Against the romantic, cushy Meme of “I sold everything to travel.” Nomadic life is not easy or fluffy.

This was written as a response to a prompt on a private facebook group on Near Term Human Extinction. Someone posted this link: Guy Quits His Job And Sells Everything He Owns Just To Travel With His Cat.

I see this meme appearing a lot lately, in clickbait, on youtube, wherever, and I’m getting sick of it.

I may elaborate on this issue later but let’s keep this just as a record of what I already wrote.

This was my (initial, maybe) response to the thread:

Clickbait like this just makes me feel really sad for people who buy into it. The life of a nomadic traveler is hard, stressful, dangerous, precarious, and looked down upon in actual practice. When the money runs out, so does the “comfortable nomad” traveling, unless you are one of the very lucky people who can find a sustainable way of making income while on the road (and let me tell you, traveling is a full time gig… and so is working…and finding work in places where you aren’t considered a part of the community is nigh impossible…. so when can you eat and sleep? Hmm, good question.), or if you already have passive income. Look at the information about all of the people who are “vehicular homeless.” Especially in California (yes I know this article is not a USA story, but I am from the USA and that is what I know). All of the people working gig jobs who live in their cars. Do not sell everything to travel unless you are willing to become a Dirty Kid.

What are my credentials for this answer, you ask? Since Spring 2014 I have spent about 50% or more of my time (until this past winter; I’ve slowed down a LOT) “on the road” using a vehicle (sedan) owned free and clear by my family, and the insurance picked up by one of my parents. Even with those perks, I still applied for and received registered homeless services at least twice, and casual services many, many times. I am not saying don’t do this. If you’re called to, please do. I fought HARD in my life and spent pretty much all of my youth’s energy on having the opportunity to live this way. And, I have been able to offer help to others who I never would have had the opportunity to help otherwise, ever, not in a million years. But it is not romantic for very long, and when you start meeting other nomads you realize that you have to choose: am I living a self-sustainable elitist lifestyle, or am I just like everyone else, including the people who are waiting in line for the shelter to give out bagged lunches?.

Soon, you reach a point where there is no rest stop that will let you sleep for 500 miles, every town you stop in has bad vibes and doesn’t welcome travelers, you’re developing an itch or nursing an injury or illness that you can’t go to the hospital for because you have no-one to watch your animal and you can’t leave them in the car because not only is it too hot, but it’s illegal and doing so could cause a spiral of shit that could ruin both of your lives (been there – I abandoned a hospital intake because my dog was in the car, and they wouldn’t let me go check on her without forfeiting the intake. So, I did.) , or you straight up run out of money and have to call someone who pities you, or you end up in a situation where you break down in the middle of the National Forest and Thank the Gods on High that you have comprehensive insurance or AAA because you have nowhere to go and you realize how fast and easily some people can get lost and end up totally destitute. You need to be seriously hardcore to live as a hand-to-mouth nomad and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

In other countries it may be a LOT different, for example (other FB group member) in Canada. But in the USA this sort of life won’t last very long. Just take a trip to a Rainbow gathering and learn all about it. You get real dirty real fast and you have to learn to love it. You can’t do it alone, that’s for sure. It gets real lonely and real dark really fast without a system that supports such a lifestyle. Otherwise you’re just trying to wrestle with Pluto in his own domain. Loving y’all…

On the other hand, living this way, or having the experience doing it, puts you WAY ahead of the game in terms of societal collapse.

(Other FB group member writes, “i agree…life on the road is never easy…even with a bit of money. And if you look the least bit alternative it gets harder..”)

Yeah… even with the “privilege” of being white, I encountered this many times. I had very long and thick locked hair (I removed it, but am working on growing it again) and there were certain times and areas where if I was not overtly hassled just for existing (and it did happen), I just got that feeling that if I didn’t leave soon, things would become very difficult for me.. you learn quickly when to hold your wallet-fist tight, that’s for sure.

I found that having multiple VERY well made outfits that can be interchanged is helpful. For example, I have some leggings that get loose and frumpy after a few wears, and some that are tight no matter how long I go without washing: clothes that don’t require maintenance to look “good.” People judge based on clothing. Wearing the right clothes for your area so as not to draw attention is really, really important. Camouflage becomes really important. You want to come off as a “vacation traveler” not a nomad, especially with law enforcement. Always have a “destination” in mind: a campsite, a pal in another city, whatever. People don’t like wanderers: we threaten their existential pain and illusions.

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2 comments

  1. again, if turned in a character who is a traveler who has to deal with all of these huge blocks and work arounds and uncertainties it certainly could become a novel. seek a voice to state it via fiction. it will also be therapeutic. and perhaps propel you to a publishing career. why not give it a try?

    • Thanks for the enthusiastic input. Initially I was really triggered by it, for a few reasons ranging from personal sensitivity to social justice issues…and maybe some resistance to your persistence? My relationship with composing fiction is not an active one, or one that has ever come out of healthy situations, from my recollection: I remember the last time I wrote more than a page of fiction was in high school, and in reading my work in years following, I realized that the modality was serving as a way for me to process things that were so unspeakable that I could not communicate or even acknowledge them in my own mind directly. And even if it could function as a positive modality for me at this point, it just doesn’t feel natural to me at this time, at least if it involves semi-autobiographical traumatic content: I have been observing myself as being very grounded in the actual, “nonfiction” realm lately.. as in, over a decade and a half lately. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try something new if it feels right in time, and my more committed priorities are taken care of, leaving me with the free time to experiment (unless compulsion takes over, as the second paragraph brings up).

      I did initially react, privately, very negatively to this suggestion, and am still unsure if that came from the sort of resistance that we have when something is so on-point that we can’t accept it, or if my anger from other issues was activated, but that nevertheless the fiction idea isn’t right for me right, now. Likely it’s some of both, because most things in this complex universe are both/and. But I do think about your input often, and maybe one day I will attempt something like or inspired by what you are saying: could be years down the line, or could be sooner. Who knows? It is worth it to try new modalities, of course. But, there is only so much time in a day, and what I find with my writing is that when it is time for me to write, it flows effortlessly, and I don’t have to sit there and think “how do I even begin to do this?” the latter condition being how my mind reacted to your suggestion. Indeed the bulk of writing is the unconscious, subconscious, and active processing that goes on sometimes even before we know what we are going to write, and then like water boiling, it all bubbles at once. So, thanks for your valuable and well-meaning input. I really do appreciate it, and observing my own reactions to it taught me so much about my shadow side that I feel as though I have already grown by considering the notion. Blessings to you.

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