On Travel… and Why We Can’t Anymore

Mark Stewart Opinions 10 Comments

House Sold

Time to Commit…

This is the first blog post I’ve written in a very long time, one that I knew was ultimately inevitable, but have been pushing off for too long. For over ten years, Kylee and I have spent the majority of our time focused on travel: either on the road, or planning the next journey. Being able to travel has been an amazing luxury, one that many simply don’t have, and I will be eternally grateful for the opportunities that have allowed us these experiences. However, the trips have shortened over time, following a very clear pattern. First we spent a year overseas, next it was four months, followed soon after by one half that long. The two most recent ‘big’ trips were three weeks a piece. Toss in the occasional road trip here and there, and we’ve come to the realization that we’re grown-ups now.

Life happens.

Career changes on both our parts to facilitate more travel came first, but with the added income, soon it was a mortgage, and a house full of stuff. Suddenly ‘adulting’ had become the priority. Trips became more difficult while trying to find friends to house sit for weeks or months on end, not to mention the extra money required to cover the costs while away from home. Renovations, landscaping, and the all to common vehicle repairs. Chasing the next promotion or better job to help pay for a fancier car, a bigger TV, or the newest iPhone. Travel has fallen by the wayside, and it’s become time to accept the unavoidable reality:

We just can’t do it anymore.

It’s been nearly a year now since we sold our house, including the vast majority of stuff that once filled rooms we rarely entered. Upon moving, our rented downtown condo felt noisy and claustrophobic after leaving our quiet suburban plot. Yet, less than twelve months later we feel almost overwhelmed with the amount of space, and once again are amazed at the amount of ‘things’ we still own. Because the reality for us is that as much as we tried to give in, play the game, follow the expectations of our society, it isn’t going to happen; Not for now anyway. Many of you reading this either already know, or probably suspected this was going to happen. Others, maybe not so much. So consider this the official announcement: We’ve sold nearly everything we own, and as of the end of October, will be hitting the road for an indefinite period of time.

Now, is this the right thing to be doing? Only the passing of time will answer that. I’m not saying there is anything wrong in living within the expectations of society, it clearly works well for the vast majority of people; it just isn’t for us. Trust me, we tried. Instead of sitting on a freshly stained new deck, we’ll lay on the cliffs of some Nordic Fjord, our walls will be the Himalayas and the Andes, our backyard the Steppes. Rather than taking a dip in an often under-used hot tub, we’ll dive into the Adriatic. Our white picket fence will be the crumbling stone wall of some long abandoned village. We’ll sleep on uncomfortable beds, shower without heat, and share transportation with livestock. Combat tropical diseases in countries with questionable health care, and find ourselves in areas of conflict. Wake to rats in the room, cockroaches on the bed, and gunshots in the near distance. We’ll squat to shit. That’s just part of the journey, we’ve done all that before. But along with the bad, comes an ocean of good: Finding that swimming hole at the top of a waterfall near some remote village in Laos or scuba diving with sharks for the first time. It’s watching the sun set over the Thar Desert as you climb down from your camel for the evening, or waking at sunrise for a bowl of Pho on a plastic stool in some back alley in Saigon. It’s the moment that brings your precious ego crashing down to earth, seeing the child in rags on the edge of the slum beaming the biggest smile you have ever seen, happy simply to be alive.

These experiences, both positive and negative, have made us who we are; and to remain true to ourselves, we must continue to wander these foreign roads that keep stoking that flame. Will we ever settle down? I’m sure there will come a time when constant fluctuation of a home base may lose its appeal, but until that time comes, we’ll do whatever we can to continue doing what we love; because why the hell not?

“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough – to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom, at least for me, means realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”Anthony Bourdain

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2 years ago

Been there, done that. Screaming to get away again, but now I have a husband who isn’t.
So, I live within the boundaries of a relatively normal life, and travel when I can.

2 years ago

I feel like I’ve stepped into the adult phase now – while I’m still determined to travel at least once a year and local trips in my own country between. But I can relate to it being harder and harder and freedom is calling… I spent the best part of 10 years travelling while having a base in the UK. Much harder from NZ. Good on you guys for breaking away again!

2 years ago

I’ve done the same thing I live to travel and love instead of working to live!

2 years ago

Just came across this post and the entire time I was reading it, my heart screamed, “Yes!” This is what my husband & I have struggled with over the years, but after having the house, careers and kids, we are heading towards that road of freedom. You said it beautifully and I appreciate you sharing and inspiring!

2 years ago

Yep. It may work for some people but not everyone. We sold everything and moved in January this year to Mexico. Husband still had to bring a ton of stuff, but every day is a new adventure, quality of life is better and we can live better for so much less.