It seems ‘Lifestyle Traveler’ is the label they attach to me these days.
And in a way I’m happy that they (whoever they are) have come up with a name for people who live a similar lifestyle to mine. Because although I’m sure most other lifestyle travelers are very different from me in many ways it does feel good that I’m not the only one living this “strange lifestyle”: moving from country to country, starting new adventures and exploring new worlds.
I first moved abroad when I was 17 and decided to spend the summer working in a restaurant in Spain. Not long after that I flew to Guatemala where i’d have my first real backpacking experience. Since then I have lived and worked in over 10 countries all over the world and traveled through many more. Traveling, moving and building a new life became a lifestyle. A lifestyle that I love, most of the time.
In my opinion there is nothing more intoxicating than being immersed in the unfamiliar: from the new smells and sights to the new people you are about to meet… It gives me energy, makes me feel alive.
But, seeking a better life abroad doesn’t necessarily mean that things will be easier
I’ve seen some amazing places and met so many great people from all walks of life. While my friends back home got a steady job and started thinking about marriage and kids I was exploring Mumbai (India) in a rikshaw or swimming with dolphins in Mauritius.
It sounds amazing, yes, and in many ways it is. But no life is perfect and neither is mine. The older I get the more I realize how important family and real friends are. And that is what I have to miss while I’m abroad. Many of the new friends I make abroad are great people but will never be able to replace some of my life long friendships at home.
And then there is all the frustration of having to build a new life. I currently live on a tropical island in the Caribbean. Paradise in many ways with its great weather, warm water, palm trees and endless cocktails… But like any other place it has its downsides: housing is very expensive compared to the average salary, at night I don’t feel safe enough to walk on the streets alone, the inefficiency and “Caribbean relaxed attitude” can be extremely frustrating if you need to get something done, and so on.
I’ve realized though I need to stop fighting the conflicting feelings I’ve had for so long; those that compel me to keep going, to explore the next place, to go somewhere new, and those that tell me to settle down. A life abroad at times can be lonely and getting to know a new place can be tiring and frustrating. I’ve missed so many birthdays, weddings, and family Christmases. But, few people can say that their life is perfect – I just have different concerns and worries to people living more conventional lifestyles.
And I have to admit, I really am a lifestyle traveler: I love the excitement of a new place, the joy of planning for a new destination, the unimaginable adventures that daily life offers. I don’t know why I am this way, but for some reason I feel happier when I’m the foreigner, just a little out of my comfort zone.
So while I sometimes envy my friends who are happy with their careers and settled lives, I still find so much enjoyment in exploring new worlds and starting my next adventure that I think I’ll remain a lifestyle traveler for some time to come…
“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected for the rest of my life”
– Michael Palin