Long term travel is not a holiday, it is a life.
Most people think that when you are traveling for a long and indefinite time your whole life must surely exist out of one happy exciting moment after the other.
And, it has got to be said that the endless string of beautiful pictures on Facebook, Instagram and other social media makes it very easy for your mind to believe exactly just that. But the truth is, a traveling life is not that different from a ‘standard’ western life. It is all about the person who is living it and the path (s)he choses to walk. Living a ‘normal’ modern life makes it easy to be envious about the life a nomad leads; who wouldn’t want to live from day to day, make decisions based on gut feelings and have the time to listen to what your body needs in terms of sleep, food and love?
The only thing we have to do to keep enjoying our current nomadic lifestyle, is to stay within our monthly budget. Of course this way of living has its up- and downsides. On the one hand our budget decides where we go, what we see and what we will or will not experience. For example, at the moment we are living in San Pedro, a small village in the center of Guatemala at the side of a beautiful lake surrounded by three volcanos. The incredible nature around us is super inviting, however, we are only allowed to climb one of these triangle shaped ‘hot’ mountains if we hire a local guide, who accompanies us all the way to the top. The price for this service is Q100 (10 euro), which is just above our daily budget of 9 euro (with which we also have to pay for food, housing and so on). So, this basically means that if we want to do the climb, we need to live on rice and beans for a few days… Of course this isn’t the worse thing that can happen to a person, but after a while it can be frustrating having to think about money all the time. Especially when you are living in San Pedro and meet a lot of travelers with a bigger budget, who don’t even have to think for a second about not seeing or doing what they want in this part of the world.
On the other hand, it is because of our limited budget we need to be more resourceful (which my brain really gets a kick out of) and often find a cheaper alternative or even get lucky and find a way to enjoy some of the more ‘expensive’ activities for free. Like for example when we were Couchsurfing with a girl in Mexico who offered us the use of her kayaks for free or the time we met a random woman in a supermarket in Portugal who offered us a three course meal in her own restaurant at no cost at all (for three days in a row, by the way).
One thing is for sure, traveling makes it a lot easier to put things in perspective. Like in a non-traveling life, there is always someone who seems to be one step ahead of you, living the life you would like to live or doing what you would want do. A few weeks ago we crossed someone who is living on an even smaller budget than we are; only three euros a day. And I guess this is what traveling is all about; realizing we are all just little fishes in a sea of endless possibilities, where everything is relative. We all follow our own path for our own reasons, whether this is on a remote island or just right outside of our own doorstep. It’s exactly this beautiful perception of who we are in this big world that makes us realize that what we do and who we are is what matters, not what could be or what we haven’t done.
In our case, me and my two fellow Nomads, Val and Lewis, are some of those colorful little fishes, swimming in a huge pond of travelers and trying to convert our life experiences into words in the hope to lighten the spark within others.
So, to everyone who is reading this on a tablet, a phone or a computer, somewhere in a random city in the world, you and I, might not be so different after all. We live and keep moving walls in order to turn our dreams into reality. And if that’s not what you’re doing, I hope that one day through the help of our words we can lighten your fire, because I promise whatever you are dreaming of doing, is more than worth taking the risk for.
The limits our budget and our dog Lewis impose on us have a very big impact on our life, but when I look out of the window of our modest penthouse here in San Pedro, a big smile appears on my face, knowing that right this moment I am where I should be.