You are so lucky to travel so much, you are so privileged to travel. Those are perhaps the most common things people say to me when they hear about what I do, but it isn’t luck and it certainly isn’t down to some imagined privilege. Travelling the world is a conscious choice that involves a lot of sacrifices of things other people take for granted. If you want to follow your dreams and travel the world as well, especially in the long term, then you will have to make the same sacrifices.
When I meet anyone new and they ask what I do now for a living, or the topic of the places I have been comes up, everyone always says that I am so lucky! Everyone always wishes they could do the same, they tell me they wish they could do what I do, especially when they hear that I am now a travel writer with my own platform, as if it was just gifted to me on a silver platter.
Now don’t get me wrong, travelling the world as much as I have has been amazing. I have travelled to over 100 countries on every continent bar Antarctica and I have had a wonderful life. For most of that life that was just for fun, but now I have managed to forge myself a business out of doing something I love. Now essentially I get paid to promote destinations and brands on my platform when I travel.
I am not lucky.
But this is not luck. I didn’t win the lottery and no one has gifted all of this to me on a silver platter.
I have worked damn hard to get what I have. I have saved constantly to be able to afford to travel. I have gone without all the things many people take for granted, the nights out, the takeaways, the nice things and fancy gadgets.
All of this has taken some sacrifice.
Being nomadic so much over the last two decades has meant that whilst I was swanning off around the world all of my friends back home were getting on with their lives too.
They built up careers and moved up the ladder slowly and steadily, whilst I was quitting most of the jobs I had after a few months to cure my wanderlust again and essentially starting from scratch every time I returned. I found my way of course, I managed to retrain in a career that would give me the skills and power to be able to do that without it effecting me. I managed to climb to a senior position as a nurse through sheer will and more than a little obnoxious ambition. I demanded what I wanted and took it. But that forced a different way of doing things and presented its own challenges that they never had to face as they walked up the ladder.
And now of course I have built a business around what I loved doing, but again that was a conscious choice to fit what I do around what I love. To fit my life around travel.
Forging your own path.
Travelling the world so much means that you have to essentially remove yourself from the normal paradigm of society. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, unless of course you do win the lottery, so whilst all your friends are buying houses, settling down. building up those savings accounts and living the normal hum drum life society expects of them, you are generally blowing your last penny on yet another cheap flight deal.
Not that there is anything wrong with that, I made that conscious decision to spend my efforts and money elsewhere, but there were times throughout the years when I saw my friends at home where I wished I could have my own place too. I never wanted to settle down as such, but there were times when I thought I would never own my own home like they had.
It is that fear of missing out. That grass is always greener effect. Yes they were always thinking they wished they could travel the world like I did, but I was always thinking it would be pretty cool to have my own living room with a big screen TV!
Of course now that I am no longer in my twenties, and barely have any time left in my thirties, I have managed to catch up and get my own house too, but I will be paying off a mortgage a lot later than most people.
See, there are choices that are made, trade offs, sacrifices.
And that happens in your personal relationships too. When you are travelling constantly relationships can become transitory. People come into your life and then they move on. Friendships are temporary and the goodbyes are ever present.
You meet some amazing people on the road, and have some of the best adventures of your life with them, but then those bonds revert back to being nothing more than the occasional like on each others Facebook page again.
And your love life? Well that is constantly temporary too, if you have one at all of course.
And all of that is fine, it is just something you accept. Most long term backpackers not only accept that but can enjoy it too. Long term solo travel has made me extremely self sufficient, extremely comfortable in my own company to the point where I am more than happy spending extended periods alone.
And that does have its advantages too, my relationship now is infinitely stronger as a result of my independent nature, I know who I am and am comfortable on my own, so the relationship I am in is worth giving that up for, and it makes it so much more meaningful.
I am telling you this so that you can see the positives behind the difference too. Because these sacrifices do have their down sides, they aren’t all sunshine and lollipops but they aren’t all bad either.
Long term travel is amazing. Backpacking around the world, especially solo, is one of the best adventures you can ever give yourself.
But they involve a conscious decision to follow those dreams and make sacrifices in other areas. Now don’t get me wrong, I made those sacrifices willingly and I would not change a thing. If I had to do it all again I would.
But don’t tell me I am lucky to travel as much as I do.
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