I’ve been pondering this for weeks now.
When I think of it, travelling is like peeling an onion. The more layers you strip back, the more you reveal of yourself. As in, who you are at the core.
Actually, answering this question feels like I’m putting a magnifying glass on myself but I’m going to try and share what it’s been like… at least what it’s like now it’s been 4 months we said ‘Goodbye Sydney’ to begin our 10 month roadtrip, the start of our epic longterm travel plan.
How Travel is Affecting Me Physically
The physical part is easy. In four months, I’ve lost two sizes.
While that sounds great, it hasn’t helped our budget because while you can generally get away with one size down, cinching pants in with a belt, dealing with loose clothing, two sizes becomes an issue. It gets annoying fast pulling jeans down without having to unbutton them and hitching them up every two seconds.
While in department stores, looking for the right size, I have had sales people look me up and down and tell me straight out that I should be wearing three sizes smaller than I was when we left the Treehouse. While I can fit into that size, it’s just not comfortable. But then I think about what it’ll be like four more months down the track.
I’m still a curvaceous traveller. These hips and boobs are not doing anywhere, but I will tell you that it’s nice to buy new clothes in sizes I haven’t worn since I was a teenager.
There’s no secret pill I’m taking. I’m not doing sit ups every night. It’s just a weird thing that happens to me when I travel. I suppose I am a lot more active although it doesn’t feel like it. But I have to tell you that when I am on the go a lot, I get antsy. I am so used to sitting and writing for hours on end that I crave that time. It’s a balance but I love being outside, and the health benefits are great, so I’ll just need to find a way to do both.
Mentally… Travel is a Head-spinner!
Yep, losing weight is certainly doing a lot for the self-esteem. It’s nice that I can buy a few new things that excite me, like buying a pair of Levis for the first time in my life.
Mentally though there’s a lot more going on in the ol’ noggin’ of mine.
I actually find being in one place mentally exhausting. Sounds nuts, right?! It’s due to the fact that there is so much I want to get done while we’re settled for a while, that I wear myself out. My mind is continuously spinning.
I wake up at 2am and have a list already going in my head. By the time I get out of bed, the list is three pages long and … well, most of it doesn’t get done. I told Rich on one of our recent walks that with my experience of managing people and delegating tasks that I find I need a Virtual Assistant in this business, just to get stuff done. I mean, the marketing alone takes up 80% of my time and most of the stuff on my list is NOT marketing.
For me, moving from place to place is exciting. Seeing new places is exiting.
Doing the same thing day in and day out for me is exhausting. I like routine but I find that after time, I get itchy. So, my mind wanders to places I want to go next. To places I have dreamed of going. And that’s a whole new list. Walking the Camino right now is taking up a hell of a lot of my mental capacity which is crazy because we have a lot going on between now and then.
I spend a lot of time finding things. Rich is one who needs routine, where I don’t. I am happy to shower and go off on the next adventure. He spends hours in the morning pottering around, going through his own personal routine. He is constantly “cleaning up” and “putting things away”.
When Rich puts things away, they are usually not in places that make sense to me at all. Or he’ll put things away somewhere different than where he had them before. Or, he’ll get distracted by something and leave things in weird places, so we’re constantly backtracking. In four months, he’s lost two jumpers (sweaters) and a merino beanie. We’ve looked everywhere.
I admit, I’m eager to get on to the international leg of our adventure come January because it will mean we are ONLY living out of a suitcase and not a car. It’ll make it a little easier to keep track of things.
Being on the Road Is An Emotional Rollercoaster!
I have to think this is the hardest part for me to admit. I’m not one to express how I’m doing emotionally (except to a close-knit circle).
Being on the road is an emotional rollercoaster.
There are moments when I have to stop and remember that I’m doing what I have always wanted to do and I need to be happy about that fact – seriously.
When we’re on the road, our minds are always on the next step, preparing for the next stage. We’re constantly thinking about where we’ll sleep, eat, stop for petrol, etc… that we have to consciously take the time to look around and realize where we are, what we are doing. It usually hits us when we speak to people about traveling full time. When we’re housesitting, it’s all about the routine in making sure we’re doing what we need to and our travel plan becomes secondary.
Having Natalie visit for two weeks recently was really hard for me. The empty nest thing is real.
You feel like a limb is missing most of the time, despite the fact that I text with her every day (like I am while I write this) and speak with her a few times a week. I almost sobbed in relief when I saw her running toward me after she disembarked the airport express bus in Melbourne (“how embarrassing Mum!”)
When she arrived to join us at this housesit in the Bellarine (with the owner’s permission of course), I was excited to show her what life was like for us right now: Being here on the farm, sharing this farm experience with her. It was nice for her to chip in and help (without asking) because now she now understands that things don’t just “magically happen”. You know, like getting dinner on the table.
After our ten days together, I think we were all eager to get back to our lives, once we’d had time to talk and catch up and hang out. Then the guilt (for me) set in. Knowing that my child no longer has a home base to come back to is something I constantly struggle with.
While she was here, we booked tickets for her to join us in Tasmania in December, when she’ll be on her summer break. Then it hit me: I won’t see her now for 5 months. That’s the longest I’ve EVER been away from her. That’s hard. That’s really hard.
The other emotional part is realizing who I really am and the path I’m on. It’s just as our website says: “Travel Far Enough, You’ll Find Yourself”. Huh. Imagine that.
The business side for me is a real head-spinner most days.
I’m going to say this out loud: Being a digital nomad/blogger is hard. Probably the hardest job I’ve ever had, even more so than the corporate job I had. Running an online business is a serious challenge. I’m not saying that to start a pity party. I’m stating a fact. I’ve been doing this for 5 years now and there are days I want to pack it in and say ‘well, I tried. It’s not for me’.
Don’t get me wrong. I love writing. As I write this, I feel this massive sense of freedom and relief. It’s like unleashing the beast.
But the rest of the business? It’s a bitch.
As I alluded to before, 80% of this gig is marketing and while I’m amazed at what I’ve learned about marketing, it’s extremely time consuming.
The income side of things is a constant struggle. When you hear of bloggers making six figures, I’m here to tell you that they are the 1% of this industry. Most likely, they began 10 years ago and amassed a following that the rest of us are still chasing.
It makes it even harder when you hear of friends and family booking trips where they haven’t used your affiliate links. You wonder why and then what you’re doing wrong because you know how hard it is to get that income. In your heart you also know, that if the tables were turned, you’d be doing everything you could to support them because you know how hard it is.
I had a new blogger tell me I was her new hero this week. It was because I told her I’d been doing this for five years and was able to answer her questions so easily. I laughed out loud because I was thinking more that I was more of an idiot. I’m someone who is too afraid of quitting, despite trying everything I can to make the business a success. Doing everything create a stable income.
But then, I think of the knowledge I have that can help someone like her NOT make the same mistakes I have, and it pushes me to keep going.
Then there’s our marriage. Travelling together 24/7/365 is not easy for any relationship.
Of all the things, I would have to say that Rich and I are probably closer emotionally than we have ever been. If you’ve been following us a while and have read my travel journals, you’ll know we hit a major speedbump last year.
I won’t sugar coat it: there is no space in this situation. Physically, we are together all the time (no, no, not like that…). Even going to the supermarket is a joint effort because it may very well be a side trip to somewhere else. We walk the dogs together every afternoon when housesitting. We spend the morning side by side on our laptops, as we drink coffee. I think the only ‘alone time’ I get is when I decide to stay up a little later than he, where I may have an hour to myself.
So, you can imagine that communication is key. And in all honesty, it’s not something we’ve been good at in the 14 years we’ve been together. That is, until we started travelling full time. We’ve HAD to re-evaluate how we communicate.
Emotionally though, we know we’re on this ride together. There are moments when we are both completely vulnerable. I know I have issues, like my misophonia, which I know drives him nuts, and having to express how I’m feeling rather than going all passive about it, is something I am constantly working on.So there it is. Four months in and we’re not in the loony bin (yet). We’re actually doing okay. But hopefully that gives you a realistic view of what it’s really like to travel full time.