As it sometimes happen in the life of a blogger, you feel inspired to pre-empt a previously scheduled post.
This past weekend, I hosted an Australian woman who I had met in Canada five years ago. This is my favorite part of traveling. The people we meet and the connections that we develop. Remember that secret announcement that was coming up? Well I was GOING to be like “SURPRISE! I had a blogger in town and we recorded a podcast!”, but we had so much stuff to do and fit in our 3 days together and I was exhausted from exploring that it just never happened. But we did have several conversations where I literally said “this is why we should do a podcast”.
Like the time Toni told me she opened up Chrome in Incognito mode to book a flight in American version of an airline’s website rather than Australian to save $20. I had no idea that was a thing. How even though she has plenty of student loan debt, this is her EIGHTH trip to North America. Toni has been to more U.S states than I have. She’s a super interesting person. One of her hobbies is to go around the world and visit filming locations. I am fortunate to live within 30 miles or so of the city of Covina where the old WB network show Roswell was filmed. A show I actually watched, so I was definitely on board with adventuring through Old Town Covina. I’m sure a post on the Roswell filming locations is coming soon over there, so subscribe to her RSS feed and stay tuned.
One of the things Toni asked me was why I am not doing the working holiday in New Zealand. The last time I chatted with Toni, that was the plan. About six months ago, the plan was basically to do a quick tour of Asia and eventually settle into New Zealand for a year. I went back on forth on this a lot. I asked my dad “if I drop everything and go to New Zealand for a year, aren’t I just putting my life on hold?” and my dad, who is completely awesome, told me “No. I think that is you living the life that you want to live.” Right? Cheers for supportive parents. The exchange rate is favorable right now. I’ve been to New Zealand before and I enjoyed it. But clearly, I’ve chosen a very different path.
There are definitely financial reasons to stay in the country, and If there’s a theme I want to get across in this blog, it’s that you don’t have to choose to travel somewhere else over America to travel inexpensively while having a good time, but there are so many other non-financial reasons, and this is the post that fleshes them out.
Keep reading if you’d like to learn why I’ve chosen not to venture abroad at this point.
I want to be a better informed American.
America is a country full of incredibly diverse landscape and culture. There is certainly no shortage of differing opinions about the way to live a life. This is something that makes America stand out to some extent vs. a small homogeneous country in Europe or Asia. With such a massive land mass, and so many differing societal views, we are this crazy huge melting pot of ideas. This is something that makes America great (ha), but living in Southern California my whole life, even with a healthy dose of traveling, I’ve only scratched the surface of my own country. You only learn so much from the history books and spending a night or two in a well insulated (from the locals?) hotel. After I am more familiar with my home country, I think that I could speak more competently and authoritatively about the topic of America the next time I find myself abroad among people who have a million questions.
I want to prove that you don’t need to leave your country to do inexpensive and fulfilling travel.
This a very common story on the internet. Someone who worked for some faceless corporation wakes up one morning and has an epiphany. They sell everything, they downsize into a single backpack and they purchase their one way ticket to Thailand or Montenegro or wherever. Nothing against that life choice. As an American abroad, you can live a fun-filled life on a relatively small sum of money in a lot of places. Particularly with the current exchange rates. But you’re also half the world away from your family. Life happens and I’m not sure that I want to move that far away for an extended period of time. When I was in Australia and New Zealand for six weeks, I’m pretty sure I skyped with my parents two times total.
Many of the nomads who I read about roaming around America do not tend to write about their daily financial expenses in an easy to digest format, so I might as well volunteer to be the guy who does that. (You’re welcome!) I plan to share all of my numbers, which is why I’ve started sharing my numbers already, so that you can compare the costs of living in a California burb vs. life on the road. I want others to be able to get an idea of what their specific costs might look like to live on the road here in America from the perspective of someone who is neither extremely frugal nor overly luxurious.
I’ve already been to more countries than states.
I can say with complete confidence that there’s not a single country on this map that I have slow traveled. And that includes my own country. I’ve crammed a lot of tourist attractions, yummy foods and generally fun life experiences across the globe while spending no more than a day or two in 90% of said places. I’m very grateful for having had that opportunity. Not everyone gets to do that. It’s a very privileged thing to do. But that’s rushed travel, and I want to try slow travel. They are two very different things.
I feel like it will be “safer” for me to see how I enjoy the transition from “rushed travel” to “slow travel” in my own country. Somewhere that I can use the same currency as the merchants that I’ll be purchasing goods and services from. A place where I speak the same language. Somewhere that I’m in a relatively similar time zone to the majority of my family and friends.
I don’t want to keep checking boxes through life.
You could say that I’ve checked a lot of boxes over the course of my life. The thing about checking boxes is after you check those boxes, you simply move on to the next box to check. It’s not all that fulfilling of a way to live your life. If you don’t have a next box, but you’re on some rigidly defined life path, then you risk becoming complacent and stagnant. I’ve certainly been there. I am challenging you (or maybe myself?) to think outside of those typical life boxes.
If you reach a point in life where you are content and you sever those safety nets, doesn’t that sort of force you think more deeply about what you really want out of your life?
This upcoming lifestyle change allows me to take more time to move around and pay attention to the world around me. This is very exciting. But also very scary.
You haven’t seen me make any grand announcements with some sort of narrowly defined gimmick for my upcoming road trip.
I’m not going to go to ALL THE NATIONAL PARKS. Though I will certainly go to as many as I logistically can fit in on the route!
I’m not going to ALL THE STATES (I mean, I might, but that would be a lot of driving.)
As of the time of this writing, I know that I need to be in Dallas in October for FinCon.
I hope to go to Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting at the beginning of May.
Other than that? I’ll be sure to let you know when I figure it out.
I have plenty of airline miles to go abroad later.
Barring drastic devaluation, I have enough miles to go to Asia and South America at some future time. But that sounds like a check-the boxes way of thinking. Those miles could also be used for a whole bunch of “free” flights to visit family in California if somewhere ends up feeling like home on the road trip. You don’t need to keep searching if you’ve already found your new home. Besides it’s not like South America and Asia are going anywhere. 🙂
Going abroad would require that much more downsizing.
Downsizing into an automobile might sound extreme to a lot of people who are in my life. Downsizing into a backpack or two? That’s a helluva lot more downsizing. Since I’ll be traveling by car, I’ll have the extra room to transport an inflatable kayak, a tent, a cooler, emergency supplies, camping equipment, greater quantities of clothing (so I can do laundry less frequently), and a guitar. What else do I need?