If you’re reading this blog you are likely one of three people:
1. You are actively living the lifestyle you chose and come here to hang out with like-minded souls, learn from others and possibly give out your own advice. Good for you, thanks for coming.
2. You are in the process of planning to separate yourself from the mundane and are looking for last-minute advice and inspiration and to know you aren’t the only one out there who feels like this. You’re not. Please come join us, the water’s fine.
3. You read each entry with a growing sense of elation deep in your gut because you see that living this type of life is possible. But just as that sensation bubbles up to the surface the serious part of your brain steps in and says “STOP.”
“Sure other people have done it, BUT…”
“BUT, what about….”
“I’d love to do that, BUT…”
I am here to tell you to shut the BUTS up. Yes, there will always be BUTS that try to stop you but I promise they can be overcome with a lot less hassle then you might think.
“BUT I have debt.”
Many of us are struggling with paying off our debt we accrued for one reason or another. Money consultants and budget bloggers will tell you that traveling while in debt is a stupid thing to do, and they are partially right. If you want to go to a luxury Caribbean resort for a week while heavily in debt, don’t do it. But you’re smarter than that, I know, and the type of travel you want to do is more permanent. You want to make a lifestyle change, not just take a vacation.
There is only one answer for this. You will need to figure out how to make money while traveling. Luckily, there are many different options these days, (freelance writing, telecommuting, running your own online business) you just have to pick which one is best for you and your situation. I chose to teach English in China, and the experience of staying in one place and getting to know the locals and students has enriched my travels in ways I never thought possible. All while putting me in a position to also pay off my debt.
“BUT, I own a house.”
The story that we often hear is about how so-and-so sold everything they owned and decided to travel the world. But I own a house and when I have seen the world for awhile, I want to go back to it. Instead of selling it, and all my worldly possessions, I decided to rent it. This way I know I still have a fully furnished house waiting for me if something should go wrong.
The downside is that much can go wrong with the house when you are gone. The tenant can decide to take advantage of the fact that you are thousands of miles away and not pay rent, or the pipes can burst, or the house can catch fire. It’s best if you have a local person to be your “property manager” who can be the go-between and answer any small questions or problems the tenant has. You will need to decide for yourself if the security of owning the house is worth the hassle.
“BUT, I have pets.”
Well, this one is tough. Guilt comes with the package as animals can’t understand your plans. You can find good, kind friends to take care of them or make pet sitting part of the rental agreement. (That’s what I did.) Just trust that they are being taken care of and they are still living happy lives. Or, if leaving them is not an option, plan around it. There are plenty of pet friendly countries you and your animals can go to with a little paperwork.
“BUT, I’ll miss my friends.”
Hello, ever heard of e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Skype? I mean, how often do you actually see your friends face-to-face? Probably less then you think. When I lived back home I saw my dad about 2-3 times a year. Now that I’m on the other side of the world I “see” him (through the magic of Skype) on a bi-weekly basis. Yes, you’re going to miss some parties, potlucks and holiday dinners, but you are going to have enough amazing experiences not to mind.
Change is a scary thing, and when we contemplate making a big change part of our brain freaks out and tries to put up huge obstacles to stop us and keep us in our “safe” (but very boring) life. Take a deep breath, trust in yourself and get all those BUTS out of your way!
Oh yeah, traveling and living an uncertain lifestyle with kids can be a huge challenge. But at my school in China there is an Australian couple with two young kids. They took the “but” of kids and turned it into a “because.” As in: Because we have kids we have to do this.
Good luck! Personally, I think you are doing your kids a HUGE favor in life by living an untemplater lifestyle while they are young.
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
I can see where you are coming from, but, at the same time, I am hugely grateful that neither my parents or my friends parents decided to do something like this. As we prepare for the 20th anniversary of our friendship, I can honestly say that we would have never been friends for so long, or so close if we hadn’t lived across the street from each other for the first 15 years.
We just had totally opposite childhoods I can tell! I grew up in the same town for the first 18 years of my life (and my parent’s are still there) and I spent most of my childhood dreaming of living in other places. It’s not to say that I didn’t have many good friends, in fact my bests friends even today are from then, but I really began to resent everybody because I felt “stuck” in the town.
I guess it all comes down to your values and what type of values you want to try to instill in your children. In my life I have found that traveling and exploring new places has been the most valuable thing in my life, so (someday) I will want my children to explore the world and learn like I did. What do you want your children to experience?
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
We moved a lot when I was younger, but that was mostly because my father was involved in a few entrepreneurial ventures that failed and the housing was tied to the venture (like the motel he ran for a few years). When we moved back to my mother’s home town, they new that they didn’t want to live anywhere else. They still live in the house we moved into in 1990.
That said, my father travels for a living (literally, he drives a truck). It sounds a lot more exciting then it is. I went with him one summer and was absolutely bored to tears. After that experience, I really only dreamed of going to two places. I’m in one now and I doubt the other will be available in my lifetime (it’s the moon).
I had two friends that had jobs that required extensive travel. The one, whose job was even exciting without the travel (he designed set props for the WWE), lasted less than a year. The other lasted out 3 years of which we was miserable every time he was on the road.
Becky, your comment is so encouraging to read! Our motivation in wanting to live this lifestyle is absolutely because of our kids…and they are young (an 18mo old and a 3yr old). The fact that we want to spend our lives with our kids instead of working all day while a nanny spends her life with them is the reason that we are motivated to even dare to try this lifestyle.
Thank you for your reply. Totally made my day! 🙂
Your welcome! 🙂 Have you checked out some of the blogs of families that travel? It might be a big help if you haven’t.
This one is pretty famous and she has quite a twitter following. Her daughter is a little older (5 I think) but I’m sure there is lots of good stuff.
And this family is traveling with three kids!
My co-workers here kind of acknowledge that their youngest (3) probably doesn’t even realize he is in a different country, but they still appreciate the way that he is learning to cope with new places and new people and having new experiences!
David Crandall says
I will go check those out now. By the time we start traveling next year…we’ll be a family with 3 kids too. Ha!
I find that my wife and I are getting more and more excited as the days progress towards our goal. Sites like this have encouraged us to reach for this dream! Love it!!!
David Crandall says
Great article! I’m happy to say that I’ve graduated to the second group you listed. I have set dates and my wife and I have started defining the steps in our timelines.
That being said, it’s so good to see that the ‘buts’ that we are facing both internally and from family members are totally normal. As you said, it’s just nice to know that we aren’t the only ones to feel this way.
I’d love to see a response to a really big but: BUT we have kids. We’re not letting it stop us, but we certainly are having to be creative in our solutions. LOL
Thanks for the article!
The Sufi’s talk about making changes in our life according to a musical scale. When we identify the change we want to make we sound “Do”. Then we start to plan the change and we sound “Re”. Finally, that little voice in our head goes off, we start to list out the “Buts” and we sound “Mi” – and stop there. We then sound do-re-mi over and over without really making the change because the “Buts” keep us stuck. The Sufi’s then say that in order to cross the “Mi – Fa bridge” (that is, sound the next note and actually start the change we want), we need help from someone to assist us in the change – to get us across the bridge. And that is where allies come in. It may be as simple as someone showing us the path, or actually providing us with the concrete assistance we need. Otherwise, the but-list stops us in our tracks.
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
While I think I’ve got a foot firmly planted in group one (but also another in group 3), I think I’m a group two person. I do have some big untemplated plans, but the do require some scratch that is going to take a while to build. This isn’t an excuse but a reality. My plans require land in a part of the world where the locals have disposable income and time, which is exactly the parts of the world where land isn’t particularly cheap.
That said, I do think your last point isn’t thought out quite well enough: “BUT, I’ll miss my friends.”
I think this is one of the most under-rated fears talked about in this type of community. Last year, I fulfilled a life-long dream and moved cross country from NJ to Colorado. I really enjoy it and have made new friends, but I do miss my NJ friends terribly.
None of them have twitter or skype, a few don’t even have facebook. (I don’t know that any of us have a webcam to do video skype if we did sign up). One doesn’t even have a cell phone. My best friend is almost impossible to get a hold of on the phone. And he has been one of the most influential and important people in my life, after my wife and parents. My group of friends spent time together at least once or twice per quarter, and my best friend and I at least monthly.
I’m not saying that that means people should automatically rule out travel or moving because of close friends. I am saying that people should give it a little more credence instead of just dismissing it as an idle worry.
Well, I didn’t mean to imply that you won’t miss your friends…of course you will! I know I do. But my point is it is easy for most people to stay in touch these days without physically meeting.
With Skype you don’t need a video camera. It functions as a regular phone as well. I bought a $10 microphone from Target and calls from China to a US phone are only .02 cents a minute. (Call from Skype-to-skype are free with or without a video function.) So it’s very affordable. We put $10 on our account and in 8 months have only used half of it. And we call parents and friends on the phone regularly.
Your friend sounds like he is the exception these days with no cell phone of Facebook, but you can still keep up with him regularly if you schedule time to talk. Even though it’s not face-to-face it’s better than nothing!
Good luck making your own changes. It took me 2 (long) years of planning and saving before I was able to live my untemplater life so I know how you feel!
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
Actually, the friend with no cell phone does have facebook, and the ones without facebook have cell phones. But all in all, everyone is ridiculously difficult to get a hold of.
At the end of the day, it really boils down to what could be considered the motto of the untemplater lifestyle: different strokes for different folks.
Eran - The Quarterlife Quest says
Great post! I think there’s always a way to get past the “buts” – it just depends on how badly you want it. Would you rather travel or would you rather stay home with your pets? If the answer is travel, there’s always a way to figure out how to care for your pets, or your home, or the money. It’s just hard to take that leap sometimes! 🙂
Good stuff! The excuses that are most effective at keeping us from doing something we long to do are often the ones that we give ourselves. That’s a huge hurdle many people, myself included, have a hard time getting over.
I try to start by changing all my ‘but’s to ‘and’s, they seem more like a challenge to me that can be overcome that way rather than an obstacle that’s blocking me. Maybe that’s just me, though…I can’t say it really makes sense; it seems to work though!
I like that idea of changing ‘but’ to ‘and.’ It does make it seem a bit more possible and, like you said, more of a challenge then a real problem. It’s amazing what a little change of vocabulary does to change your thought pattern.
My huge “but” would be my cars, as far as traveling goes….
Then again, the way I interperate my ideal untemplater life, it’s freeing up my time to entirely focus on cars., i.e., being able to go to races without pissing off a boss with how often I ask for off. 😛
I know, often people interpret the untemplater lifestyle as selling all their stuff and going to travel. I always felt like I was doing it a bit “wrong” when I decided not to sell my house. But then I realized that living an an untemplater lifestyle means doing things the way you want. If your ideal lifestyle is all about cars and not traveling, then I say, go for it!
(I actually had to get rid of my car of 11 years before moving to China, and while it was time for us to part, I am still sad about it! I loved my little old car! 🙂 )
Great post. It reminds me of a post I wrote about the lizard brain, that part of the mind that often tells you “no, you can’t do this.” Hope you don’t mind me including the link: http://www.traveling-savage.com/2010/04/01/hey-lizard-brain-its-ok-to-be-afraid/
Benny the Irish polyglot says
Hear hear! Great intro, some people need to turn on their positive filter and stop focusing on what’s holding them back so much 🙂