Here are the brutally honest answers to some of the questions that people frequently ask me about my traveling lifestyle choice.
How can you afford to be constantly on holiday?
The answer is I can’t. I have a lot less money than almost everybody who asks me this question, I just know how to spend it wisely. The main trick is to buy the plane tickets now and worry about the rest later. Money will always find a way to work itself out, and if you can learn how to live by spending virtually nothing (which means occasionally heartbreakingly saying “no” to a trip to the pub) then it is perfectly possible to work for minimum wage for 6-8 months and to travel for the rest of the year, which answers the silent part of that question – I AM NOT CONSTANTLY ON HOLIDAY!! I work, often what are considered terrible jobs (although I make the most of them) and often I work 60-80 hour weeks (although not right now, I feel like I’m kinda cruising it…) and instead of buying nice clothes and furniture, I spend all my profits after living expenses on plane tickets, experiences, and guitar strings – the fuckers aren’t cheap.
Are you some kind of traveling slut?
Oh yes. everybody who packs up their bags and gallivants around the world does so because there is a sea of horny backpackers who have exotic international orgies in remote and tropical locations. Have you ever had a tengy on an Indonesian beach? Ever been left chained to a sex swing in a Canadian pine forest for the local scouts to discover? There is nothing satisfying about stunning nature, intricate cultures, and international flavours, and absolutely no feeling of self-worth gained from traveling. It is all about discovering just how flexible your body is and just what it is capable of in erotic situations. I mean come on guys, while some people notoriously work their way up the East Coast of Australia, drifting from party to party and sleeping with anything with legs (damn that’s a sexy table), the majority of us aren’t representing the pinnacle of promiscuity that people believe we are, just because we are without an anchored home. Sometimes relationships are a little harder to define as there are long distances and often they have definite endings in sight, but I’m definitely not a slut.
What is your favourite country?
Every country offers something different, and for that reason, I will never be able to answer this question. New Zealand will always feel like home, but I prefer Canadian landscapes, Ecuadorian coffee, German mentality, Dutch cheese, British humour, Turkish cuisine, Australian beaches, Belgian beer, Austrian sausage, Icelandic accents, Swedish history, American enthusiasm and the list goes on and on. My answer will always be ambiguous, and you will just have to deal with this. And yes, I did just say something positive about Australia and England….
Do you ever miss being home?
Sometimes… sometimes… I also miss traveling when I am home. I always want what I don’t have, it’s a fucking huge inconvenience. If my home ever misses me, it doesn’t make much effort to tell me so.
When are you going to settle down and get a real job?
Oh this is my favourite question that I hear. NEVER!!! Okay, maybe one day, but I would definitely rather be the guy living in a shack with an endless supply of stories instead of the guy in the mansion who is boring as hell. Life shouldn’t be measured based on somebody’s monetary worth, it should be measured based on somebody’s happiness. What’s the point in hoarding money just to die rich? And yes, I do sometimes wish I had a stable job and a career-based mindset, but I also know that if I had that, I would want to be traveling again. In fact, I have settled down, I’ve had the “real job” and I threw it all away to start whatever this can be defined as. I think I’m overall more satisfied and happier than 90% of the people with “real jobs” who ask me this question, so fuck you! I have a rather impressive looking CV anyway filled with a whole plethora of interesting skills that I have acquired from doing anything and everything and hey, some people do make a full-time career out of traveling, otherwise, there wouldn’t be a travel industry.
Are you doing this to find yourself?
Last time I checked, I was right here.
You’re so cool to do this now while you are young, the world is your oyster! I wish I could do it to, but you know, life.
The world is not my oyster, I’m her dirty little bitch, and I’m always begging her for more. Also, you’re never too old to go traveling, and “but you know, life” is not an excuse not to do it. If you want something, whatever it is, fucking go and get it. Many corporations offer unpaid leave of up to and exceeding one year, and if not you can always make the most of your annual holiday. Also, the world is changing; you no longer need to be settled in a career for life. It is expected that you’ve had more than ten jobs by the time you’re forty, instead of ten years in the same job by the time you’re forty, so if you really want it and can’t take the time off, save a little, buy a ticket, and quit your job. Life is too short to make excuses, and you could be hit by a bus tomorrow.
Do you get sick of living out of a backpack?
Honestly, yes. A backpack is a black hole where dreams go to die, but you can unpack when you settle down for a week or more I guess. It helps if you have minimal stuff as this is somewhat less stressful, and when your entire life weighs less than 17kg, guitar included, it’s a good feeling. There are many problems with the backpacking life, but ultimately, the pros outweigh the cons, and I will always be willing to have a backpack full of unorganised chaos in exchange for some fresh mountain air. I’m a dirty hippie, I know, but I love it.
Do you ever get sick of lying on the beach?
Why yes, so sometimes I climb a mountain.
How will you justify this to future employers?
Actually, this is a good question. While other travelers will understand your motivation and the fulfillment you gained from going nomadic, a more corporate mind might misinterpret extended periods of travel as just you being sat on the beach taking photos of your legs looking like overcooked frankfurter sausages and posting it on Instagram. Apart from smiles and happy memories, you have to look at what else you have gained from traveling that is notable from a professional perspective. A few skills I have really developed have been organisation (limiting your life down to 17kg, booking hotels and flights & creating itineraries), independence (travelling and supporting yourself alone, cooking for yourself, providing for yourself, being willing to spend time alone and realising you can accomplish almost impossible tasks without anybody else to rely on), problem solving (something always goes wrong and often, without a safety net, you have nothing but yourself to rely on to fix it), networking (creating a huge multinational group of friends) and communication (learning how to speak clearly to people speaking your native language as a second language, and learning other languages) amongst many other skills (drinking copious amounts of beer with strangers). You can also highlight all of the work that you have done while traveling and all of the personal goals you have accomplished. It doesn’t have to be a year of wasted time on your CV, if you word it right.
Are you sure you’re not always on holiday?
I worked for ten and a half hours on Monday outside in the rain. Do you want my job?
Why do this?
Some people are perfectly satisfied with a stable career and their yearly package holidays, and that’s absolutely fine. But I am not, and I have several people weighing on my conscious all of the time who don’t have the ability to see the amazing things this world has to offer. One of them never even had the ability to breathe, and I feel somewhat responsible for living twice the amount of life for my sake and for her sake too. But ultimately, this is for me. I am curious, I am adventurous, and I am looking for ways to develop my body and my mind in ways that a career and a stationary lifestyle cannot satisfy. I say this frequently, but there is no safety net when traveling, and when things go wrong (when, not if) they really go wrong, and you do endure the worst and most humiliating moment of your life. But when you stand on top of the mountain, when you watch the sunrise over the Pacific, when you listen to the sounds of the Amazon at night, when the helicopter breaches the rim of the Grand Canyon, when a black bear is blocking your entrance to your hostel, when the sky is filled with balloons over Kapadokya and ultimately, when the right adventurous and curious people just step into your life, you realise that all of those times waiting with your thumb up at the side of the road in a typhoon, all of those long, cold and lonely nights in your one man tent, all of the long distances, all of the heartbreak, all of the money issues, all the instability, all of the car crashes, all of the 80 hour work weeks and all of the pain are just a drop in an ocean of exuberance and joy.
I will settle down, but when the time is right. For now, why settle for the ordinary when I can take the extraordinary?
– Tom @ indieroad