When People tell us that “we’re lucky” to Travel Full-time…
It always makes me cringe. Maybe I could understand it if the person saying it was from a lesser-developed country. But the majority of times that I’ve been told “wow, you’re so lucky to travel” it’s comes from a fellow Canadian or American.
“Luck” is the word in that sentence that bothers me. Because luck has nothing to do with how we ended up traveling. Rather it was hard work, lots of planning, and lots of sacrifices.
When everyone was buying their first car, I was riding my bike. It didn’t make me cool with the girls but I didn’t care. Buying a car made no financial or practical sense (I lived in Montreal where you have bicycle lanes, great public transport, and where parking is always a pain).
When I finally had money I didn’t go spending it on fancy gadgets or expensive clothes. I bought a condo in an up-and-coming area with easy access to public transport. With time the neighborhood (Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal) became trendy. I sold the condo in 2017, tripling my original investment.
Every decision I made was aimed at one day leaving the 9-5 to travel. That was my dream and that why I planned, spent wisely, and made sacrifices. Yet I’ll meet people who have 2 cars and an expensive house in the suburbs and they’ll say to me “you’re so lucky to travel. I wish I could do that!”. Well, you know what? My goal to travel wasn’t a whim, nor an afterthought to the BMW in the driveway or to expensive weekends spent in the Eastern Townships.
I’m sorry if I sound angry but it just riles me. Imagine that you were a professional singer and that you had taken singing classes all your life to become a singer. We might not all love Britney Spears or Eminem but you have to appreciate the dedication to their craft. How do you think they feel when someone comes up to them (and you know it happens) and says “Geez, you’re so lucky to be a professional singer!”.
It’s not just the sacrifices you had to make to be in a position to be a full-time traveller – it’s also the everyday sacrifices that you continually make when you’re a traveller.
Travel Lifestyle Sacrifices
You Sacrifice the closeness to Friends and Family
In our case, both of our families are scattered in different places. Leaving Montreal didn’t mean leaving family. But most people have siblings or parents living in the same town/city and leaving to travel also means leaving them. Believe me, even if you don’t have a super close relationship you’ll end up feeling guilt. Thank god there’s Skype which is the next closest thing to being in the same room.
With friends it’s more difficult. Most people become friends because of a shared experience and friendships are maintained by seeing them regularly. Now suddenly you’re travelling. You have less in common and with distance and time you just no longer have that close connection. Lissette and I have both experienced this and in a way travel is a very isolating experience. You’ll miss certain aspects of “how life use to be”.
If family and social life are very important to you then full-time travel might not be for you.
You Sacrifice Your Personal Belongings
Most full-time travellers no longer have a home, a car, a bike, a pet, or plants to water. In a way it’s freedom from things… but after a few years of travel human nature comes calling and you find yourself missing certain belongings. Things I miss the most: my bike and my plants. Lissette: her bed.
Above: the living room of our condo in Montreal. We miss it sometimes…
You Sacrifice Your Comfort Levels
Being in a totally different country and away from the culture and language you know takes you out of your comfort zone. “They” actually say that being a little uncomfortable is actually a good thing – Psychology Today talks about how traveling abroad actually makes you more open to trying new things and gives you a personality boost. Remind yourself of that the next time you need to go to the bathroom and you find yourself hovering over a bottomless squat toilet on a moving train…
Things aren’t always great. And don’t expect any sympathy or support…
As a full-time traveller you’ll either be categorized as a “fat cat” with big bucks or as a “dirty backpacker” with unrealistic dreams of making ends meet writing a blog. Either way people want to see you fail. I guess that’s human nature. I wrote about that here: Bashing on Full-time Travellers – and why ‘we’ bring it on ourselves.
Travelling full-time is not easy and people around you won’t understand why you would want to live that kind of lifestyle. Some might scoff at you and make you feel stupid. But in the end, like any dream you may have, it’s your life and your decision to make. If everyone did what they’re supposed to do the world would be a pretty boring place…
The Perks of Full-Time Travel (and why you’re pretty damn privileged)
There’s reasons why people leave their everyday lives for a life of travel.
Freedom and being your own Boss
Who wouldn’t rather be somewhere in Italy than where they are every day, day in, day out? When we left Canada one of the reasons was that we could be location independent. Lissette was still working (until February of this year) and there was no need to be constrained to a physical office. And when she proposed the idea to her bosses they were fine with the idea of her working remotely.
Other people create their own online business. We’ve met tons of people over the years who do just that: bloggers making money on their travel blogs, people teaching English, others who do IT work. We even met a lawyer that does all his work online. Until we started travelling we never realized that so many people lived these “alternative” lifestyles.
It really all boils down to freedom from the everyday 9-5 looking at the same walls and faces…
The other main draw for us was to have experiences while we were still young enough. We were in our mid-40’s when we left Canada. Since then we’ve been to over 30 different countries, have met tons of interesting people, and seen some incredible sights. We also lived a year in Croatia which Lissette will tell you was the highlight of the last 5 years.
One day we’ll settle down somewhere and make that place home. In a way we look forward to that. But we never want to stop travelling. The last 5 years of full-time travel have been the most rewarding years of our lives. It was never “luck” that led us to a life of travel…but we do consider ourselves very privileged. Has it all been worth it? That’s a resounding “Yes”. But it’s not for everyone and I think you have to take off the rose-tinted glasses and seriously evaluate all the pros and cons. Only then can you judge whether a life of travel is for you.
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