When I started travelling independently eight years ago, I thought I would never stop. From exploring the castle in Arundel to skiing across the Black Forest all the way to drinking snowmelt in Lake Geneve – I knew I wanted to see the world. I planned my life around my holidays, not the other way around. The longest I’ve gone without travel is a little over three months – and I was close to losing my mind by then. Constantly on the move, my friends have gotten into the habit of asking – where are you off to next? I’ve pinned so many places on my travel map, and yet my bucket list continues to grow. Bagan, Dubrovnik, Havana, Lima, Prague, Shanghai, St Petersburg, Tokyo, Toronto, Tbilisi, Vientiane… it goes on and on.
Except that I no longer live for vacations. Now that I have a high degree of control over my time – now that I can actually just up and leave whenever I want – I find less of a need to escape.
That’s what travel was to me before – an escape. A means to get away from my boring / frustrating / meaningless / (supply your own adjective here) day job. An opportunity to experience something fresh and new, to go out and get mud on my face and feel the sun on my back. A chance to come home with aches and pains from some other crazy stunt that I wouldn’t be able to do within the confines of my workplace or my apartment. Like scuba diving. Or rock climbing. Or sky diving (still a work in progress!)
It’s true what they say – instead of planning for your next holiday, plan for a life that you wouldn’t need to run away from.
I spend my time doing things that I enjoy, things that challenge me and stretch my mind and my imagination. I meet new people and hear fascinating stories. I am inspired and energized. Some days I run out of interesting things to do, so I go and look for more.
Admittedly, not all things are revenue-generating. Alright – MOST things I do are not cash positive. But I find purpose in and derive satisfaction from these non-income generating things. It sounds carefree and irresponsible, but it’s not entirely so. I volunteer and teach young children. I organize passion-driven projects and classes for others. I help bring sanity and progress to other people’s enterprises. I facilitate workshops and train grown-ups in developing corporate skills. I buy and sell equities in the stock exchange. Some of these should be able to pay the bills at some point.
I haven’t been travelling, partly because I don’t have disposable income. But I don’t feel trapped by my inability to travel. It all boils down to priorities – would I rather get a steady paycheck and slave away for 60hrs a week, or would I rather work as I please and have unpredictable cashflow? Second option, hands down. I haven’t collected a paycheck for six months, and I’m still smiling.
So far, I’ve kept to my three-month no-travel limit (only because I’ve booked some trips before I quit my day job). Come 2014, I no longer have any holidays booked. The fact that I haven’t made any travel plans speaks volumes. It means I don’t think there’s a need for me to travel just yet.
But who knows? I might be blessed with free trips next year. I’ve been more than fortunate to have only spent for 50% my total trips this year, and I’m just one trip short of my annual average.
Life is good. Even with a restricted travel budget.
Could it be that I have gotten over wanderlust?