Everybody Told Me I Was A Useless Bum

Everybody Told Me I Was A Useless Bum

By |2016-07-21T23:47:10-04:00September 27th, 2012|Personal Stuff, Perspectives|184 Comments

End of a Long Trip - Warsaw Airport
You’re a no good, life-wasting, rotten, monkey-loving, responsibility-avoiding, useless, bum. That’s right, if you choose to avoid the normal routine in life and replace it with travel, whether for a few months, a year or even a decade or more, you’re a bum, without exception.

When we voice our desire to travel, it is unfortunately common to be met with such lines, something that I’ve been reminded of lately after receiving six emails in the past three days from readers who are dealing with such a situation right now.

As soon as they informed their family and friends of their decision to choose a path in life that truly excites them, a path that involves travel, they immediately were told that such a decision is simply not acceptable, such a decision is a waste of time and extremely childish. They were told to stop daydreaming and to start thinking about the real world, just like everyone else.

Maybe you’ve heard similar words from those around you every time you talk about your travel goals. Maybe you haven’t heard talk as intense as the lines above, but it’s likely that at least a handful of people have stared at you blankly, laughed off your dreams as nonsense or demanded that you ‘snap out of this phase’.

And every time we are met with such negativity, that all-encompassing, blissful excitement we feel whenever we close our eyes and think about our upcoming adventures around the world, suddenly disappears, vanishes in an instant…ZAP! Then, with head down, and a hint of tears in our eyes, we spend the next few days confused, frustrated and no longer certain that travel is such a good idea after all.

Let me tell you this. If you close your eyes right now and think of travel, and a smile forms on your face and you feel a surge of positive energy spread throughout your body, then travel is definitely a good idea for you.

Don’t let others dictate your life or influence what you know in your heart is the right decision. I know it’s not easy to ignore such negative reactions, but you must push forward.

Boy Was I Naive!

When I first started traveling and I made the decision back in 2000 to turn my 3-month trip into a more permanent adventure, one of the first things I did was to naturally inform my family and friends. However, at the time, I was definitely quite naïve as I had expected everyone to congratulate me on such a wonderful idea (even though I had almost no money and no plan at all), to offer their full support, to wish me the best with the path I now chose.

Of course, that didn’t happen at all. Instead, I found myself listening to people tell me that I’m wasting my life, that I didn’t go to university in order to roam around the world doing nothing. There were heated arguments, angry exchanges and more confusion than I have ever experienced at any other point in my life. Many a night I would stay awake, questioning whether or not I was making the right decision to remain overseas and not return home to get a normal job. I was feeling so lost that on several occasions, I was completely on the verge of packing up my backpack, giving up on my goals and booking a flight home.

But then, I would step outside in the morning and proceed to have yet another rewarding travel day, the kind of day so full of positive interactions and lessons, amazing food and amazing people, so full of new sights and sounds and moments that I never dreamed I would experience, that I again became convinced that a life of travel was indeed the right decision for me.

Eventually, after so many of these kind of days, I chose to ignore forever all of the people who told me that I was wasting my life. Sure enough, once I took this big step, my confusion and frustration soon turned to confidence, a confidence that began to increase with every passing day. And while I still had no idea what lay ahead, the fact that my decision to continue my travels felt infinitely better than any other decision I’d ever made, was more than enough to convince me that I would find a way to succeed.

Does This All Sound Familiar?

If you’re in a similar situation, feeling lost at the lack of support your travel goals have received from those around you, just know that you are not alone. It’s common for those around us, especially those who care about us, to worry about the decisions we make, most often when our decisions are so different from theirs.

People will tell you that you’re just confused or that your goals are impossible and that you need to come back to reality. They’ll tell you to stop being selfish, to stop daydreaming and to get a regular job because that’s what people do.

But again, if you know deep down that you must travel, just as I knew it, then you need to go forth and travel, regardless of what others think. You won’t be wasting your life, you won’t be avoiding responsibility. You’ll be achieving your goals, living a life without regrets and in the end, giving yourself an opportunity to create an actual, sustainable lifestyle that revolves around your truest interests.

That’s certainly not being a bum. That’s being smart, that’s being courageous, that’s making the absolute most out of your short time on this planet.

How did others react to your travel plans? If you haven’t told anyone yet, are you nervous about how they might react?

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  1. Vygintas December 10, 2018 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Man, I will be a bum later in life and it sucks.

    Since the beginning I knew my life is going to be panhandler…. 😀

  2. Ana July 26, 2017 at 2:21 am - Reply

    How can you afford traveling around the world? Do you work part time while you travel?

  3. […] Everybody told me I was a useless bum  […]

  4. Dawn Curzon May 31, 2015 at 7:44 am - Reply

    I feel sorry for those people, they’re all stuck on a senseless merry go round of life that was created to control the masses…….go to school, go to uni, get a job, buy a house, have kids, retire, then die…..all the while dreaming of a life that they’re too afraid to follow and telling you not to because it will make them feel even worse that someone else is doing it instead of them.
    Don’t get me wrong…..there are plenty of people who are happy living their lives like that but they won’t be the ones telling you not to go.
    Travel teaches you more about life and yourself than any university ever will.

    “The world is a book and those that do not travel read only one page” – St. Augustine

    “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it is lethal” – Paulo Coelho

    • Michael Muschner March 8, 2016 at 2:24 am - Reply

      I agree with you but i always think that having a family is something important in my life. How could i erver get Kids or the love of my life if i never have a home?

  5. J. May 28, 2015 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    this is a great article, I can see myself in what you said. Coming from a little town of 80,000 people, I have been called like that by many people when I decided not to go to university (whaaat?) and to make my first trip to the US for 2 months of pure travelling.

    This article is recommended for people who are exactly in this time, between the decision and the moment you are actually starting your travel. May this article help and be a support for these people! 🙂

    All the best,


  6. Maxine April 1, 2015 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl!

    This post was lovely! I’m 19 years old and very language oriented. My need to travel began at such a young age. I was always restless and at this point in my life it’s not a matter of whether it will happen, but when and how. I’ve thought of going to college and earning a BA in Linguistics to solidify 4 years of Japanese with a degree and then happily march off to Japan to teach English. Imagine my surprise when I discover that it’s not imperative to have a degree to teach English in many foreign countries! I think I may have been using that college degree scheme as a means to an end. Ultimately, I’m trying to decide if the 20 grand I’ve painstakingly raised for college should be implemented in other ways… nomadic ways, preferably.
    I want to see and experience as much of the world as I can. It’s never been a question for me, but the whole situation seems rather overwhelming for someone of my age to achieve. Is there any advice specifically that you can offer me? Especially about getting started and about making money while on a permanent vacation (And I don’t mean to make light of you or anyone’s hard work with such a comment, but it’s said that if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life and I intend to love every second!) Any commentary would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much!

    • Fahimah April 17, 2015 at 3:47 pm - Reply

      Hello Maxine,
      While, I’m not Earl, (or by any means an accomplished traveler) I really liked your comment! I am 17 and graduating high school this year and I hope to go on all sorts of adventures soon enough. For me travel is not a should-or-shouldn’t matter as well, but rather a how (despite that I am a girl coming from a conservative home). I am doing university abroad, so I wanted to recommend that option to you if you’d still like to go to college 🙂 Assuming that you are from/in the US (20 grand is a steep tuition) it is actually possible to get your degree a lot cheaper abroad (not necessarily in Japan and the hunt for budget degrees in English can range from exciting to very dire). And in some places, undergrad degrees can be earned in three years rather than four.
      If you’re interested, please say so! (I have two years research under my belt and would love to share!)
      Don’t let people discourage you because of your age! If you must go, then you must!
      Wishing you luck from Egypt!

  7. yara Coelho February 11, 2015 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    After I turned 30, my mother knew I would probably live this life forever…. Now that I’m 35 and haven’t stopped since I was 18, she has quit hoping! It’s definitely chronic, I’m a vagabond at heart and proud of it. Life is too short to sit at an office all day and skip the beautiful sunsets and sunrises across the world! <3

  8. Cristel January 31, 2015 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    I’m leaving April 1 to live in Guatemala and perhaps slow travel around Central and South America.
    When I told my little sister, she replied, “Why has it taken you so long to do this?” HA!
    My other sister is jealous but will surely join me when her kids are grown.
    My parents were concerned but not surprised.

    Love your blog… I’ll be reading all your older posts to get inspiration.

    • Clarence March 4, 2015 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      Peace Cristel, what part of Guatemala can you live in for 1,000 usd a month?

  9. Andrew July 14, 2014 at 5:39 am - Reply

    Thank you for posting this, I think the insight to your experience in this topic will come in handy soon enough!

    I have 18 months more work at my job before I hit 10 years, and in Australia we get 3 months paid leave for doing this, so that is looking like my goal date for wandering the world for a while, and then some more 🙂

    Keep up the amazing and inspiring work!

  10. Eric Z April 21, 2014 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    I regularly follow many travel bloggers. I love your site and your FB updates. This post has been my favorite article posted by a travel blogger ever since you published it. It resonates so much with my experience and how I feel. I’ve created a “mentality reminders” document that I read at the end of every week, to bring me back and keep me in the right mindset that I wish to remain in, regardless of external forces/negativity in my life. A link to this article is on the document, so that I can read it weekly and you can remind me to stay on the path towards a life of travel and the positivity it brings me.

    You’re helping and inspiring people more than you will ever know. Thank you so much Earl.

    • Wandering Earl April 21, 2014 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      Hey Eric – Thank you for that my friend and I shall look forward to receiving a message in which you tell me that your life of travel has begun!

  11. Samuel Thomson March 16, 2014 at 6:58 am - Reply

    Hey Earl!

    Thanks so much for that post it really helped me, i want to travel in 2 years time and am trying to work out when to tell my parents, but i guess it will have to come out at some point.

    Quick question; You said something about university? If you don’t mind me asking what did you study?

    • Wandering Earl March 21, 2014 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      Hey Samuel – I studied Management at university.

  12. Cat February 25, 2014 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this post! I was born in Spain and changed houses every year because my parents were traveling missionaries. When I turned six they came to the U.S. and we travailed between Texas and Mexico. My parents then decided to stop in the most boring town in Texas so that me and by brothers could go to a public school. We’ve been here for six years and even when I somewhat enjoy having a best friend, I hated staying in one place. I hate when my days become a blur because I did the exact same thing for three month. I wanted to get out into the world. When ever I think about traveling I get such a longing for new places and people that I almost run out the door. When I saw your website I realized that I didn’t have to stay in one place and live my life they way everyone else does, I could travel. I could live my life free and adventurous. However, because I’m gifted in math and science my parents don’t want me to “waist my life and talents on some silly fantasy.” I’ve always been a stubborn person and the youngest in the family which was the reason my parents kept fighting so hard. It got to a point where I wasn’t even sure if I was still fighting because I was stubborn or because I truly wanted this. For the first time ever I was actually losing a battle of words. However when reading your post I close my eyes and think about traveling, I feel the energy flowing in my veins. I feel the wind on my face. I can see the world from the top of a mountain. I can see the road before me and I know this is right, this is what I want most in the world. I love my parents and I know they love me, when I start my adventure they will see this is what will make me truly happy and in time they will learn to except me for the wild cat I really am.

  13. Sonnie October 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    I’m glad I read this. All my life I’ve dreamed of “seeing and doing” everything before I died. I’ve been open about wanting to travel the world and after reading your and others blogs decided I wanted to go for it! With my husbands support we told my mom about our plans.
    I was expecting my mom to express her worry, but what I wasnt ready for was her (conservative and old fashioned) boyfriends opinion. He keeps calling it a “vacation”, which belittles it and asks, “sooo why? Whats the point?”
    I dont like arguing with him, but also dont like him influencing my mom and making me sound childish. Meanwhile, he hates his job!
    Im really nervous about explaining that theres more than one path in this world.
    I hope one he’ll understand, but really don’t think he will.

    P.S. Its also tough because i was always the saver and “good one” and now I feel like Im ruining that image

    • Wandering Earl October 30, 2013 at 7:14 am - Reply

      Hey Sonnie – Sometimes you just need to go out and follow your path and perhaps, once they see you out in the world achieving your goals and happy as a result, they will make the realization on their own at that point. Not everyone will understand what it feels like to want to travel and create your own path in life.

  14. Sarah|pickledcapers October 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    I am really fortunate to have stumbled across this post today. I have not made the decision to travel the world (yet, anyway). However – the blank stares, the uncomfortable silences, the looks that intimate you are headed for surefire failure – those I became acquainted with all too well when I quit my job to make a go at my dream of writing. Thanks for sharing your journeys and trials from those of us on much more metaphorical odysseys.

  15. Katie October 16, 2013 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    World travel has been in my life plans since I was itty-bitty. “I’ll see things most of humanity never will never get to!” The older I became, more responsibility hampered this fantasy. I could never figure out how to make it happen. Instead, I made all kinds of wise decisions. Buying a home, selecting a sensible career. Wearing sunscreen. You understand. Several years ago while finishing my bachelors, my brilliant, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants boyfriend simply HAD to skate off to a new life in South America. I was invited- but his half-cocked plan had both poor-timing, and little security. I’m envious of his adventure. I don’t regret staying and finishing my degree, but I PAINFULLY regret my deskncubicle 9-5’er that is slowly nibbling my soul. 6 weeks ago, I realized I didn’t have to this. I am now making arrangements to rent out my home, enrolling in TEFL classes, putting my ducks in a row, and in the fall of 2014, will be landing in Bangkok for who knows how long. Recently, I rummaged through my old Reddit commentary to find a few words I posted many moons ago to the AskReddit question; ‘what do you often daydream about?’

    My reply- ‘sell my possessions and fly somewhere exotic.’

    I expected my family to quietly think I was ruining all my hard work on a whim, but no. Not only have they been supportive, but the repeating sentiment is, “that is EXACTLY what you need to do. That is so YOU.”

    I’m lucky.

    I started a blog to record the preparation, and later- my journey (If you’re interested: https://katieofthevalley.blogspot.com/2013/10/let-chips-fall.html I don’t make money off this thing. Just practicing the writin’.).

    This site of yours feels somehow… affirming. I’ll be shooting you a small thank you donation that you can- I dunno, buy a few coffees with. But for print- Thank you. Maybe I can bump into you somewhere foreign and buy you a cocktail I’ve never heard of.

  16. […] Name:  Derek a.k.a WANDERING EARL […]

  17. ART October 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl,

    Awesome, inspirational article, and I also love your replies to many of the posts. I am 26 years old, graduated from University, and currently have a fairly stable, decent job. I want to do all the “normal things”-marriage, family etc. Except there is one passion I have in life- I want to travel and see the world. I to get a fair deal of negative feedback from certain family and friends. It seems as though in life other people sometimes try to tell you what your priorities should be. Life is to short to not follow your dreams and live the life you want. Reading your article just gave me a new boost of courage and emboldens me to get out in the world and just do it! Thank you.

    • Wandering Earl October 4, 2013 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      Hey Art – That’s all very true and I think it’s important to realize that people want to tell you what your priorities should be because that’s the priorities that they know best and so they don’t understand how someone could choose otherwise. What we don’t know is often quite scary and for someone to say they want to just ‘travel’ instead of following a more traditional path is just not conceivable to many. But hey, at the end of the day, the decision is all yours!

  18. manz September 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this! Yes I encountered the exact reaction you mentioned. I feel so much better after reading this and that a life of travel is possible.

  19. Cynthia July 24, 2013 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    you are right.. thank you so much! i will read your post 🙂
    This website is of GREAT help by the way. May God keep blessing you as you go around the world.. and visit Marshall Islands! They are amazing!

  20. Cynthia July 23, 2013 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    I have been reading several of your articles, and I gotta say, it is everything I was looking for, except I still have a few more questions. I am 19 years old, and I started college Fall 2011. I took a break a year as a missionary teacher in the Marshall Islands, Majuro. It is SUCH a beautiful country, beautiful islands, beaches, etc. I was getting paid like 200 bucks a month which was enough for food and some island exploring. I am back to the states since June 2013, but I came across major culture shock and realized I don’t want to live in the states!

    I have decided to go back to school now, But i honestly have NO idea what to study. Half of me wants to just.. I don’t know, get a random major and graduate.. find a husband, start.. you know the “regular” life.
    But i have always had the amazing dream of.. traveling! I don’t want to settle down, I want to see every corner of this world! It would be nice if I could find someone either boy or girl to share this with, but it is rather difficult for people to give up their dreams and go.

    I actually wanted to start NOW, and i was going to go round 2 of the islands, except i found out that if i left again i would have to start paying my student loans.. etc.
    So i suppose I will have to wait until I graduate in 3 years. Though I REALLY don’t want to.

    So, my question is, how did you go after college? What did you do with your loans, etc??
    2.Do you know or recommend any career that would include traveling?

    See I am scared (even though I just read this article) that my family WILL see me as a crazy, childish, no-career bum, which is why i think I should go after a career or something…but what?? I just want to photograph and see the world!! I also like to help people. so… with that, any advice, suggestions?? wait until college? go for it now? what do you think?

    • Wandering Earl July 24, 2013 at 10:45 am - Reply

      Hey Cynthia – It’s a very persona decision but maybe this post will help you out (and be sure to read the comments too):

      As for my situation, I did have loans but I deferred them at first until I figured things out. And then I started paying them back when I started working on board cruise ships and managed to pay them all off through that employment. As for certain careers that involve traveling, I would look at it different. What interests you? What do you want to learn and study? If you choose something just because it might help you travel, you’ll be in the same situation as those who choose a career at home that they don’t fully enjoy. Instead, choose something that you are passionate about, study that, and these days, it’s possible to turn almost any knowledge/skills/education into a job opportunity overseas.

  21. Shelley July 19, 2013 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    I struggled so much with societal pressures of living a life of “normalcy: (job, marriage, kids). When I finally got the courage, I sold my house and moved to Korea for a year to teach English. During my time there, I decided, I wasn’t going to go back to my boring, meaningless federal gov’t job and I was going to take the money I had saved teaching English and travel through Australasia and south east Asia for 6 months ( I had already been to, China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore while living in Korea), then figure it out. I bought the travel books, informed my family and then I changed my mind. I don’t want to say it was the biggest mistake I have made, or the one regret, because where I am now in my life, is good. But it was a turning point. I went back to the federal government job, back to my mundane life and almost instantly started itching to travel again. I went on a few small vacations to Italy and Costa Rica, and then decided to go to India. I knew my measly 3 weeks vacation a year wasn’t enough for what I wanted to do in India, so I eventually quit that boring federal job, for good- and embarked on a 2 month journey through the South of India that drastically changed my life. After I did my 2 month backpacking stint I decided I wanted to stay in India, and I found a job at an American company where I eventually met my husband. We had a big fat Indian wedding, and 2 kids and 5 years later we are are back in Canada (awaiting my husband’s immigration to come through (damn you foreign service strike).
    Needless to say, life is good now and I wouldn’t have gotten here without making that decision not to travel. Do I regret my decision? Yes and no. I still think I would have gotten to India and met my husband, but I think i took the path than everyone thought I should take to get there, rather than the path I think that was set forth for me.
    I still hope to finish off south east Asia some day and make my way to New Zealand and Fiji, but this time I can bring my kids, and introduce them to the fabulous world of travel.
    The travel I did on my own and with friends in about 20 countries has shaped and defined me and taught me more than any University ever did. I can’t wait to see more of the world!

    • Wandering Earl July 22, 2013 at 9:13 am - Reply

      Hey Shelley – Thank you for sharing your story and seems like you still have plenty of traveling left to do!

  22. Bella July 12, 2013 at 2:19 am - Reply

    Sure could use a leg up on a contact in playa del Carem. Looking for long term rental at a good price. One bed room nothing to fancy, furnished. O’ and one small italian greyhound. Will arrive July 21 and return July 28. Would like to secure apt. For my return in aug. thank you for any names are references. Bella

    • Wandering Earl July 14, 2013 at 8:24 am - Reply

      Hey Bella – You can contact my friend Liz at: facebook.com/renting.playadelcarmen

  23. Jim July 6, 2013 at 12:59 am - Reply

    Thanks for this post (and a lot of your other posts and books too haha) I’m a recent college graduate with a major in Communication and Culture studies. I have a BA and I still don’t know what I want to do! I have friends left and right getting “real” jobs already and I’m working in a small restaurant in my town and all I can think about is how absolutely don’t want to be doing the 9 to 5 thing. I want to be travelling. It is refreshing to know that other people are in the same shoes as me. I’m not really sure what I want to do or where I’m going to be, but your posts are encouraging to me that I definitely know that wherever I’am I want to be immersed in other cultures and not in the “normal” day to day work routine not enjoying all there is out there to see.


    • Wandering Earl July 10, 2013 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      Hey Jim – Thanks for the comment and I can certainly understand your current feelings. All I can say is that if you really want travel to be a part of your life, just stay focused on your goals, think creatively and try to network with as many people as you can, especially with those who travel often. Before you know it, an opportunity to travel will arise and then it’s up to you to make the decision to pursue it!

  24. bubblesculptor July 3, 2013 at 12:17 am - Reply

    People may say you are wasting your life.

    But upon their deathbed will they actually believe that their life would have improved by more days stuck in the ‘normal’ work routine? Or will they die knowing there was so much more the world had to offer them which they ignored?

    Reality is that they are probably jealous of your fearless ambition. People are taught to cling to the ‘security’ of a stable location following the the standard career path, just going down the checklist of life. It takes courage to look past the sheep and forge your own path. They discourage you because they secretly wish they could make it out on their own.

    You have your whole life ahead of you to ‘settle down’ if you choose. There is nothing wrong with being settled down, just as there is nothing wrong with being a wandering explorer. If/when you do choose to settle down, you will have a vast collection of experiences that most people could never comprehend. People around you will learn from your knowledge of the world.

    The world is being changed in a positive direction by your influence. I have only read a few of your posts so far but from what I have read it seems you broaden the minds of yourself and others everywhere you go. The seeds of enlightenment you have planted around the world changes the lives of other people. There is no way to measure the total effect on the lives of the people you have met, but chances are you have inspired more people around the world than most people ever will.

    That being said, who is it that is really wasting their life? The people stuck in a closed-loop routine? Or the person who took full advantage of seeing what the people of the world have to offer?

    I think more people should travel freely. I could promise you that there would be less hate, violence, prejudice, racism, fear and mistrust in the world if everybody took the opportunity to see the world for what it really is.

    You are not wasting your life, you are taking full advantage of the one life you have been given.

    Follow your heart! It is the only way.

    • Wandering Earl July 4, 2013 at 7:57 am - Reply

      Hey Matthew – I really appreciate that comment and I agree 100% that if more people traveled openly, things such as hate and war and fear would be reduced to a minimum. Travel almost always surprises us and quickly teaches us that nothing in this world is as it seems and the only way to find out some hint of truth is to see the world with our own eyes.

  25. Belinda Hoge July 1, 2013 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    My husband and I are 51 yrs old and finally free to become travelling bums, as you put it. We have done the working thing, the being a decent parent thing, the become a millionaire thing, the work your ass to the bone and save for your retirement home thing… Now we are ready to be free of what society demands and expects so you can pass the test of being socially acceptable. YIPPEEEE is all I can say, we are planning this as we have a few loopholes to tie up first and would love to know if ou have been to South America and what your experiences were there. We are thinking of starting in Ecuador as you can live for as little as $850 a month there and then onto Panama, Belize and Costa Rica! Thanks for your blog! Belinda

    • Wandering Earl July 4, 2013 at 3:00 am - Reply

      Hey Belinda – Great to hear your plans and it’s definitely doable! I’ve been to South America (Chile, Argentina and Uruguay) and all through Central America as well. Some countries in South America (Peru) are getting quite expensive but for the rest, as long as you keep your expenses in check, you can travel/live for $850/month per person. Mexico is another excellent option!

  26. SHERM July 1, 2013 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Excellent points – thanks for the response Earl!

  27. SHERM June 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm - Reply


    I enjoy your straight-forward blogging style – you don’t glamourize everything and you keep it real. You bring up a very interesting topic with this post – I must admit I have been on both sides of the debate.

    I have only traveled for work, but am planning something more ambitious. My uncle has probably traveled more than anyone I know; he is a geologist. From him, I see a marriage between work and travel. His experiences are unique – everywhere from Colombia to Mongolia. If I told him I was just traveling for the fun of it, he would be disappointed.

    Doctor’s, nurses, engineers, teachers, etc… all provide a service. I fear when I travel, I am not helping anyone but myself. I also feel a bit guilty that my upbringing in a weathly country is the only reason I have the luxury to travel. From seeing the poverty in the world, I feel odd just traveling and enjoying other’s labors. These are issues I am going to have to come to terms with if I decide to just travel.

    I had a gf who just wanted to travel and it bugged me. But, after seeing her happiness, I decided to support her ambitions, even if it meant the end of our relationship. This was a big revelation to me, it also opened up the possibility of my travels. My mind has been opened somewhat ,and I desire to see the world.

    I am an engineer and sit in a box all day. I don’t recommend it to anyone – I wish there was a better balance. I really have no choice but to make a big decision – get out and see the world.

    I think if you have a fire to do something – you got to do it. I plan on traveling and validating or destructing my personal anxieties about “just traveling” vs. working.

    Keep up the great posts,


    • Wandering Earl June 28, 2013 at 4:30 am - Reply

      Hey Sherm – Thanks for the comment and I think the problem lies in the fact that when people think of ‘travel’, they assume it simply means bouncing around the world nonstop. But that’s only one of a million ways to travel. There’s no reason why you can’t set a specific goal for yourself or try to incorporate something that you feel is important and meaningful to you into your travels. You can easily provide a service by volunteering overseas for small organizations that don’t have the money to advertise for help, you can use your knowledge/skills to help people/companies in other countries grow, you can learn something that you’ve always wanted to learn…the possibilities are endless.

      And I can tell you that if you don’t have any goal while traveling, it can become quite old quite quickly. There needs to be a purpose, a reason why you want to visit a particular place, any reason at all. So it’s not that you are ‘not helping anyone but yourself’ if you travel, it’s that you haven’t figured out a way to use your travels to help others yet.

  28. Allie June 19, 2013 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    At last!
    I’m so glad I stumbled across this post. I am sixteen (going on seventeen) and I’ve decided after never living outside the state I was born in, I’m going to travel. Most among me consider me a genius of sorts, and are completely taken off guard by the fact that I don’t want to be a CEO or a doctor. When I tell people my general plan they usually have varying degrees of the reactions you listed above. I find it strange that I have been told my entire life to think outside the box, when in reality people want to keep everyone in it. Well…I don’t think I’ve ever even found the box. If anyone else finds it let me know.

    I’m planning on going to college first. Paying with a mixture of working and scholarships, I hope to get a degree debt free. During college I will do a few study abroad programs, and after I will really determine where I will be going and what my income will be. Some of my goals include teaching English as a foreign language for a while, and dropping myself in a country where I don’t know a word of the language and see how much i can learn in a year.

    I think life is about learning, experiencing, and comprehending, not about the paychecks and the big house in the suburbs and the husband and the kids. Maybe someday I’ll want some of that sort of life, but until then I want to search for every possible nesting location. And hey, I know some people who didn’t go get their MD until they were fifty. When I’m in a hurry to grow up, people always tell me I’ve got plenty of time. Now I can make that comment backfire.

  29. Kammie June 13, 2013 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Wow! I needed to hear that. I participated in a study abroad program in 2009 and I haven’t stopped traveling since. I had a really good job in South America last year and left it to return the U.S. and get a “real job”. I really regret it. I’ve been home for about 5 months and I’m making plans to go back to South America. My mom puts so much pressure on me to stay here, get a “good job”, and get married, but I notice that I am happier and at my greatest potential when I’m abroad. It’s a tough situation. I love my family, I do want my own family one day also, but I can’t deny that I am at my best when I’m abroad. I love it.

  30. Zara @ Backpack ME May 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    It’s funny how people will see you differently depending on the time you keep on travelling. I’ve been traveling full-time for almost 2 years now. It was supposed to be a 1 year thing (at least to begin with) so everyone thought: “OK, she’ll travel and stuff and then go back to normal life”. Then I started working online… and people would think “OK, that’s just to help out on the go, but then she’ll go back to a regular job”. But now that things have been going for a while, I think those that first saw me as crazy are actually rethinking that and understanding that, sometimes, you have a figure-things-out period and things can become sustainable after a while and, of course, tons of work. Just because you don’t have a regular 9-5 or work in different parts of the world or don’t have to wear a suit and go to an office, that does not make you a bum! And even if you’re actually not working on the go and just enjoying the fruits of your work, using the savings you worked for, that’s very legit too.

    For anyone feeling like others think they’re crazy or plain bums for wanting to travel, I’d say: if you are doing it with your own money, you are free to do whatever you feel like with your like and there’s nothing to feel bad about. Most comments come out of pure jealousy because people are frustrated with their lives and might have not had the balls to make a move or change.. so deep down they actually admire (and envy) those that have the guts to try new things out and go after what they want!

  31. Nigel Clifford May 3, 2013 at 6:09 am - Reply

    “don’t let others dictate your life” AMEN TO THAT BROTHER!

  32. Searra April 26, 2013 at 12:48 am - Reply

    Hi Earl,
    I stumbled upon your site while researching ‘how to make my money last while traveling,’ something it seems you are quite used to doing, and have been inspired by several of your posts and comments. I have not yet been outside North America, but have always harbored the nomadic desires that seem to be a-typical in the grand scheme. Moves I have made in the past were motivated by a desire to travel but have always been dependent upon jobs I was able to secure with my education and experience. I am originally from Ohio, accepted an AmeriCorps position in Alaska to see the Northern Lights (check!), a grizzly up close and in the wild (a surprise, but check!), and the commercial fishing scene that is so very famous (deckhand on a boat without experience, check!), amongst many other unforgettable experiences and relationships. I used my fishing money to hike several weeks on the PCT, then after a while settled in Seattle to satisfy (in the end, deny) feelings of separation from a career path. I worked jobs I didn’t care about while looking for better and realized, yes I do enjoy work at work if it is meaningful, what I cannot enjoy however is hunkering down into settlement–especially working entry level jobs for years on end to possibly move up when red tape loosens its grip on us all in a society that has its priorities amiss and breeds a culture of ignorance and avoidance of the past (rambles).
    The work holiday visa opportunities in Australia and New Zealand are in my five year plan. But before reading this article and above comment regarding loans (I thought, too, if I could only just pay these off first..), I could not visualize that my first big step should be in my two year plan!!!!!! Reassurance that my WILL can get me there, and that the power my determination holds is far greater than the negative pressures and fears I hear almost daily… I want to say thank you for that!
    I am back on the horse!! I just moved to Utah this week for a wilderness therapy program for adolescents because I needed the sun again!!!, and although I am beyond ecstatic for this opportunity, the push I can now visualize for myself in getting off the rock sooner rather than later will get me through anything I face until that savings account reaches BUST!

  33. Searra April 25, 2013 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,
    I stumbled upon your site while researching ‘how to make my money last while traveling,’ something it seems you are quite used to doing, and have been inspired by several of your posts and comments. I have not yet been outside North America, but have always harbored the nomadic desires that seem to be a-typical in the grand scheme. Moves I have made in the past were motivated by a desire to travel but have always been dependent upon jobs I was able to secure with my education and experience. I am originally from Ohio, accepted an AmeriCorps position in Alaska to see the Northern Lights (check!), a grizzly up close and in the wild (a surprise, but check!), and the commercial fishing scene that is so very famous (deckhand on a boat without experience, check!), amongst many other unforgettable experiences and relationships. I used my fishing money to hike several weeks on the PCT, then after a while settled in Seattle to satisfy (in the end, deny) feelings of separation from a career path. I worked jobs I didn’t care about while looking for better and realized, yes I do enjoy work at work if it is meaningful, what I cannot enjoy however is hunkering down into settlement–especially working entry level jobs for years on end to possibly move up when red tape loosens its grip on us all in a society that has its priorities amiss and breeds a culture of ignorance and avoidance of the past (rambles).
    The work holiday visa opportunities in Australia and New Zealand are in my five year plan. But before reading this article and above comment regarding loans (I thought, too, if I could only just pay these off first..), I could not visualize that my first big step should be in my two year plan!!!!!! Reassurance that my WILL can get me there, and that the power my determination holds is far greater than the negative pressures and fears I hear almost daily… I want to say thank you for that!
    I am back on the horse!! I just moved to Utah this week for a wilderness therapy program for adolescents because I needed the sun again!!!, and although I am beyond ecstatic for this opportunity, the push I can now visualize for myself in getting off the rock sooner rather than later will get me through anything I face until that savings account reaches BUST!

  34. […] 8. Derek Earl Baron, Wandering Earl […]

  35. Jacqueline March 28, 2013 at 12:26 am - Reply

    I’ve read a million blogs but your blog is one of my favorites. I’ve traveled solo for awhile but I’ve never given serious consideration to long-term travel until lately. I’m almost 23. It’s funny that it turned out that way. I had my life mapped but things happened and the world has changed dramatically within the past 8-10 years. I wish that I can get up and go but there’s that school debt that’s chaining me down.

    But I’m happier and I just realize that when I read this post. I do care about finding work and a bunch of million things but I don’t care about having a traditional life with the grad school, mortgage, spouse and kids. Not that they’re bad things but I don’t want to have them just for the sake of completing such metaphorical check list. I want to see the world and experience it rather than just day-dream about it. It might take 5-6 years but I hope that I will be able to take a journey of my own one day.

    I don’t see myself ever becoming a permanent nomad but kudos to you!! You truly know what you want in life and you have the guts to make it work.

    • Wandering Earl March 29, 2013 at 3:13 pm - Reply

      Hey Jacqueline – That’s so nice of you to say and I really appreciate that kind of feedback 🙂 And do know that even with debt, there are opportunities to travel and pay it off at the same time. Just take the working holiday visas for Australia or New Zealand, each of which allows you to live there for 1 year and legally work in any job you want. I have friends who did this in Australia, got a good job and managed to pay off debt while experience that country at the same time. There are always options!

  36. July Evening March 25, 2013 at 7:10 am - Reply

    I don’t even want to travel, but this made me tear up a bit.

  37. Passport Dave March 4, 2013 at 12:28 am - Reply

    Hey Earl,
    I find myself reading this post like once a month lately. This post reminds us that it is our life and we should not be living it for anyone else. It can be hard when most people don’t agree with you. The only real positive reaction I have had is an old friend interested in joining up with me for a few months after he gets out of the military himself. However, it has definitely not been the normal response, not by a long shot. I have yet to jump on a plane across the globe but I continue to think about it every day. Currently I have made my travel plans dependent on a single future event(a guaranteed income event). With every passing day though, I am tempted to jump a plane with no money (and rid myself of a near future permanent income) just because it would almost be worth it. Then I remember, if I can wait it out, travel income will never be a problem for me. It is articles like this that keep me focused and I am grateful for that. Great writing Earl!

  38. Andy Krainak February 25, 2013 at 3:04 am - Reply

    At an interesting point in my life right now, in a month from now my contract teaching basketball in Beijing will be up. Friends and family are telling me to come home. I want to pack up my bag and for the first time in my life really hit the road, starting with China and then this infamous India I keep hearing about. We’ll see what happens, cheers.

    • Wandering Earl February 27, 2013 at 12:22 pm - Reply

      Hey Andy – The answer is there already I’m sure. You just need to listen to what you really want to do and go for it!

  39. Serge February 20, 2013 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    Hi, Earl. Amazing post and comments I’ve read just now! Thank you.
    Livetime travel is just what I’m dreaming about, but first should start with longest trip in my life. What a crazy thing you’ve done with me!!! Now I want to be selfish and going to go deep into your blog to discover all travel secrets !:)

    Anyway, wish you the best time on earth.

  40. Niels Bogeskov-Jensen February 10, 2013 at 3:55 am - Reply

    Dear Earl
    Naturally the people around you a disappointed when you decide to travel permanently.
    I sit “at the other end”. I’m definitely a permanent resident as is. I live in a town next to a city. I have relatives, friends and workmates around me and stay continually connected. We have birthday parties, long evening gatherings, brunches and lunches together. We go for walks, we take little trips to see new places. All the family things you know from your past life and childhood.
    I think of your relatives and relations in my place. Having you travel permanently is in a way loosing you. Seeing you and interacting with you will be more scares. This is a loss. One has a child, one gets a friend not to lose them, but to have them and cherish them. So when you leave, I lose something in my life that I wish to have.
    The perspective is also that of control. If one becomes too attached one is tempted to exercise control. You leaving makes me totally lose control of you. Since I obviously know what is better for you, I’m annoyed by your own control. You are becoming independent of me, and I’m seemingly not necessary to you. I think these are some of the issues of those “left behind”.
    The problem for those left behind is that we tend to forget, that we don’t own each other. Even though you may be my child, my brother, my lover og my friend, I do only have you in my life for as long as you are there. No longer. I can not extend that period of time, and though I would like to, I’m not in control of that. When we live in permanent places it is easy to mistake physical presence with emotional possession.
    I think some people travel to avoid impossible emotional bindings from those around. Good and healthy emotional bindings are easily stretched over distance and time. Unhealthy ones are strained even over shorter time and distances.
    But I still would like my loved ones to be close to me to touch and to look in the eye.
    Have a great trip!

  41. Flo February 7, 2013 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    just discovered your blog by chance. And I´m really happy I did.

    I´m 24 and from Germany. I came home 4 month ago after a 32 month trip. I spent almost 2 years in Australia living in a van and after that 9 month in Asia.
    And I never, never ever felt any better in my life. Actually I was a really depressed person before I left (for a couple of years actually) and this stopped the very day I left Germany. Now I´m back again and it´s all creeping up on me again. I knew that would happen. I really have the feeling that I´m not the same person I used to be while travelling…my soul is still sitting at Kathmandu Airport…

    I guess I´m not really made for this kind of society here and the weather sucks big time 🙁

    I´m thinking about that life-long travel thing constantly and I even think I could do it (have to find ways to fund it, though). I´m really impressed by the thing you´re doing and I wished so much that I could do that, too. But I´m too confused I guess. I think I already started seeing myself as a kind of bum (my mother is really supportive, though). I´m constantly thinking about “starting a carreer” and going to uni, ect. but I don´t know if I have the strenght, because all I really, really want (deep inside my heart) is to explore this (still) beautiful planet and make the most out of the time that has been given me.

    But I´m always worried about what will happen if I can´t travel anymore one day for any reason! No safety net then? Will I be a “real bum” , then?

    All these things are floating around in my head constantly and have been for so long. I think I´m just not brave enough to just pull it off…

    What about relationships? Is it possible to keep up friendships and actually get to see the friends and family? And what about a girlfriend?

    I love mine and I wouldn´t want to leave her…but still…the longing for this freedom I find in travelling is kind of pulling me away again…

    Wanted to start Uni know…doesn´t work out…
    But I guess that´s fortunate. I will book my flight to India next week, which will give me 4 month of freedom again.

    Thank you so much for this entry in your blog!
    Have a good trip 🙂

    Quite a personal thing I´ve written up there…but it had to be said…

    • Wandering Earl February 13, 2013 at 9:33 am - Reply

      Hey Flo – I appreciate the comment and you sharing your current situation. And after reading it, all I can say is that the questions you asked, are definitely not questions that should stop you from achieving your goals. No safety net? Who says you can’t earn/save money while traveling? No relationships? I’ve been on the road for 13 years and I have maintained almost all of my close friendships and I have remained very close with all of my family. As for a girlfriend? You just have to decide what is more important to you…your relationship or your other plans in life. I don’t know what the answer is of course for you, but you do have options and it doesn’t have to be as frightening as it may appear!

      Enjoy India for now!

  42. Raz January 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    My mum still believes I’m on a hollyday and comming back to a normal life someday hi hi

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:48 am - Reply

      Hey Raz – Haha…it’s good to keep them thinking that for a while…it makes it easier on them!

  43. Raz January 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Maaan… right on!

    Let me tell you that the “social pressure” created against my lifestyle is the hardest thing to overcome, by myself at least. Making a living on the road is nothing compared to this.
    Not once, but allmost everytime I am in the position of explaining my life and my goals, and more over when I get into some meaningfull relationships along the road I get tons of it

    It is negative, it is tough, it is argumented, it is in my face, it is logical and it is coming from tenths of mouths … but it’s not stronger than my will to travel.

    As you say, when I find myself completely confused, actually attacked by tons of arguments and “normalities”, becominf smaller amd smaller I still have in my heart somewhere deep hidden that memory, that feeling of what traveling brings that doesn’t let me give up and… each time I push my guts one more time and get back on the road aaah… I get my confidence back in one second! Nothing compares to it, nothing!

    Last time I got tied up in Middle East 4 month and really though I am losing my mind completely, I managed to leave with un-imaginable effort but the moment I was on the bus from the airport terminal to the airplane… it all dosappeared in an instant, a warmth came all over my body and honestly allmost tears in my eyes… I had done it again, I’m back home, I’m on the road!

    Thanks for the clarity and the inspiration!

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:51 am - Reply

      Hey Raz – That’s about as perfect a description as I’ve ever read about the internal battle that is constantly taking place as a result of outside influences. We are our own worst critic and with this lifestyle, it is natural that we are constantly questioning every move we make and every decision that we face. But I’m the same as you…despite those difficult challenging moments when I’m really feeling the pressure, all it takes is one minute at the airport, or crossing the border to a new country or meeting a new person and suddenly, I remember how much I love this lifestyle and how much I’m willing to do in order to maintain it.

  44. kle January 27, 2013 at 11:39 am - Reply

    Hi Earl! i am unforgivable! i’ve been planning my rtw trip since august, read a million blogs and DIDN’T FIND U BEFORE?? what a shame!
    Well, i still have 2 weeks before i go!
    You just became my personal hero really. Not joking. My entire life has been about travelling, and wanting to see the world. Everyone thinks im nuts or irresponsible and that, at 35, i should be thinking about marrying and having babies, not quit my well paid job to spend all my savings on “holiday”.
    I just know that i get the “famous” smile as soon as i think about taking a train, a bus or even a horse to get somewhere new! And on the back of my mind, my dream has always been what you actually do…travelling indefinately. I know, not everybody can do that, ad for the moment i’m settling for around 1 year in South East Asia…:)

    My friends were all happy, some of them think i’m crazy but they already thought it even without the trip…
    My family is not happy at all, now they are trying to accept it, hoping that after the trip i will be satyisfied enough to stay still for at least a couple of years.
    We will see!
    I have a huge respect for what you did. Because i think i know bit the sacrifices it took to be faithful to your choices.
    I have just one question for you….My parents and relative tell me all sort of things, but i don’t care much about their criticism, the only thing that bothers me a bit is te age thing. Sometimes i ask myself if at 35, almost 36 i am really too old to fool myself ad start over again?
    Thanks for reading my “poem” and thanks in advance for your time!
    Cheers from Italy

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:25 am - Reply

      Hey kle – You have been forgiven and I welcome you to the site 🙂 And you’re definitely not nuts and I think everyone will realize that once you’re out there achieving your goals in life and they are still back at home!

      As for your question, you are not too old at all and you will find people of all ages out there traveling, whether they are on the road for a few months, a few years or even longer. And you don’t know where this traveling will lead you…opportunities will open up and you’ll meet new people and chances are your path is going to end up taking you places that you could never imagine right now. And as long as you stay determined, those places are going to be wonderful!

  45. Andre January 23, 2013 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    Hello Earl, I just found your blog and let me tell you, you have inspired me even more to go on a trip around the world. I’ve been planning upwards for a half a year now, gathering supplies and stuff. I’m currently in my mid 20’s and my family seems to always pull me back to “reality”, as they call it. They keep telling me pretty much the same things you just pointed out!There always seems to another question that I don’t have the answer to. What insurance so you use, most of them are quite high. And how do you stay afloat in your travels?

  46. Patrick January 14, 2013 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl! Just discovering your blog. Am in my mid-20’s, live in NYC and have a “good” job, but not feeling very… Fulfilled. Your blog is giving me the encouragement I need to go after what I want, and this post really hit home. Thanks and keep up the great work!

    • Wandering Earl January 16, 2013 at 3:05 am - Reply

      Thanks for that Patrick and welcome to the site! I’ll be curious to see what lies in store for you in the near future….and if you have any questions about anything you read, just let me know! Good luck in NYC for the time being…

  47. Chad January 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed all your posts I have read thus far. I just graduated college in May ’12 and am bartending for now to fund my south East Asian tour in July before I settle down in that “real job” environment which truthfully I don’t care to do but those college loans are constantly digging at me as well as my family trying to discourage my trip plan which I am currently paying no mind to. I Previously visited Buenos Aries in ’12 for one month and did not want to leave and I have a feeling that is going the case with Asia. Your posts are very informative and interesting and hopefully I would be able to somehow extend that two way ticket haha
    Keep doing what you are doing!!

    • Wandering Earl January 16, 2013 at 3:02 am - Reply

      Hey Chad – I have no doubt, just from reading your comment, that your upcoming Asia trip might not be enough traveling for you! But that’s perfectly okay of course…there is no shortage of ways to create a lifestyle out of travel. If you ever have any questions before your trip, please don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll help out as best I can!

  48. Paul January 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    I am 58, my wife is 60 and since I was 17 I have been a “bum”. always callled it and I didn’t even go to university! Still travelling after all these years…no plan to stop either

    • Wandering Earl January 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      Hey Paul – Good to hear that you’ve been out there for so long, enjoying the life of a ‘bum’ as well!

  49. Alex January 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    This post is definitely what I needed right now. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone!

    Travel has been something I’ve always wanted, and always managed to incorporate into my life somehow by scrimping and saving. On my first “big” trip (a month to Thailand two years ago), everyone seemed really supportive and excited. Then I got my TEFL certificate early last year, and I’ve spent the past year abroad. I went home for a month to less-than-enthused faces, none of whom wanted to really hear about my year. I am now back in Europe, scared witless, about to teach again.

    I love my life, and I’ve never been scared before. It’s strange, like you I thought the people around me would be happy that this is how I spend my life (just as I am supportive of how they’re happy with theirs) and that I have a job to boot, but everyone has been so negative. “You’re leaving AGAIN?” and “what are you actually going to do/when are you going to get a life/boyfriend/house” and so forth. Part of me was starting to agree with them.

    Reading this has re-inspired me to make the most of my new travel time, and to throw myself into my new job/country this week. So thank you.

    • Wandering Earl January 7, 2013 at 10:16 pm - Reply

      Hey Alex – It’s easy to start believing the negative reactions but if you stay true to the lifestyle that you really desire, things will unfold in their own way and you’ll enjoy an adventure that is bound to fill you with happiness and rewards. My theory is that marriage/house and things such as that might happen at some point but there’s no reason for me to rearrange my life. Keep doing what you love and you never know who you’ll meet or where you’ll end up in the end!

  50. Hernan October 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    After read your blog I decided to travel with my cousin and go to Brazil. I had a brain surgery in april, the doctor said I had 50/50, 50 percent of probability to get well and 50 percent of probability of going down and die. All I hear from my family is “you can´t go, you´ll better wait, get a job, work hard and in a few years you maybe can go”. I think I can´t wait anymore. Maybe in a few years I´ll be gone and not precisely to Brazil. Its my responsibility to do what I think is the best for me. I know I have to take care but this is what I want to do. If I don´t do it, if I don´t go, I´ll be regret all my life and maybe live with a ” what If” for the rest of my life. Thank you Earl, you inspired me to go ahead.

    • Earl October 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm - Reply

      Hey Hernan – Thank you for the comment and I agree, you certainly don’t want to have a long list of regrets in life, especially when you are able to achieve your goals. I look forward to hearing about your trip to Brazil!

  51. Sunni October 7, 2012 at 10:20 am - Reply

    This is exactly what i needed to read today. After a few years of always putting travelling off i decided that next year I am going to South Africa to do something that i love and is close to my heart and work with orphaned Wildlife on a game reserve. I also naively expected my family and friends to be happy for me but everyone I’ve told have been disaproving which has made me question my decision. I agree that the timing isn’t necessarly right as i’ve just landed a good job but i think getting this job has really made me think. I don’t want to wake up in 10 years time with regrets. I feel like everyone is just focused on having a job and earning money, but what is the point of this when you can’t do something you love, take a risk and a leap of faith and make some amazing memories that you can cherish forever. Its one of those situations where my head tells me not to go and to stop living in a dream where my heart tells me to go and not look back. Question is do i follow my head or my heart.

    • Earl October 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm - Reply

      Hey Sunni – That is the question but I’m sure you know what my answer would be 🙂 In the end, I also use the regret test with everything. If I determine that I will regret not having done something that I really want to do, then I make sure that I accomplish that goal. Heart wins out every time!

  52. kathy October 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    I struggled with myself for years. Growing up in South Africa and moving to the US with my family at 18, I found I was never truly settled and when I started traveling for the first time after Uni, I realized how much there was to see. At first I traveled by doing things like going to teach ESL in Korea. Then I would go on a trip for a couple of months that involved work… Always trying to find a reason for others why I was doing it then. Last year I spent 1yr traveling and made it to 9 countries (www.trailingtrekker.wordpress.com) . Being 34 at the time many people thought it was time I grew up, including my dad. But then he was the first one to bug me for photos and blog entries. Now my family is supportive, especially my mom who has MS (a reason that makes me struggle everyday with my travel decision as I feel guilty for not being there – but she knows I am happy on the road).
    I had planned to marry and settle but when things fell through in a rather dramatic fashion, I said screw it and am now in Korea and then off to Thailand and possibly a cruise ship gig after that. But I still find myself needing to find an excuse for people, “no I am not going on vacation I had my heart ripped out and need some time to rethink things, I will also being doing my divemaster and volunteering and I may have writing gig”. Things like that, always trying to justify why. It gets exhausting!

    • Earl October 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      Hey Kathy – It does get exhausting, I know how that goes. But hopefully at some point, those around you won’t need to hear such justifications and will begin to realize that this is your life and your living it exactly how you want to be living it right now. I’m sure it will happen but some people take longer than others to come around. In the meantime, enjoy Korea and Thailand, which I’m sure you are doing!

  53. Colleen October 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    We are not in this world to live up to other peoples expectations. Live boldly.

    • Earl October 6, 2012 at 5:32 am - Reply

      Hey Colleen – Perfectly said.

  54. Sam October 4, 2012 at 5:32 am - Reply

    I’m very lucky in that I’ve not had anyone I care about (friends, family) tell me things like this when I talk about my life choices regarding work and travel, but for those who have, I’m so glad there’s someone like you out here, blogging about it and providing support. Thanks, as always, Earl, for the great work you do here!

    • Earl October 6, 2012 at 5:00 am - Reply

      Hey Sam – That’s great to hear that your decisions were met with such positive reactions. Hopefully, as more and more people begin to travel, this will become more common!

  55. Max October 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    Hello Earl and good on you to pursue what you like to do but…just a question:

    How can you support yourself?

    Thanks and good luck!

    • Earl October 6, 2012 at 4:41 am - Reply

      Hey Max – Just have a read of these two posts: How I Can Afford My Life of Constant Travel and How I Can Still Afford My Life of Travel

      • Max October 6, 2012 at 9:14 am - Reply

        Amazing Earl!

        I still need to read all that with more attention and will do tonight, but since I also am trying to do as you did and I also started with affiliate marketing stuff…can you share with me (either here or via email) the titles, prices and subjects of your eBooks?

        Cheers and good luck again man!

        • Earl October 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm - Reply

          Hey Max – All of the details about my eBooks can be found on my Travel Resources page.

  56. travelFREAK October 2, 2012 at 10:17 am - Reply

    My mother was incredibly supportive when I told her my plans to go traveling. She was so happy for me undertake this journey because it was my grandmother’s desire for her grandchildren to become citizens of the world.

    • Earl October 6, 2012 at 4:33 am - Reply

      @travelfreak – That seemed to work out very well in your case. Glad to hear such a positive experience!

  57. Addison S. @ Visa Hunter October 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    Great post Earl, I feel your sentiments exactly. Being a so called ‘bum’ myself, I have regularly answered questions, such as: where will you stay?, how will you afford to live?, and, can you speak the language? My advice for those thinking of traveling is to get out and explore. Although challenges do exist, it is not as difficult as you first think.

    • Earl October 6, 2012 at 4:09 am - Reply

      Hey Addison – There are definitely challenges, but when compared to the challenge of going through life unhappy while letting our goals slip away, getting out there into the world is much easier in my opinion!

  58. judd October 1, 2012 at 8:55 am - Reply

    hey earl !!

    well mate i went to southeast asia in 2011 for a year and i had the best time ever, im planning on changing my life for good and looking to save 5-6k to start again, but this time my family and friends are saying well judd you have done it and you might end up alone and lonely! they think its time i settle for 9 to 5. all i do is dream of living in southeast asia haha. when i travelled i relised when i got back to london that i changed, every1 wanted more money and every1 was so rude and selfish to other! I want to teach english around thailand boreo ect but i have no pappers????? what u think bro

    • Earl October 6, 2012 at 4:08 am - Reply

      Hey Judd – What kind of papers are you talking about? Once you get hired to teach English somewhere, the school/organization will organize the working visa for you, so you just need to concentrate on applying and getting that job! Check out eslcafe.com and you’ll find plenty of opportunities.

      • judd October 8, 2012 at 4:48 am - Reply

        haha sorry bro i ment i have no papers to teach. I have been looking at the TEFL/TESOL courses and they cost! are they needed?

        • Earl October 8, 2012 at 6:02 pm - Reply

          Hey Judd – No, such papers are not necessary. I bet if you went to EslCafe.com right now an started applying for English teaching jobs in Southeast Asia, you’d have a position lined up by the end of the week.

          • Max October 10, 2012 at 8:16 am

            Don’t you need at least a teaching degree?


          • Earl October 11, 2012 at 4:03 am

            Hey Max – For native English speakers, you just need a degree, any degree whatsoever, and you can get a teaching job in Asia.

  59. I’ve found that if I just stop communicating with people who criticize me or the way I live my life one of two things happens. Either they eventually come around or at east stop pointing out what I’m doing wrong, even if they still don’t agree with me; or I never hear from them again. Both are good outcomes.

    • Earl October 6, 2012 at 4:06 am - Reply

      Hey Daniel – That does seem like a good method.

  60. Christy October 1, 2012 at 12:53 am - Reply

    Oh I just adored this article. Well done! I’m leaving in the spring to travel indefinitely, and there have been a couple of interesting instances of negativity, but for the most part everyone is really positive. Probably because everyone who has been in my life for a long time knows I’m a traveler. After working Cruise ships for five years (11 contracts, 10 ships – HAL & Princess) I’ve spent the past five years working a corporate job and I bet that has surprised everyone more than my wandering. Still, it’s always a gut-check when we do encounter the negative feedback, despite everything we know and value. I think it’s a good thing. It reminds us to re-prioritize and analyze why we do what we do, and question if it’s time to do something else… A very artistic process, don’t you think?

    • Earl October 1, 2012 at 4:17 am - Reply

      Hey Christy – I agree as I always think it’s important to re-prioritize often, to constantly evaluate where we’re heading in life and whether or not it is where we really want to be. And the negative feedback certainly does force us to think through our decisions quite thoroughly and to make sure that we are heading in the right direction!

  61. Someday I'll Be There - Mina September 30, 2012 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    I love it when I get posts that I need to read at the exact timings! I am currently shaping that decision in my head and it is so true, I am not getting any support from family or friends, except for the one or two who occasionally say it’s cool, but wouldn’t do it themselves and give me a 100 reasons not to do it 😀

    Thanks Earl!

    • Earl October 1, 2012 at 4:15 am - Reply

      Hey Mina – Well, I’m quite confident that eventually, those same friends will start talking about the 100 reasons why they wished they had followed in your footsteps!

  62. Liz September 30, 2012 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    I haven’t checked your blog in awhile, and today and I do and this is your most recent post. Like others, this post could not have come at a more fitting time in my life. Earlier this year (and also about 6 years ago) I had plans to move abroad and become certified to teach English as a way of income and to let it take me wherever it may! For “logical” reasons, I changed my plans again (like I did 6 years ago) and this time, I somehow went in the complete opposite direction in a matter of months….meaning, I bought a house!!! Ugh. How this happened, I almost don’t even know. I never aspired to own a house, at least not as a single person. I did feel some pressure to “move forward” in life, as the American culture puts it out there. I was never really excited about it, not like I was about my abroad plans. So here I am, a few months later and still quite miserable. I have asked myself several times, “What is wrong with you?! You have a job, you own a house, a car!” This is the “American Dream”, no? I’ve wondered many times, am I just that ungrateful?? How come I can’t be happy with what I have? For the most part, my family has been quite supportive, actually, so I really don’t get negative comments from them. I’ve gone my way before, several times, and they just say, “There goes Liz again!”, for which I am very grateful. It’s my closest friends, though, that make me feel like I’m running away from something or not being realistic. That, to me, is especially said. My closest friends, the ones who are supposed to “get me” just don’t get it. Their lives, like all my family’s lives, have gone so completely different than mine. They are all on their 9 and 10 year anniversaries of marriage with kid number 2 or 3 on the way. Not so, here. And so, I’ve realized that it’s OK that my life doesn’t fit the “mold” or the standard of what others think it should be. It’s OK that I want to explore and try new things and pursue dreams I’ve had for years but have yet to follow through with. And so, I’m back to studying for my English teaching certification and am looking into selling or renting my house. I hope to be on my way as soon as possible. It’s nice to know that I am not alone.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      Hey Liz – You’re definitely not alone! And I’d imagine that this time around, you’ll go for it and start traveling/living overseas now that you’ve realized that it is perfectly okay for you to live your own unique life!

  63. Maria September 30, 2012 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    Nail on the head! “…that’s making the absolute most out of your short time on this planet.” Kudos and keep going.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks Maria!

  64. Xavier September 30, 2012 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    It’s funny, because when I decided to tell my friend and family about my plan to sell everything and start travelling for some year, I was expecting some to react on the negative side.
    I had read so many blogs where people were saying that their relatives were taking them for fools that it had to happened to me as well.
    But it was quite the opposite.
    After the initial shock of deciding to leave a 33 years old, everybody was supportive, even envious of what I was doing to do.
    Or maybe it was because I was older when I decided that or maybe it is because I’m from Europe.
    Where were the last people writing you about their problems?

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      Hey Xavier – Some people do have a more supportive, open-minded group of friends and family, so not everyone faces the same negativity (luckily!). The people who have commented about negative reactions are from all over – the US, Canada, Europe, Australia. With that said, I’m sure that some regions are more accepting of long-term travel than others!

  65. I'm Also Earl September 30, 2012 at 9:51 am - Reply

    I never went to college, and never could find a good job. In that I followed the footsteps of most of my paternal family and friends who were all poor hillbillies from Appalachia. Once the mines and factories closed, so did our hopes for any kind of stable life. So I had no “prestige” to loose. Fine by me! And in actuality, whenever I do (rarely) find my way back “home” I have more “prestige” than ever because I’ve been to places and experienced things that others my area couldn’t even dream of.

    Obviously this life ain’t for everyone, and it couldn’t be. After all, someone has to grow the food we eat, make the clothes we wear, and fly the planes! Nomads are no good for that.

    Earl, I’ve noticed a conspicuous absence of Central Asia and East Asia from your travels. Any particular reason for that? For me, these are by far the best places in the world, though their relative physical isolation (S. Korea and Japan only by plane, Central Asia landlocked on the other side of Russia and China) makes getting there a bit more work. I’m also surprised you haven’t tried travel to N. Korea, which is available through a lot of agencies (like Koryo) and actually quite an adventure!

    Also, what do you recommend for people who have the travel bug and want to become global nomads but are tied down by spouses, children, etc.?

    Great blog brother!

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 7:15 pm - Reply

      @I’m Also Earl: Well, North Korea doesn’t interest me that much as I don’t really want to take a bus tour that gives me only a very restricted view of the country. I would love to visit Central Asia and do plan to get there within the next year. China doesn’t really interest me much, but Japan and South Korea are also countries I want to visit relatively soon…no real reason why I haven’t been to them yet!

      As for being tied down with family, it all depends on whether or not the rest of the family shares that same travel bug. If not, then you simply need to work out a plan that allows you to fulfill your family responsibilities while having some time to travel each year as well. But if everyone is interested in travel, there are certainly plenty of examples of whole families who are out there in the world, traveling together!

      • I'm Also Earl October 1, 2012 at 8:47 am - Reply

        Hey Earl, Thanks for the reply. Really great that you reply to all the comments! There are various tours and set ups available in N. Korea now. You’ll find it’s pretty open. There’s even an option to go in for cycling now! You visited Myanmar right? I mean back when it was closed? It’s not much different IMHO.

        You’ve got to check out Korea and Japan though. And if and when you do, two places that aren’t on the radar but are some of the best those countries have to offer are Jinju (go to the HUGE open university and you’ll meet lots of people who want to practice English and take you around) and Koji Island in Korea and Fukuoka and surrounding areas in Japan.

  66. Ava Apollo September 30, 2012 at 4:46 am - Reply

    Wow, I was really lucky. Everyone supported me. But then again, the people close to me know that I make decisions and there’s nothing they can say or do to change my mind. I would say anyone who is getting negative feedback is probably getting it from people who are too scared or narrow-minded to take a leap of faith. It’s my third day of my nomadic journey and I hope more than anything that this will be the rest of my life.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      Hey Ava – Hope your trip is off to a wonderful start and looking forward to hearing more about it as the days pass!

  67. Greg September 30, 2012 at 4:44 am - Reply

    Having recently booked my flight for my first overseas journey, I’ve been told by many friends and relatives that “you’re wasting your time and money” or to “buy a car, give up this fantasy that you seem to live in.” Though, I finally realized that my lifestyle and theirs are not the same. I’ve always lived in a modern nomadic sense. I don’t stay places too long. I look forward to the terrifying and amazing adventure of seeing new things.

    The idea of staying in one place for my life is as foreign to me as my desire to move around continuously is foreign to someone that doesn’t like to travel.

    • [email protected] September 30, 2012 at 5:48 am - Reply

      Good grief – can’t resist, Greg:

      “buy a car…” Yeah, now THAT’s a great “investment”. Depreciates by 50% the moment you drive it off the lot – compared to… incredible memories from your travels that: Neither rust nor depreciate, and can never be taken from thee.

      Oh and yeah, and I mean who’d want to live a “fantasy”, anyway? Surely only crazy people. 😉

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm - Reply

      Hey Greg – In that case, booking your flight for your first overseas journey seems to be the best decision you could have made!

  68. Kelsey September 29, 2012 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Thank you for writing this!

    I am constantly under fire from those back at home about my decisions to study abroad again and what I will do after I graduate this December and it’s really quite taxing.
    Back home, a girl my age is supposed to be meeting the “man of her dreams” and finishing college soon with interviews lined up and ready to move into a house. That just isn’t me right now, and it literally quite frightens me.
    The only future I can picture myself in is traveling to my hearts content and maybe settling down in a foreign country, but as soon as I tell others (friends and family) this wish of mine I am greeted with judging looks and the constant “Man, you must really hate your home!” which is extremely frustrating.

    But then I sort of feel bad for those who say those comments or who are not understanding because I can guarantee you 99% of the time, the person who is saying that to you is someone who hasn’t done a lot of traveling and who’s eyes haven’t been opened by other cultures in an enlightening way. When I think of it that way, I love to sit and talk with that person about what great experiences I’ve had and really try and show them that traveling for many of us isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way of life and a rewarding one at that!

    Next time someone gives you a disappointing look or judgemental comment, show them that picture of you skydiving or on top of a mountain and ask if they want to join next time! 🙂

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 7:05 pm - Reply

      Hey Kelsey – That’s a very smart way to deal with the negative reactions. If your friends/family can even understand a small fraction of what makes you so passionate about travel, then surely they will begin to understand your decision to explore more of this world. That certainly is excellent advice you shared!

  69. Amber September 28, 2012 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    I’ve been kinda bummed and feeling sorry for myself because someone who is close to me told me my constant desire to travel is “silly” and “impractical” earlier this week. Thanks for writing this and helping me snap out of it 🙂

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:59 pm - Reply

      Hey Amber – Glad to hear that this post helped!

  70. Andy September 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    “Hey you! Yes, you! Citizen #3457666! Shut up and don’t you dare step out of line! Our Dear Leader does not approve of free-thinking individuals! Now drop that backpack and off to your cubicle! GET IN LINE!!! Work hard and pay your taxes! Consume! Consume some more!! Praise our Dear Leader!!! Travel is poison invented by the decadent imperialists who want to undermine the foundation of our Great Society!”

    People who want to squash your dreams are usually envious small-thinkers. Don’t let them hold you back.

    All I can say is: it’s YOUR life and in the end it’s about what YOU want to do with it.

    At least most of you reading this have the opportunity of travel. Many people on this planet do not, be it for economic, social or political reasons.

  71. Expat September 28, 2012 at 11:33 am - Reply

    Ok, I had to react when I saw the posts of this kind “What do they know, fuck all, I’m fine with my nomad blogging oyster picker career”.

    Has none of you considered a regular expat job ? Or traveling job ? For instance, Earl worked on a cruise ship, this is nothing out of ordinary, that is stable and doesn’t scare off the family.

    I work in the shipping industry that makes me live abroad most of my time. Are people supportive with me ? Hell yeah they are, I have great opportunities of career. Money isn’t a problem either. It doesn’t look like a dead end.
    And do I happen to travel for pleasure ? All the friggin time, of course ! I live in places where people spend their holidays or go for their “one-in-a-lifetime” trip.

    Don’t try too hard, to have a living of travel is not necessarily something incredibly bold and out of ordinary. You don’t have to be super edgy to work while traveling nor doing some insecure job that frightens – generally genuinely and for very relevant reasons – most of your relatives.
    Not that it’s a bad thing to do so, but please don’t brag about it like it’s the only way to travel for a living.

    Get some humility, for god’s sake !

    Very inspiring post, though, Earl ! Nobody shall shoot down your dreams because they just don’t know how to achieve it.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm - Reply

      @Expat – Good points about the opportunities to get a regular expat job. And I think that many people do end up doing just that, but usually after a period of traveling around on their own trying to figure out how to proceed. After this initial period, for those who decide that living overseas is what they truly want, they will often start exploring the options they have to earn good money without having to go home, which of course includes more stable jobs.

      But this is also why I always recommend working on a cruise ship as a way to start one’s ‘nomadic’ lifestyle. It is indeed stable, earns you good money and few of our family/friends will having anything negative to say.

  72. [email protected] September 28, 2012 at 8:50 am - Reply

    “They’ll tell you to stop being selfish…”

    For the life of me, will somebody please kindly tell me what is so “selfish” about following your own dreams? Seriously. What’s with that???

    After all, this surely ain’t no dress rehearsal folks, and life’s waaay too short to live even a single day of yours, according to somebody ELSE’s prescription.

    Now blank stares? Yep, I get it. Indeed, I get a LOT of them. g-knows most every one of my friends and loved ones – though all very supportive, some even a tad jealous – no doubt secretly think I’m just a smidge bonkers. Surely at least one screw loose, to sell every blessed thing and buy a one way ticket to Vietnam. I understand. Shoot, at first even *I* feared I might be headed for the looney bin.

    Ah but nearly a year later? Uh, only THE.VERY.BEST.THING.I.EVER.DID.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      Hey Dyanne – And that conclusion is the one that almost everyone reaches once they do take that step towards the life they really want to live!

  73. jake September 28, 2012 at 6:07 am - Reply

    great post earl! u are so correct. it never surprises me how negative people can be. i agree with some of these other posts. some of these negative opinions come about because friends or family may not understand your decision. either that or could be jealousy. these people are jealous because we make a decision and stand by that decision and have the confidence to leave our comfort zone.
    fortunately i was never met with any criticism. i guess my family is surprisingly open-minded. and it works out well. i get to see the world.. and certianly make better salary than i would back in north america.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:52 pm - Reply

      Hey Jake – That certainly does work out well when you have such open-minded family!

  74. Will Jackson - The Bearded Wanderer September 28, 2012 at 12:09 am - Reply

    I had the opposite experience. My family, friends, work colleagues… everyone was totally supportive of me going travelling. It made me worry they just wanted to get rid of me. Jokes.

    But seriously, the only person who has questioned whether it has been a good idea for me to take all of my savings and go travel for an indefinite amount of time with no particular plan or even itinerary has been me.

    I guess I’m just lucky in that sense.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm - Reply

      Hey Will – That’s great to hear that you had all that support from the start! It certainly makes a huge difference, apart from wondering whether or not your family, friends and colleagues threw a massive party the day after you left 🙂

  75. Claire | Traveling Light September 27, 2012 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    I feel you, Earl. And congratulations for still going ahead and living a life on your own terms!

    I’ve had a similar experience but I realized later on that the people close to me with strong objections are 1) just concerned of me 2) believe the old formula of success based on a job and just don’t see any other possibility. But once you show them that indeed, another kind of life is possible, then that’s when the support (albeit sometimes grudgingly) comes.

    Of course, there really are people who do not wish you well and are only thrilled to see you fail. These are the people I would steer clear from.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:49 pm - Reply

      Hey Claire – Exactly! As a couple of others have commented, once they actually proved that they could turn their dreams into an actual lifestyle and that they were not in fact wasting their lives, the people close to them began to offer their support.

  76. Scott September 27, 2012 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    So why do your friends and family do it?

    One person commented that envy may be involved but I think that this is only a small part of the reason why you get so much push-back.
    Experiencing something so completely different to what you know and understand is a very difficult thing for people. The psychologists call it “cognitive dissonance”. Most people only see life through standard experiences. They see the typical Monday to Friday working day, with kids and a house in the suburbs as just the way it is. If you start to change one of these parameters, even something as simple as working on weekends or living in the city and people will start to find it difficult to comprehend.
    This difficulty to comprehend is frustrating and people often respond negatively in the form of envy, anger, stubbornness or some other reaction. Most people just cant comprehend a life outside of the one they imagine for themselves. Don’t be too concerned, its just how we are programmed (you and I have just figured out how to rewrite the program).
    I would imagine that your friends and family do have general concern for your well being and don’t think they are doing anything bad to you. This is because picturing you outside their own comfort zone is stressful. So they will give you advice that they think will bring you back to their area of comfort. But you know this isn’t where you want or should be.
    They are doing this because you are awesome and they care enough about you to want to help. The problem is that their help is not really well founded. Ask all the successful entrepreneurs or travelers who was intrinsic in giving them advice about doing what they wanted to do and they will tell you it wasn’t their friends or family it was the people doing it – people like Earl.
    Your friends and family are also going to miss you when you go because…that’s right… you’re awesome. They will naturally try and persuade you to spend more time with them too.
    Just remember, the push-back from you loved ones is probably because they love you. Show them a bit of compassion. This doesn’t mean you should listen to them. Listen to your mentors and the people who are already successfully doing what you want to do.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm - Reply

      Hey Scott – I agree fully that there is usually no bad intentions from those who try to persuade us to ‘snap out of it’ and return to reality. These people do love us and want what’s best, but of course, their idea of what’s best is based on their own experiences. It all makes sense and I think you’re right in saying that we should understand their reasons for having such negative reactions. We don’t have to listen at all but they shouldn’t be treated as evil people trying to ruin our lives.

  77. M September 27, 2012 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    I love that you wrote about this, Earl. It doesn’t just apply to travel. If you try to do anything different these days, especially with the way the economy is going, people react with such disappointing negativity. I think the root is often jealousy, because they have forgotten that we are here very briefly on this earth and life is meant to be fun. The definition of fun is different for each person. If your version of fun falls outside the status quo way of doing things, then people get out the wet blankets. I wish everyone would just stop judging and let each other LIVE LIVES OF ADVENTURE! Or as Frida Kahlo said: “Viva la vida!”

  78. Ro September 27, 2012 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Hahaha i was sat down by my family. They said, its time to stop traveling so i can live their hideous, sad, boring, pathetic life. This is me, my norm, im happy and i dont ask for any money. They always ask, where o you get your money? i joke around ro piss them off.. I say I am an international escort , assassin, or i have money tree in my backyard lololol! We travellers are living our life, not our dreams. We want to live while others just dream it…. Cheers all!

  79. Neelima V September 27, 2012 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    Great post Earl! Definitely will be helpful to all those struggling with decisions of long term travel. Once I just posted something on Facebook suggesting travel is all I want to do, and one comment from an angry old man just cracked me up. He went on and on about how I am selfish, self centered, where is the time for god and society and all that stuff. It is beyond me how having a boring life will be a sustainable source of happiness. I often wonder how people come to the conclusion that their way of life is the only way of life. Or may be one has to travel to know there are many ways of life! 🙂

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      Hey Neelima – That’s the thing, for most people who don’t leave their town/city/region, all they know is one general way of life. And when that’s the case, it is very difficult for them to understand or accept other lifestyles that they are not familiar with. But like you said, if they were to suddenly travel, chances are their minds would open up as well and they would want more out of their own life!

  80. Nadine September 27, 2012 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    It’s within the 5 top regrets of dying people… “I wish I had done what I wanted instead of what was expected of me”. I keep that thought in my heart all the time.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      Hey Nadine – I’m sure it is and that’s a good enough reason for me to keep on traveling!

  81. MaryAnne September 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    I… I had no such problem with my decision to travel. When I first went away back in 1994 and 1995, I was a 19/20 year old university student on an island off the west coast of Canada which had been going through a recession for as long as I could remember. My whole family was there and had been there for generations. The jobs available to me at that time were minimum wage, seasonal, poorly paid. Not much point in staying. When I started working in the UK and South Africa for 3 years starting in 1997, my family applauded, as those opportunities didn’t exist back home. When I moved to Turkey to teach EFL in 2002, everyone was happy for me as well because, again, decent jobs back home= nope.

    Now, a decade later (and a decade’s worth of teaching in Turkey and China under my belt), I’ve travelled for about 30-40% of every year, am saving far more than I could even if I was a proper teacher back home, and although my family misses me (and I miss them), they know that the opportunities and adventures I have here (here being wherever I want to be, as I am geographically flexible) are far greater than any where I come from.

    Home is wonderful but it isn’t the be all and end all. The world is a big place.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:37 pm - Reply

      Hey MaryAnne – Glad to hear you have the full support of everyone at home and I can see that in some cases, people would be happy and proud to see someone ‘get out’ of their town/city and find bigger opportunities elsewhere. Seemed to have worked quite well for you!

  82. Wends of Journeys and Travels September 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    i am confronted with this too and the last one was when I went on my holiday vacation and upon coming back, people were telling me I should forget travelling and this however, re-enforces the idea that travelling is life and no matter what other people call us or label us, we have fairly anchored ourselves on the inspirations we get on the road and the generosity we share through the stories we earned, bum or whatever label they have.

  83. Wade | VagabondJourney.com September 27, 2012 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    For sure, man. My parents had no clue what I was doing the for the first years I was traveling. “So, are you done with your vacation yet?” or “So, Wade, are yo ready to start your life?” they would say. Then I realized that they really just didn’t know what I was doing, they thought I was just sitting around on beaches checking out women and drinking beer or something. Well, I have to admit that there was plenty of that, but a lot more went into it. Oddly, it wasn’t until I started blogging full time that they started to realize and respect what I was doing. It’s an odd time we live in when a guy’s parents can be proud of him for being a blogger 🙂

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:34 pm - Reply

      Hey Wade – Ha, very true! And as I was reading your comment, I was nodding my head the whole time as that is the exact same thing that happened to me with my parents!

  84. RunAwayHippie September 27, 2012 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Awesome post Earl! I plan to hit the road as soon as I finish high school (this June!). But its hard to stay focused on these dreams, when almost everyone I talk to says its a bad idea. Everyone at school is going off to college or university, and definitely voice their opinion that that is what I should be doing too. My parents think it is a terrible decision as well. I always show them your blog whenever they think i’m a crazy person! That being said, this post definitely helped me. Thanks a lot for writing about this. To know that you, and probably many other full time travelers, have had to deal with this, makes it a lot easier for me to deal with it!! 🙂

    • Amanda September 28, 2012 at 10:00 am - Reply

      It’s good to know someone my own age is contemplating this lifestyle too (I’m a freshman in college). I went on a month long backpacking journey around Europe by myself my summer after high school. Everyone said I was crazy, but now it’s all I think about. Even now, at college, I find myself thinking “Is this where I want to be right now?”
      Everyone tells me I’m too young to go and travel the world, that I should wait till I’m “older” and out of college. They tell me to slow down, cause I have plenty of time. But I say, if I keep waiting, and living this lifestyle, there’ll always be other roadblocks: grad school, debt, career, kids, etc.
      If we don’t make an effort to chase after our dreams, then they’ll disappear. You should just go for it, and do what makes you happy:)

      • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm - Reply

        Hey Amanda – Perfectly said!

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm - Reply

      @RunAwayHippie – Believe me, I’d say that most long-term travelers have had to face at least some negativity when they discussed their plans with their family and friends before finally taking the leap!

  85. Priyank September 27, 2012 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    Very nicely articulated! Every now and then I get comments about getting my priorities wrong, wasting money on travel, studying art, choosing a wrong “lifestyle” and other nonsense just because it doesn’t fit some conventional template that the speaker is used to. Your long term travel is one of many non-typical ways of living that people pursue and I have tremendous respect for such social rebels.

    cheers, Priyank

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm - Reply

      Hey Priyank – Well, before long it will be the negative commenters who realize that they had their priorities wrong all along 🙂

  86. Gigi September 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Hear, hear!

    I got pushback when I decided to be a writing major (what? You’ll never make money!), again when I started my business (what if you go under? Will you get enough clients?), again when I decided to travel full-time (crazy dreamer! How will your clients feel?), and again when I announced that I’d be traveling full-time with my dog (impossible!).

    Like you, I decided to ignore the nay-sayers (or take their push-back as a challenge, perhaps) and I’m decidedly happier for it.

    I hope your readers take encouragement from your journey (and maybe even this comment). Follow your dreams – be they travel, business, or something else altogether.

    • Lisa - iLiveWhereIam.com September 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm - Reply

      Gigi – extra wonderful that you are traveling with your dog! good job on all of the above!

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      Hey Gigi – Your example provides plenty of inspiration in itself as it just shows what can happen when we don’t let anything stop us from going after our dreams. Everything is possible as they say but only if we ignore the negative influences around us!

  87. Lien Pham September 27, 2012 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl, for those of us who love traveling, the kind of life you are having sure is enviable 🙂

  88. Katherine September 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    I think when people voice their negative opinions about your plans it’s because they’re secretly envious that you are taking such a “risk” and they are too scared to “go for it”. Life’s too precious to live in fear. Let your heart be your guide.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm - Reply

      Hey Katherine – That very well could be as I’d imagine most people would go after their true goals in life if they were told that there would be no risk involved at all.

  89. Elvira September 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Yesterday I booked a ticket to a month long backpacking adventure in India November-December (I’ll be in Kerala when your group is in the north!) and almost nobody has encouraged my. When they meet the naive and excited eyes of a twenty-one year old girl who never backpacked before, and now she is going to INDIA (!), they just wrinkle their foreheads and start mumbling not so encouraging words. First, they know how dangerous the country can be, because they are all smart and grown up. Secondly, the know me and my tendency to taste a piece of the cake and then wanting it all. I was living abroad for a year and it made me not homesick but hungry for MORE but growing up in a academic culture I tried to plan this trip as smart as I could next to the studies. I want to live like you but still be young when I go to the uni. I know now that I am going to use my savings for adventures but India…scares me so much. And makes me smile when I close my eyes.
    We are visiting a friend in the south and travelling up to the north to join a tour. (We wanted yours but it is too early) How can three young Scandinavian walking wallets travel with the Indian railway the safest way possible? Because when I ask people they just say “go to the south east of Asia instead”…

    • Earl September 28, 2012 at 1:54 am - Reply

      Hej Elvira! All I can say is, take it slow while in India. If you are flexible and don’t try to rush around the country, then you’ll have a much more enjoyable and easier experience. With the trains, it’s actually quite easy. When you’re in the major cities, just go to the train station and ask an official train employee where the “Foreigner booking office” is located as that is a great place for foreigners to book tickets. If you are in smaller places, since you are a female, just look for the “Females only” line for booking tickets. And even if there is no employee working at that window, walk up to the window anyway and someone will come to help you. You can skip the huge crazy lines that all the men are waiting in to buy train tickets! The one thing you shouldn’t do is buy your tickets from any agency…only buy your tickets from the train station!

  90. Rachel September 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Although I have yet to start travelling long term, recently when ever I tell my family of something I want to do that involves traveling. They have been nothing but discouraging, even my little sister (she almost always is on my side). Their reason has always been money, so I decided that I wanted to spend new years visiting a friend in Chile but since my credit card is under my parents name I had to get their approval. Their answer was no even though I said I would pay for it myself. Their reasoning is is I don’t speak Spanish and I won’t have enough money to stay in a hostel in case something happens and I am unable to stay with the friend that I was planning on staying with. So I have had to put it off for a year but at least in a year if my parents still say I can’t go because I don’t speak Spanish, my older sister (she is near fluent in Spanish) will be able to come with. Along with that I was/am (can’t decide if I given or follow through) planning on going to Africa this summer and even though the program is at most $300 (I have to raise money to go but after I’ve done that then all I have to do is pay for a flight to the meeting point somewhere in the US). They still say that I should stay in the US and make money. So right now I am still deciding if I stay or go either way I am not at home for the summer, it’s just a question between getting a paid internship or doing something worthwhile in Africa. Although when I mention my plans to travel after college it is only my older sister that constantly voices her opinion that I would be throwing away $80,000 even with me explaining to her that there are ways that my degrees won’t go to waste while I travel. She never lets up. She is also the main reason why I am considering staying in the US and doing a paid internship instead of doing volunteer work in Africa. However, I have gotten used to this and have accepted she will never approve with the way of life I want to live. After all she has been saying the same thing for the past three years but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt to hear her say it all the time.

  91. Hannah September 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    I’ve gone through this with my family and friends for the last few months when I informed them I’m leaving to travel & don’t know when or if I’m going back. Even my dad thinks I’m “wasting” my money when I should be pursuing a “real” career.

    It’s hard to believe in yourself and be confident in the face of so much uncertainty and resistance. I’ve definitely had those days when I feel awful & feel like I might be doing the wrong thing. But I always snap out of it and realize that this is the life I was made to live.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      Hey Hannah – And the good news is that once you get started and everyone back homes sees that it’s not such a waste after all, they will often come around and start to support you. It just takes some time since you have chosen to do something that they don’t quite understand!

  92. Christi September 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    This is just what I needed today! I have been feeling negativity about my “bum” lifestyle, but I am so thankful for the few friends I have that encourage me to “live by the seat of my pants because life is short”. I have yet to commit to being a world traveler but I love knowing in my heart and envisioning in my mind the moments I will have meeting people and experiencing cultures away from the US. I admire those that have committed to their travel goals! I love your blogs, Earl!

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much Christi and that’s great that you have those core group of friends who encourage you to live your own life! As a result, I’m sure that you will end up making the most out of your time on this planet!

  93. Lauren September 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    I definitely know tons people who say it’s a waste of time. People my age who say they’re getting their degrees now and maybe they’ll travel afterwards. But I’ve also encountered a lot of older people who say that they wish they had lived more while they were young, when they had the chance. So that’s what I’m trying to do.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      Hey Lauren – Those older people who wish they had lived more are often those who once said they would travel once they had their degree and saved up money for a few years. It’s hard to break out of that pattern and most who want to travel, never end up doing so.

  94. Júlíana Björnsdóttir September 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    I just love to read your blog; your words are at times like my very own.

    As a woman who tries to keep a balance between my passion for academics, the work I do and my husband, our puppy Emma, and my family, I am often met with the “don’t be silly” response when I clearly state I will not have children until I am ready to do so myself and have completed the travels I have set out to do prior to taking on such a huge commitment.

    The usual response is that “I will regret not having had them earlier” or “to travel is a hobby, not a way of life. Children are however.” Well, I like you and most of your readers, disagree. I close my eyes and picture myself back on the road, this time with my husband and sometimes with friends or by myself. I see myself using my language skills and learning more about the culture through the people I meet along the way.

    I sacrificed a few years to pursue my passion for writing and literature in the world of academics, but in my professional life I chose to work independently so I can travel at will and still work. It’s the only way I can imagine combining all my passions.

    I admire what you do and I know if my 11-year old niece came to me for an advise, I’d encourage her to follow her heart and travel to the end of the world and back as many times as she wants. I am proud to say, she has expressed a strong desire to travel “like her aunt”. It makes me proud.

    I for one have not given it up even though a part of my life is “settled”. When and if I have children, they will learn the value of the traveling lifestyle from a young age. Traveling may not be an acknowledged way of life, but it will be one day 🙂

    • Katherine September 27, 2012 at 4:06 pm - Reply

      I can totally relate. I feel like more often than not with women it always comes back to children; when are you gonna have them and settle down, there’s no way to lead a life of travel with children, etc…You should follow your heart and let go of everyone else’s expectations of what you should be doing with your life.

      • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:26 pm - Reply

        Hey Katherine – I can imagine the children topic comes up often when women express their desire to travel long term. But like you said, as long as you follow your heart, then you will have them if and when you want to have them. Nothing wrong with that at all.

    • Maga September 27, 2012 at 7:35 pm - Reply

      Couldn’t agree more! My thoughts relate to every single word you wrote. Feels good to know there are more women out there who think and feel the same way…

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      Hey Juliana – Thank you for sharing your thoughts and as long as you are doing what feels right, then it really doesn’t matter what others think at all. And that’s very cool that your niece is already talking about travel…clearly you’re a good role model!

  95. Lisa - iLiveWhereIam.com September 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    I’ve definitely been through this a lot and I didn’t get down to what I really believed in for a long time. I think the best advice is to stay away from negative sources – or at least don’t take them to heart. Maybe tell them that you respect their opinion, but you have your own opinion and path in life.

    hold onto what you truly believe in your heart. follow your own path. I’ve found that anything else really doesn’t work.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:17 pm - Reply

      Hey Lisa – I think that it’s okay for others to not agree with our decisions of course, but if they can’t respect our ideas and goals, then sometimes it is best to stay away from such people. We certainly don’t want to give up our dreams simply because others don’t agree.

  96. Mari September 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Brilliant post Earl!! Every word you write is so true, most people do not encourage you to go travelling, they`d rather see you stay in the boring routine at home.

    So…I resigned from my job this week and will get on the road in a few months time!
    Hooray 🙂
    Honestly won`t even bother to tell everyone as I know many will not understand my choice at all…

    • Chelli September 28, 2012 at 1:12 am - Reply

      Good for you Mari!! I admire your courage. I too loved Earl’s post. Its speaks to me in so many ways and I don’t want to travel (not yet that is), I just want to feel free to pursue my dreams and not feel fear. Enjoy your endeavor and be safe. Peace out.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm - Reply

      Hey Mari – Congratulations and I shall look forward to hearing about your adventures ahead!

  97. thetravelfool September 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    Long live the bums of this world. Life is too short. Travel as much as you can or whatever makes you happy. If you can travel full time go for it. If you can’t right now but want to work towards that end. Cheers Earl.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm - Reply

      @thetravelfool – Life is too short indeed and we should all strive to fill our lives with whatever does make us the happiest.

  98. Nan September 27, 2012 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    “the last American man” my apology…iPhone

  99. Nan September 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    When I was younger, such a life was beyond reach. If I moved even two hours away, tears followed and friends called it the end. Everyone that ever said it was impossible are long gone now. For a long time I wondered why I was so terrible at keeping friends. Then one by one I met people that did not doubt me or discourage me from any of my dreams. Instead I was cheered on for each new unknown step and told that I could count on my friends. Today I am cat sitting for a couple that are traveling in Hawaii. I am reading “the last American male” and life is getting better by the minute. My advice… find friends that do not attempt to hold you back.

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 6:14 pm - Reply

      Hey Nan – Sometimes we do have to separate ourselves from those who simply refuse to offer any support or only offer negativity as we try to live our own life. It’s not easy to do but that’s just how life works and in the end, there are always new people out there to meet!

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