I'll admit, I get a little jealous sometimes when I read the blogs of full-time travelers. And, sure, sometimes I daydream of a life full of adventure, never knowing what's around the next corner. My life's not like that. And, to be honest, I kind of like it that way...most of the time.
As much as I love exploring and adventure, I like regularity and structure, too. I also like my comfortable bed, my personal space, and my regular paycheck. Sure, I'd love a little more independence, and I agree with others when they say that traveling full-time abides by the "you only live once" lifestyle commandment. But truly living means something different to me.
Reading more and more about twenty (and thirty)-somethings dropping everything to travel full-time has got me thinking: would I ever quit my job to travel full-time? The honest answer is NO, and there's a few compelling reasons why.
First, I can't afford it. Plain and simple. Like most American's my age (35) I have student loan debt. I also live in a very expensive city. I have credit card debt. I help support others financially. I like to eat well, drive a decent car and wear cool vintage jewelry. All these things cost money. Yes, if I cut back on expenses and saved I could travel more, but I never see myself affording to travel full-time for the simple fact that I owe the US Department of Education way too much money. I also REALLY enjoy a secure income and knowing that I'm working to secure future income. I've read a lot about traveling full-time, but I've yet to come across any information about the full-time traveler's retirement package. I work with elderly persons and disabled adults every day; sadly, I see many of them struggle to make ends meet. It motivates me to plan for my future and for the future of my partner and my parents. I don't see full-time travel helping me feel secure about what is certainly uncertain.
I'm an Adult
As a thirty-something adult, I'd like to think that I've out-grown the "all about me" phase of life. Sure, my twenties were full of soul-searching and self-exploration, but I don't agree that one has to quit their job, leave behind friends and family, and backpack Southeast Asia to find one's true self. In fact, speaking from a psychology perspective, it could potentially hinder psycho-social development. Theories suggest that early adulthood is a time meant for developing lasting relationships and learning to be emotionally intimate with partners, family and friends. I'm sure full-time travelers meet really cool people, but the lifestyle can't be conducive to genuine intimacy. Sure, the Internet fosters connection, but are Twitter and Instagram followers going to give you a ride home from the hospital or loan you money when you need it? I think not. But, hey, that's just my opinion.
I Like My Life
I've a great life with my partner here in Southern California. Sure, we struggle from time to time, but, overall, we're a great team. I've worked hard to foster the kind of adult relationship I wanted, and no amount of travel experiences will ever substitute the emotional and physical connection I have with this other human. Besides, I paid my dating dues and don't ever want to endure that misery again. (Yes, I'm looking at you, ex-boyfriends.) To have found someone who motivates me to be a better person, who cares deeply for me and shares my goals and values is, well, too valuable to risk for a chance to see the world. Sure, there are couples who travel full-time together, but we'll likely never be that couple simply because of his professional obligations. He worked hard to achieve his career goals, and I respect that. I don't see him giving up a tenured professorship to head off to see the world. And, frankly speaking, I think it would be unfair of me to ask.
Another reason is my parents. Although I don't live close to home any more, I remain connected to my parents both emotionally and financially. I sometimes think I have a very unique relationship with my parents, but I can't be the only one of my generation who is facing a future of certain responsibilities as a result of their parent's free-living ways. I don't judge or resent them. It is how it is, as they say. I know that, as they age, my life will change, which is why I travel now as much as I can. But, even now, they need me. Turning away from that responsibility to selfishly seek freedom is just not an option. Blame it on my Southern values, but family will always come first.
The final, and most important, reason is my professional career. What I do as a social worker, no matter where I work, is meaningful to me. I worked hard, studied hard and sacrificed a lot to become the professional I am today. No matter how much I love to travel and to experience new cultures, my work enriches my spirit more. Sure, there are days when I think I must be crazy to have become a social worker. But, it never fails, I'll eventually encounter another human being in need of my help and expertise which helps remind me why I was called to do this. I would never, ever walk away from that. I'm too proud of the profession and too empowered by my success as a female professional to give up now.
In a nutshell, my reasons for never traveling full-time are probably equally as selfish. But I like to think that my life is complete regardless of whether or not I check off every box on the bucket list. So, I'll settle for my security, traveling and blogging when I can. And who knows, maybe I'll find a traveling social work position one day. A girl can dream, can't she?
Raised in Louisiana and living in Los Angeles, Carlie is a full-time Social Worker and part-time blogger sharing her photos and observations about cultures, places and human nature. "I write about what inspires and challenges me in hopes that others can relate." For more of her point of view check out http://acajunincali.com/.