Tom and I want different things. At least, that’s how our stories currently play out. And it’s fine; relationships are built on compromise and negotiation.
Tom loves his job, and he also appreciates the security and stability it brings to our current lives, and to the future. This is all the more important to him now we have a son.
I am hugely grateful for this, but I also crave freedom and flexibility. Over the past 15 years, since our last big trip, I have veered wildly from being content to stay put to being desperate to leave. More recently, changing cities has helped, but the drive to explore more widely is still there.
Up until now, I have been convinced and re-convinced, regularly, by Tom’s position. It’s the conventional path, after all. Travel is all very well when you’re young and carefree, but we can’t afford it now, and why would anyone leave a secure job for an unknown future?
A few things keep me from settling fully into a static lifestyle. First and foremost, I am utterly convinced, and believe wholeheartedly, that travel provides THE best education. It certainly did for me, as a 23 year old, changing my perspective, opening my eyes and forcing me to question so many things. It is not all about excitement and relaxation, it’s hard work, particularly the kind of shoe-string backpacking that we undertook.
Getting to grips with new cultural nuances, languages, currencies, food, finding out about the history of each new place, crossing borders, meeting people from every walk of life. It can be tiring, daunting but incredibly rewarding and character building. It is constant, mind-bending learning, made all the more stark through lived experience, not dictated or read from a book. It’s what I want for my son.
Tom agrees, but thinks it’s more sensible to fit travel into an extended period of annual leave, say eight to ten weeks, straddling two financial years. This idea has been on the cards for the last couple of years. And now the mortgage is paid, we can save up for this once in a lifetime trip, buy a round the world ticket, have a few weeks in Cambodia, Vietnam, maybe a week visiting relatives in Australia, and a couple of weeks in New Zealand, before high-tailing it home to return to normality.
I’ve priced it up. We need around 3-4000 GBP. Living frugally, we could save it; we could go. And yes, it would be fun. We could fly long-haul, pre-book our accommodation, plan our route and our stop-offs, make sure we did everything we wanted to do and got back in good time. Tom’s job would be there to return to and life would go on. We could continue to save for our future, take holidays in Wales, occasional trips to Italy, maybe Madeira to escape the snow in January. It would be a good life, but I know deep down it wouldn’t be the best one.
That involves a risk. A risk that we leave a steady income for an uncertain one. A risk that we struggle to find accommodation, we get lost, we lose our passports, we run out of money, we get sick, we burn out. A risk that we travel for six months and then need, or want, to come home. A risk that we FAIL and have nothing to fall back on.
Another thing that has changed for me recently though, is the availability of information on others, out there, living an independent travel life. There are bloggers and vloggers, cost of living statistics and comparison guides, how-to sites, airbnbs, housesitting and couchsurfing opportunities. So it has become more of a calculated risk. The question is, do the benefits outweigh the costs?
What do you think? Would you leave your job to travel or are stability and financial security more important? Comment below!
*See the comments below for clarification of my position regarding air travel.