Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life. – Jack Kerouac
I was chatting with a friend about how Thenix and I are coming back home in June, earlier than we thought as Thenix has a job offer. She commented that we are coming back to real life. I thought about that statement for a while. I found it funny that she thought that just because we are moving from place to place, we are not living real life, but because people back home are staying put in one place, they are living a real life. I asked Thenix about it, and he said, ‘The reason people don’t consider travel to be real life is because more then likely you cannot make a living at it.
Even though in this trip we made money, we didn’t make enough money to cover our costs.’
Then, what defines a real life? Is it real life if you have a fixed location? Does having a job entail a real life? Or paying taxes? What is it about being back home that qualifies it to be real life? According to Thenix, making enough money to cover your daily costs is real life. I don’t agree.
I take offense to the statement that I’m living in a fantasy land just because we are travelling. True, we are moving around from place to place seeing amazing spots everyday. But I am performing a lot of the tasks that I perform back home. I worked at a job for a company back home doing purchasing tasks earning Canadian dollars, that I pay taxes on back home. I did my taxes at the same time every one back home did. I am taking care of physical needs like water, food, and sleep just like back home. I speak to friends, and family everyday, like I did back home. I hang out with friends and have food and drinks, like I did back home.
So what is the difference?
Why is travel long-term not considered real life?
Is it because long-term travel seems like a fantasy life to most? Is it because most people can only dream of a life like this (and most people will probably not like living this)? Maybe that’s it. The life of a long-term traveller seems like something out of a movie. You do not expect ‘real’ people from daily walks of life to be living on the road for months at a time, living on the beach or treehouses. It is something that you expect celebrities or billionaires to be doing.
Thus, when someone like me is living like a celebrity lives, it is supposed to be temporary. Come back to reality, people tell me. Come back to normality, they say. Are they saying it, because they wish not to feel the pressure of living the same kind of life? If they imagine that this life is only accessible to the really rich or famous, then they can pretend that they can’t make it as they are just ordinary folks living paycheque to paycheque. But once they see people travelling long-term on an ‘ordinary’ salaries, they are forced to admit something different.
I refuse to believe what everyone thinks – travelling long-term is still living in reality. I feel like I’m more real when I travel than when I’m back home. I am more connected to the people and animals around me. I feel more compassion when I see a hungry person or animal asking me for food. I talk to more random people face-to-face (rather than just on Facebook). I am able to live more fully as I am living the life that I want – I’m spending my days the way I want.
Maybe that is why travelling long-term is not real life, because you get to spend it the way you want to spend your life.
Real life, perhaps, means spending your days dictated by norms, beliefs, standards of other people, like family, friends, society, and media. If that is the case, then I am glad I am not living a ‘real’ life. And even though, I will be coming back home soon, I will still be able to say that I lived an unreal life for a little while in a way that was quite real to me.
– This post has been published in San Jose, Costa Rica.
If you haven’t heard of the Big Trip yet, you are in for a treat. Boom & Thenix are driving a 1998 Honda Civic down to the southern most tip of South America, through the West Coast of the US, Mexico, Central and South America. We left on July 17th for this amazing adventure with the help of our sponsor Wise24. For a map of our trip so far, please click here. If you have questions about costs, visas, or anything else trip-related, please see our post on The Big Trip or check out our Archives. Add us to Google+.
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