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Why I want to be a Perpetual Traveler

In a fuzzy state of excitement, I can’t get out of my mind the concept of permanently travelling the world, going from one country to the next, and maybe back again. But why do I want this? I realised just now that I really should explain why.

After all, it’s not something too many people would find attractive. Most people want a good husband or wife, a nice house with a white picket fence, the average 2.5 kids, and a dog. They spend their life working 8-12 hours a day, five days a week, mowing the lawns on the weekends and waiting for retirement. That’s their life, and that’s all they can imagine.

But it’s not what I want.

To me, being stuck in one place, slaving day after day to help someone else make money from my labour, with the goal of getting through each year so I can have a few weeks a year of my own, is a concept that makes me absolutely miserable. Imagining that kind of life in my future makes me want to shoot myself. Or think that there’s got to be something better than that.

And there is something better than that. At least for me.

I’ve been travelling all my life, around some of the states and territories of Australia, and even lived for a number of years in another country before coming back to Australia.

Travelling is in my blood. Trying to pretend it isn’t is getting more and more difficult. I feel like I need to accept it and embrace it, and turn it into my lifestyle.

With everything in my life, I’ve created what I want by focusing on it so much that it eventually becomes part of my life in every way. I research it, I see myself living it, I talk about it with everyone I talk to, and I write about it. Eventually what was just a dream becomes a reality. It becomes real.

And that’s what’s going to happen here.

I’m reading about other Perpetual Travellers (PTs) and the experiences they have, the reasons they chose their lifestyle, and how they go about maintaining it.

I’m contacting some of them and interviewing them about it, so that I can understand exactly what their thinking is as they venture into it and choose to live it.

Why am I researching it instead of just doing it?

Because I want to be prepared. It’s part of my nature. I like to know what I’m getting into before I get into it. I like to know what I can expect, so that I can prepare for it.

I’m 46 years old. I’ve got responsibilities and obligations in my life that most people in their 20’s just don’t have. I can’t just jump on a plane and go somewhere on a whim. I have to understand the consequences of my actions and make preparations accordingly, so that I don’t create significant problems for myself down the track.

I also have to create an online business or income stream that can sustain a ‘location independent lifestyle’, so that I can travel around the world while making money from the internet, regardless of my location.

It’s not just me I have to support.

I have to make sure I can support my fiancée as well, and take into account the plans we’re making to get married this year, and have children next year (2014). I have to make sure I can support a family while choosing to engage in a lifestyle of travel.

Many people would choose to settle down because that’s the easier path. But I’m not one to choose the easier path. I’m one to choose ‘the path less travelled’.

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost, 1916

It’s been the story of my life that I’ve ‘taken the road less travelled by, and that has made all the difference’.

And I think that story shall continue. For a long time yet.

But what about the family?

As I said, many people would choose to settle down and start a family, because it’s just easier to settle down. But I can’t see why I should not do something, just because it’s  more difficult.

I’ve already got certain ideas in place as to how it can be done.

If you have enough money, or you have money coming in so that you can support yourself during this ongoing process, you can be a permanent tourist. You can travel to a country on a tourist visa, live there for the duration of the visa and then move on to the next country and repeat the process.

If you’re never in one place long enough to be a permanent resident, you can also avoid paying income tax on your income, especially if you make a declaration to the government of your home country that you’re living permanently in another country (while making sure that this ‘other country’ is a place you’re not exactly living in permanently, so that you avoid paying income tax on your international income).

What about a stable home for the family?

Many people get attached to ‘stuff’. They think that if they’re living somewhere, with a family, then there’s ‘stuff’ that they need to have.

They buy furniture for the bedrooms, lounge room, dining room and living room. They buy ‘stuff’ to go with the furniture, like coffee tables and vases and ornaments. They buy appliances for the kitchen, and for the living area, like microwave ovens, mixers, tv’s, computers, etc etc.

After a few years of this, they have so much stuff that they dread moving around because of how much they would need to move and how much it would cost. So they remain in the same house for decades. Sometimes even for generations. Because of the stuff in their house and in their life.

You don’t need that much stuff. You certainly don’t need to carry it around with you when travelling.

There are people that travel the world by house sitting, so that they pay absolutely nothing for rent or accommodation, other than the other living costs associated with travel and food.

There are people that travel the world WITH A FAMILY! Shocking!

How do they do it?

One can only imagine that it would be relatively easy to do. As long as you can buy the necessities of life, for yourself, your partner, and for your children, you don’t need to have your own home and ‘stuff’.

If you have a baby, you don’t need the latest and greatest modern inventions for prams and cots. You can buy them for a few cents or dollars locally. When you move to another country, but a new pram for a dollar. Buy a new cot for a dollar. Buy new nappies or clothes or bags.

It’s not difficult. You can make a choice to live with enough essentials for a week or so, knowing that you can always buy more, cheaply, no matter where you are. Obviously there will be a necessity to make sure you’re travelling to countries where this is easy to do.

Travelling to Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, would not be a suitable choice.

Any comfort you might want can be gained from living in other people’s comfortable homes, while house sitting for example. Comfort can be gained by living in furnished apartments in countries where you’re paying only $500 a month for the rent. It can be gained by buying only what you need to consume, and ignoring the ‘stuff’ that you don’t need.

A laptop and smartphone could be considered ‘essential stuff’, that’s portable and essential to remaining connected with important resources. Especially if you need to remain connected to the internet to continue earning your income.

Obviously, with raising small children, you also have to take into consideration the availability of effective health care. If you’re a permanent tourist and can afford it, you should certainly be investing in travel insurance and associated health insurance (that’s just my opinion, of course). You should make sure you understand what you’re covered for, and you should make sure you’re in a country that can provide a decent level of health care for your baby / babies / kids / yourselves.

But that’s not even important. Most developed or developing countries, within reason, have a level of health care that’s able to respond effectively to emergencies, and for any health care that’s not an emergency but you want better care, you can always travel back to your home country for it.

I don’t believe there’s anything completely insurmountable in such a lifestyle choice. It just requires research, understanding, and preparation.

Part of my preparation will necessarily involve developing a sustainable and long-lasting income stream, so that I don’t ever have to worry about not being able to afford dealing with emergencies. And I need to have it in place before I start travelling.

With Fanfan being Chinese, I can live there as her spouse (once we get married). I can have two ‘home countries’, being Australia and China.

With the reciprocal arrangements between Australia and New Zealand, we can also live in New Zealand without needing a Visa of any kind. So that makes three ‘home countries’.

For any other country around the world, we can go there on tourist Visas and stay as long as the Visa allows us to, and then move on to the next country.

Once we have children, we’ll also be able to occasionally leave them with Fanfan’s parents, their grandparents, for weeks or months at a time, while we go travelling around the country or the world, making sure through the wonders of technology (Skype) that we stay in touch with them on a daily basis (where possible).

As we continue to travel when they’re old enough to go to school, we’ll engage in home schooling, making sure that we provide them with the quality of education that we want to ensure they have. But their most important schooling will be from life, from travel, from experiencing other cultures and people, and appreciating this wide world.

You can probably see I’ve already put some thought into this.

All I need now is a ‘location independent’ source of income. I’m working on that.

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