Is #travellife a fad? Can a travel lifestyle be sustainable and enjoyable? Will I ruin my future by detaching from the norm and letting the road sweep me off my feet? Will people be accepting of my lifestyle choice? These are only a few of the questions I’ve asked myself since #hyattfam5 took off in the winter of 2017. The short answer to all the questions that plague me is: Yes. However you plan to do it: car, hotel, van, SUV, bicycle, backpack, helicopter… maybe you shouldn’t.
If you’re reading this it’s because you’re looking for reasons not to jump on the #travellife bandwagon. I am in no way discouraging you from committing to a change, especially if the season is right for you. But after almost a full year in, I feel obligated to take a different stand. Today, I will make a case against #travellife.
1. Too many people are doing it
Right off the bat, this should tell you something. Call it envy and you wouldn’t be completely wrong. At least that’s how I see it. Social media lets us see the highlight reel of other peoples’ lives and we eat it up because we want to experience what we see. The funny thing is, when you’re full time in the #travellife, no one really cares about your stories or pictures. I’m not trying to be a downer but that’s the truth. Beyond a like, a heart, a comment or a share, who really cares about what we lazy bums do anyway?
On the upside, because so many people are partaking in the rambling lifestyle and the existence of the internet, there is a large community of travelers willing and able to provide information and various other services to anyone with an interest. Restaurant reviews, safe areas to spend a night or public spaces where you can hang out for free are at your fingertips. All the resources and advice available makes the move easier to make but that doesn’t mean you should put your life on hold to be a rolling stone. Gathering moss isn’t such a bad thing, especially if you’re trying to set up for your future. Gaining life experience while seeing the world is a great thing to put on your soul but it may not be so easy to explain on a resume.
The lifestyle can be challenging and there is no doubt in my mind that you’ll learn a thing or two, growing you in areas you may not have expected but there is quite a bit of discomfort as you do so. It’s not all potato chip rocks and red arches. Everyone has their reasons for leaving the humdrum of conventional life and that might just be the problem. Some people want to escape from the rigors and madness that is the rat race while others need to go before age and illness prevent them from doing so. For whatever reason, we go. Unaware of the hardships and inconveniences we are about to face.
2. Money is always an issue
When #travellifers say that this lifestyle is not as demanding as conventional living, they are not exactly saying that it’s less expensive. Depending on how you travel and your needs when you’re out, this lifestyle can often be just as taxing on your wallet or more so if you require a certain level of comfort and luxury. Food, fuel, lodging and activities are expenses that will always be on your mind. The more individuals in your group, the greater the concern for funds becomes. Then factor into that maintenance on your vehicle and gear as well as a buffer for possible emergencies and the strain can be nigh unbearable. If the plan is for you to lose yourself in the wilderness for an extended period of time, you could get away with spending less but active travel can leave your money spent before saved. This is especially true if you want to experience the culture, food and entertainment scenes of your destinations.
Putting together money to take a trip and financing a lifestyle are two very different things. I’ve said before that there are really only two ways to finance your adventure, a pot to pull from or working as you go. #hyattfam5 isn’t independently wealthy, accessing money from a trust fund or corporately sponsored. We stop to work as we see fit. A few weeks of work provides us the funds for a month or more of travel, depending on our needs and how we budget. The downside is that we have to make sure we have a place to stay for the time between trips, periods of time where we work. I have heard that many travelers utilize online jobs to sustain them and I believe that is the best way to go, providing you have a reliable way to access the internet.
3. Like it or not, you’ll be homeless
It’s no secret that many of our friends and family aren’t supportive of our choice to pull up roots and go with the proverbial flow. There is no love lost for them because we understand what we are doing and they do not. Its a lot like trying to convince me that turkey-bacon is a great alternative for the real thing. In small doses, its OK but I wouldn’t order it.
The number one reason I hear is their concern that we’ll be homeless. They are right to be concerned because you will be homeless, like it or not. In the eyes of the law, there is no difference between you and the guy sleeping in the bushes. It doesn’t matter if you have an RV, trailer or if you’re staying in hotels. You do not have a permanent address and you’re carrying everything you own. The mindset and the decision to live a lifestyle contrary to the norm and the ability to return to it are the only that separates you and the rest of the homeless population of America. It’s not a terrible thing but just know that people will not view you the way the traveling community does.
4. The lifestyle is not very relaxing
#travellife can be fun and extremely rewarding but it is not relaxing in the way that social media posts make it out to be. Everything is harder because even simple tasks can require more effort to perform. Just making a couple cups of coffee can take an hour, based on how you’re packed. Depending on what you’re bringing, making coffee can be as easy as it would be at home or as difficult as building a fire to boil water and then waiting the three minutes to steep your grounds in a french press. Money buys gear, gear affords convenience and convenience requires space which only works if you’re bringing an RV or trailer. For sure, there are ways to make #travellife as easy as possible but that requires a pretty large shift in mindset. At some point, the earlier the better, you’ll have to come to terms with what you can and can’t live without. Most of the time, saving money means doing things the hard way and if that’s one reason you do it, know that #travellife can end up being a weird mash-up of contradictions.
Relaxation only happens after you’ve set up everything and finally have some time to yourself. I figure, the way we do things, #travellife is relaxing 25-30% of the time. This is mostly because there are five of us, three of which are children. If you went solo or with a companion who can perform tasks unsupervised, the percentage of relaxing time could easily be reversed.
5. Most of your time will be spent in between locations
Take for example our trip from Texas to Oregon. Most of the 21 days we spent out were dedicated to actually traveling. I love to drive and I can spend many hours behind the wheel but no one ever talks about how long it takes to get to the places where all the great photos are shot.
Some roads offer very little in the way of a view making boredom a pretty big factor, especially when everyone else decides to take a nap! It’s worse at night when the blackness is only broken by headlights and their reflection of road signs.
6. Fellow travelers can be a bummer
I could go on for days about how bad fellow travelers can be when they’re out. They’re uncouth, they allow themselves to smell bad, they leave camp trash and human waste behind… some travelers are just terrible and they give the rest of us a bad name.
Pet peeves anyone? The cold, hard truth about travel is that many people simply don’t care about how they leave a place. We were at a beautiful spot in Oregon where human waste were just left out, half buried and covered in soiled toilet paper. What happened to being respectful of our surroundings? Should I even mention the state of most public restrooms? It seems that so many people think they can make a mess somewhere because it’s someone’s elses job to clean up. Yes, the facilities are sometimes a bit hard to handle (vault toilets!) but they are the facilities provided for our use. If we all work together, we can make sure the person who uses the bathroom after us doesn’t have a bad experience.
7. You can definitely overstay your welcome
Even if you haven’t been at a place very long, it is not hard to overstay your welcome. Littering, loud music and using inappropriate language loud enough for others to hear can result in expulsion. Remember that people travel to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Not everyone wants to listen to your music, offensive or otherwise and they definitely don’t appreciate your inability to control your pets. People like that are destroy an outing. I’m not saying don’t have fun but be respectful of others in your vicinity, especially since lots of people doing that #travellife are families.
8. Burn-out is a real thing
As with any undertaking, once the honeymoon phase is over, you can get really tired of traveling. The driving, being uncomfortable, missing the convenience of home and other such reasons can wear you down. The urge to go back home and settle down again can become maddening. Some people are cut out for this lifestyle and some people should just take a long vacation.
9. You are always uncomfortable
No matter what, you’ll always be uncomfortable. The weather, the environment, idleness, the people you’re out with or even the solitude conspire to make you want to go home. There will always be something nagging you. Allergies or the lack of cell service… hashtag travel life!
10. There’s never enough space
I think one of the reasons we get out of town is because of the lack of space. No matter how big, we want out of the house because we feel confined by it. So we take to the road in an attempt to make us feel a part of something much bigger. The problem is that we will almost always take too much stuff or we don’t have something big enough for all our stuff. We want stuff to do stuff and there’s never enough stuff to put all our stuff in. Even if you want to travel light, you’ll always never have enough space.
In conclusion: A Solution to the pull of #travellife
Take an extended vacation once or twice a year, not more than seven days each, ten if you’ll have to drive a great distance. Pick a place or plan a route, save up for it and then go. Having set starting and ending dates creates anticipation, making the trip more enjoyable and urgent. Knowing that you’ll be headed back to civilization can make you spend each of those days to the fullest. You’ll waste less time lounging around (unless that is the point of the vay-cay) and putting excursions off for later days and you’ll very likely go back to work and living with a spring in your step and stories to tell.
Go live your adventure!