Read almost any travel blog, including our own and you are going to hear constant talk of the benefits of a life of travel.
But at what cost?
There is nothing you do in life that does not involve some sort of sacrifice and there are many sacrifices that come with a life of travel.
A lot of these are minuscule and can evaporate without a second thought once you step into that great unknown.
Some of them, however, are a little harder to make and bear and quite often can be the very thing that prevents people from travelling in the first place.
6 Sacrifices of a Life of Travel
1. Leaving Family behind
You grow up in a particular family environment, you get married, move a couple of blocks or maybe neighborhoods away from your family home, have kids and start the cycle again.
This is the traditional way of living, which in today’s 21st century is not becoming so traditional anymore.
Living a life of travel means foregoing this cultural expectation and leaving your family behind. For som,e this is too hard to take and so they don’t spread their wings and fly, others have their wings clipped by those who don’t want them to leave.
Since 1995 when my brother, Stilts, left to go overseas, I have seen him about once every two years. Since I left in 97, I have seen my sisters and parents about the same frequency.
Because we rarely see each other, when we do, our moments are filled with love, laughter, encouragement and good times. Spending months, or possibly years apart from your family does not mean that it spells the end of your relationship.
It can strengthen it in many ways.
We were lucky enough to be able to spend time with Craig’s sister almost every year we were away. We would meet up somewhere in the world. We have so many great memories of that. We also have the same experiences with our parents.
Quality will always trump over quantity.
You might be at home living near your family, but are you really creating memorable experiences every day?
2. Leaving wonderful friendships
So many people cling to their friendships like they would to a piece of drift wood in the middle of a stormy sea. They see their friendships as defining who they are and without them they have nothing.
When you live a life of travel, you will leave many friends behind. This can be really tough to take. Your friends probably understand you more than your family do.
How can you ever live without them? How can the life that you know it together ever be the same without you in it?
Once you start travelling, you realize the world is so big and you are capable of loving and having friendships with many different people. You will find friends from all walks of life and you will rejoice in it.
There will be some friendships that will fade away in the distance as you will lose that common bond. You will still have your best friends though, the friends whose bond you share is so strong nothing will tear it apart.
I am so happy and content with having those friends in my life. I come and go but each time I come it is like I never left and I love them all the same.
I have some friends whose common bond I share is a travel one. I could see them and speak to them once a year and it would be like it was yesterday.
Time and distance cannot destroy true friendships it can only strengthen them in different ways.
I talk more about the concept of forever friends and socialisation when traveling with kids in this post.
3. Foregoing a Career
Coming back last year to Australia to teach again has taught me how much living a life of travel has really put a hamper in my “career” path.
I suddenly discovered that my qualifications were no longer considered worthy and I was going to be shut out of teaching in Australia.
The powers to be didn’t even want to look at the experience I had teaching in 5 countries, which included leadership positions.
I now am treated as a first year teacher but get paid on a slightly higher level- five years, wiping out 9 years experience.
A life of travel can get in the way of building up job experience and climbing that ladder.
But, if truth be known, I don’t really care about a career of teaching. I now care about living my passion and having a wealth of life experiences over job experiences.
The experiences I have had teaching around the world have made me a much better teacher, even though stupid executives in suits can’t look beyond their red tape to see this.
The skills I have learned from travelling make me much more able to take on new job and business opportunities.
4. Letting go of possessions and making cutbacks
Craig and I often think how rich we would be if we never went travelling. It looks and sounds great for about five minutes and then we think of all we have spent our money on; all the experiences, the countries, the friends, the laughter, the joy, the lessons.
There will never be any materialistic possession that will never equate to this.
You will have to come to terms with this sacrifice when it comes time to travel. You will have to make cutbacks when you are saving to travel, and you will make cutbacks when you are on the road.
This can really hurt.
Who doesn’t want nice things? You have to weigh the sacrifice up with what you will get in return for it.
Your travels will take all your money and savings, you won’t have anything tangible to show for it at the end, except for some awesome photos. But, you will have a lot of incredible memories.
Which one gives you more meaning, which one can you take with you at the end?
Living a life of travel has taught me to give up my need for materialistic things. I can walk away from it in an instance, as I know it does not matter.
I really don’t own anything any more, and I am quite happy with that.
I spoke about this in my recent post on learning lessons from not winning the Mummy blog competition which would have resulted in me getting a brand new car.
I really didn’t want the car as it was going to get in the way of my travels. I understood what was the bigger reward.
5. Forgetting the Home Ownership dream
I think about buying property again, and then it passes by quite quickly. I know what can come with ownership, mortgage, bills, stress, limitations. I’d much rather have my life of freedom on the road.
This sacrifice does not always come with travel. You can travel while still owning a home.
You can rent it out and have someone else pay the mortgage for you. Craig and I did that for five years with two properties. It worked out really well for us.
And then we returned home to a “normal” life, couldn’t handle the loss of our life on the road, made some seriously stupid mistakes which came at a bad economic time, and lost a lot of what we had built.
Sometimes I wonder whether the sacrifice of travel caught up with us in the end, but I don’t think so. I think you can do both.
It only stopped working for us when we stopped doing what we loved.
6. Giving up some cultural ideas
When you leave your culture to travel the world you are in some parts leaving all this behind. You think you will always hold true to your culture and that it will always remain the best in the world, but you will change, adapt to and take on the thoughts and beliefs of other cultures.
You will be sacrificing some of your own cultural ideals.
This can be at times hard to take, especially when you return home and are left with many feelings of not being able to fit in anymore, and of being somewhat of a traitor. (yes, don’t worry people won’t be shy in dropping comments to make you feel like you are)
But, if you feel like these new beliefs are now part of who you are and it works best for you then ignore them.
There is nothing wrong with changing your view point on things. Its called evolution. Life can’t move forward with out change and usually it is for the better.
Why wouldn’t you want to grow for the better?
It doesn’t mean you love your culture any less, you just might love others just as much. Just like a mother who has a second child, she understands she is capable of loving on infinite multi- dimensional levels.
So you see the rewards really do outweigh the sacrifices. You’ve just got to change your thinking on it.
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What sacrifices have you found the most difficult for your life of travel?