Oh, the downfalls. But first, there are plenty of great positives to living a life on the road.
I met one in particular. A woman from Australia, Athena, that I couldn’t forget if I wanted to. She challenged me. She intrigued me. And she showed me that ‘world expedition’ was possible -very possible in fact.
We met in Alaska, the first time I left Canada -she’d been away 10 years.
I’d spent 6 weeks hitching from southern Alberta to Seward, Alaska. I met Athena in Denali National Park and we carried on to Seward together then split ways in Anchorage. She told me about her hitching around Turkey. Her dancing in Ghana. Her stories were endless and I couldn’t even grasp the thing at the time. 10 years later and I’m just about to leave Istanbul to hitch across Turkey and then walk for 6 weeks to Georgia from southern Armenia (because of the fucking Canadian-Iranian relationship these days).
1. She’s gonna go home. Or she’s gonna move on. And you might be too stubborn to follow.
There is no doubt that along the road some people find their match. But if you’re a determined nomadic, chances are, that partner of yours is gonna love the ride for a while but eventually want to go home. And that home might be halfway to the moon compared to where you want to be.
A shield might even come over you. After ‘losing’ countless friends, returning home, it will get harder to create such liquid relationships.
2. Your mates are all gonna get pregnant, married and into mortgages.. maybe this isn’t a negative, actually
And your going to miss all those celebrations (almost all). All the stag parties. Your mate that had a baby before you left. That kid might be a teenager before you see him again. He’s gonna be halfway through his mortgage loan and your not even gonna have a job -or any concrete experience to speak of.
3. Your career will likely go on a long-tern hiatus
Basically, connected with the last. Taking off for a bit, a gap-year, you’ll go home and start your career. But if you take off and poke around, you might end up working in grape farms and orphanages for a few years and lose sight of that ‘career’ you spent years studying for. And when getting back into ‘the real world’, its gonna be a long fight uphill for a while.
4. You’ll be earning less than you did in high school
In Bratislava, I made less than the average citizen in that town. About 200 Euro a month! Haha. I cooked dinners for 3 bucks a shot, to make enough money to have a few drinks and whatnot, at a hostel. I did private ESL classes, in order to get experience and make up the difference. Eventually got up to about 500 a month; thats still half the minimum wage in Vancouver.
The further you stretch it, the more you will have to camp. Unless, you can find the ideal, big money job wherever you go, it will be very tight to keep going long-term. That means money will be scarce for a while. And, seeing how you want to travel as long as you can, you’ll save everything you can and then hit the road and either camp or run out of cash after a few weeks.
6. An average age of about 22 years old
Depending on where you are, most of the ‘travellers’ are between 18-25 (I’m 34). It’s hard to relate all the time with this style. These kids (s0me of them), for the first time, leave their parents house and mightn’t even have worked, but a part time job a couple hours a week in Uni or high school.
7. People will not take you seriously
Not only will managers fear hiring you, they will also take advantage if they can. Watch the pay stubs. And make sure you get paid! And not only work, but women/men will see you as a booty call. Whether or not that is what you want, that’s all you get because that’s all you can offer. Look at your history. Pretty obvious isn’t it?
8. You will be judged for running away
There will be more than a few times people will feel sorry for you, because you are so far from your family, especially in Italy or other countries where family is so controlled. Not close. Controlled!
Anyways, people will also see a little boy/girl who is running away from life, unwilling to be responsible for anything and unwilling to take anything serious for longer than a few minutes. If you want to be white collar and find some cushion, good for you. I want to get as far away from that cushion as possible, then create cushions, that are mine. So I don’t belong to any of these corporate blow-hards.
9. You will miss those close to you, and a few of them might die, and you’ll never see them again
Sadly, everyone dies eventually. I missed being there for ‘brothers’ of mine when they needed someone. I’m not going to get into it all, but just say, you can’t just run home, when you want, when the flight is twenty hours.
And if you want to travel 6 months on your 1500 euro (or whatever you’ve saved up working) then buying a flight home, will become your ‘6 months of travel’ and I am yet to sacrifice that. Even if its hard and it hurts.. We all make sacrifices.
10. You will forget how to communicate with people
You will make more and more mistakes with your own language. You’ll get to the point where you will be speaking in a broken language, and I’m sure that will bother you from time to time. My slang and local humor, from home, is just about gone. My accent is so mixed up and confusing, I am far from the speaker I once was.
There will be a point, maybe, where you’ll feel so foreign to everything around you and everyone; you’ll maybe go through a period, where you’ll feel so different and strange and demented and misfit, that you might stop talking to people full stop. Tired of answering the same 3 questions… ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Where are you going?’ ‘Why did you come, here?’
Every choice has it’s demensions. For better or worse. And better to live and grow, then live in denial. While there are some negatives, the positives (for me) certainly outweigh the negatives (for the time being).
Can’t say I enjoyed pissing out my ass 8 times in 18 months in Asia though. Bein sick, alone, or with someone that is too selfish to step back a moment, is a very hard situation, and hurts a great deal. But those hills which you get over, you can run down smoothly on the other side.