“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
9 thoughts on “Sunday’s Inspiration: The Fear of Settling Down”
Great post Jonny. I get waves of both – can’t hack settling down but can’t hack six-monthers as much now either. Having a base is the ideal scenario the older we get for sure: few months on the road, come back and recharge/write, bugger off again. Like you I’m a bit blurred myself, not quite sure where I’m off to next. Enjoy Hong Kong! The amount of people trying to sell me stuff in Marrakech are doing my head in. Melters the lot of them.
Hi Justin. I’m totally with you mate. I’m not even sure which is better any more, as my mates with mortgages, flats etc. all seem more focused than me and they have a steady settled life. But that’s not for me, I need new challenges and new places all the time. I’m always seeming to be at a crossroads and just pick one of the roads and see where we end up. I’m sure I’ll want a base for long term when I’m older, but we need to see the world when we’re young right? We can’t go scuba diving, partying then do a 4 day hike when we’re 64 (at least I don’t think I’ll be able to). I’ve been warned about Morocco a few times from other travellers due to the over bearing touristic scammers there and that’s one reason I haven’t visited it yet. The odd “fuck *ff” might be the best way to let them know! I reckon it will be different in Western Sahara though, and possible places like Casablanca? Safe travels. Jonny
Spot on, Jonny! You have to do what makes you happy – not what makes others happy.
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Thanks for the comment Ray. Yeah just got to work things out, but staying in the same place for long just doesn’t appeal. As soon as I start having to pay regular bills and contracts, I know the travel part of my life will disappear as I won’t be able to afford it. Working on some new projects the next few months. Safe travels. Jonny
Yeah I think your right about that… When I was in Thailand a couple of guys told me that it was cheaper for them to travel than stay home in the uk, they rent their flats out when they travel, so they do have a base here.. But council tax is such a rip off!!! Hate paying all that money every month!!
Hi Bernie, thanks for the comment – totally agree Council Tax is a big rip off. Makes me think of just putting a tent in a campsite for the whole year and moving around the UK! Safe travels. Jonny
I sometimes feel the same things as you did, I traveled to like 26 nations within 25 but then all of a sudden i didn’t travel from July 2013 to December 2014 and then i was lucky to get to Papua New Guinea in April during a time where i didn’t have any work. I came back to Australia in July 2013 cause there was so much BS i had to deal with.
After my last heavy Metal festival @ hellfest 2013, i was sick of going to Metal festivals because whats the point you go somewhere in Nantes Frances to stay in the wilderness of Clission for 4 days and you got to deal with wankers pissing on your tent. I could have spent that 4 days somewhere else in France and learning allot more history.
That’s why Id prefer to travel to see a country rather than travel just for the sake of a Heavy Metal Festival
I was stuck in Oz for 17 because i didn’t have money to spend to go on Holiday and i had to work on my career.
I don’t want to settle down at all. I don’t want kids or a marriage but I just want to stay somewhere for 3 months and get a job and a shared place to rent. That’s why I am heading to Dublin in July.
All i need in the UK/Eire is an NI number, NHS number, my EU healthcare care and my right to vote in UK elections. Then i can go anyway within the boundaries of the EU. Because there’s no point going to Sofia on a British passport and staying for 3 months when i don’t have an EU healthcare card
Being stuck in Sydney living with my 68 year old mother is a hard act but then worse of all I have a job in a religious environment where i don’t work as hard as I can.
Settling down is for loser. be a nomad
Hey Martin, had to laugh at the heavy metal comment – hilarious but since you’ve a hardcore passion for the metal – that festival in France still kicked ass I bet?! I’m a passionate football fan but we have to find the right measure of each of the things we want in our lives. I’m getting there slowly – friends, family, travel, football, writing and pubs are the things I want to spend my life on. Australia is a cool place though but yeah give England a try for sure. Safe travels. Jonny