A question asked of me recently by a reader, and possibly especially pertinent now that we are looking at staying in Australia after a year here already, may be: “Are you still a traveler if you’re not actually…traveling?” You may wonder how I can satisfy the title of The Professional Hobo if I am in essence “settling down” for a year or two.
This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
Spoiler Alert: I stayed in Australia for a total of about 18 months, and it was one of many bases I created during my 12 years of full-time travel.
I would like to explain by way of a movie I saw recently called “A Map For Saturday”, which is a documentary about a solo traveler who took a year-long break to travel the world. Although he loved every minute of his travel adventure, he (and other travelers he interviewed) became a little apathetic after a number of months. The beautiful sights and amazing locations started to lose their luster, as the travelers’ itineraries constantly kept them on the move.
Even a slow pace of long-term travel can be dizzying, as your passport fills up and you never stay in one place longer than a few weeks. For the main character, one destination began to blend into the next, and by the end of the year, the experience in essence became one giant blur.
Can you imagine Stonehenge being a blur? The Egyptian Pyramids – a flash in the pan? Temples thousands of years old, architectural feats of wonder, and even just a special moment with a local with whom you can only communicate via body language – the specifics of which are all lost in a tizzy of traveling?
This is why we have chosen to be among the world’s slowest travelers, a term coined by a caretaking friend of mine about her own life that makes perfect sense. When you have a chance to set some roots in each place, not only is the experience more fulfilling as you really get to know the people and culture, but you can depart for the next destination refreshed and ready to explore again. This is a pace that can be maintained for years at a time (as is our plan), instead of the standard backpacking itineraries that rarely exceed one year.
As such, we are not looking to permanently relocate to Australia. But for now, it fits the bill and as long as it feels right, we will be here!
Travel is a state of mind. I believe you can even return to your home country and continue to call yourself a traveler. If you are constantly exploring, are willing to move shop at the drop of a hat (or rather, a great opportunity), and have a lust for new experiences and adventure that keeps you on your toes, you are traveling. If you always see things with new and fresh eyes, and can make unique observations about everyday life and events, you are traveling. And if wanderlust is an ingrained part of your vocabulary and internal make-up, even if you are still (or back) at home, you are traveling.
Are we still travelers? Heck, yes.