Today its 8 years since I flew out to Bangkok with my wife Navi on our last big backpacking adventure.
I was 29.
Today I’m fast approaching 40.
I still believe I have the travel bug but I’m conscious that I’m older. I do feel different. I do crave different things and I have different fears and hang-ups, not to mention, a lot less hair. Could I still be a backpacker? Would I have the courage to quit my job and travel this time around? After all…
I wouldn’t be going away just for a few months next time. It would more likely be a few years. Maybe even, the rest of my life.
Truthfully speaking I’m very nervous. I keep thinking about all the things I’m giving up and wondering if I’m making the right choice.
Will the banana pancake trail even be there anymore? Has Wi-Fi, internet and the enfranchisement of the developing world killed low budget backpacking forever? I hope not.
Regardless of what awaits me on the road, there are some considerable sacrifices to be made here at home.
Both Navi and I have great jobs. Salary wise we are probably at the pinnacle of our earnings potential. Unfortunately though, neither of us has skills that we can take on the road. For us, quitting really would mean quitting. We wouldn’t just be quitting our jobs either.
When you quit at 40 you quit your career in our industry.
We’ve also grown much closer to family since returning in 2007. My parents died a few years back but I have a strong bond with my brother. I suspect it would cause him some very unwelcome emotions if I told him I was going away indefinitely.
Navi’s family are very traditional. They will have trouble accepting a future for Navi and I that doesn’t involve England, jobs, mortgages and grandchildren.
Despite our differences, there is a strong connection there. If we have the courage to make our travel dreams a reality, breaking the news to our loved ones is going to be challenging.
Our core group of friends hasn’t changed much over the years. We see each other a lot less these days. Many had their own long term travel experiences in their twenties and have decided now to settle down into family life. I’ll miss them but I know we’ll see each other again.
The Big Question
When you are in your twenties and you disappear to Asia for 6 months people don’t ask too many questions. But what do you tell them when you are 40? How do you keep those relationships alive from 5000 miles away? How do you deal with not seeing the people you love for such long periods?
I have to believe that those that truly care for our well being will want us to follow our dreams and be happy.
Should You Quit Your Job and Travel?
Truthfully I still don’t know the answer. I suspect that there will be a moment when I’m forced to choose. For now however, I’m content to keep saving and let the time pass. Here’s what I do know though;
Not a single day goes by when I don’t catch myself daydreaming about some aspect of life on the road.
I know I’m older. I know there are sacrifices that need to be made. I’m fully aware that I might be making the wrong choice. I’m worried and I’m frightened of making a huge mistake. I’m tempted by flash cars, big houses, designer clothes and gadgets.
But if previous trips have taught me one thing it’s this. Stuff that looks important right now from an office cubicle, rarely seems that way on the road.