Is the traveling lifestyle sustainable? How can I leave my home and career to travel? Hello Brett, I would have to say that the sustainability of a perpetually traveling lifestyle for a couple in their later years is very possible. Though this depends on what your definition of sustainable is. If “sustainable” means only that [...]
Is the traveling lifestyle sustainable? How can I leave my home and career to travel?
I would have to say that the sustainability of a perpetually traveling lifestyle for a couple in their later years is very possible. Though this depends on what your definition of sustainable is.
If “sustainable” means only that you are able to eat your fill, have a roof over your head, enough money to see a doctor, and the resources to navigate the planet at will — that you are able to basically survive –then I say that you will have very little to worry about.
But if your definition of “sustainable” means piling on the layers of your savings account, building a retirement plan, and maintaining a backup plan just in case you want to go home, then the reality of your circumstance may push the bounds of your definition. It is possible to have this sort of safety net while living the traveling life, but it is my impression that it requires a lot of money. I fear that it may get in your way, and it is my impression that it is unnecessary.
It is interesting to me how often people hold themselves back from traveling out of fears of “what if.” What if you figure out things out as they happen, is the only way that i can reply. That health insurance is not going to help you too much if you get smushed flat by a truck. A retirement plan is worthless if you are too old to enjoy it. Money in the bank means very little when you are on your death bed.
“What if” is perhaps a serpentine phrase designed to erode your basic life force and inherently bountiful inertia. What if you squander your life by holding yourself back in the thorough of “what if?” It is my impression that the human capacity for planning for the future give far too much leeway to fear and caution to be of much use.
“What will you do when . . .”
I have no idea, but I do know that I will figure it out. Somehow.
The ability to make money on the Road is perhaps the biggest variable in travel. You say that you have a business that you can do while traveling, this means you can make money from anywhere in the world — you have it made. If you can make $30 a day, you can travel like a king in 80% of the world. My budget is usually around $10 to $15 per person in my family, and we live resonably well. If you make $30 a day for both yourself and your wife — $60 all together — then the world is at your feet. If you can make money from anywhere in the world then you have the great question of traveling already answered.
If you can make money on the Road then you can travel forever.
From a monetary standpoint I have no question about the sustainability of your prospective enterprise. I have no question that if you want to, you can travel perpetually.
But even if your business falls through or you find it not possible to run from abroad there are still plenty of work available to older Americans (I am assuming that you are from the USA) abroad. Your native dialect of English is highly sought after in most countries that do not speak the language natively. English teaching jobs pay relatively well, often provide housing, health care, cover travel expenses, and could accommodate both yourself and your wife. In East Asia, particularly, there are thousands of older Americans, Brits, and Australians traveling around the continent from school to school, job to job. It is interesting how the ages of foreign English teachers are split: they are usually younger kids just out of college or older people one notch away from retirement age.
In point, if you ever decided to fall back on teaching English abroad, the way has been well paved by people in your age bracket — by people who have left similarly comfortable, sedentary lives as the one you seem to be living now.
I do not know if teaching is something that you would want to do, but it does provide some sort of safety net, and could be an interesting way to interact with people as you travel as well as make money.
I have known many people who are around your age — 30 to 50 years old — who have packed up everything to travel. Most of them are not married, but I do not see having a partner as being an obstacle: two people traveling together just means twice the ability to procure resources (money, gear, split the cost of accommodation etc . . .). If both parties are capable and able to work, then traveling with a partner is a great advantage — or at least I have found it as such.
The traveling lifestyle is sustainable, if you want it to be. Traveling may require you to change the plot often — to go one way just to realize that you’d rather go another, that a once open path rounds out at a dead end. Traveling my cause you to find yourself surprised, disillusioned, in vertigo, but part of the charm of traveling is its inconsistency: you never know what to expect. Traveling, more than anything else that I have experienced, makes a man really feel alive.
I have found this lifestyle addictive. I crave the stimulation of traveling each day, I crave the particular sorts of problems that life on the Road creates: the challenges, the trials, the successes, the failures, the hectic moments as well as the relaxed. Traveling is a good way to live, it is a way of life where your main focus is on your own existence: food, water, shelter. It is a raw way to live, and it is my impression that humans were wired to live this way. The stimulation of traveling feels good.
Websites of people who have left well established sedentary lives for travel
- Hobotraveler.com – Andy Graham left a career as a real estate agent to travel perpetually for 11 years and still going.
- Everything Everywhere – Gary split and continued splitting.
- Cycling Peace – Older bicycle traveling China ex pat
- Laptop Hobo – Site about doing tech work abroad
These are just a few of many sites about packing up and taking off. I know that I have come across some more, and will send them to you as I find them.
I hope this helps.
Original question about how to start traveling and leave home and job —
Hello Wade. My name is Brett Erskine. I have been doing some research for some time now about lifestyles of long term travelers and Rolf Potts recommend that I drop you a line. I have the travel bug to say the least and have been working toward arranging my personal and business life in a way that I will be able to travel long term while running my business but have yet to read success stories of married couples in there 30’s to 50’s who are doing the same thing. Specifically traveling a total of 4+ months a year together and have been doing so for many years – not “once in a lifetime” trips. Also wanted to hear their opinion on living this lifestyle with or without children, trade offs, etc. I guess you can say I’m looking for some validation. I don’t want to keep going down a road that I currently perceive to be a life long lifestyle only to find out its not sustainable beyond a few years. I apologize for the heavy subject. Any link, tid bit of info or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you Wade.
About the Author: VBJ
I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. VBJ has written 3679 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
VBJ is currently in: Papa Bay, Hawaii
December 17, 2009, 2:22 pm
Thank you Wade for taking the time to write such a detailed response. You advice on the monetary side of things has reinforced my believes on the subject. The reason why I mentioned the issue of being a married couple (with or without children) is I’m single now at 31 and as a man it’s easier for me to envision long term travel being something I could do for a majority of the rest of my life. However I was particularly interested in learning about stories of married couples that are long time travelers because I’m not so sure that kind of life style is likely to work for a married couple as a life long way of life. I’m concerned that a woman’s perspective (in most cases) is inherently different and would eventually default to the maternal/nesting instinct. I know I’m painting with a broad brush here but it sure would help to read about other specific success stories before I spend too much more time going down what appears to be a unlikely path.
Thank you again Wade for taking the time to write me. Happy travels!
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