When I tell people I meet that we have been travelling the world for the last year and are now living in Mexico for another, and after that, “Well, we don’t really know yet, but probably South America”, they either look at me like I’ve just grown an extra head, or look at me longingly and say, “I wish I could do that.”
I usually tell them that they can, if they really want to, and proceed to tell them about how we sold our home, our cars and all our stuff; how Tyrhone worked two jobs and banked every cent from the second job as well as half from his first job; about how we stopped going out for dinners or buying new clothes or… (by then, their eyes are usually glazing over, because it all sounds like too much hard work, and they’re right because it did involve hard work, at least it did for us).
And that’s where I can usually tell if that person really does want a life of long-term travel or not, because if they did, they would want to know how and why, their every cell tingling with the idea of maybe I could do it too! Tell me how!
Because that’s how I felt when the spark was first ignited within me, a slow burn fueled by a life-long love of travel that soon grew into a roaring fire, stoked with dreams of a life beyond mortgage payments and ‘getting ahead,’ along with the knowledge (though I resisted it) that my life was meant for something else.
What, exactly, I didn’t know (and still don’t!), but I sensed it involved travelling in a way I’d never experienced before, without a plan, an agenda or an end date in sight. I wanted total freedom to experience the world without labeling it an ‘around the world trip’ whereby we would travel for a set amount of time, then return to the same lives we had before. Whilst it may sound greedy, since for some people, that would be a dream come true… I wanted more.
I now live in a country that I had never even visited until six months ago; I’m part of a community and picking up the language (slowly). I have friends here I feel I’ve known for years who I never would have gotten to know if I was just passing through.
Whilst sometimes I take it for granted and get bogged down in my own self-imposed fears, for the most part, every day brings me some sort of simple, unexpected joy that I am so grateful I get to experience.
Like seeing this guy have a quiet moment at the beach yesterday…
I think, “Why isn’t everyone doing this?” or “How come we get to do this, what makes us so special?” and then I remember there is nothing special about us, we just allowed ourselves to see outside of a prescribed notion of success, to place our values on experiences rather than material accumulation, and that (and this was a big one for me) a new pair of shoes or shiny sunglasses won’t actually make me more secure/happy/worthy/successful!!
And that is what it all comes down to, for me – a shift in values from having stuff to experiencing stuff, from looking a certain way to being the person I am inside, from pretending to know it all to becoming a student of the world; from being afraid of failure to relishing the lessons the world has to teach me, and from seeing my dreams as mere fantasies to recognizing them as messages from universe, calling me to become the person I am meant to be.
Because no one else can walk the path that is set out for us, or learn the lessons we are called to partake in. No one else can take our falls or celebrate our victories. They are ours for the claiming, should we take the risk to be who we truly are.
And that has been the key to this long-term travel adventure, for me.