May 8, 2014

Blog rebooted: 5 differences between a world traveler and a commoner

It has been an insanely busy couple of months for me, and unfortunately the lack of new posts to my blog reflects that.  However, I've had many blog-worthy moments to record recently, so I’ll be doing my best to catch up in May. 

One lesson that has been reinforced to me in recent months: While I may never be the world traveler I always wanted to be, I can still fully enjoy those small parts of the world I do get to see.  That’s what I’ll be focusing this blog around for the foreseeable future.  I admit, I’m jealous of all the travel bloggers I follow who can go anywhere anytime.  But I think I've finally figured out why they can do what they do and I can’t.  And yes, I find their argument that anyone can do what they do somewhat myopic.  I think the differences between them and me prove why:

1. They’re younger; I’m older

Most, but not all, bloggers who travel full-time are in their 20s.  Good for them.  If I had made some different life decisions in my 20s, I might have been able to conquer six of the seven continents by now, too.  Here I am at 44 and guess what?  I don’t have the lifestyle that enables me to drop everything and leave my job, family and girlfriend for six weeks to go on safari.  Speaking of which …

2. Travel as a job/lifestyle

Most of the travel bloggers I follow are professionals at what they do.  It’s not just their life; it’s how they make a living.  I need my ho-hum job in an office cube to pay my bills and provide me the opportunity to travel when I can occasionally afford to do so and find the time to do it.  Most commoners have the type of job situation I have.  Otherwise, they’re unemployed and not traveling at all.  Unless they’re bums or hobos.   

By the way, I would love, love, love to change jobs and work in the travel industry, but unfortunately that’s not what I went to college for, and the reality is that once you’ve been with an employer for a long time, there are benefits you really have to consider before uprooting your entire life – retirement, family, paid vacation … I get five weeks now.  Good luck getting that from any new employer in the United States.  Which brings me back to …

3. Obligations

If world travelers on their blogs, there’s one thing you’ll rarely if ever read about – family.  Or many friends, for that matter … except for other world travelers they know. 

As anyone who follows my blog knows, I have a son (aka “The Young Curmudgeon”) who is a very important part of my life.  I’d like to keep it that way.  He’s also a part of my blog.  I want him to share my experiences, as mundane as they sometimes may be. 

I also have a girlfriend, and I want her (and her daughter) to be a part of my travels, too.  That takes planning.  It also means some of my dream trips to faraway places will just have to wait.  But they’re worth it. And to be honest, some of the best times we have are when we’re doing absolutely nothing and simply enjoying each other’s company.  Why would I want to screw that up by being gone constantly?

4. Financial stability

A lot of world travelers I read about love to talk about how affordable they’re able to make their lifestyle.  Good for you – you’re traveling solo, flying enough to burn airline points on a weekly basis, sleeping in hostels or someone else’s apartment, living off one meal a day and getting paid to do all of it.  You also talk in your bio about how you left your six figure job in the city to pursue your dream, so you probably came from a pretty financially solid family background to begin with. 

I’ll be up front here.  I’m very middle class … probably lower middle class by today’s standards.  I don’t get paid to write about my travels (although that is a dream I one day hope to fulfill), so nobody is subsidizing my fun.  Frankly, I don’t get paid what I’m worth in my current job.  And because of my limitations in schedule, work, life, etc., how I travel is inherently more expensive. 

My inability to drop everything at a moment’s notice means I usually can’t cash in on last-minute flights or travel deals – and they’re probably going to places that aren't on my bucket list anyway.  I don’t fly enough to earn points.  I’m too old to sleep in hostels, dorm rooms or a stranger’s bed.  And when you’re talking about traveling as a family, you might as well resign yourself to saving up for a long time or taking out a small loan.     

5. Living the dream versus chasing the dream

All things considered, my chances and opportunities to live the dream of traveling the globe and getting paid to do it have long passed.  Instead, I’d rather focus on chasing the parts of that dream that are within a commoner’s grasp.  That’s what “Travels of a Commoner” has always been about at its core – discovering all the great places, food and music that are within my reach. 

So, if you’re just as interested in what’s unique about Paris, Illinois, as you are about Paris, France, I invite you to keep reading.  Thank you.    

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