Stories about dropping everything to travel are all over the internet. It always sounds so adventurous and people make it sound so easy.
Well, it’s definitely adventurous. But it’s also definitely not easy.
Almost five years ago, I left everything behind to travel. Well, not everything. I did bring a boyfriend, a backpack and about four thousand dollars. I thought that I would be one of those people; you know, the ones who wander aimlessly and always have the most interesting stories to tell. Well, I backpacked for about six months before I decided there was no way I could do it long-term. It wasn’t just the fact that I was over living in a van after 6 months; for me, continuing to drop everything to travel was a really bad idea.
I still haven’t returned home for more than a month at a time, but I’m not the nomad I thought I’d be.
I’ve had a pretty amazing few years. I’m building a pretty solid career with a great company; I’ve married the boyfriend I started my adventure with and we travel still an abnormal amount for a career-focused couple.
You gain a lot by travelling frequently, but you also give up a lot. I’ve missed so many weddings, babies, holidays and birthdays. I haven’t had a white Christmas in 5 years and am lucky if I get to see my family once a year. That part sucks. I live half a world away, which means that going home is expensive and quickly drains my vacation balance for the year.
You hear people say things like ‘live for the moment’ and ‘live life for yourself’. Part of me loves these quotes. They make me feel empowered. You can probably find these quotes pinned on one of my Pinterest boards (it’s really likely). But when I really think about what those quotes mean, they’re usually pretty flawed.
I lived for the moment throughout university, and ended up with an unnecessary amount of student loan debt and way too many selfies in da club (seriously, I now use the Facebook “on this day” feature to cleanse some of the outrageous photos on a regular basis). I had a blast, but did I really need a new outfit each time I went out? Absolutely not. But I was living for the moment, so I bought what I wanted.
I think about this when it comes to giving up on everything else to travel.
Not that that’s a bad thing. But, for me, I wanted to do other things too.
If you give up everything to travel, you really need to think about whether it’s the right choice for you. For me, leaving everything behind in 2011 was the one of the best decisions I’ve made. It has completely changed my life and opened my eyes to the big wide world out there. But deciding to get back into a lifestyle of routine, complimented with travel, was also one of my better decisions.
I have so much respect for the individuals who do things like hitchhike across South America for years or spend 12 months living in hostels throughout Asia. I love hearing their adventures and I love following their blogs. Just because it wasn’t for me, it doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing for others. Besides, they really do have the best stories!
What about you? Have you given up everything to travel and are still living the dream? Or did you change your mind partway through because you wondered if it meant giving up on some things later in life? I am always curious to hear what other people have experienced!