Maybe there is that bit of a nomad in all of us; perhaps we are all designed to be wanderers. We have legs for a start! Then don’t we all just love a holiday, the excitement of seeing new beautiful parts of the world and experiencing different foods, people and cultures. Imagine doing that for longer than a fortnight…
For me (this is David writing) when I started my travelling aged 19 I got instantly hooked. It became more of a “gap decade”. I spent much of my 20s travelling, round the world by the age of 24 on an exciting series of one-way tickets with often little more than a few coins and crumpled notes in my pocket when I arrived but a backpack crammed full of trust that all would be okay. There was always a beach to kip on and fresh fruit to pick. It was a wonderful existence. Every morning I felt a-l-i-v-e!
Think of the vast number of books that wouldn’t have been able to exist without this human wanderlust: by remarkable authors including Tolkien and also such as Hemingway, Steinbeck, Bryson, Twain, Theroux… I could name dozens and I’m sure you can too. Even mega-bestselling modern-day British author Lee Child travelled to the US to write, and his popular character (6ft 5in) Jack Reacher – played recently by (5ft 7in) Tom Cruise on the big screen – is a supreme wanderer! Jack Reacher fights the system and then wanders into town to fight the baddies (or are they synonymous?) before wandering off again, a 21st-Century knight on a stallion.
I think the system has a lot to do with engineering us to get stuck in one place, trapped as a fly in a spider’s web of mortgage and other debts, doing a daily grind that in many cases people detest – so therefore detesting the majority of their life, and just counting down the days to getting their pension. Then what? But without us being always in one place it would be difficult to have a steady supply of wage slaves. They give you a week off every 13 weeks to keep you going (make that every 26 weeks if you’re in the US), but that doesn’t cut it with an increasing number of people who are here to question the “norm”.
Now I know many people wouldn’t and couldn’t swap their 9 to 5 safety net for the unknown journey of travelling. But I am yet to hear of anyone saying something like: “Those months when I saw the world, terrible – wish I’d never bothered, worst thing I ever did. Can’t wait to get back to the office!”
Didn’t many if not most of our ancestors travel, in search of food and shelter? I suppose a necessity when herds of beasts were roaming, we had to roam with them. But to bring it all to such a dramatic standstill as we have in the modern world?
I recall in the 1980s/90s when the New Age Travellers were a massive force in this country (they are still about, just dispersed to other countries more tolerant of their lifestyle I believe now, such as Spain). Sure, they had problem people in their communities, same as everywhere – but I also sensed that even in the conservative media there was sometimes a feeling towards them of… envy. They might not have had material things, but they had a priceless freedom. And I don’t really think they were all drug-taking spongers!
There has to be a sense in most parents going out to work and leaving their children that these are precious lost days that will never come back. I’m with Dr Wayne Dyer, a self-help author and motivational speaker, on this when he says something along the lines of: don’t say you are working all the hours under the sun for your children, because your children don’t want the big house and flash car and expensive holidays as much as you do – what they want is you.
One thing we want to get across is that anyone has this choice. Really you do – to spend more time with those you love, or work as much as you do. You might have to do some big things such as sell your house and move, or (as we have) downsize your house. You might have to sell your flash car for one that still gets you from A to B. You might have to tell your ego to shut it when you hand in your notice on the job that you think impresses everyone but that you cannot stand. Your choice.
Much of this is, as with life in general, a choice of spirit versus ego: spirit wants what’s best for us and the world around us; ego wants what’s best for itself, and then still demands more.
If you’re pondering motorhome/campervan travels, maybe you could dip your toe in, and try before you buy, as we did. Then we loved it so much we worked out a way to get one of our own. It’s something that even when we settle back from travelling we will still use for weekends and spontaneous evenings away, chasing the sunset and looking forward to the sunrise in a new view. That’s if we stop travelling of course!
We hope this inspires, that one of our hopes all round with our project adventure away. So there you go – see you somewhere amazing soon?