This week, I got asked by my Twitter friend @BarbAdamski why I had decided to travel for five years. It’s a complicated question, so let’s give you a complicated answer that’s hopefully easy to read.
Because I Can
The obvious answer is: Because I can. I realized one day that I’d opted out of children, marriage, and all life’s conventions because I wanted freedom. What had I done with that freedom? Not a hell of a lot.
Working too much, for starters, because that’s what happens with single-income homes in this very expensive part of Canada. Wanna have a nice place, live alone? Better be making $50,000.
It’s one thing to work as much as I have in the last two years in order to pay down debts that I irresponsibly accrued. It’s another thing to work through weekends to just save for retirement. I just can’t do this forever, and I needed to be creative about how to reduce my cost of living while achieving some of my dreams.
Because Time is Ticking
An answer with more gravity is pretty simple to understand: I turn 42 in September, the day this adventure officially begins. When my mother was my age, she would have 15 years left to live. My grandmother lived to her 90s. But whose genes do I have?
More importantly, how much time is left in my life? Better yet, how much of that time is quality time? How many dreams left unchecked? How many adventures untaken?
I love my home and this part of the world but, increasingly, I know I’ll never be content here. My body doesn’t like this climate. My soul doesn’t like the dark winters. My creativity doesn’t thrive. My bank doesn’t feel full.
Where, then, do I belong? I don’t know. How long will it take to find it? Well, I got five years to sleuth it out. Tick-tock. And who knows how many years I’ll get to enjoy it?
The only answer I got for you on that one is this: As many as I can get.
Because I Couldn’t Pick One Place
On a hot summer’s day in 2012, I recall sitting in my stifling James Bay apartment and thinking I would never accrue savings if I continued living in a region this expensive. I thought I’d have to move abroad and live somewhere cheap in order to save for my retirement after a decade in which everything I had was wiped out. Then it occurred to me: Moving abroad wasn’t punishment. It was adventure! Let’s do that!
I couldn’t decide where I’d like to live. What country? What region? Could I do what I did with Victoria and just do some Googling and go “Yup! That’s the place for me!”
I decided I couldn’t.
What if I took a year to travel around and just test-drive some places to live? That’d be doable, right?
Because The Math Adds Up
But then it occurred to me that the one thing I sort of always wanted to do was travel. What if I could see the world and save money? I mean, could that be done? If so, how?
Thanks to my research acumen, I threw myself into this question and learned pretty quickly that, yeah, logistically, I could travel the world, avoid Visas, work less, and live the writer dream. I decided I would do it and write about it at length, not just on a blog, but as a book.
By cutting my hours to 20 per week with my day job, I’d have just enough cash to meet my basic living requirements in the budget scheme I was devising. My goal is to live for $1,600 per month. Canadian. But realistically, probably more like $2,000 with the kind of eating/drinking I aspire to enjoy.
The more research I did, the more empowered I felt that I could indeed reach that goal. In fact, I decided to go one better. Not only would I live on that amount, I’d set myself the goal of saving $50,000 for my retirement during my five-year adventure.
Because I’m A Writer
Let’s face it. Anyone who knows my background of my Decade of Horribleness can tell you I lost my savings after almost dying twice, had years of unreliable employment, and many other crappy things, like rehabbing injuries and living with chronic pain for five years. I’ve gotten past a lot of that, and what I ain’t past, I haven’t given up on yet either.
For me, this travel is a story of redemption, of getting a chance to laugh in adversity’s face and say, hey, I won.
I’m taking that still-somewhat-broken, unhealthy woman with zero savings, and thrusting her straight into the gaping maw of her biggest life dreams. If it ain’t a good story now, just you wait. It sure will be.
Besides, look at the last decade or two of great writers and find me the ones who attained greatness without ever seeing different places, different cultures. Mark Twain travelled. Henry Miller. Hunter Thompson. Anais Nin. So very many writers have been shaped by the ground shifting underfoot, but I’ve already waxed poetic about the Writer’s Dream here.
Something in me says travel’s the way I’ll reach whatever potential I have. It’s certainly not getting met in this comfy living room of mine.
Because I Would Want More Anyhow
I’ve seen friends after returning to work following a year or more of world travels. Sometimes it seems like they’re a new person after the travels but the lights dim a bit once they’re back in the grind of a routine and job.
In fact, it’s something I kept hearing about — people who tried to make that re-entry to normalcy but failed. So many of them realized life on the road was what they wanted. So many of these “digital nomads” said they were just going for six months, maybe a year, and next thing you know, they’re still at it after five.
I’m not a fan of pussy-footing around. Let’s just do it. Five years. I got time to make up for, man. It adds up. It’s a life dream. I have the audacity to think it’s doable. I got nothing to lose.
There’s your complicated, multifaceted answer in the simplest terms I can muster.
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