Traveling is who I am. The first question a lot of my friends will ask when I talk to them is “Where are you now?” I’m not sure how it evolved, but I just started traveling one day and never really stopped. I’ve been lucky enough to find a job that facilitates my travel habit so when I get asked how I manage to travel so much or how I afford it I have a good answer. The truth is if you really want to travel, money is not an issue; you just have to be willing to get creative.
I know a lot of travelers and one of the misconceptions people have about us is that it’s all vacation. That’s not true at all. Any good traveler will tell you that it’s not always fun in the sun and hanging out drinking mojitos on the beach. To be a traveler you have to work for it. For a lot of us that means sitting in coffee shops for hours writing emails, editing photos, and doing Skype chats with co-workers. When the road is your office, you have to find a way to substitute those things you lack such as a desk, internet, and quiet spaces. So you end up paying rent in the form of a venti cold brew at Starbucks and using their internet until they run the vacuum under your feet and stare at you hard enough to convey that yes, they are closing.
Another thing you learn quickly is how to save money on lodging. This doesn’t apply to everyone. During my working weekends my job will put me up in a hotel or something that passes for a hotel (I’m looking at you, central PA motor inn that doubles as a liquor store. Really?) When I’m not traveling for work I have to get inventive with my accommodations. It seems like second nature now, but I remember when I first started figuring out how to find the best rest stops or Wal*Marts to park for the night.
When I bought my Honda CR-V, I had them take out the back seats so I could lie down flat to make sure it was possible. I’m 6’4 so this was a priority. Now it’s a quick and easy motion of moving a few things to the front seat, inflating my sleeping pad, and slipping into the sleeping bag in my home on wheels. Blocking out the bright lights in the parking lot is another level of trial and error that ends with simply rolling up a window with a towel or t-shirt in it. I really should get curtains.
Depending on where I am or what the weather is like I will often camp. A lot of times you can get away with camping at rest stops if you just go behind some trees. Go to sleep early and wake up early and there’s rarely an issue. The worst I’ve ever gotten was someone tapping on the tent door and asking us to leave. If it’s too cold for camping or if I prefer something more secure for the night I will use CouchSurfing.org. It’s a fantastic site and I’ve met so many amazing people all over the US and other parts of the world. It’s a perfect combination of lodging with a built-in friend! People on the site are usually eager to show people their city or spend a night in talking and cooking. It’s a perfect way to break the tedium of loneliness that can sink in quickly on solo trips.
On a vacation you’re escaping work, usually staying in a hotel or resort, and spending your days leisurely; that’s the whole point. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but a lot of us travelers prefer to extend the adventure by staying away from the 9-5 at all costs. We work just as hard as anyone else, but we have found a way to incorporate work into our lifestyle. After all, what’s the point of working if all you think about is how to get away from it? (I obviously realize not everyone has the luxury to travel and work at the same time and the point of working is to make money to provide for your family/pay off debt/feed yourself/generally stay alive.) I think everyone could be a lot happier if they found a way to get away from the grind a little more often however they can. Be creative! You’ll end up doing things you never thought you would.
This post was more substantial for two reason: 1) I had these thoughts and wanted to flesh them out a bit (it’s by no means a comprehensive overview of my thoughts on the matter.) 2) My video plans were foiled by rain so today’s edition is quite short.