The image of a vagabond is pretty straight forward; disheveled, full backpack, tattered clothes, sun kissed, wandering. While all these descriptives do justice to a portrait many long-term travelers like to identify with, does this small paradigm truly describe what traveling should look like? Does one have to adopt a minimalist approach, living out of what fits in a backpack, and never staying in one place too long, to really be a “traveler?” Do drifters and tumbleweeds have to renounce the idea of a base or bed to be drifters and tumbleweeds? Maybe it’s just me, but I think that trying to encapsulate the idea of exploration in a simple checklist may be a misguided approach.
I’m sitting now at a desk a friend gave me. The black, functional, yet tried and tired office item is in a townhouse I own, in the state where I was born. Today marks the one week anniversary of me being stagnant in said state and townhouse. After about a year and a half out of the country, followed by another 4 months on the road within my land of origin, the idea of sleeping in the same bed every night doesn’t sound abrasive. actually, clean sheets and a kitchen to cook in nearly brings me to tears. While I am back in the good ole USA, does that mean I’ve sold my backpack and told the whispering wind to shove it? No, it doesn’t. In fact, this little side trip is a way to create a travel lifestyle that fits my needs. What most of us travelers know, yet hate to admit, is that cash flow is an important part of life. Whether you are deep in the jungle in southeast Asia, or sipping some of the finest caffeinated beverages in Melbourne, money is important. The amount to which one needs and how one allocates funds is relative. On the same note, the way one finds these funds is also up for interpretation. For me, having a place that I can pay off with roommates, and also profit off of through sublets, enables me to have a small disposable income. It gives me storage space, a place to rest my head, but doesn’t nearly tie me down in a way I initially assumed. What this place does is allow me to travel and retreat based around my own terms. One of my favorite traveler writers, Wandering Earl, wrote a wonderful piece about forgoing worry of other’s judgements. For me, I’ve come to the conclusion that as much as a dig sleeping in the cheapest guest houses, bumming on couches, and frolicking in the breeze’s navigation, I do like the idea of a safety net. I like being able to have a savings account, as well as a place to rest my head when I come home to the place and people I love. Don’t get me wrong, being 27 and shackin’ up with the parents is swell, but as time progresses, and I do in accordance, there are certain things I’ve realized are important to me. The idea of investment and multiple sources of income has become an important fixture in my vocabulary. While this new person emerging scares me, he seems to have some interesting points. I also really dig the sources he cites. I think he may be on to something…
What it all boils down to is life is about finding your purpose. For some, that purpose is to drift in the wind. For others, it is to find a career, a spouse, and a house, and live that way until the rapture. For those of us in between, life is about creating the balance that allows you to flow, permeate, and hustle to your hearts content. I realize the people I respect most are those who love to travel, yet keep progressing. It’s the people who create a lifestyle where they move about freely, yet still delve into any culture that crosses their path. It’s those who can absolutely love slumming it in backpacker haven, then take a trip to the unknown, and still return to their home and loved ones for a jaunt in the frightening western world. Those people are the travelers whom I believe in.
For me, my current domicile in Colorado does just fine (that is until ski season comes and goes!) While I may be back in Colorado for the time being, I adore the fact I see this place as home. Travel is what one makes of it. If through your journeys you realize a home base is what you need, or at least a trip outside of your current trip, you are the only person capable of making that decision. The funny thing is, once you stop caring and actually follow that intuition, the more balanced you will feel, and the more opportunities to create this desired lifestyle will arrive. Photos courtesy of Getty Images, Listability, and Vagabond Journey