Taking Stock. Ten Years of Travel.

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We’re approaching the ten-year anniversary of our nomadic lives. Time to reflect, to stop and take stock. Maybe that’s why I came across Mitch Glass’s interview with Nora Dunn (The Professional Hobo). It’s certainly why I answered his questions myself. The photos? Random pics from ten years of travel.

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How long have you been travelling?

Forever, in my head. When I was 26, I went off for one year, which became two. I went back to England when the money ran out, but moved almost immediately to Amsterdam, to earn for the next trip. The travel bug had bitten. Life got in the way for a few years, but for ten years now I’ve been a wanderer, combining house-sitting and independent travel, continuously on the move.

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Where have you travelled?

I’m not one to count countries. Not as many places as I’d like. The list only gets longer, never shorter.

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What was life like before you hit the road?

Good. I loved my work and I worked hard (I was a shiatsu/foot-reflexology therapist) but had a good work/life balance. I travelled a fair bit – short trips and a month away around Christmas and I spent a lot of time in nature, which gave me space.

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What inspired you to start your life of travel?

I didn’t start travelling because there was anything wrong in my life. I did it because there’s so much world out there to experience.

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What struggles did you face when you decided to leave the security of your old life behind?

The idea of being homeless/rootless scared me. I needed a base. I had a bit of money – not enough to travel indefinitely – but Jim did. He offered to share, and although we’d lived together for years, the thought threw me into a tailspin. It felt like I was giving up my independence. I couldn’t believe that someone would do such a thing for me, and struggled to believe, let alone accept it.

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How did you overcome those struggles?

I worked on myself. I learned to lean. I realised it’s not always necessary to stand tall and go it alone. We’re a team, and we support each other. On a practical level, for the first few years we paid my mum rent for a small room in her bungalow. This was another form of support. An anchor. A place that was always there for us and that helped me feel less adrift.

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How do you support yourself financially?

I don’t!

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How has life changed since you quit your ‘normal’ job?

I have the luxury of time. Mine is an existence without clocks and watches. I hardly know what day of the week it is. I no longer feel the need to ‘fit things in’. There’s no bucket list. I accept I’ll never do it all. Instead I prioritise. I choose what’s important to me. Funny, the more time I have, the more I seem to need.

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What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

To learn to let go. Not of stuff. But of old ideas and patterns. The idea that I wasn’t worth it. The idea that I should stick with what I’d got. (‘Don’t rock the boat’). To get out of my head and into my gut.

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What do you know now, that you wish you’d known when you started your adventure?

That I’m OK. I have confidence in myself now. Not the big, brash shout-out-loud kind of confidence; it’s a quiet kind of confidence. I know I will do my best to deal with whatever comes my way.

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Anything you would’ve done differently?

No, everything happens for a reason.

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What’s the biggest life lesson that travel has taught you?

Trust. Have faith that it’ll work out. Now, I no longer need the lifeline of a room at my mum’s. People ask ‘How do you live without a home?’ but I don’t feel insecure. I feel connected to the whole. Now I recognise my own strength, and this combined with a feeling of trust (in the universe for want of a better expression) keeps me grounded. I don’t feel invincible, but I do feel strong.

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What one piece of advice would you give those wanting to leave behind the 9 to 5?

Think about it. Think about what you want to get out of it, and do your groundwork. There are many ways to leave the 9 to 5 behind, work out which one will be best for you. And remember nothing is set in stone. You’ll become flexible, learn to tweak. What you start out with may not be what you end up with.

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You can see the original interview here: https://www.projectuntethered.com/the-professional-hobo-escape-the-rat-race/?fbclid=IwAR3m6hmwhV-hB64B3TXmO56fiPdUnGjjW7gB4dHQm4f65o7d57cbsY0aNYY

See also:

http://www.projectuntethered.com

https://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/

 

27 thoughts on “Taking Stock. Ten Years of Travel.

  1. Much of your answers ring true for my road of nomadic life. Except, I still need to make money and – the older I get and the more things that go wrong – I have a hard time with the statement that “Everything happens for a reason”. Hence, I really liked your answer that you’ve learned to “let go”.

    I’ve been a nomad since 2003 and backpacked for two years before that, when I was in my early twenties. As far as “normal life” goes, that seems like a lifetime ago, when I taught in Belgium for four years. 🙂

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  2. I know what you mean about the statement ‘everything happens for a reason’. It’s a tricky one, but I try to think of it when I’m in the middle of something bad, because it helps to see the best side of any situation. You must be very good at letting go, having been on the move for so long. Do you also get asked ‘when are you going to settle down’ all the time? Thanks for your comment. I liked hearing more about you!

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    1. The first five or so years of my travels, the “settle down” question came – mostly from my grandma and some friends – but, people figured out soon enough that travel is a part of my life, body, and mind, so they stopped asking. (My Oma passed away and most of my newer friends are nomads as well). It’s similar to the question “Will you have kids?” At some point, it becomes irrelevant. 🙂

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  3. I enjoyed this post. As much as I love to travel, I love to come home. So, it was great to read about how you are living your life. It takes a certain kind of strength to have so much trust. Keep on enjoying. Lyn

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  4. What an amazing 10-years of nomadic life you must have had! I like the idea to “let go”, we all need to learn to let go of stuff or old ideas as well, sometimes🙂
    Happy travels, Tracey!
    Christie

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  5. Great interview Tracey. I relate well to just about all of it, even the “everything happens for a reason” bit, and definitely to the part about learning how to lean in (how to receive – Don had money, I didn’t, now after 20 years it’s all just ours).
    Just FYI the link to the original interview actually links to an interview with Nora Dunn.
    Alison

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  6. That money thing was so hard for me to get my head around. Now, like you say it’s just ‘ours’. There are many more things to bring to a relationship than money. But it took me a long time to realise that. And Nora Dunn and the professional hobo are one and the same.

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  7. What a great interview! I left the 9-5 behind as well and I’ve never looked back.. Now that I’m freelancing, even though I’m not making as much money, I know there’s no way I’ll ever go back to office life and commuting again. And I don’t think you even need that much money to travel anyways. If something is really important, then you’ll always make that a priority and find a way to make it happen.

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  8. Money isn’t that important as long as you’ve got enough to cover the basics. But it takes courage to take the jump. And I agree, you don’t need nearly as much as you think you do anyway.

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  9. All rings true and I enjoyed reading this while at the same time nodding my head in agreement as we have had a nomadic lifestyle for the past six years, or close to ten, depending on how one defines it.

    After two years of literally living out of a suitcase with no home base and with wherever we were becoming “home” albeit for a brief while, we created a home base in Sri Lanka and now in Viet Nam. People still ask us “is that a permanent move?” And I still answer that question the same way “I’m not sure what permanent even means. Nothing is permanent.”

    Letting go and also learning the lesson of attachment. Especially with regards to houses and belongings I have learnt this one many a time and ultimately like you, I prioritise travel and experiences over stuff.

    With regard to finances, ours have dipped so low at times that we literally couldn’t pay for the rented motorbike or guest house, while waiting for a customer to pay up. These days we are both working, doing our best to butter up our nests egg for the next round of travel. The biggest expense is always the tickets. After that, there are creative ways of managing on a budget.

    Excellent post, and I like the format with the questions. All of which are really good ones with thoughtful answers.

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your reply Peta. I think we’ve got a lot in common. Balancing attachment and letting go is tricky. I think I appreciate and respect stuff a lot more, now I have less. We’ve never been so low on funds as you describe. That must be scary, but trust is a great thing. I love the lessons that I’m learning from having ‘less’. Although I think having less is having more.

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