If you have a great love for travel like some people I know (hint-hint), there is a great website by a gentleman named “Nomadic Matt”. I have been reading about this fella’s trips all over the world as he’s managed to make it his business to travel and bring the best of all tidbits to his readers (and this makes him a salary!!!).
As many of you know, I have also dabbled with years spent on the road. And I have struggled with the doubt, sadness, questioning, frustrating, compromising aspect of deciding whether it’s better to be a homebody or a nomad. I STILL haven’t reconciled with my decisions to stay in one place and start a “family”. I know that there are jobs out in the world that could allow me the opportunity to be both a wife, friend, daughter, and free spirit visiting the next big place, but I have yet had one of these opportunities fall in my lap, so to speak. (Not that I EVER thought something that amazing would appear with out a lot of hard work digging and picking until I found it…but one likes to dream, no?).
Even though I haven’t managed to put the travel lifestyle to bed with my current life, I follow blogs that bring me back to my time meditating in India, mesmerized by Petra, diving in Thailand, surfing in Australia, trekking in Nepal, OWNING the Great Wall of China, bicycling in Amsterdam, seeing the Effiel Tower at dusk, chillaxing in Morocco, sweating in Egypt…ok, I’m bragging now, I get it.
But I also understand the great luck that I have had to be able to live years overseas.
It changed my life.
It CONTINUES to change my life.
But don’t worry about me. I’m going to Belize and Guatemala in May so things aren’t SO dire…YOLO!
My name is Nomadic Matt and I’ve been traveling the world since 2006. Growing up in Boston, I was never a big traveler. I didn’t take my first trip overseas until I was 23. Outside a cruise and college trip to Montreal, I had no travel experience. After college, I got a job and the standard American two weeks a year vacation. I wanted to use that time to travel. After all, it was vacation time, right? So for my first trip overseas, I went on a tour to Costa Rica.
That trip changed my life.
From that moment on, I was hooked.
But like most Americans I only had two weeks of vacation per year and I didn’t know any of the genius ways to save money and travel longer. A trip to Thailand in 2005 changed that. There in the wonderful city of Chiang Mai, I met five backpackers who showed me that I didn’t have to be tied down to my job and that I didn’t need to be rich to travel.
After that trip, I went home, finished my MBA, quit my cubicle job, and, in July 2006, set out on an adventure around the world.
My original trip was supposed to last a year.
I didn’t come home until 18 months later.
Back home, I quickly realized I couldn’t go back to working in a cubicle and, three months later, I was on the road again.
After a few exhausting months on the road, I am finally back in New York City. I’ve spent the last three months on the move, leading tours, attending conferences, and giving talks. It was draining and I’m happy to finally be back home, with no plans other than to enjoy spring’s return to the city.
A few weeks ago, while checking my e-mail somewhere over America (I love in-flight wi-fi), I opened a question about my article, “Home: The Death of a Nomad.” The woman wanted to know if I was able to kill the nomad inside me — was I able to settle down? Did I turn out O.K.? Did I still feel the same way? She was worried that she would go and travel and never want to come back home or settle down. The thought of being a permanent nomad frightened her as much as it enticed her.
So I told her the truth: you never stop being a nomad. You can only ignore the nomad inside you for so long, but once you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, it’s with you forever and you’ll always be dreaming of far-off destinations.
Eventually, the road beckons you, for as Jack Kerouac said, it is life and we can only be off it for so long.
But I could relate to her concern. It was all about balance, I said as I ended the e-mail. We just have to find the right one. Ever since I decided to “slow down” and reign in my nomadic ways, I’ve been struggling to strike the right balance.
As much as I want to slow down and carve out a life for myself in NYC, I can’t help but dream of all the places in the world I’d like to visit and the lack of time I have to see them all.
And then I book a ticket and am gone again.
It is a constant tug of war.
But as I relaxed on my couch and watched this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, I realized my balance is actually frenetic unbalance – months of travel punctuated by months in NYC, punctuated by short weekend domestic travel tips. It’s chaotic, stressful, and definitely going to make ever finding a girlfriend hard (sorry, mom!), but it’s the only way I can satisfy my two main desires.
The pendulum must swing both ways.
I don’t think there is a universal balance between work, travel, and living — you need to find the one what works best for you. There are ways to make your life more efficient, but in the end, you need do what you feel is right.
Being all over the place and staying hyper busy is what works for me. Over the next six weeks in NYC, I have to write a new edition of my book, explore every walking tour in the city for an upcoming post, finally get moving on some projects for the website, and learn Swedish. There’s no rest for the weary but I’m getting better at using my time more wisely (bye, Facebook during the day!) and I think that’s making a big difference.
There’s a lot of time in the day if you use it right.
I might be back in a few months with a new theory on work/life balance, but for now I think I’ve hit my sweet spot. I never thought I’d be so happy to come home but as Lin Yutang said, “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”
Being home definitely gives me an appreciation for travel and travel gives me an appreciation for all I have back home.
It’s taken me a long time to figure this out.
The road beckons me for sure, but right now, it is going to have to wait.