The ideal image of the ‘perfect life’ is something that’s ingrained into our thoughts and daily life from a very young age. As soon as we are old enough, we are taught to grasp the idea that it is bad to be unique and we must avoid being different from everyone else.
Most people grow up wanting society’s idea of what the picture perfect life looks like; fall in love, get married, have kids, get a good job where you’ll make enough money to buy a big house and a flashy car to drive around in.
As a young girl I too wanted this picture perfect life, I had envisioned almost every aspect of it – even down to what my wedding dress would look like (maybe I went a little too far with that one!).
The plan was in place.
I was going to become a teacher, fall in love at 24, get married at 27, buy a 5 bedroomed house in the countryside and have my first child at 28.
Well, it hasn’t quite turned out that way!
I’m now 28 – I am not a teacher, I am in love, I’m not married, I don’t own a house in the countryside and I don’t have any kids.
And I’m absolutely fine with that.
“You’ve got one go in life, so make the most of it.”
Conforming to society is something that I’ve given quite some thought to as it completely frustrates me.
[Tweet “Society tries to place as many boundaries on us as individuals as to what it is acceptable and what is not.”]
Why should we feel the need to conform to what everyone else is doing?
I didn’t know it at the time but everything I wanted out of my life was conforming to exactly what society wants me to do.
Doing my first bit of travelling with Carlo and seeing a different side to the world made me begin to question my goals in life. I began to think…
“Do I want to live in just one place for the rest of my life?”
“Am I prepared to work in the same job for 20 years?
“Do I want to waste my youth working and retire when my body is old and not as strong as it was?”
“Do I want to work 9-5 every day only to come home and eat dinner, fall asleep on the couch and recharge my batteries for the following day?”
“Would I happy to live a life where Saturdays and Sundays are the only two days of the week where I can do what I want to do?”
“Do I want to sacrifice my time and work extremely hard just to pay a mortgage on a house that will take 30 years for me to be able to call it my own?”
The answer I came up with a resounding NO.
Giving up my job and leaving my family and friends behind was awfully difficult as I actually enjoyed the job I was doing and I adore spending time with my nieces, nephews and the people who I love.
But, I knew it was a compromise I had to make and I had to take a leap into the unknown – for my own sake.
“It’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all”
One year on and I am happy and fortunate to say that I have zero regrets.
Don’t get me wrong, travelling full-time is not all rosy and it is extremely difficult at times.
It’s not all about lying on beaches, staying in nice hotels and eating out in restaurants every night. I get homesick, I miss my family and friends, I miss my dog, sometimes I get angry because all I want is a clean bed, a hot shower and a home cooked meal.
But then there is the upside.
We get to experience some incredible adventures, we get to sleep in until whatever time we want to, we get to decide how our day pans out, we get to work the hours that we want, we get to visit new countries and we get to meet amazing new people along the way.
People often say to me “ye are so lucky to be off travelling” – but I don’t think we are necessarily ‘lucky.’
This travel lifestyle isn’t something that just fell on our lap, we made a conscious decision to do what we are doing.
We worked hard to save money so that we would have savings to fall back on, Carlo put a tremendous amount of effort into setting up our online businesses so we could make a living while on the road and we are both working exceptionally hard to build on these foundations.
We were lucky in the sense that we had no commitments that prevented us from doing what we wanted to do – no kids, no mortgage, no bills to pay and no restraints that were holding us back.
Our choice to change our life as we knew it was something that we both embraced.
Change is one of the scariest things in life, and that’s why we try and avoid it as best we can. Giving up your job and leaving home to go and seek new adventures might not necessarily be the change that you need to make in your life.
Some people don’t have any interest in travelling. A big house and a nice car is what make some people happy and that’s absolutely fine. Some people have commitments and need to work long hours in a job they might not necessarily like in order to provide for their family. I get that.
But we only get one shot at life. We don’t get a second chance.
If there is something that’s getting you down and stressing you out, it’s worth the effort to try and do everything in your power to change it – you owe it to yourself.
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”
There are times when I hear that one of my friends or someone my own age from my hometown has got engaged, had a new baby or bought a new house and I feel slightly pressured and think, “Are we doing the right thing?” “Now that a year has passed, is it time to settle down?”
That’s when I think of these two scenarios:
Do I want to be the 80-year-old grandmother who is full of regret and constantly says to her grandkids, “Ah, I wish I was young again. I would love to have done things differently.”
Or do I want to be the 80-year-old grandmother who is happy that she took the risks that she did and says to her grandkids, “Yeah that’s me riding a motorbike in Vietnam,” “Yeah that’s me climbing a volcano in Bali”, and “Yes that’s me doing the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.”
I want to be the latter.
I know that no matter how things fair out in the end, I will never regret the decision that I made and all that we’ve experienced over the past year.
I’m not prepared to wait until I reach retirement age to do the things that I want to do. I’m going to do them now while I’m young and have the health to do them.
It took me a long time to realise that ‘conforming to society’ was something that I didn’t have to do.
It’s ok to be different, it’s ok not to be married just because you’re a certain age, it’s ok not to have children just because your friends have, it’s ok not to have a big house like your best friend has, it’s ok not to be in a serious relationship just because everyone around you is telling you that you should settle down.
It’s ok to do what you want with your life.
Settling down, having stability, living in a nice house and having kids is something that I definitely do want (after all, I do need grandchildren to tell my travel adventure stories to!), but not right now.
Right now, I’m quite happy to be living an alternative lifestyle and our focus is on exploring new places, meeting new people, experiencing new adventures, learning new things and making memories that will last a lifetime.
Meeting you on the road and seeing you happy, vital and full of joy of what you are doing now, Flor, I can only support your choice 🙂 Wishing you many adventurous moons ahead.
You rock, Girl!
Aw thank you Ivana, it’s people like you and Gianni that make this lifestyle all the more enjoyable and unforgettable.
We hope to cross paths with you guys again sometime in the future 🙂
Adventure. Yes. Life should be nothing less.
It’s all one big adventure Christopher 🙂
Wow sounds amazing! If you want something bad enough you should work for it. Nothing worth having comes easy. It sounds like you’ve made the wright choice. Hopefully it won’t be long till I do, still working on it. Great article 🙂
Keep working at it – you’ll get there eventually and it will be so worth it when you do!
Happy Travels 🙂
Hey chick great ta see someone else that has the same view as me. Working in the outdoors people constantly ask me when I am going to get a real job…. I am like this is my real job. Being an instructor pays feck all but I’m happy. How many people can say they are happy on work? I get to travel the world and do the things I love and even introduce people to adventures help them overcome their fears. Don’t get me wrong it is though at time when ya have 8 – 12 people you are fully reasonable for keeping alive and sometimes people are very difficult but all in all its awesome.
You’re so right. If you are happy with what you are doing, nothing else should matter because as you said “how many people can say they are happy at work?” You don’t need to be sitting at an office desk to have what people call a ‘proper job.’ If it pays enough to sustain your lifestyle and you’re happy doing it…keep at it girl! 🙂
Great post Florence, you hit the nail on the head with just about everything.
It’s hard work and a conscious choice and you’re giving some stuff up but absolutely worth it. Couldn’t agree more. I think i’ll send this to anyone who asks me about traveling full time.
Thanks Ryan. It was something I had been thinking about for quite some time so was about time I put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard!)
It is hard work, as you know yourself, but what we are doing is something that we will never ever regret. It can be difficult not to feel pressured into living the ‘American Dream’ when society is slapping it in our faces all of the time. That’s why travelling and meeting likeminded people, like yourself, is so great. 🙂
Great article Flo and I couldn’t agree with you more. I too find it funny when people say “oh, you’re so lucky to be doing what you’re doing” when both you and I know luck has nothing to do with it! It’s about making a decision and then following it through, putting in the hard work to build your own business so you can choose how your day pans out.
Can’t wait to catch up with you and Carlo again, perhaps your travels should bring you down to NZ and Australia in the next 6 months before we leave! xx
Thank you Lise 🙂
That’s exactly the way it is and as I said the other day, it’s people like you that give me the push to keep working towards the end goal, no matter how daunting it may seem!
We are in SA until Christmas so we may not get over that direction before you guys leave but I have no doubt that our paths will cross again in the future. 🙂 xxx
Aw thanks so much Leanne – it’s great to know that I’m not alone in my thoughts!
Hope you are keeping well chick and enjoying Oz…certainly looks like you are. 🙂
Perfectly and beautifully written!! It was such a refreshing and comforting read to know I’m not alone in my thoughts. So glad to have met you two and can’t wait to meet again down the road. Xoxo
Thank you Brittany 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post on the subject too – it definitely inspired me and spurred me on to keep doing what we are doing.
Really enjoying yours and Charles updates from Colorado…it looks amazing. Looking forward to seeing you guys somewhere on the road as I’m sure our paths will cross again 🙂 xxx
Really good to read this Flo, and I definitely agree that it can be a challenge (but a beautiful one!) to live this lifestyle and not ‘conform’. I’ve felt this even more in my 30s as friends started having children. But then I see some friends travelling with their babies, and that seems to work too!
Hi Ellen. Nice to hear from you. 🙂
I also see lots of couples who choose to travel with their young kids and I think it’s amazing, but I’d imagine it’s hard work (but it’s difficult for us all at times!) I love to see entire families travelling together – what a great way of broadening children’s horizons from such an early age in life.
I’ll be 61 tomorrow. I did become a teacher but I haven’t worked a permanent, full-time job since 1985. Travel is my life. I felt like I was reading a younger version of myself in this post, although I was 33 before I really worked out what I wanted. Yes it is sad to leave friends and family behind, but it is important, as you say, ‘we only get one shot at life. We don’t get a second chance.’
“Live your dreams, don’t dream your life.”
People do tell people like us that we are lucky. I realised a long time ago that I am lucky – lucky I have the courage to live my dreams.
Congratulations Florence, for having the courage to live your life.
Thanks for your lovely comment and an early Happy Birthday to you! 🙂
Although you were 33 when you finally figured it out, you made the move and made your dream happen so good on you. I’m just lucky that I figured it out that little bit earlier. As cliche as it sounds, it’s always better late than never, and I rejoice when I see 40-50 and even 60 year olds making the decision to live out their dreams once and for all.
I wrote this post about 18 months ago and I still get the same questions and bombardment from some but I’m happy and that’s all that matters. Screw society!!
Where in the world will you be celebrating your Birthday tomorrow? And a big congratulations to you too – for having the courage to live out your dream. 🙂
We are travelling in South America and we spent today in Concordia – a pretty city in Entre Rios province. Please come and visit us at dare2go if you would like to know more of my story. Your post touched my heart – I’m happy to have made this connection.
We were actually in Concordia ourselves last year and Concordia was really pretty fro what I remember – Hope ye are enjoying it.
I stopped by your blog and loved reading your story. You guys are inspirational and I cannot believe ye travelled all the way from Alaska to Patagonia – that’s some journey!!
Safe travels Yasha and perhaps our paths will cross somewhere in the future 🙂
Hello Florence. I’ve reached that old age over 80 but I travel a lot and realized goals after my children were grown. I’m Irish and am sitting in Ballyfarnon chatting with Bernie. She said that you’re in Chiang Mai at the moment. That’s my home away from home as have lived there every winter for 22 years. Shame about the pollution at present. If you like live music do drop into CU Corner on Soi 1 Moon Muang any night or Lost Hut next door on a Sunday. Annie’s Bar also has good music on Sunday nights. It’s on Ratchapakinai not far from Zoe in Yellow. Just thought I’d say hello
Hi Aileen, lovely to hear from you! Mad that you were in Ballyfarnon with Bernie – small world 🙂
Thanks very much for the suggestions and we’ll be sure to check them out. I love Thailand and you do too by the sounds of it! Every winter for 22 years? Most certainly a home away from home for you. What are your travel plans for this summer Aileen? So happy to hear that you’re following your own goals and wish you the best. Would be lovely to meet you next time we’re home. 🙂