≡ Menu
Vagabond Journey

Travel is not a Drop Out Lifestyle

When I first began traveling in the late spring of ’99, I thought that I was opting out of something: The System, perhaps, or The Rat Race, Capitalism — the nauseous world of money, business suits, The Man, Order, Rules, Definitions, Place, Work.I was an idealistic sort of chap then, in search of idealistic sorts [...]

When I first began traveling in the late spring of ’99, I thought that I was opting out of something: The System, perhaps, or The Rat Race, Capitalism — the nauseous world of money, business suits, The Man, Order, Rules, Definitions, Place, Work.

I was an idealistic sort of chap then, in search of idealistic sorts of romance.

I dreamed glory dreams of tramps, hobos, train hoppers, and moonstompers. I was going to stick it to the world through non-participation.

My clothes were filthy and patch-worked, I wore a lot of black, and my A’s were always encircled and crossed through the middle, of course.

I thought that by traveling I was opting out of a system of global economic and social injustice that I learned to despise.

I thought wrong.
—————-
Wade from Vagabondjourney.com
in Bangor, Maine, USA — June 5, 2009
Ask Travel Questions
—————-

I was somewhat disappointed to find that by traveling I was far more intertwined with economic systems, money, and capitalism than I ever could be at home on the farm. By roving about the world I made myself exponentially more reliant upon the very infrastructure that I wanted to see burned to the ground.

I was somewhat disappointed to find that by traveling the world I was not dropping out of the global neo-colonial scheme, but dropping in.

And I was dropped in far deeper than I ever could have imagined.

It struck me one day in South America when my traveling companion looked up at me and said something to the effect of:

“What are we traveling for, all we are doing is buying things?”

I did not want to believe that it was true, but it was: I was taking the money that I wrought from the hands of the dirty capitalist of the USA and I was putting it right into the hands of the filthy capitalists of South America.

Buy, buy, buy . . . this is perhaps the chorus to the song of open road.

I am willing to bet that the average traveler makes more monetary deals throughout a single day than a Wall Street broker.

Travel and money are forever intertwined. Relatively speaking, it does not take much money to travel the world, but the frequency that you will use that money throughout any given day is far greater than almost any other lifestyle that I know of.

When traveling, if you are hungry, you fork out money for a meal — if you eat three meals, that is often three times the forking.

When tired, you fork out money for a bed.

When thirsty, you fork out money for a water.

When board, you fork out money for entertainment.

When you want to go somewhere, you fork out money for transportation.

Traveling is not about dropping out, it is about dropping in.

I am just as intertwined – if not, more so – with the economic systems of the world traveling than I could be living a modest lifestyle in the countryside or mountains of the USA. I am a traveler, I need money to travel, and I spread this money around the planet.

Though I still despise this aspect of travel. The realization of my dependence made me want to move towards being as self- sufficient on the road as I could possibly be. The dependency of world travel is a grand impetus to move towards self-sufficiency.

In the face of this continual direct exposure to petty commerce, part of the game of traveling is to spend the least amount of money as possible, to live as self-dependent as you can.

I often ride bicycles across great distances.

I sleep outside when appropriate.

I often carry a tent or a tarp that can function as shelter.

I carry a filer so I do not have to buy water.

I buy food in larger quantities in markets and grocery stores so I don’t have to go to restaurants three times a day.

I was very surprised to learn that traveling dropped me “in” rather than “out.” But it also showed me a Path of knowledge, experience, and maturity that I can utilize in all facets of living.

A traveler is at the forefront of the events in the world. I am impacted by global changes far more if I am ever moving than if I stay in one place. I do not read the newspaper out of curiosity, but because it affects my Path, my safety, my work.

To travel, you also need to be able to work in many different professions, in many different contexts. Traveling is the best job training that I could have acquired.

I learned the trade of the archaeologist when young, I am a certified and experienced English teacher, I know how to do farm work, as well as the rounds of being a journalist.
I work everyday so that I have enough money to travel tomorrow.

Traveling is not dropping out, it is dropping in.

Filed under: Travel Lifestyle

Traveling is not dropping out, it is dropping in

Filed under: Maine, North America, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3411 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support Wade Shepard’s writing on this blog (please help):

Wade Shepard is currently in: Rochester, New York

4 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • Rui December 28, 2010, 4:55 am

    Hi Wade,

    “I work everyday so that I have enough money to travel tomorrow.” – I really like this.
    I am working everyday so I can go for my next vacation and still come home without needing to worry about my next insurance premium payment. I would like to know your view on illness and retirement savings while travelling. In fact, this is something that I have always been curious about. We can travel long term as long as we are healthy. But what if one day illness strikes or when we are 60 and realise that we have no savings?

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com December 29, 2010, 2:51 pm

      Thanks for this message, it really hits on a good point.

      I cross bridges when I come to them. So many people live their lives in preparation for some day they are old and may need additional assistance. But this day may never come, or you may be squashed by a bus tomorrow — what then?

      Did I live fully today?

      This is the question that I ask myself. Today there are bridges in front of me, tomorrow these bridges will be different. Today I need to work so I can travel tomorrow, but tomorrow I my find myself at a different juncture, and a different strategy may be called for.

      Everybody dies, and I have found that I would rather live for living than live in preparation for dying.

      When I croak I am going to know that I lived my life how I wanted to, and this means everything to me.

      Link Reply
  • Rui December 30, 2010, 8:31 pm

    Thank you. There are some issues that I am not able to let go yet and these are the issues that are holding me back from travelling the way you are doing. Family, job, the usual stuff. It is still going to require alot of courage from me but I want to be able to travel the world for as long as I can, eventually. Your words are inspiring and I will keep coming back to read them and remind myself to live for today. 🙂

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com December 30, 2010, 9:10 pm

      Small steps, Rui, no worries, you will be out traveling as you want eventually.

      Link Reply