When Will You Grow Up and Settle Down?
By Steven Moore
It’s taken almost two decades for some of my nearest and dearest to fully comprehend the lifestyle I have chosen. For so many years, I’d hear things like, “It’s just not realistic”, or “How can you afford to live like that? Aren’t you getting a little old for all this gallivanting?” My favourite: “When are you going grow up and settle down?” Perhaps now, nineteen years after my first backpacking adventure to Indonesia and Australia, I think they get it.
So what is the crazy lifestyle I lead that has caused so many concerns for my loved ones? Quite simply, it’s a life that involves me doing exactly what I want, when I want, for how long I want, and most importantly, where I want!
For almost twenty years I’ve spent my life travelling the world, living and working on four different continents and spending time in almost 50 countries. Of course, the two decades haven’t been spent totally on the road. There have been many years…too many…where I had to temporarily curb my wanderlust and return to my native England. I have worked regular jobs, but usually only to boost the travel funds for pending trips. I even spent a four year stretch at University, but that was a calculated sacrifice, enabling the last few years of fun and adventure in Korea.
Let me address some of the comments about my ‘lifestyle’ I’ve heard so frequently.
1. It’s just not realistic.
Well, why ever not? I’ve managed to maintain a gloriously nomadic lifestyle. As a younger man, I worked hard, saved up, travelled, and supplemented it all by doing sporadic paid work on the road. When the money ran out…6 months, a year…I went home and started again. This worked for a long time, but I eventually got tired of the have-to-go-home part. Thus, I completed a Bachelor’s Degree in a few things that ended in ‘ology, and teaching ESL in Korea became an amazing and realistic option to continue the so-called unrealistic lifestyle.
2. How can you afford to live like that?
Live like what? I like the same things as everyone else, but it definitely helps that I’m not a materialistic person. Belongings are for other people. I’ve never bought a new TV, and the few cars I’ve owned were cheaper than a train from London to Edinburgh. They didn’t last long, and they didn’t need to. I’ve never begged, and I never go hungry, and it’s just a case of knowing what’s important. Possessions I count as important are my passport and my backpack. My one luxury item? Kindle, absolutely!
3. Aren’t you getting a little old for all this gallivanting?
Excuse me? Certainly not! I assume what they mean is that they just thought it would be out of my system by now, being almost 40, and that I should consider getting a real job. Well, I’ve taught English for 3 of the last 5 years in South Korea, and now I’m a novelist on the verge of moving to Paris. Okay, aspiring novelist, but we have to follow our dreams, right? Age should be no determiner of whether or not we travel. If it’s fun and inspiring, any age is the perfect age.
4. And finally, the classic. When are you going to grow up and settle down?
Grow up? Settle down? What does that even mean? I guess traditionally that means finding the right guy or girl, getting married with a house and mortgage, couple of kids, car in the drive way etc, and a few dusty photo albums that come out occasionally to relive old memories. Let me just assure you now that creating new memories is much more fun than reliving old ones, though of course that’s fun too.
Well, I am settled. What I mean is, I have an amazing long term girlfriend, Leslie, who shares my dreams and ethics, we each know what we want from our futures, and we both know what we don’t want…sedate, sedentary, stagnant, stale, and suffocating lives spent doing something we don’t want to do in somewhere that we don’t want to do it. So we don’t!
Right now, Darwin is home, but over the next 12 months we’ll be spending time in Indonesia, France, England, the USA and Central America, while I continue with my novel and Leslie pursues her freelance journalism career. Settled? Yes, completely, thanks for asking.
So what does it take to live a nomadic lifestyle? Everybody has different needs and desires in terms of what they want from their lives. But the more you need, the more difficult it is to be nomadic. I say it just takes an open mind. A sense of adventure is a prerequisite. A thick skin is crucial for all the times when things don’t go to plan. Believe me, this can be often. Patience is vital, and appreciation and awareness of yourself and others is paramount.
Hemingway once said; “It’s great to have an end to journey toward; but it’s the journey that matters, in the end.” I agree wholeheartedly, and so most of all, what you need is a reason to do it. My reason? Travel defines me, makes me tick. To see the world is to learn not only about it, but about yourself and your place in it. And once you know yourself, you can be settled anywhere.
Steven Moore is the epitome of a 21st century nomad. He has traveled on five continents, and lived and worked on four. Steven writes a travel blog about his international adventures, and he is currently penning his first novel.
Check out his blog at www.twentyfirstcenturynomad.com and Facebook: @21enturyNomad