging by my Facebook and Instagram I don’t seem to have anything to worry about and, yes, I like to think of my life as carefree, although, it’s safe to say it’s far from that.
“What are you doing this for? Why don’t you just come home and get a real job?”
This was a recent question put forth to me by my sister and, look, I actually think this to be a fair question. I mean, when seeing my current situation through the eyes of anyone other than myself, it would be hard for even the tightest-lipped of people not to ask a few fundamental questions.
Just take a look at some of my credentials…
⦁ I’m 30
⦁ I have no car
⦁ I have no house
⦁ I have no ‘real’ job
⦁ Not a lot of money
⦁ I’m away from my long-time friends and family most of the year
⦁ No university degree
⦁ Everything I own fits into a decidedly smaller than average backpack
Jesus. This sounds terrible on paper if you are to compare it to what most people hope to have by the time they’re my age. My life is as seemingly unstable as you could possibly imagine, so I suppose it’s inevitable that I’m going to be faced with a few hard hitting questions from people who care about my general well-being and future.
When I first left Australia I can honestly say I had no idea what travel meant. At that point of my life I wasn’t trying to ‘escape’ anything in particular nor was I bored of my friends or family, I was simply wanting a new experience. This wasn’t my attempt at escaping anything per se, it was, however, my idea of adventure.
Let me put it to you like this. If I were to be particularly fond of carrots, yet all that I could find in my current part of the world were apples, would you blame me for wanting to find some carrots elsewhere. It’s not as if I have an absolute disdain for apples or anyone who prefers them, it’s just that carrots provide me with something that apples simply cannot. This is how I feel about travel.
I don’t travel to escape where I came from, I also never feel a sense of superiority because of some of the places I visit, I have just decided that normality is, for me, less than inspiring.
“Quit your job and travel the world… forever!”
Sounds pretty great, huh? Well, for the most part, it is, but I can’t help but feel as though it’s a little misleading. It takes a good amount of courage to drop everything and leave, but this isn’t a side of long-term travel that is shown to the public. Just like Facebook or any other social platform we have the privilege of cherry picking the best moments and putting them on the internet for everybody to see. After-all, who wants to see pictures of that time in Asia you had an aggressive case of diarrhea? No, thanks. Or that time you had all your bank cards stolen so you had to ask to borrow some money from a stranger. Awkward!
“When is it time to go home for good? Haven’t you got traveling out of your system yet?”
It is a very human characteristic to simplify feelings as something we need to get out of our systems before we get into adulthood. Unlike bad behaviour or enjoying birthdays, pursuing a life of perpetual travel isn’t something I figure i’ll ever grow out of. You see, the very thought of coming home to work a full time job isn’t what scares me, knowing the types of experiences I am potentially missing out on does.
Like most things in life, we make our choices out of fear or love, however just because we love something doesn’t necessarily mean we fear the opposite, we just have a preference for which experience we desire over another. I love travel, however I do not fear the reality of having to return home to what most people call ‘normal life’, I simply have a preference to be outside of my comfort zone, constantly challenging myself to learn and grow, completely void of monotony, focused on moving toward something and not away from anything else.
People sometimes struggle to understand why I feel the constant need to be exploring, why I am happy not knowing where I’ll be a year, a month or even a week from today, but as long as it makes me happy, I’ll never stop.