“There goes the fear again, there it goes. You turn around and life’s passed you by.” – The Doves
While I play one of my favourite tunes over and over again on my iPod (The Fear by the Doves), a fear has struck deep within me. I don’t like being stationary. I don’t like staying in the same place. I hate the same routine every day. The daily grind, the same time alarm, the same job, meeting the same people. What do I have? A fear of settling down. A real fear. For 7 of the last 12 years of my life I have constantly been moving around, I haven’t settled anywhere just yet. The other 5 years of that, I never stayed longer than 3 months in any one place without at least a trip abroad (the only exception to this is that from October 2009 – October 2010 I stayed in one country for the whole year – Australia). I can’t imagine a life without travel. I don’t want a life without travel.
I’ve had time to reflect on this as well, so it’s not just a flash in the pan notion that I have concocted up this morning over a cup of the Lady Grey Tea against a Hong Kong sunrise. Or the past few days while typing up articles against my window view of a night sky that forever seems magnificent.
When I reached my 100th country a couple of months back, most people thought that I would now want to actually stop for a while and possibly even “settle down”. But it’s not going to happen. As people, we are in control of our own lives and the most important things are health and happiness. I don’t want to settle down as it will not keep me happy. A lifestyle of travel provides me with the happiness I crave. Everyday is an adventure, and so it should be.
“Everyday is all there is. In my some kind of bliss” – Kylie Minogue
When people ask me why I travel so much I always tell them that I love it. First and foremost. Then when they ask how I afford to do it moneywise, I tell them that I work hard, I send them to my Working Career page (all my jobs are on there) and then I finish with “you do know that it’s cheaper to travel around the world than it is to stay in the same place.”
And that’s the line that baffles people. I spend much much less money travelling the world than anyone who stays in the same place. Much less. I don’t spend (waste/needlessly spend) money on ANY of these things:
– fixed term rent for a flat
– deposits for flats
– deposits for anything (I hate deposits – hate them with a passion)
– council tax (I don’t have a council – I’m on the move)
– water bills (I fill up from taps into my water filter bottle)
– electric bills (covered by the hotels, hostels etc. I stay in)
– regular shopping (I never own a cupboard to put shopping in, so I never buy more than what can fit in my backpack/a single plastic bag – normally a maximum of $10 US at any one time and preferably what ever is the cheapest on offer)
– new clothes (OK apart from an AFC Bournemouth and a Glentoran football shirt which are my luxuries)
– toiletries (I pick them up for free remember)
– gas bills (covered by the hotels, hostels etc. I stay in)
– TV licences (the bars I drink in, the hostels I stay in, I just have to assume they’ve paid their licences)
– car and any bills associated with cars (I haven’t owned a car since I backpacked in Australia in 2010)
– joining clubs or societies (I’m a member of the PTBA due to the nature of my travel work, but that’s it)
– tea or coffee (tea and coffee is free almost everywhere you go if you keep topping up your supply or use the stock in hostel kitchens/hotel rooms)
So with all this in mind, my outgoings are much less than anyone who stays in the same place. But with this comes a fear. If I ever do decide to settle down, financially I’ll end up spending a load of money that I don’t normally spend. I won’t be ready for the shock of it all. I mean electric bills? Gosh I wouldn’t even know how much electric bills are these days (in any country). I’m clueless about all these outgoings that are part of most people’s lives. I don’t understand them. I’d feel money for a gas bill is a waste of money. Hotels and hostels never ask us for gas bills. I used the hob once to cook a bit of pasta.
So there is a fear there. The fear is also that as soon as I do settle down and rent/buy a place, my bills and shopping etc. will be so huge to me and such a big shock that I won’t be able to cope, nor (and this is the worst part) will I be able to travel. And that would end the travel lifestyle for me with a bang. Therefore, my only option at present is to keep travelling. Which comes as no surprise.
“Moving, just keep moving” – Supergrass
However, as travellers the words “having a base” gives us the in between. The half travelling and half settling aspect in this debate. I’ve got a base for a few months here in Hong Kong. Not enough time to settle down and start to do regular shopping or pay gas bills. But it is enough time to get my work done, hopefully 3 more e-Books to be launched and then hit the road again. To where, I really don’t know. I’ve gone a bit blurred.
If settling down is right for you, brilliant. But you can’t complain that you can’t afford to travel. If travelling is right for me now, brilliant. But I can’t and I won’t complain that I can’t afford to settle down. Right now, I have no plans to settle down. Perhaps the first step towards it will be to earn enough money to buy somewhere that I own outright. And then, I can come and go as I please. That my friends is my current desired destiny.
Don’t stop living, because if you do, there’s isn’t much left to do.
“Where were you while we were getting high?” – Oasis