I’m regularly asked how I became The Professional Hobo. What was the catalyst for my decision to sell everything in favour of full-time travel? How did I do it? And most importantly – why?
Although I’ve answered many of these questions in one form or another over many interviews for other websites and newspapers, I haven’t properly documented the process on my own site.
This post was originally published in 2012. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
“What are you running away from?” was a question recently asked of me by a friend who was trying to help me through a rough emotional period of confusion about what I wanted to do.
Travel is commonly seen as running away from something or an act of withdrawal, but try as I may to psychoanalyze my actions, I simply can’t see how I’m running away from anything. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Best to start from the beginning of how I became The Professional Hobo, so I can illustrate my point.
Success in Business – and Life?
In 2006, I was running a busy financial planning practice in Toronto, Canada. I was what you could call a “medium-sized fish in a big pond,” having achieved a certain level of success and a reputation for helping people engineer their finances to enable their life’s dreams. I focused on the emotional issues of personal finance in an effort to transform our vision of money from a taboo hindrance into something that empowers and enables instead.
I regularly appeared on television, gave interviews in newspapers opposite financial “celebrities”, and I spoke in front of audiences as large as 3,000 people.
But something wasn’t right.
There was a little voice inside of me – a voice that has been a lifelong friend or pest, depending on how you look at it – that said “Nora…you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. There’s something else out there for you.”
Those dastardly words. I’d heard them so many times before, and in the past when the voice kicked in I changed careers. I’d been a television producer and host, stage manager, professional actor/singer/dancer, operations assistant, assistant property manager, I started an administrative business, and – most recently – I ran a financial planning practice.
Not this time
But this time when “the voice” chimed in, I refused to listen. I’d put way too much blood, sweat, and tears into my business to leave it callously for yet another career. So instead, I filled my life with other things that I hoped would satisfy the ever-growing void in me. I became a Toastmaster, an active Rotarian, I sat on boards of directors for large charities, I got back into film & television acting, and I performed in numerous stage musicals.
Soon enough, I was busy 18 hours a day, and the voice was getting louder, not quieter.
In January of 2006, I was in two car accidents in one week. People said “the universe is trying to tell you something,” but I was only annoyed at this diagnosis. “What is the universe trying to tell me, for goodness sake? That I shouldn’t drive in the snow?! Get outta my way; I’ve got work to do”.
It wasn’t until a few months later when two bouts of bronchitis devolved into walking pneumonia that I was forced to stop everything for a spell. Shortly thereafter, the ball dropped. I was in absolute tears about having to go into the office to do some work that I’d been avoiding for weeks.
“What do you want to do?” was the poignant question asked of me when I had my head in my hands, at wit’s end.
“I just want to…retire!” I wailed dramatically. Shortly thereafter though, I considered what retirement meant to me. What was the retirement vision I had for my golden years? I counselled my clients to describe a day in the life of their retirement so we could plan towards it, and I’d neglected to do the same for myself.
Retirement….meant traveling around the world, slowly. Meaningfully. But not just passing through; rather, living around the world.
Rewind: Some history about my view of travel
Before I go further, there’s some back-story required.
When I was 8 years old…
I was sitting in class when the teacher showed us a documentary about Europe. I was fascinated. I saw people, but I didn’t recognize their garb, the language they spoke, the food they ate, the markets they shopped at, or any part of the architecture or scenery. It was so completely foreign to me. And I desperately wanted to know how the children my age played, and what daily life was like inside their homes.
This is the very root of my literal life-long dream of travel.
As the years passed….
Travel being important to me, not a year passed in my adult life when I didn’t go away for at least one vacation each year. But with a paltry vacation allowance and limited funds, most trips were only a week long, and were often superficial attempts to escape Canada’s long winters rather than culturally immersive experiences.
Then, in South Africa….
I took the month of December 2005 to go to South Africa. People at home thought I was nuts.
“You’re going away for a whole month?!” They said incredulously, implying that I was somehow irresponsible.
And the ultimate disconnect: when I was in South Africa, the heavily European-influenced locals asked “And how many months are you here for?”
“Months?!” I’d reply in disbelief. “I’ve only got days – no, hours – here! What do you mean?”
And at the end of my month, as I flew out over low-lying South African fields, watching the farmers tend to their livelihoods, I realized that I still had absolutely no idea how they lived. I’d thought that a month would be long enough to crack the code of the South African mentality; long enough to gain even a faint understanding of the people, their way of life, and their own dreams and ambitions.
Instead, a month of travel throughout this large and convoluted country left me with more questions than answers.
…Back to my breakdown…
So here I was, bed-ridden, considering what retirement meant to me.
I wanted to climb the mountains of the world.
I wanted to break bread around dinner tables round the world.
I wanted to shop at markets around the world.
I wanted to understand daily life in remote corners of the world.
I wanted to volunteer my services to help people around the world.
I knew I couldn’t achieve these goals in the way I truly wanted with week-long – or even month-long – vacations. I had to go much deeper than that. It had to be a lifestyle.
Could I wait another 30 years for a conventional retirement to live out this life-long dream? What if I did, then come retirement age, I wasn’t willing or able to do these things any more? How would I view my life as I lay on my deathbed? I already had a few close calls with the car accidents and my illnesses…what would I feel about my life if it ended right then and there? Would I have regrets?
After considering these things, it became obvious to me that with only one shot at this life, I had to make the most of it. I had to “retire”. Putting in time for another 30 years was not possible; time wasn’t to be wasted or bided – it was for living.
I had the good fortune to have saved and invested for my future from a very young age, and had a good nest egg socked away for later years when I can’t work and need income. And in selling my financial planning business I was granted a small income for 2.5 years; long enough to figure out what form my travels would take – or even just to play out whatever dreams I had of long-term travel and return to the “working world” re-energized and enthused.
Ultimately I had no idea what form my travels would take or how long they would last when I made the decision to go. I just knew I had to go. And for once – the voice agreed. Despite the counter-intuitive move of selling a business I’d just built to the point where it could run itself and generate increasingly larger amounts of income, my inner voice actually applauded this decision to break out of the mold and chase down my dreams.
And so it was with a good financial footing and a large dose of faith that I put the wheels in motion for a life of travel; it’s how I became The Professional Hobo.
Continue on to Part II, where I discuss some of the logistics of how I became The Professional Hobo; from quitting my job, to selling everything, to deciding where to go and what to do, to developing a location independent career as The Professional Hobo.
58 thoughts on “How I Became The Professional Hobo (Part I: The Dream, The Decision)”
My heart aches with this post. This is what I would love to do. There are so many “but’s”. But my child, my husband, money. I look forward to your second post.
@Jennifer – There will always be a “but”! That’s the kicker! But(!)….for every “but” you can come up with, you can also find somebody in that situation (with kids, husbands, lack of money) who have found a way to make it work.
It requires passion, commitment, creativity, and faith. But if you want something badly enough, you can have it.
This was so beautifully written!
So genuine and honest, very inspiring!
How do we read about part two?! It is fun to live vicariously through someone’s stories of travel and adventure. But I think I want to do more than just hear the stories someday.. I want to get out there and live life with locals around the world! A dream I will do my best to make a reality
Your travels sound amazing, all the best to you wherever you are!
How I understand the “buts.” Until recently I was full of them. Now that I am doing it everyone either says I’m irresponsible (these people will almost always be the people working for the elusive American dream or consumerism and hate most of their life) or people who are jealous and want to do it but…(these have two categories they really don’t want to but don’t want to admit it or they think that their life is more difficult to leave than mine and there is usually some pride attached to that thought but the don’t see its all ego).
Oh, and I love the post, can’t wait for two!
@Guin – Stay tuned for Part II, this Thursday!
@Laura – Great observations. One of the most common responses I get to my lifestyle is “WoW! I wish I could do that but I know I never could”….the reasons of which are as varied as the people who say it.
Luckily though, I rarely get the “irresponsible” line….maybe because I call myself a “professional” – ha ha!
I actually have broached this subject with my SO and he is always concerned about safety. I would love an article addressing this Nora. I’m trying to convince him to go to Prague, but have been unsuccessful so far. 🙂
Really looking forward to the second part, it’s something I would really like to do.
At this point it wouldn’t take much to tip the scales in favour of traveling full time.
(…… and for Jennifer in the above comment I was in Prague in January and felt very safe the whole time. It’s a WONDERFUL city, with wonderful people!)
Great story…Definitely an inspiration…
You have definitely made the right decision and we are all lucky to share your insights and adapt them to our lives to a greater or lesser degree.
What you wrote about the emotional aspect of finances stroke a chord with me and even though this is not the place or the time for this discussion, I tend to believe that for an individual to be able to achieve the level or happiness, contentment or quality of life they want, it helps if the country they grew up or live in is organized enough to support and not discourage their dreams and aspirations.
It helps knowing that the banking system and the insurance company back home are trustworthy enough to keep you and your life’s hard earned savings safe. Imaging being an normal, hard working, tax paying 55 year old who only years before retirement realizes that his government has for decades mismanaged and wasted his pension contributions and his kid’s education savings fund and because the State no longer has enough money to adequately cover even the most basic needs, it doubles and triples the taxes, changes the tax system and cuts the salaries on a monthly basis and relies on foreign predatory agents and institutions to put financial “order?” in their house, ultimately turning the citizens to depressed, debt burdened slaves who always get the wrong end of the stick. See what is currently happening in the European South and Ireland. How can the people
prosper and and be happy in aggravating circumstances such as these…
For Europeans, a Canadian equals someone who has a good quality of life and is usually well-travelled. Most Canadians I’ve met had been places and were open minded and free spiritted like you are. 😉
Apologies for my liberal socialist rant. We live in really strange times and that’s why we need to hear more positive outlooks like yours.
I may be moving to the Middle East in a few months time, but will get back to you on that one.
Look after yourself and keep in touch
We just realized the exact same thing. We can keep waiting for “someday”, but what if “someday” never comes? Life happens now! So a few weeks ago we decided to start selling everything we own and prepare ourselves to leave in a year (maybe 18 months) and start traveling the world. Do what we are meant to do en be who we are meant to be.
Thanks for sharing your story. We will be sharing ours on the blog mentioned above.
Enjoy your travels!
@Jennifer – Some of the greatest “safety” issues exist in our own backyards! A good dose of street sense and not putting yourself in compromising positions goes a long way to keeping you safe. (And yes, Prague can be quite safe, and a very cool place to visit)!
@Claire – How exciting! Keep an eye on those scales… 🙂
@despina – On a global economic scale, none of us know what’s coming. Although I was lucky enough to set up my my financial future with investments that I’ve “locked away” until such a time that I can’t work any more, there are no guarantees. Canada could suffer similar economic tough times that Europe is currently going through before I need that money.
Does it mean we shouldn’t save and take care of our futures? No. For me, what it means is that we shouldn’t sacrifice our lives and dreams NOW in favour of a future that might never come to pass. All the more reason to make sure we’re living every day to the best extent we can (without being irresponsible towards ourselves, families, and futures).
The Middle East, huh? Sounds intriguing!
@Erica – What a liberating decision! Good for you. Congratulations, and enjoy the journey…every step of it!
Nora, this is such a beautiful post! Sometimes the Universe really does give us no choice but to stop and ask ourselves the tough questions in life. It’s horrible that it took your illness/breakdown to come to the realisation but SO great to hear how you turned your life around! =)
@Toni – Thank you! Indeed….the Universe provides for us, when we’re willing to listen to the guidance available. My illness and breakdown were a function of my being forced to listen after ignoring that inner voice for a tad too long. Now I do my best to listen – and act – before it gets physical….still easier said than done at times.
Great article – so fun to hear about the catalysts of others. Can’t wait for part 2. And @Jennifer – it is possible to do with husband and children too. Don’t let the “buts” drag you down. 🙂
Another amazing post, as usual. And it’s official, you’ve made it to my top 3 favorite bloggers 🙂 The truth is, I always wanted to travel, but (here comes the excuse), I don’t have sufficient funds to do it. I would try to save up but there is always an excuse not to do it. Other people (read family) think that it’s a weird path of life, packing up and just seeing the world, without a “real” job and family. I may be weak, and cave, and dream of traveling. But I know that one day it will happen – of course it won’t happen until I’m 70 and my knees will pop when I try to get onto a train. I have hope, and save up for my vacations until then!
Eagerly waiting for part 2 of the post 🙂
@LM – Thanks! We all do have our ultimate “breaking point” past which we make these life-changing decisions, don’t we? Did you have a catalyst of sorts?
@Vinny – You’re welcome!
@Joseph – Woohoo! Top 3! I’m honoured.
Money is a big limiter – often logistically, and often emotionally. I was truly blessed to have a secure financial footing to start with, which – most importantly – meant I had no debts.
In regards to saving money (for travel, or anything else in life) – it’s all about how much you want something. When the time is right and your dream is to travel (above other dreams), then you’ll find a way to save for it and make it happen. The biggest step you can take is the first one – of commitment and faith.
thanks for sharing this post! love your inspiring story 🙂 especially love the idea that time isn’t to be wasted but spent for living!
@MB – Cheers! I think it takes a life-changing (or rather, life-challenging) event to make you realize you’ve only got one shot…and it’s best to make it count! 🙂
you can have a lease-car, such as a Audi or BMW of VW Passat and a BlackBerry and a MBA degree and a big house, and still, you’re tired, tired, tired and not lucky. Then, it’s time to think. To become a professionel hobo too
@Joost – Just because we have all the acoutrements of a nice lifestyle doesn’t mean we are happy. I learned that lesson the hard way!
Very inspiring Nora, thanks for sharing your story. I enjoy reading about what makes people travel in the first place. It has become such a part of you today, but it is good to know what started it all. Congratulations on living your life the way you want to live it. I’m looking forward to part two. I just wanted to say that I love the way you write.
@Deb – I might say the same about you & Dave….how travel has become part of the fabric of who you guys are today…and yet, you and I both know it’s one heck of a journey from the “regular” life to one of full-time travel.
Have you published your own story of how it all began? If not, then maybe it’s time! 🙂
Ps – Here’s Part II of my story: https://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/how-i-became-the-professional-hobo-part-ii-the-logistics/
Like you, when I was about 10, I used to find myself looking at posters of Paris, and other European towns, wondering what life was like and thinking that it all looked so romantic. While I’m not a Professional Hobo (although I’d love to be), I have made some serious changes in my life to set myself on a path allowing me to explore my passions and reach my goals. Of course, it does include travel. I’m looking forward to following your blog. Please feel free to explore my blog as well. My most recent post is about those twists and turns of life and career.
@Nicole – What a great adventure you’re on yourself! I really like the look of your blog, and look forward to seeing it develop. Gotta love those twists and turns! I think the key in life is to simply follow the path with faith and optimism….wherever it may lead….
I’ve read this post about 5-6 times already. I love it. I’m currently listening to my own Voice and working toward building my own full-time nomadic translator and travel writer career (plus building 3 successful blogs!). All while working 40-hours-a-week as a translation manager for someone else (Corporate America)…UFF!
Very time-consuming, but I know it will be all worth it in the end. Can’t wait to be like you! Soon enough =)
@Maria – You rock! You’re certainly doing it the right way, as your blogs are picking up steam, and you’re covering all your bases to ensure everything will go well (even if things don’t go according to plan)!
I wrote a post about the concept of taking a “leap of faith” that garnered a huge comment stream about what actually constitutes a leap of faith. If you cover your bases (like you are doing, and similar to how I did), is it still a leap of faith? I believe so.
Do you have an official “departure date” set yet? (Or a “quit your day job” date)?
Thanks for this post. I’m at this point where the inner voice/calling is getting much louder to travel the world. I’ve lived abroad and traveled before, but that was in the safety of working a corporate job. Going abroad for an extended period of time, without any job security, is a next big step for me. Looking forward to reading your posts!
Hi Kris – Yup, that leap of faith into the world of self-employment can be daunting, especially when combining it with a travel lifestyle which pushes us out of our comfort zones to begin with. Good luck with your upcoming changes!
Your adventurous spirit is so wonderful!
Aw….thanks! To quote an overused (but still appropriate) cliche: You only live once! 🙂
I love your stories and your willingness to share. Geography was my favorite subject in grade school. I relate a lot to your story. It was 2006 when I had the nerve to actually take off for a 2 week vacation in Spain. Oh and I had to have my AC fixed before I left so that was more money spent. But I went anyway. Here I am now considering renting out my condo, with no idea of where I’ll go or what I’ll do – just going for it. We’ll see!
How exciting – and scary, and everything else! It take a leap of faith no matter what you do:
…But if you haven’t already signed up for my free series, please do: it will arm you with ideas and tools to help define your travels and solve some of the “where”s and “what”s in your mind.
How refreshing to read ! I am currently in that …I just have to do it state of mind. I have as you have changed jobs and career paths because I feel so restless and am always trying to stay busy. Its a very scarey place to be when you know you have to do something but what and how ? I have only read this post but will continue to read on and hope it will inspire me to take the leap of faith and quiet the restlessness ! Thanks
Hi Jude, I hope you get some inspiration from other articles on my site as well…indeed it’s a scary place to be when you’re about to make that leap of faith. More on leaping with faith:
And if you’re looking for some more information (which can in turn inspire courage), check out my free e-series on financially sustainable full-time travel:
Discovered your blog a few days ago…
Loving it …and this post is great. I’m 41 (and a half)and my common-law spouse (for 18 years) and I are wanting to travel more….for longer periods of time …and possibly full time. We have done OK in the last 9 years travelling for a total of just over 3 years with the latest trip being a year and a half in length (10 months of it on bicycles). But we find ourselves wanting to travel more and for longer. Planning a 30 month stretch starting in spring 2015 but still I am trying hard to find a way to travel on a more permanent basis. This post has made me look into this possibility even more. Than you for that.
More and more I am believing that I should try to do what I want to do now because tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone. Your blog is inspiring me to do so!
Hey TinTin – Awesome! I’m so glad you’re inspired. Full-time travel certainly is possible, and it’s very malleable to your needs depending on what you want to do and where you want to go. There are no rules!
If you haven’t already done so, you might want to check out my free e-series on full-time travel; with your travel experience you probably already have a few tricks up your sleeve, but hopefully the series can teach you a few new tricks too!
I have been at the edge of tears since I came across ur site 2 days ago … As soon as I read that your dream of traveling started at 8 yrs old I burst in them … For me it has been since 9 … And the voice has never gone away … I have just realized that I am happy when I am traveling … Even if for work … I am not unhappy … Dont get me wrong … But the voice tells me there is so much more to life than sitting at a desk for 8 hours and waiting for hokudays and week ends …
Now my excuse … I am from Mexico … Traditions and beliefs kept me from doing my thing for several years and I was not living … Until 3 years ago that I woke up! My life was a mess, full of debt … Just now I have for the first time savings that might keep me traveling for 2 or 3 months …
Im doing it … Im terrified …
The thing is that in my country opportunities are fewer and saving for the future its just not easy … We mostly have the culture of living day by day …
So Im working hard on breaking patterns and ridding myself of limiting beliefs but … Its harder for us … Plus … My passport doesnt help either … We need visas for everywhere and so you see … I have to have a return ticket always!
So with that said Im not complainig nor I will stop from living the dream … Even if it is for a short period of time …
I will travel light and have faith that it will be my personality and my skills that will open doors for me to be able to extend the trip much more …
Ah yess … Im daring to quit my current job … I akso have faith in the fact that shall I have to return Im capable enough to get anither one as good as this one or better …
Sorry for spilling my drama here but it felt right …
Ah! And if you have ever come across a mexican or a central/southamerican (passport) living this dream let me know … It would be great to get in touch if possiible
Thank you for being an inspiration
Thank you for sharing! You are very courageous, and I hope your world travels are very fulfilling. Take that leap of faith – you won’t regret it!
As for visas, (even with a Mexican passport) I don’t think you necessarily need return tickets for every place you visit. You can apply for visas while you’re abroad, and in some cases I’ll bet you won’t need one. Here’s a website that shows the visa requirements for all countries, specific to citizens of any country: http://www.visahq.com/citizens/
Happy travels! Maybe we’ll meet up on the road one day…. 😉
Hi Bianca and Nora,
This is in response to Biancas message in particular with regards to visa related travel. I’m from Sudan, and my passport is considered one of the worst 10 passports for travel. It is a serious headache going anywhere when you travel with a Sudanese passport. But I never let it get in my way, people from my country always wonder how I manage to get around the world. I’ve visited over 40 countries, and counting. I’ve only had 1 visa rejection in my life, and that was from the Austrian embassy. I was so enraged that I sent an email directly to the Foreign Minister of Austria, complaining not about the visa rejection, but for their embassy personnel refusing to tell me the reasons for the rejection. The ministers office got back to me after contacting the embassy and I spoke to the consul about it. Long story short I got my case across and told them I have no interest in visiting Austria any longer, I was just wanting justice.
I checked out the countries you can travel to on a Mexican passport, and you have TONS of countries you can visit with visas on arrival or even visa free! Just type “Visa requirements for Mexican citizens” in google, and open the first link which is from wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_Mexican_citizens It’s extremely accurate, and I’ve used it for my own travel purposes. Actually have a look at “visa requirements for Sudanese citizens” to see the comparisons. It’s a joke. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_Sudanese_citizens
So don’t let that get in your way. It’s true, you do need a return ticket for any country you travel to with a visa, but all you need to show is a flight OUT of the country, and not necessarily back to your own. So if you plan your trip well enough, and have a general idea on your next destination, get your ticket to that country and as long as the authorities see that you’ve got an exit ticket, they won’t bother you.
Good luck with your future travels. Where there’s a will there’s a way, I’m sure you’ll do well 🙂
As you can see I’m a major globe trotter myself, but not a professional hobo just yet! I’m getting there though! I so far still maintain a full time job, but I’m fortunate to have a very rare well paying job that gives me the liberty of travel, although it’s limited to a specific region, the Middle East. But I do get the occasional request from our global counterparts for assistance, as a result I’m writing this from a gas production platform offshore in Thailand. I work in oil and gas. I’ve been looking at different alternatives to be able to sustain myself during long term travel. As mentioned above, visas are a female dog, so I need to really have a sort of plan for my travels in order to get the correct visas, so I can’t be too spontaneous. I never heard about this great train trip across Europe and Asia, and I’m already cooking up ideas in my head about when I can do it! Have you tried the Mongol Rally? I was supposed to do it and registered for it in 2012, but my friends who were suppose to go with me severely let me down and ruined the entire thing for me. So I’m on the lookout for reliable friends to do it with. Today is the first time I come across your website, and I’ve only read a couple of articles, but I’m going to bookmark it and trawl through your stuff. I’ve been thinking of setting up a food and travel blog myself and actually began writing my first article! I’ll take some inspiration from you :)Thanks for this great site! 🙂
Expect to hear from me again!
Wow – thank you so much for sharing your story and giving Bianca some advice! There aren’t a lot of non-Western travelers out there with sites, so I hope you get yours up and going and share your adventures and tips with the world.
I’ve been following your posts and it’s been great to read stories about someone asking the same tough questions as I was and still am. I’m new to Travelling as a profession but I’m hoping to make it work and your site is a great help and inspiration.
I’m already a nomad, without a dwelling and with only 3 bags of stuff to call my own (mostly sporting equipment). Now I’m just working on turning a nomad with travelling and adventurous dream in to a nomad with a travelling and adventurous reality.
I’m sure I’ll have to rack your brains over the next few months about a number of things. Thanks in advance if you’re able to help me out.
Welcome to the nomadic life! 🙂 If you haven’t already signed up for my free e-course on how to travel full-time in a financially sustainable way, you may want to start there: https://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/how-to-travel-full-time-in-a-financially-sustainable-way/
I love to read you.
I’m so glad to be feeling EXACTLY the same as you tell through your story. Thanks A LOT for sharing this way all your thoughts, reflections, inner-feeling from the farther and deeper you are able to recall. It’s precious for us and so inspiring of course.
You have the talent to put a word on each of these “particular” sensations about your topics.
I’m currently organising -I’m a born-planner, too- a 6 months backpack travel starting in mid-february: crossing Canada and USA West-coast: Paris-> Montreal, Newfound-Land, Toronto, Québec city, the 4 Quesnel Lakes (’cause that’s my family name and I wish to meet my transatlantic cousins !!), Winnipeg, Quesnel city (again), Vancouver, and then Seattle to San Francisco -> back to Paris. First time I even go abroad by myself. Willing to travel solo and meet ans share as much as possible there. Will do volonteering; I’m amazed to have found my perfect type of travel, 100% in adequation with who I am.
I’ll take great care about reading all your precious contents and applying it all whenever necessary.
THANKS again !!!
All the best in your adventures,
Thank you, Eleonora….and enjoy your upcoming trip! It sounds fantastic. Happy travels!
I’ve been glued to your site all day & when I read your story, I had to respond. Like you, I’ve always had a passion for travel. When everyone else expressed how good it would be to be back home, I was trying to figure out how soon I could leave again, instead. I’ve held numerous, diverse careers, too, but I’ve always worked for myself.
My late husband shared the urge to wander and we would take off almost every weekend for long rides to nowhere on his motorcycle or, when the kids came, in the car. Sometimes we’d just drive out into the desert & watch the clouds (we were in Phoenix). But when our kids were 1, 3, and 4 yo, he had sudden total kidney failure & they gave him 3 years.
Our lives drastically changed. He could no longer work & I was forced to give up my career as a RE Broker to take care of him & the kids. A long story short, I have no clue how we survived financially. Our lives became a long series of life-and-death hospitalizations, complications, and 2 transplants. Somehow, he made it 22 years before dying in April 1, 2003. (A joker to the end!)
By then, the kids were grown & gone, and I had 6 grandkids. I became engaged to a workaholic who encourage & financed my wanderlust, but almost always alone or with my BFF. After 3 years, I chose to live alone again.
I launched a RE related business which, of course, went bankrupt in 2008 & I then drove taxi 70-80 hours a week for 2 years. But after 2 massive asthma attacks that brought me to the ER both times and a bout of swine flu that hospitalized me, I returned to selling on EBay and Amazon & developed several side businesses teaching, speaking, and developing products and websites for sellers based on my long experiences with online sales.
I continued to pile the work on & was barely sleeping until I had a nervous breakdown when my mother died. Shortly after I was hospitalized for multiple DVTs (clots) in both legs and over a dozen blood clots in both lungs. The Drs were all amazed I was still alive.
It took a year for all the clots to dissolve, during which time I was mostly on bedrest, which was fine, bc I was so weak. It’s been 7 months since they dissolved & now feel like I’m about 65% of the energy level I was at. The Drs are happy with that, but I can’t get overtired; it sets me back a month or two.
But I had time to think and research my future. I realized my finances had changed a lot (I now had Social Security & a VA pension) and I didn’t have to work any longer if I continued to live frugally. In fact, I could afford more luxuries if I were not in the US and traveled slowly! I wanted to travel! I’ll still sell online because I enjoy it & have begun building my travel blog, frugaldrifter.com.
I also realized that since he got sick, I’d become a hoarder to anchor myself in place. I’m now in process of getting rid of it all, including the car & house & hopefully by Oct will escape!
Thank you SO much for sharing your story! It sounds like you’ve had your share of tribulations, but your strong character shines through these words and through the example of how you’ve lived your life.
It’s great that you’ve developed an online stream of income (in addition to your retirement streams of income), that gives you the chance to chase down your travel dreams.
As you’ve probably figured out, selling everything to travel is no easy task, but I assure you it can be very cathartic. Here’s a post with lots of advice from people who have done it, just in case you’d like some extra tips: httpss://www.creditwalk.ca/dear-nora-how-do-i-sell-everything-to-travel/
Hang in there….keep being kind to yourself, get better, and let’s see what a life on the road bestows! 🙂
Nora, I don’t really see it as a life of tribulations, but a life of good fortune.
It was love at first sight for both of us when we met in ’71. His illness allowed me to spend 24/7 with him most of those 22 years and the kids & I have wonderful memories. In most relationships, both are working/apart most of the time and plan to spend time together “when we retire”. But often, one or the other doesn’t live that long or they have become strangers (if the marriage is even still intact). I went thru hell, but I survived and learned a lot in the process. I was a lucky girl!
My siblings are mostly not supportive of my dreams, and my kids are neutral, but my 86 yo Dad is pushing me to go faster! But then he was a traveler at heart, too. And despite being in poor health & in assisted living, we are taking a cruise together in Sept. If he’s still around in the Spring, we’ll do the last of his bucket list cruises – the Panama Canal. I’m lucky to have someone so supportive.
I’ve had several mental breakdowns (which the Drs said was a sane reaction to the insanity around I was living). I’ve had several serious illnesses hit me, but I’ve lived. Each time it was my body/mind going on strike telling me it was time to change direction. And while recovering, it gave me time to think & research to create a new plan. I didn’t always listen but usually have. I was lucky to have the time and ability to make radical changes.
Although my years of hoarding has incurred ridicule from family & friends, and that I have a lot of work to do to get rid of it all, it also means I have a lot of great treasures to sell. How lucky is that!
What a beautiful way to frame your life and how the challenges have actually been gifts. Many people (myself included) could stand to take a page from your book!
Thank you. 🙂
When I was young I krept under a table with one of many national geographic maps and discovered the world in my imaginary plane, boat. Since then I had travelling under my skin, and thus I have travelled a lot. But as you say I never have felt the real freedom as I had back then during my fantasy trips exploring unlimited and go where ever and when ever I wanted, being suffocated and restricted by the capitalistic global dogma how to serve the few. I slowly built up capital and lived next capitalistic consumers model needs in order to provide for my dream. Take off and see the world. Normally in 2 years, when I’ll become 56 years old, doing over 20 years nightwork regimes and having at least a 33 years of career, retirement would have been there and off I would be. As capitalistic consumerism didn’t and doesn’t work and our Belgian government decided to make it 60 years in order to suck and exploit us a bit more closer to death! No way, dear mr government! My aim is still to stop in 2 years, and I’ve started to plan my take off on my first year of hopefully self-sustainable journey, so many years can follow! Up yours whom ever wants to stop me, mainly the not related, since luckely my family supports my view. Happiness first. Only such attitude will make this world a better place. Can’t wait for magic to happen. Thank you Nora!
I’m so glad you’re on your way to a fulfilling retirement! All your hard work will pay off, I’m sure. Happy travels!
Love this. I don’t know how I stumbled across your website but I have been in an office working for a major government department for 13/14 years and that internal voice has also been whispering to me. I travel overseas every year to a new country but that is just not enough. Usually for 4-6 weeks of annual leave is enough to get reenergised but then I would come back to the office somewhat enthused for a day and then having to repeat the rigour and routine of the working man until the next holiday block. In short, your story resonated with me especially since you did it on your own. I’m in the process of leaving my job and selling my possessions and have no idea where to next. I have savings to help kickstart my adventures but the tips and insights you have shared here are gems. I will definitely favourite this website and check in regularly for updates. Keep up the good work.
You’re lucky in that at least you’ve gotten 4-6 weeks off per year! But you’re right – it’s not always enough.
Good luck in your life change….it can be difficult but also a very cathartic process. And you’ll find LOTS of info on my site to get you traveling in style, saving money, and even making some money along the way! Happy reading. 🙂
I have personally met Nora and found her to be a top notch person with amazing abilities, compassion and kindness. Smart cookie too! Thank you Nora for being such a good person and inspiration to us all!
Aw….thanks Christine! 🙂
I just stopped to read some of the posts from the past, and to see who has been following in your footsteps.
At first, years ago, I almost thought you were following in my footsteps.
Remember, I was just coming off the road when you were just starting in 2007.
It seems like it was only a few years ago. Wow how time moves fast!
How amazing it is to discover how many countries you have seen, how many experiences of joys, adventures, and trials you have endured along the way, and yet nothing has stopped you!
I am so glad you have not stopped.
There is so much more you have yet to experience naturally, spiritually, emotionally.
O, I know so well the Voice that is leading the way, but hopefully, other voices do not overshadow it.
Enough for now.
Thank you for your never-ending support and friendship, Sis. McCray! It’s fun to look back once in a while and reflect on how far we’ve come (and yet, how far we’ve yet to go). Happy (proverbial) travels!