One of the things I’ve noticed is that a lot of young people, as they travel around to different countries, just love ‘doing it rough’. They sleep on the ground, in bus shelters, up in trees, or in dormitory style hostels with groups of other young people.
That’s not for me!
With my back issues, I’m going to have to sleep in a decent bed every night. And I snore like a trooper, so if I sleep with a group of people they’re going to smother me to death before the sun rises.
That’s not quite the outcome I’d be happy with.
So my travels are going to have to include a decent bed, in a room that’s shared only with my wife (who’s pretty much used to my snoring by now!).
To this end, my options include house sitting in other countries, where you look after someone’s house while they’re on holiday, or renting a cheap furnished apartment that can be used as a home base while you’re in the country. From all accounts, many countries that I’ll be visiting will have cheap apartment rentals, for a fraction of the cost of what we pay in our first world countries.
You can enjoy backpacking while young
When you’re young and fit, you can carry huge backpacks around with you, without it detracting from your ability to walk the roads and mountains of the countries you visit.
When you’re in your late 40s like me, with a collapsed disc in your back that prevents you from carrying anything more than 5kg – and even then with great discomfort – as well as prevent you from walking more than a hundred metres before having to rest, then backpacking becomes impossible.
So no backpacks for me. Unless it’s 5kg or less.
In the recent past I’ve looked at how I can ‘pack my life into a bag’. I think a small 30 litre backpack would be entirely adequate.
When you’re travelling, you only need to pack the things you’re going to need, while wearing the rest. It’s called ultra-light packing.
Think about it. Let’s say you’re wearing decent travel / walking shoes, maybe some socks, light trousers (with legs that unzip to become shorts), underwear, a shirt, a hat, sunglasses, and you’re carrying your smartphone which doubles as your camera, and your wallet and passport are in your pockets, secured by zippers.
What more do you need?
- Another couple items of underwear / bra
- another pair of lightweight trousers
- another pair of socks
- another couple of shirts (everything lightweight, remember)
- a towel
- lightweight leg and body thermals for when it gets cool
- fleece jacket
- bathers / bikini
- basic toiletries like toothbrush and toothpaste, shower gel, and shaving kit
- small first aid kit
- some kind of Swiss army knife (that doesn’t violate airport security procedures)
You can wash your dirty clothes while wearing the clean clothes.
And then you’ve got the really important stuff.
- 13″ laptop with 2-3 USB ports
- universal power adaptor
- USB charging cables for the devices you take with you (phone, camera, etc)
- maybe a digital camera that’ll take better photos than your smartphone, but if you’re happy with your phone (like I currently am), why use a larger camera? No need, so discard that extra weight.
What else do you think you would need?
I don’t think there’s anything else you’ll need that can’t be considered a ‘want’, or ‘paranoia’. Many people pack more than they need just because they think there’s the possibility that they’ll need ten items of underwear, four towels, five pairs of shoes, half the contents of the bathroom cupboard, a fresh change of clothes for every day of their holiday, and fancy clothes just in case they meet someone important.
Avoiding extra luggage with things you don’t need also has the following benefits:
- You save money by not having to pay for checked in baggage fees at airports. Your flights can become that much cheaper.
- You don’t need to wait around for your baggage to come out on the conveyor belt.
- You don’t need to struggle with walking long distances while carrying a suitcase and half a dozen travel bags.
- You can go to a coffee shop somewhere with everything you own in your small backpack, relaxing without needing to worry about suitcases and travel bags.
- If you get tired of one place, or you’re just ready to move on anyway, you just pack your light backpack and move on. You don’t need to pack or manage suitcases with tons of crap in them.
Everything that’s in the bullet point list above is all that’s really needed when you go long term travelling. It’s light, so you can carry it in a small backpack, and it’s comprehensive. You’ve got replacements to wear if your clothes get dirty, and you can always wash clothes along the way. Even if it’s in a stream and you lay it out on a rock to dry.
If you find something you need that you don’t have, or you need to replace something, then you can buy it in the country that you’re in. And you can sell it again or give it away if appropriate, before you move on to the next country.
It just makes sense to travel light when travelling.
You can enjoy long walks while young
Many travel destinations for young people include many hours or days of walking around town, or in the countryside, or up mountains.
Not for me! I can walk a few minutes and then I have to stop for a rest somewhere, to ease my back complaints. It’s a pain in the ass (not to mention in the back!), but it’s what I have to take into consideration.
So wherever I go has to be within civilisation. Taxis, buses, trains, cars or trams. Those are my only choices.
Sure, I’ll still go for walks here and there, but it can only be for very short distances. And I’ll have a walking stick.
But it’s not something I’m interested in letting stop me. The world is still out there for me to see, even if I’m not young any more.
You can enjoy life without responsibility when young
Responsibility. It’s a dirty word for many young people. Many of them travel just to avoid it! But the older you get, the more responsibilities you end up having to deal with.
I’m married now, with a plan to have children this year (we’re working on it…). That’s a big responsibility!
I know that there are people who do travel the world with their small children. They do it quite successfully, and the concept is attractive to me. I have no doubt that my wife and I could do exactly the same thing.
Photo courtesy of Baby Travel Tips from Traveling Families
I can’t do it if my wife doesn’t want to. That’s irresponsible and negligent towards the relationship we have. So compromises have to be made.
So after lots of thought and many conversations, the result is that we’ll play it by ear. We both want to travel, and travel is important to her too. So we’ll find a way.
My goal in life is to find freedom. Freedom to travel, to see the world, and to eventually decide where I’m going to settle down and retire; not because it will be what I can afford, or because I’m restricted to location, but because I’ve seen the world and found a place I want to call home.
My wife’s goal in life is to find security and stability in life, with a family. Our goals could potentially be quite incompatible, but it just means we have to work hard to find a middle ground somewhere.
At the end of the day, I’m not a young man any more. I just can’t pack up without a care in the world and go galavanting off around the world on a whim. It has to be planned and managed as the huge project that it really is.
But it’s very exciting to think about how I can make it work!
One of my wife’s challenges is with a stable and secure source of income. She feels that you can only have a stable and secure source of income when you have a steady job, where you get up each day and go off to work, and then come home at the end of each day exhausted. Once a year you go on a holiday somewhere to make up for the rest of the year that you’ve spent working.
Oh my… Anyone who’s been a regular on this blog can probably understand how much that makes me grit my teeth, smile and nod and say, ‘Yes dear,’ while inwardly trying to work out how the hell I can create security and stability for her with multiple sources of online income.
It’s going to be challenging, that’s for sure, but I do see how I can make it happen.
And if I can see it, then I can achieve it.
Part of the challenge I have is to find a way to help my wife see it too.
The answer lies in achieving ‘security and stability’ with my online sources of income. If I can consistently earn enough to pay for our weekly expenses over at least 6 months, then that will be a good start on this journey.
Wish me luck! 🙂
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