If travel blogs have one overarching message, my own included, it’s something like: Cast off your doubts, go traveling, and let the consequences be damned. The part that these inspirational messages tend to leave out is that quitting my job to travel long-term was, and still is, downright terrifying.
It’s true that the most challenging part, by far, was mustering the courage to leave Canada in the first place. But 2 years later, the doubts that once governed most of my decisions still slither up to the surface and demand attention. They rise up after skype conversations with friends who finally got the promotion they wanted, or saved to start their own business after putting in time at unpleasant jobs for the last few years. They struggled, and then they succeeded. Those are the moments when everything about my life: The serial expat lifestyle, the freedom to travel regularly, the minimal working hours, the easy job – it all feels like cheating.
The fears take hold partly because I know that my lifestyle is temporary. I like teaching English, but not enough to turn it into a long-term career. I have no intention of using my degree and revisiting my pre-traveling career path. So then, what will I be doing next year and the year after that? It’s easy to romanticize living moment by moment but, for me, it also means not building towards a future.
For the past year, Brent and I have talked about moving back to Canada someday to open a Bed & Breakfast. It’s an idea that perfectly melds our different talents, and would allow us to keep travel and tourism in our lives, while having a more permanent home base.
But the thing is, I don’t want to move home and work at a menial job in order to save up for this dream. Do I really have to be unhappy for a few years if I ever want to be as successful as my peers? I believe that hard work is necessary for success, but are struggling and delaying my dreams also required?
Does there have to be a trade-off between money and freedom? It’s certainly a topic that many people have pondered before me, but I have yet to meet anyone who knows the answer.
I feel like there should be some way for us to continue traveling for as long as we want, and then to fluidly transition into a more stable lifestyle in Canada that excites us equally as much as this one does. I want every year to be as good or better than the one before it.
If someone else explained this same dilemma to me, I’d be the first person to tell them that there are countless ways to save money while still continuing to travel. It’s true, but that in itself is part of my problem. There are too many choices, and I don’t know which one is right for me. Should I focus on monetizing this blog? Or maybe on freelance writing? Or teaching extra classes via Skype? Or learning a digital nomad-esque skill like graphic design? These options all seem doable, but none of them fill me genuine enthusiasm. I don’t feel more drawn to one over the others.
But eventually you just have to make a choice and stick with it, right? I’ve met people who chose a job, a career, a life, not because they felt passionate about it, but simply because they thought it was time to choose. They had reached a certain pivotal age, so they sucked it up and applied for medical school, or went after the entry-level sales job because it was the sensible thing to do. There’s no joy, but just a sense that they did what they thought had to be done.
But what if I don’t want to suck it up and settle for a career that seems just alright? What if I want to hold out for something truly fulfilling? Does that make me an admirable idealist or is it an excuse to be plain old lazy and undisciplined?
Should I follow this feeling, and wait for an opportunity to come along that feels right? But, how long am I willing to wait for that? Or maybe should I push myself to make the tough decisions. Because that too would only be temporary, right? I would only have to work in that boring job until we could save up to start the B&B. Yet, I don’t know if I’m willing to endure those dark years – those years when I would suffer through the present and live for a vision of the future.
So I hold on to the fact that in midst of all I don’t know, I do know that I love traveling. And I love sharing it with people, whether it’s through blogging, stories, photos, or hosting other travelers and providing local tourism tips. I have my doubts at times, but I never regret following my instinct to travel. Even when my confidence waivers, I still want to believe that if I just keep doing what I love, then the rest will fall into place…..eventually…..
I want your advice! How did travel influence your career? Do you have any regrets?