When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be positive or negative. It started off being laden with complaints and whining, but I’ve managed to talk myself out of my deep, dark despondent hole, through the few edits I’ve done. Let’s see how this ends.
The question of travelling when you’re beyond employment age has been on my mind a lot lately, most likely because I’m not in my thirties anymore. I don’t mean going on a holiday once a year. I mean travelling, experiencing, living, being at one with the place you’re in. Being there for as long as you want to be, before you move on to be a part of another place.
I have been reading a lot of travel blogs and have been so inspired by them as well as travellers I’ve met in the past. They’re mostly young couples and young singles or groups who have thrown caution to the wind and now live the life I dream of. Some of them are trust fund kids or gap year kids who, after 12 months of drunkenly handing out flyers outside bars in return for a meal or living on their allowance, go back home to mom and dad and have hardly a care in the world. Some other travellers are backpackers and some of them are great at budget travel, volunteering or finding casual work to fund their travels. That’s the life!
Yeah sure, I could do this. I could cash in my retirement fund, pay off my debts, invest the rest and travel around for a while. I could keep my car here at home in South Africa instead of selling it immediately, in case I need emergency cash. I could rent out my house to make sure I have a place to return to if I come back. I must say, I like this idea a lot.
I’m not married and I don’t have children. I’m not a professional who would give up A Very Good Career if I ran off. I have a great job. It pays the bills.
I won’t lie: it’s not very inspiring, nor is there any room to progress. If I stay, I will be a legal secretary very possibly for the rest of my life.
Other than my friends and family (and my animals, but that is another story), I have nothing to stay here for.
So why not?
Well, because I’ve been very responsible and bought a house, paid off my car and have a retirement fund, the way all good responsible adults should live. Unfortunately I’ve also been living in the moment and spending credit on things I don’t need to fill up the part of me that was meant to be Gaelavanting, and that is the biggest obstacle, I have to admit.
My question is: what really happens to a traveller when they get older? Can they still go backpacking? I guess so, if there’s spare energy and cash. What if there isn’t any cash? How easy is it to find casual or any kind of employment, once you’re old and there are so many young, beautiful and enthusiastic humans flooding the casual job market in paradise? I shudder at the thought of a 60 year old woman handing out flyers at a trendy nightspot on Phi Phi Island! Eww. Maybe I could study yoga or massage with a guru in India and do that. Wait, there is light at the end of this tunnel!
You don’t hear about old aged travellers in blogs. Why is that? You hear how you should be following your heart and chasing your dreams. “If you only had a year to live, what would you do?” Travel the world, no question! “Ok then go do that.” I’ve heard this very appealing reasoning from many people, one of whom has actually done that! My free spirit loves this kind of advice.
The problem is that I don’t have just a year to live. With my luck I’ll live to 100! That would be around 30 to 40 years of potentially not being able to put gas in my car or pay for utilities in my house, or have to sponge off other old people who may not have enough themselves. Sounds very uncomfortable. Yes I know, I sound very pessimistic, probably from growing up without enough, but I believe these are lessons that came to me for a reason.
All is not lost however. This is so deep in my soul, and it’s going to happen one way or another. Even if I take a 6 month gap and do what I can, it’s going to happen. Even if I go back to my beloved Thailand for a mere month, it’s going to happen. If I end up having a great retirement pay out, I could do the Grand Marigold Hotel thing and wonder why I never did it before. I think all I really want is to know that I’m going to be ok.
So at the end of this thought process, I’m still unsure, but perhaps a little less unsure? No. Excited again, but still unsure.
If any readers out there know of anyone who has been through this dilemma, please put me in touch with them? I’d love to find out how they dealt with their dual nature of being a responsible free spirit. It isn’t easy being me……
Till next time