When I started planning this world tour, I was focused on being able to travel for a full year, uninterrupted. I saved and budgeted based on that timeline. I needed enough money to live without working for an entire year. Thanks to years of being broke, I was able to cut back so much that I not only reached that goal, I surpassed it. Then, for good measure, I sold everything I owned. Because, why not? But rather than add that "extra" money to my travel account, I mentally put it aside for "when I get back." It would be the money I would use to start my "new life,"- to give me that leg-up most people don't have when looking for work after losing their jobs. It would put me in a position to choose the job I wanted; not settle for something I hated just because I needed the money.
Before I left the US, planning for a year of traveling abroad was completely overwhelming. The thought of being away from my friends and family and let's face it... Chipotle, for an entire year was almost too much to process. (especially Chipotle... and Taco Bell... and mmmm....I digress) Now that I'm in my third month abroad, my mindset has completely changed. I went from wondering if a year was too long to being certain it's not long enough. The longer that "extra" money sits in that "other" account the more I feel myself shifting from "when I go back" to "if I go back."
Sure. It's only been a few months and my mood changes rapidly day to day, but in my almost 29 years on this earth, I've never been more consistently happy than I have been since quitting my job to travel. I had a nightmare the other day that I got a call from the news desk in New York saying Justin Bieber had been in a plane crash and the cause was directly related to Miley Cyrus Twirking in the cock-pit. I woke up terrified that I had to report on that mindless shit all over again. My heart was racing and my palms were sweaty and I immediately checked my phone just to make sure it was a dream. Some days I can't even check twitter because I'm flooded with anxiety over the fact that I'm not up to date on celebrity news. No one should live in fear of a little blue bird. But it's moments like those that give me the most clarity. Where I know with 100 percent certainty that I made the right choice. Where despite having to crash on couches and hitch hike to the airport and sneak into hotel lobbies for free continental breakfasts... I have no regrets.
Growing up with two hard working parents and a very strict budget, I know how to stretch a dollar. I've had jobs where I made so little money that I lived on hamburgers and cheeseburgers from McDonalds that I would buy in bulk on the promotion days, (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) freeze and then re-heat. I've also earned enough money that I had no idea what milk or gas cost because I never looked. It didn't matter, I knew the money was there and would keep coming in faster than I could spend it. Living those two very different lives with such a short amount of time in between, I'm able to appreciate the finer things in life and also go without them. That's the biggest factor in my lack of fear. "Aren't you worried you won't be able to find another job when you get back?" "What if you never earn as much money as you did in the job you left?" "What if no one will hire you because it looks bad to take such a long time off work in the states?" The answer to all of those questions, and trust me, I get asked them almost daily... is still "I don't know and more importantly, I don't care." I think I care so little about what I'm going to do when I get back because that "when" is looking more and more like an "if" the more I travel.
I just had an amazing week cruising around Mallorca, Spain on a boat with some truly wonderful guys and I'm updating this blog from Rome on a layover to the island of Sardinia, Italy, where I'll hang out for a week. Then it's off to Prague. Some say it hasn't been long enough; That I'll get tired of it. That the luster will wear off and the jet-lag will set in. As of today I've been to 12 countries in 10 weeks by way of 15 flights and several busses and boats of all different sizes. I have scars, scrapes and bruises from my adventures in each place and enough tan lines to make a road map. So I call bullshit on the notion that I'll simply get tired of traveling. Bring on the jet-lag and the nude beaches. Seriously, I need to get rid of these lines.