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What No One Tells You About the Travel Lifestyle

People ask me about my job and what I do with my time. I try to explain, although usually don’t fully, that I work part of the year and travel the rest, especially since my writing allows me to be anywhere with WiFi. After graduating from college, I didn’t get the office job that many of my classmates found. Instead, I used my graduation money to go traveling. After that, I was hooked, ready to find a way to keep up the momentum, to continue traveling indefinitely. I’ve done so more or less for the past five years, but not without sacrifices.

You May Need to Live at Home

travel lifestyle

Dad Helping Me Post Surgery, Credit: Amy Eubanks

I travel between one and three weeks out of every month for the majority of the year. This means it would be financially irresponsible, not to mention wasteful, of me to pay rent for my own apartment. Sometimes I feel guilty about this, especially when people point out that I’m letting my parents pay for most of my meals and not paying rent there. But then I remember that it was their support and hospitality that allowed me to visit five countries and seven states in the last year. Living at home is the trade off of the travel lifestyle, one I’m happy to take, especially as I’m close with my family. I couldn’t have made it through my foot surgery if I didn’t have my family to take care of me!

You’ll Resist Acquiring More “Things”

travel lifestyle

All I Need is a Book and the Beach, Puerto Rico 2014, Credit: Amy Eubanks

Most of my belongings required for a place of my own, like the furniture and kitchenware, are tidily boxed into the basement. I can name every item of clothing I own and there are no boxes of winter clothes stored in the attic. If it doesn’t fit into my drawers or closet, I don’t need it. Every time I get something new, I get rid of something else. I’m a constant purger due to my years of traveling. If I don’t use something on the road, I immediately get rid of it unless it has┬ásentimental value. This can be a fault when it comes time for a special occasion and I wear the same black dress to every single one. And my work clothes consist of something I call “business casual sweat pants.”

You Can’t Stop Starting┬áStories With “When I Lived in Australia…”

travel lifestyle

Harbour Bridge Pylon, Sydney 2011

I’m sure most of my friends and family are sick of hearing stories like this. It probably makes me sound pretentious, but in my head, I’m making a connection to whatever is happening with something I’ve experienced already. I assume everyone wants to hear about the time I came face to face with a mother kangaroo in a national park in South Australia or the time I rode an overnight bus in Turkey where strangers offered me food and told me when to get back on the bus. But sometimes, people just want to talk about normal things like the weather or sports teams.

You’ll Be Able to Deal with Almost Anything

travel lifestyle

I Survived the Road to Pai, Thailand 2014, Credit: Sammi Eubanks

Rolling with the punches is the best quality traveling has given me. I wasn’t low key back in my early days on the road. I was a particularly picky eater, subsisting mostly on french fries and cheese. And while there are some things I won’t eat now, due to still being picky and health reasons, I can always find something to eat on a menu. I can also sleep almost anywhere, whether it’s in a swag in the outback, on an overnight bus or in a dirty hotel room. Delayed flights, missing reservations, sketchy accommodations and language barriers are nothing more than an obstacle to overcome.

You Don’t Know How to Behave in Social Situations

travel lifestyle

Who WOULDN’T Date Me?, Portugal 2012, Credit: Alison Garland

This one may just be me and my social awkwardness, but I haven’t gone on a date in at least three years. I find that my travel accomplishments intimidate some people, especially if they haven’t traveled much. Or maybe it’s because I don’t mind being alone. I eat alone at restaurants without shame, despite some uncomfortable dining encounters with strangers. I can keep myself entertained easily, especially when it comes to wandering a new city alone.

You’ll Do Almost Anything to Keep Traveling

travel lifestyle

Washing Glasses, Australia 2011, Credit: Jana Loewen

Washing dishes, babysitting, selling vital organs are just a few things you might be willing to do to keep traveling long term (minus that last one). I’ve worked restaurant jobs I loathed for crappy tips, sold my belongings on Craigslist, wrapped Christmas gifts at a department store, sewed labels on jerseys, ran errands for a law firm and worked as a substitute teacher (although this one is fun!) all in the name of travel. The end goal is another trip, so I can compartmentalize the tasks in front of me most of the time.

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7 Responses to What No One Tells You About the Travel Lifestyle

  1. Jo April 14, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    These are all so true! I especially have such trouble not starting all my sentences with “When I was in…” It can be a bit depressing when no one cares as much about your travelling as you do! I guess that’s the beauty of blogging, connecting people who are willing to listen to each other’s stories!

    • Caroline April 14, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

      Haha so true, Jo! Thanks for reading.

  2. Nicole April 14, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    Haha, this was a great read Caroline and I agree with all of them except the buy something/chuck something rule!

    I also don’t know how to behave in social situations, probably stemming from my social shyness, but I agree that some guys, and more often than not my female friends, find it really strange that I can enjoy going out by myself and I’m quite comfortable being by myself for extended periods of time.

    Recently I was connecting with a friend from high school who was questioning me about what I was doing while in my hometown and who with. I wish I had a camera when I told her that I going to the cinemas alone because she was flabbergastered (that word needs to be used more often!) and then proceeded to spend five minutes trying to wrap her head around why I would want to go by myself (any movie you want, any seat I want AND you don’t have to share the lollies, duh!)

    • Caroline April 16, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

      I have had the same conversation, Nicole! People definitely don’t get it.

  3. Ingrid @WorkTravelBalance April 15, 2015 at 3:26 am #

    Love your blog!

    Such a great post! I think it’s relevant even for people who don’t travel full time. I work, but try to travel whenever I can. I’ve definitely been in social situations where people just don’t get it. They don’t get why I would spend all my money on travel, yet they wouldn’t question the same spending on clothes, luxury cars, or excessively large homes. It’s a funny world out there!

    • Caroline April 16, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

      Thanks, Ingrid! Yes, definitely some crossover. Trying to explain your priorities to people who don’t share them is like speaking another language sometimes!

  4. Andrea May 28, 2015 at 7:23 am #

    I can’t totally relate to this. I do wish I could do a little more solo travel, wandering the streets on my own lost in my own thoughts.

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