I have always loved travel. It began with long car trips as a kid, and bloomed with my first venture abroad when I was 11. The simple adventure of just going somewhere new still makes me buzz. All modes of transport appeal to me: road, rail, sea or sky. The practical demands of travel allow me to solve the puzzle of time, money, entertainment, and maps. I love maps! Then, of course, is the excitement and curiosity of going somewhere new, or the joy of returning to a favorite place.
In the last couple years, I've discovered many long-term nomads out there, although I think one of the first I came across was Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt. Then came Lauren Juliff, of Never Ending Footsteps via one of her many travel horror stories. There are many diverse backstories out there, too many to keep up with now. I began to fantasize about following suit, cramming the essentials into a bag lashed to my back and snapping up a one-way ticket.
Matt wrote a great article about overcoming our fears of long-term travel, which is filled with excellent points to contradict many reasons - I mean excuses - we create to not take the leap. The fears are numerous: fear of running out of money, being lonely, alienating people you care about, and generally making a colossal mistake. I think age is another fear; the long term nomadic lifestyle is often perceived as most ideally suited to carefree 20-somethings or kids on a gap year. They are often perceived as having the energy, lack of financial commitments, and flexibility in life to pursue such a lifestyle.
When I first began exploring the possibilities of going nomad, I had no choice but to stare down the very obvious fact that my boyfriend of [then] 2 years simply does not share the same desire. More than that, I've had to be honest with myself about a few things that lead me to believe, that right now, going the Full Monty is not the right fit for me. I love having a home - even a small one - and our pets. A few months away from that sounds fantastic, but not an interminable stretch of time. And I really, really could never give up our three little monsters.
Also: my bed. Seriously, I am hopelessly attached to my bed. I realize it sounds silly, but that thing is frickin' amazing. Many of us recall the awesome feeling of coming home from a long trip and sleeping in your own bed. It's my Cinderella slipper as a mattress. I could live in a tiny one room hovel, but as long as that bed was in it, I'd be just fine.
So where am I going with this? I pose this question: can you call yourself a true traveler if you have pets, a non-traveling partner, and regular long-term rent? I sure hope so, because that's what I'll be doing for the foreseeable future. Oftentimes I'll be solo, other times I'll have my boyfriend along. It may be a few days, weeks, or months at a time, but I am committed more than ever to weaving travel into my current life. Just as one should not wait until the "right" time to set off on a journey without a defined end, I don't believe we should wait until we can travel in the manner we (and some others) perceive as the "right" way.
In five or ten years, these things may very well have all changed. Perhaps my boyfriend will have developed the same passion for travel that I possess, or (hopefully not!) we'll have moved in separate directions. The pets will eventually be in the great Park in the Sky, and I'll choose to sacrifice The Bed to the horrors of storage (seriously, I'm never giving it up) for at least a while.
After all, it's never too late to pull up stakes and make your only permanent address virtual. Right? A little bonus below: a short list of the travel blogs that inspired me very early on. They are all great sources for inspiration, practical information, and exploring each traveler's unique perspective and experiences. Feel free to suggest your own favorites or thoughts in the comments section.