You don’t have to be rich in order to travel the world, y. But last time at the border control the immigration officer wasn’t so sure about it. He looked at my passport and paused. Then he looked up and sent me over to one of his colleges. I wasn’t surprised about this. It happens almost all the time when I’m at the airport. I mostly never get waved through immigration immediately and usually have to answer a few questions before I can get into a new country. I guess too many stamps in your passport makes you look suspicious…
And still, after all that travelling I must admit that so far I had never had someone being as blunt as the Canadian officer in Toronto a few months ago! Like his colleague before, he turned each and every single page of my heavily used passport and looked at it with a raised eyebrow before he asked me: “So…. are you rich?!?”
I think I am rich, but most people probably think I have a lot of money on my bank account when they hear about my travels and lifestyle. Truth is, I definitely have not a lot of money and each time I earn a little bit it goes straight towards my current or next trip. In fact, I don’t even have many possessions to call my own. All I own fits into my backpack that I have been carrying around with me for the past 4 years…it’s mainly clothes in there and I guess my camera, phone and laptop are the only considerable valuables that I posses…
So, how do I travel around the world without getting bankrupt?
Well, first of all, I changed my expectations and way of thinking. I said Goodbye to my career and re-adjusted my standards of living. Also my attitude has changed completely. I do not strive for a high job position at a fancy company any longer and I couldn’t care less if I drive my own car or have a chic apartment for myself. The less stuff you own the more flexible you are, I found out….
The security of a permanent job I happily exchanged for location-independence, adventures and the flexibility to be able to travel around – whenever I want. It’s deliberating and mind-changing. And I think it is the first transformation that has to happen in your head. For me travelling was eye-opening and helped me appreciating life differently.
So, I transformed my former mission of climbing up the job ladder into a mission of exploring the world. May each and every single day be interesting and hopefully exciting for the rest of my life, I thought. And I couldn’t help but feeling the need to take this challenge serious. I suddenly saw that a career did not fulfil me any longer. All I wanted was to learn each day something new, see different places, get to know people from other countries, learn about their cultures, try to challenge myself by pushing myself out of my comfort zone and never feel bored of life again.
And I think on top of my attitude it is my educational and professional background that helps me a lot to get around easily: I studied English and Spanish language, literature and culture at the University. After I graduated I wasn’t sure what to do with my Bachelor’s of Arts. So I thought it’d be a good idea to get a degree in something that is actually a bit more concrete. I decided to get an extra occupational degree in Communications/ Marketing and PR.
Being fluent in three different languages in combination with a skill that can basically be applied all around the world has helped me a lot on my travels. And I am lucky enough to work as a freelancer for different projects every now and then. This allows me to travel and work location independently… But I am not saying that this is the only way to be able to travel and it is clearly not the only type of work I do!
Actually, I find it very refreshing to pick up jobs that I wouldn’t even have considered back home in Germany. It’s funny when you take off the career pressure and turn a job into an experience. You can relax because you know it will not be for a long time and that you learn a new skill or simply something about yourself by throwing yourself into a completely new environment. I still give one hundred per cent when I start a new job. But I am no longer getting emotionally involved like I used to do.
When I travel, I meet many people on the road with all sorts of professional backgrounds and many of them exchanged their careers in order to live a nomadic lifestyle like me. Some find the perfect spot to live and simply stay in a spot in paradise. They all seem to feel the same: Once you’ve made that step out of the routine you quickly realise that there is so much more you can do and somehow everything falls into place in the following.
I hardly ever know what I am going to do in a few months ahead of time. That might be scary for some people, but I find it exciting. The majority of people though love security and a predictable way of living. I guess everyone has to decide for themselves what is best for oneself… But I can totally relate to all those wandering souls around the world that get attached to the nomadic lifestyle as opposed to the conventional house, car and full-time job.