Most children want to be a fireman, a doctor or a princess when they grow up. I didn’t. I told my mother I was going to be a captain on my very own ship and see every country in the world.
Approximately 28 years later I can confirm my nautical skills didn’t develop at the same speed as my desire to travel… but the objective stayed the same. My life goal is making ‘the Earth my throne’, as my heroes from Metallica shout it out. I grew up in the Netherlands, but created opportunities to live in almost every continent by now. I visited 59 countries, taking my time everywhere. I am fortunate enough to have recently learned my 9th language. I graduated as a BSc and MSc Leisure Studies (specialized in tourism and city marketing) at the Tilburg University and worked full-time in the touristic sector for several years, as I felt that was the closest I could get to be full-time involved with travelling… wrong!
Once I realized this treadmill of the so called ‘civilized life’ has very little to do with life at all, I gave notice to my job and apartment, sold everything, quit my back-then relationship and left my entire life in Holland behind and booked a 1-way ticket to explore the world all alone: No plans, just let come what(ever) may.
That’s 4.5 years ago now, and I’m still on the road. In short, I can fairly say traveling not just enriches my life, but IS my life.
“I wish I could have a life like that, if I only had the money…” Well if I get a dollar (peso, real, boliviano…) for every time someone told me that, I WOULD have had an endless travel budget. Reality-check: Na-ah.
And still, I can travel, easily… endlessly maybe. Before you ask me how, I have some questions for you:
- Do you have a house… or apartment (rental, with a mortgage or bought)?
- Is there furniture in there, or something as fancy as ‘decoration’?
- Do you have a smartphone? Do you have a computer, laptop or both?
- Do you have a car or any other mode of transport besides your feet and thumb?
- Do you have a child?
If you answered ‘yes’ on one of these questions, you DO have money to travel around the world, you just decided to spend it differently.
Also, if you think travelling means checking into hotels, grabbing your travel guide and book some tours, you might be mistaken by that thing called “a holiday”. I don’t have a house or a country, the world is my home. My material possessions are those 15kg in my backpack. I sleep on couches, in hammocks, on floors, on air mattresses and luckily sometimes in beds in local people’s houses via the networks of Couchsurfing, WorkAway and Housesitting. I don’t book tours, I hitchhike there myself or take the cheapest form of public transport. I don’t expect hot showers. I don’t even count on running water anymore. I got used to washing myself standing in a plastic tub, using rain water… and what a great ecological practice that is! I don’t spend a fortune on food. As traveling showed me the beauty of our planet’s animals I decided to stop eating them (you know, I don’t eat my cat either) and veggies are pretty damn cheap. Sometimes I get my nutrition in exchange for my volunteer work in local communities, sometimes I pay 50 cents for local street food…
I got used to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. And that’s okay, because that’s where the learning begins. I’m an adult person, I choose to live like this and deal with these ‘inconveniences’ that are (better than) normal life for many people I met along this journey. It paid off more than money ever could. If there’s less material distractions or a blinding comfort zone there’s more room to grow like a person (/society/humanity) and discover life in its true colors, while revealing the opportunities to change what you don’t like about it.
This is life and what I decided to make of it. It contains no million-dollar careers, no monthly paychecks, no ongoing consumption of material goods and no stability. It contains everything else the Earth has to offer.
Until we meet.