Having just landed back in Australia after over a year on the road, this week I felt inspired to write about the challenges of life as a Traveller/Nomad.
Now before you start with the “Oh you poor thing, I don’t know how you get through each day!”, trust me when I say this is not a shout for sympathy but rather an open and honest account of life on the road. It may even make you feel better to know that no matter how amazingly green that grass may appear over the other side – it sure isn’t perfect – and there are of course some prickly thorns nestled beneath that green grass.
Anyone that follows me on Facebook will be aware that I have had a lot of travel movements in the past few years. This has all been by choice and I consider myself to be extremely lucky to have enjoyed so many amazing places, people and experiences all over the globe. Whether it’s been for work or leisure, life has dished up some pretty epic moments and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
This has not come without challenges and sacrifices. Let me run you through a few:
1 – FOMO
It’s not just the regular FOMO like “Oh that would be fun & I’m missing out” but it is usually served with a side of “and I’m a shit person for missing that occasion too”. When I go through the list of some of the things I have missed it is a bit frightening:
• Birth of my first Niece
• Brothers 30th
• Dads 60th
• Friends and Family weddings
• Birth and early months of friends’ babies
• Family holidays
• Christmas (just FYI Santa does NOT come to naughty daughters who don’t make it home for Xmas)
… just to name a few. Now I have gotten used to missing certain things – because usually wherever I am I have good reason to be and other exciting things are happening – BUT that doesn’t mean I don’t feel sadness for the milestones missed and letting people down.
2 – IF I ADDED UP THE MONEY SPENT ON PLANE TICKETS, I COULD PROBABLY HAVE RETIRED BY NOW
My Dad recently informed me that after working hard for over 40 years he now has a date set in the future that he plans to retire. I’m so excited and happy for him and when he first mentioned it I said “Dad this is wonderful news! I’ve been retired for years and I gotta tell ya it is GREAT!”. Okay so I’m not exactly retired, but maybe if I spent less on plane tickets I could be. Inter-Europe flights are mostly very reasonable but the trips back to Australia don’t come cheap (especially if it’s even remotely close to Christmas time). It’s also a 24 hour journey home… but I’m not about to list that as a drawback because I happen to be one of those weirdos that LOVES long haul flights. Eat, sleep, movie, repeat… I’m sorry but that is as close to being a baby as it gets and what’s not to love about that?
3 – LIVING OUT OF A SUITCASE
Packing and repacking isn’t fun. The longer the trip and the more you are moving from destination to destination the less fun it becomes. On longer trips I’m not proud to admit that I have at times fallen into the habit of wearing the same rotations of clothes over again. People tend to do this because they are either:
A) packing light like a ninja (not likely in my case – this skill seems to allude me despite having more practise than most); or
B) They’ve packed heavy but are too lazy to dive into the bottom of their case (guilty!).
Living out of a suitcase is annoying because your clothes get crinkled, your toiletries can leak, things can get lost, and the annoyance of needing to find laundry facilities to wash your underwear. On the plus side, I have built some muscles lugging heavy bags around Europe (don’t ask me to prove it, they’ve since vanished obvs).
4 – LACK OF STABILITY
Not having a consistent postal address can get annoying. There can be complications with things like insurance (health insurance and travel insurance), it’s costly paying money to keep your belongings in a storage facility, and having to be on a pay as you go instead of getting a good deal on a mobile plan because you are constantly in different places and needing local SIM cards. These are just little annoyances but they can add up when you become “… of no fixed address”.
5 – LIFE ADMIN THINGS THAT FALL BY THE WAY SIDE
With three years of tax returns I need to lodge, this is just the icing on the cake of my life admin tasks that have backlogged lately. I am also overdue for dentist visits, new glasses, etc. All of this can be maintained if you have permanently relocated to another country however, but when you are moving around more or working as a digital nomad, it’s very easy to push these chores back to “another day”.
6 – I COULD START MY OWN ADAPTOR SHOP
After three years in the UK half of my appliances are now UK plugs and the other half still Australian. I also managed to somehow acquire UK, European & Australian iPhone chargers. Therefore I have Aus-UK adaptors, Aus-EUR adaptors, UK-EUR adaptors, UK-Aus adaptors, Aus-US adaptors, a rogue UK-South Africa adaptor and my three iPhone chargers. It can get rather confusing. I could also start my own currency trading business with leftover currency from various travels but that’s a whole other story! I recently found 7,000 Malawian Kwacha in my passport case and was thinking I had hit the jackpot and could cash it in as a windfall. Google conversion shattered my dreams pretty quickly by informing me it was actually only worth a paltry £6.70.
Should have spent that at the airport!
7 – THE WORK VS PLAY DILEMMA
One of the obvious benefits of working mostly online is that you can work from literally anywhere in the world. This means that you can be in an amazing place while also be “working”. This can however, pose very strong temptations and distractions. Who wants to be stuck inside on the laptop when you could be swimming in the sea or exploring a new city? I tend to get a dose of the YOLO’s when I am travelling and it doesn’t take much to twist my arm away from the laptop… however as my business grows this balance will be something I put more focus on.
On balance, and despite the compromises, I am still the #1 fan of travel life. I truly believe that traveling with purpose is one of the most enriching, empowering, amazing things you can gift yourself with. But of course nothing in life is perfect and in order to experience the world, sometimes you have make compromises.
As always though I would love to hear your biggest challenges of travelling so I look forward to reading your experiences too 🙂