Some of the surprising elements of our Live Without Working Experiment were the fears that were faced and overcome.
I think that living every day out of our comfort zone forced us to face many things about ourselves that we had been avoiding.
One of the things I was afraid of since young was spiders, with a cautious fascination with snakes.
The first two weeks of our LWW Experiment meant that I was faced head on with these things.
For one, EVERYWHERE in a Canadian garden, are garden spiders. You know, those ones that carry their white ball of eggs everywhere they go.
Although these spiders aren’t of the hand-size variety that makes my skin not just crawl but leap from my body; they tick the ‘hairy’ box, which is the second category of spiders that I just had a major issue with.
However, being faced with these critters every day on a regular basis; I soon learned to accept them for who they were, understand that they aren’t out to get me, as I had always believed; and that they were part of nature and so was I. This made us part of the ‘one’ that is the very universe.
Further, if we were to WWOOF for many many months ahead; I realised that if I had not gotten over this issue that had been haunting and taunting me my entire life, then I would be in for a very hairy (pardon the pun) and uncomfortable time sitting in my fear circle at all the WWOOFing places that were to come. Plus I would constantly be embarrassing myself, squealing like a little girl every hour.
So I made peace. And I have to say, it was much easier than I thought it would be. I suppose actually facing your fears can truly be as easy as they say.
On the snake end: Canada has snakes, however they are not deadly. This allowed me to feed my cautious curiosity for them and appreciate them without being afraid of being bitten. Soon enough they became quite lovely companions to discover in the garden. Snakes in the grass weren’t as bad as people make out!
Another fear I faced was of the ocean. I had this weirdness about water that I cannot see the bottom of. I mean, what the heck is down there? And if I can’t see it, there must be a LOT of creepy, world threatening creatures, right? I was faced with this when we went on a four day canoeing trip. Being so close to the water and not seeing the bottom was good for me. For one, I was distracted by the calmness of being on the water. For two, like the spiders, I got used to not knowing what is down there and relaxed with it. Another fear faced and semi-conquered! Yay!
I never had a fear of change, really, so that was not one of my fears to face. A fear of heights though – yes. Later in our journey I learned that my fear of heights was not one that I would overcome this time, but one that BF would. Or perhaps it was the opposite for him. Due to his experience, he actually BECAME afraid of heights. More so than he was before, at least; through his attraction to jumping off cliffs. More on that later, as that is a story in itself.
Another fear I faced was around money. I had some significant debts in Australia before I even went to Canada; and these ‘should’ have stopped me from taking on this Live Without Working experiment. After all, if I would not be working / earning money; I would not be able to meet the repayments.
I don’t think my mother was too pleased when I gave up my job in Canada to start this experiment, for a couple of reasons: 1) due to the economy, people were losing jobs and jobs were harder to find – and here I was giving mine up!; and 2) mum did not understand that I could be so irresponsible by doing this experiment whilst I had debts – responsibilities.
I think she struggled to let that one go, but after realising how much fun I was having, living my dream, she had no choice in the end but to be happy for me. At least, she made out she was!
When I made the decision to start the Living Without Work Experiment, it was after I had learned about ‘payment holidays’ that banks/financial institutions offer. So by applying for payment holidays, I was able to be free of my debts and expenses for a while; and travel without the weight of those debts on my backs. What freedom!
I think that doing this experiment EVEN THOUGH I had large debts in Australia, should inspire people that they can’t even use THAT as an excuse.
I remember meeting people who would say things like, “I wish I could do that”. When I asked them why they couldn’t, they’d answer, “I can’t, I have a house”. My response would be , “you could sell or rent out the house”. They would not know what to do with that and have no answer for me. I think they had already made up their mind that they could not do something so rash, so bold. Me? I felt like my life depended on me doing this very thing.
That saying is very true: “everything we want is outside of our comfort zone”. I just did not realise this would include conquering my fears!
This WWOOFing business sure brought with it a series of surprises.
For one, our first WWOOFing hosts appeared to be extremely wealthy, on an idealic plot of land with views out to the ocean and Vancouver Island. I mean, this place was stunning! I don’t know what I expected…obviously farms that were a bit less opulent? Did I mention they had a pool and a tennis court?
Not only that, we had commenced WWOOFing at the perfect time of year – well into Spring, with the heat of the summer showing its promise.
We felt so blessed, and counted each of our blessings every day. It was such a pleasure to get up in the morning with the rising of the sun; fill our tums with a hearty and healthy breakfast and spend the day in the sunshine immersed in nature. How different from the office life this was! The only question that came to us was: why oh why had we not done this earlier? However, it mattered not; because here we were, soaking up the sunshine with our hands in the dirt, surrounded by the bounties of nature. There was nowhere else we’d rather be.
Each day started pretty much the same: we rose with the sun, trundled up to the main house for breakfast with our hosts; then met with the ‘garden manager’ for our duties for the day.
We would start work around 8.00am; joined the whole family at 1pm for lunch; then worked another hour or two, with the rest of the afternoon off. We then shared a delectable evening meal with the family once more before enjoying the evening at our leisure…which quite often included many a wine and a laugh before bed. Oh yes – our hosts made their own wine from their vineyard! So there was always an abundance.
On that point, when we first decided to do the LWW Experiment, I worried how I would manage without the nectar from the gods. You see, I am quite a wine lover; and there were not many an evening when I would not enjoy at least one glass of wine with dinner. This journey then brought with it a challenge – or so I thought. I would not have imagined that my desire was so powerful that I would create a steady flow of the delectable ascended grape!
Not only the lovely home made wine was enjoyable; the meals at this place were also wonderful. The family were vegetarian (which we found with most WWOOF hosts) and we soon discovered that vegetarians did not eat lettuce leaves at every meal, and not much else – as we for some reason were lead to believe. In fact, we were constantly amazed at the meals we consumed that were absent of meat (bar some chicken or fish now and then). There was not a day that we felt short changed with our meal or not completely satisfied. Vegetarian meals were awesome!
The first two weeks on the farm went by quite quickly; and very pleasantly. We were kept busy with tasks such as:
- weeding beds and planting over 100 green beans, red beans and peas
- potting around 150 tomatoes (4 different species) to be grown in the greenhouse
- learning to drive the gaitor (like a golf cart for a farm – loads of fun)
- planting around 180 broccoli, cauliflower, pak choi, lettuce, beans and golden squash in mini pots
- Weeding the garlic, parsley and sage patch
- Clearing a mammoth section of garden beds that were overcome by a jungle of weeds
As the family got to know us better, we were then tasked with other duties such as:
- Administration (me)
- Cooking (me)
- Fence fixing (BF)
- Floor laying (BF)
- General handyman work (BF)
So during the week we just enjoyed the relaxing farm life, and doing our chores. However, on weekends, we would go exploring.
The first weekend that arrived, we donned our hiking boots and went hiking around the island. We wandered down to the nearest beach. Although it was too cool for swimming, it was quite lovely; and we were soon distracted by the discovery of a swing! We had discovered swings before we started the LWW Experiment, when we were exploring Vancouver; and they became a new ‘thing’ for us. They symbolised freedom and child-like fun, and it became a ritual – that whenever we came across a swing; we would join forces with it to do what it was designed to do. More on the joy of swings in a later post!
After the beach (and swing) we walked down to the town centre of Bowen Island. This was quite a hike but it was such a lovely day and there was excitement in the air – we were on an expedition!
The town of Bowen Island, Snug Cove, is simply gorgeous – a great reflection of its name! A cute little place with little artsy farsty shops, a small convenience store, some restaurants and a lovely park and boardwalk alongside the Marina where the boats moor.
We spent our time stalking baby Canadian geese, enjoying the views from Snug Cove across to Horseshoe Bay. We also took a hike up the steep hill overlooking the Marina and had a bite to eat on a rock, enjoying the views.
Our first two weeks of our LWW Experiment were so far well above our expectations (although it was hard to have any, as we had no idea what we were in for!). We started to see a life that we could have together some day in the far future, similar to this one we were experiencing with our hosts. We also made the decision that we loved Canada and did not want to rush through the country and be forced to leave when BF’s tourist visa was expired. We therefore started getting our papers together to apply for Canadian residency.
However, after two weeks in this amazing place we started to realise that we were at a cross roads: we could either stay here all summer; or we could move on and see as much as we could of Canada whilst the summer lasted. Although we loved it here, we were feeling if we didn’t make a move soon we may never. So it was time to think about moving on.
EMAIL TO MUM
3 June 2013
Wow, I’m exhausted. I knew it was going to be tough until my body gets used to it, especially after working behind a desk for so long and not much exercise.
The place we are staying at is stunning and the people are realy lovely. I think I told you we were invited to a colleague’s place for a party on the weekend then we start work on the Monday. We had the best weekend with the loveliest people and the most beautiful scenery! So much fun and we’ve made really great friends and contacts for down the track!
The farm we’re on is a woman who is originally Australian. She’s lost her husband (she’s 54) and is living here with her Dad, who’s in his 80′s and lost his wife, her brother (not sure of age and background), a friend who helps out on the farm and a Phillipino house maid. Oh, and then there are the 9 dogs! They’re all gorgeous and all sorts of breeds from poodle to blue cattle dog! The cattle dog is blind and fat and very old but somehow gets around. We have just been warned not to startle him and to run if you hear the warning growl! We’re falling in love with a beautiful dog that looks a bit like a white golden retriever but is some other breed. It was treated badly so a bit shy but she’s getting used to us now. There’s also a beautiful beagle who is a little Houdini so we have to be careful when we let him off the leash.
Day one was great, but hard. We potted about 150 tomato plants (4 varieties), weeded three garden beds and planted green beans, red beans and peas. Planted 180 veggie seeds (pak choi, della rossa lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and squash). We then mowed the lawn in front of one of the guest houses and weeded the parsley, garlic and sage garden.
Day 2 (today) we were both feeling quite stiff, but we were ready to get back into it. We were assigned a garden down the back of the property (which is about 10 acres) to weed and mow and prepare for planting. It is a huge job and took all day just to do one section because it hadn’t been touched since last summer as not much grows in winter. We have the use of a little gaiter (like a four wheeler but with a little tray on the back for carrying loads). We were very pleased with ourselves with the section we weeded today.
We have our own ensuite room in one of the guest houses which is very comfortable and awesome views.
We have been fed amazingly – they are mostly vegetarian but the food is to die for. And boy do we appreciate it after all the hard work!
Its going to take the poor little bod a while to adjust to this kind of work but it really is so beautiful and so nice to be outdoors, doing the work at our own pace. We’re here for two weeks and if we feel like a bit longer we’ll extend the stay. I’m sure if we get stuck into a project we won’t want to leave it half way through. There is plenty to do around here and we’re learning a lot and getting ideas of how to do things for when we eventually decide to stay in one place for a while!
Ok, I will get going now and quickly put some photos up, then I have to go up to the house for dinner time.
Love you heaps and heaps and stay tuned for more updates!
EMAIL TO MUM
6 June 2013
I must admit, we are really enjoying this. The weather had been amazing – getting up to 30 degrees, which our hosts have been saying is quite unheard of for this time of year. It’s so nice to feel our bodies working for a change, to feel so relaxed after a hard day’s work, and to come in to a delicious meal all prepared and ready for us. We feel spoilt!
The farm is more of a private farm, although they are preparing a crop of veggies to sell this year and see how that goes.
The last couple of days we have been working on the bottom veggie patch and it is taking a while. It’s getting too hot in the afternoons to stay down there so we’ve been doing more relaxing jobs in the shade in the afternoons, or cleaning out the grape drums ready for use for when they prepare the grapes for this year’s batch of wine.
Well, nearly dinner time, I’ll quickly put some pics up then we’ll head up to the main house for a lovely meal and conversation.
Love you heaps!!
EMAIL TO MUM
8 June 2013
I have a favour to ask of you. We are preparing our application for residency here in Canada and require some birthdates etc from you:
We are going to submit the application in a week or so and at least then it may be processed by the end of the year and will give Jay an extension on his current visa.
Well, loads to do today (Sunday) before we get back into another work week. Playing a little tennis later too, and maybe taking dip in the pool. I’ll put up some more pics on Facebook from the last few days.
Love you heaps!
EMAIL TO MUM
9 June 2013
Things are great here on Bowen Island. They really want us to stay all summer but I think we’re going to head off to our next destination in another week or two. Bowen Island is pretty small and doesn’t take too long to see it all!
Glad you liked the photos. I must admit I’m seeing you more and more in me in photos too. I was also looking at some of the old photos Dad had put up on his facebook, some with you with your long straight dark hair and I can definitely see the resemblance. I guess it was harder to tell when I was blonde and wore make up!
We are feeling that it is almost time to move on. We really want to see all of Vancouver Island and its surrounding islands whilst it is still good weather. I think we have until about September before it starts getting cool again. We really are spoilt here, and we know we won’t always be as lucky as we have been here. The people are just lovely – they all have such a great sense of humour and sense of fun. Our meal times are great because we all sit together and joke around and have some more serious conversations too.
We haven’t been spending money at all, except one day where we stretched about $3.50 to buy ourselves some lunch. We will be scrimping as much as possible when we do need to spend money so that we always have some back up money if we ever get stuck. We figure the only time we’ll need to spend really is travelling between each farm, so our money should last us a long time. We have payment holidays on our major bills so we don’t have to worry about paying those for three months. I have still been making a couple of sales on my business and am getting a little bit more enthusiasm for it again now that I don’t have a day job and have more time on my hands.
We have put the feelers out to a couple of places in and around Vancouver Island so just need to make one of them concrete so we have a next destination. We are actually quite eager to camp as well, and may take a couple of days to do that before we start at the next place.
Almost dinner time here (yummy!) so will take a shower and get freshened up. I’m still quite grotty after tree lopping and weeding today but wanted to reply to you before I did anything else!
Love you so much! xoxo
The day finally arrived: both my 32nd birthday and day 1 of our LWW Experiment. We were pumped!We’d finished cleaning the house, squeezed everything into our backpacks that we wanted to take with us, and received our full bond back and put it in the bank.We had to pack and repack(and repack) our backpacks because they were so jammed with all the things we thought we needed; only to find that we couldn’t close the bags… or pick them up.
We had finally settled on the ‘essentials’, and when it came to donning the backpack so we could head to the train station; the weight of my pack pulled me over backwards onto the ground. Uh-oh! And we have to traipse across the world with this weight? I couldn’t even get the pack on without help! Unfortunately it was a little late to come to this realisation since we had to get on our way to Bowen Island.
Apart from the backpack issues, we were ready for our adventure. We’d had 1 ½ months to plan it, and as this day crept closer and closer, we became more and more excited.
We were on such a high as we started day one of our adventure. We were positively beaming! We started documenting our experiment from the moment we heaved our backpacks on. I had thought that it would be an awesome thing to track our progress on a blog; but unfortunately it kind of fell flat as we got so immersed in our adventure. However, I’m finding that blogging about our journey now gives me the benefit of hindsight and extra detail that I can add to each post in regards to what was to come.
So we walked to the train station, caught the train to the ferry, caught the ferry to the island; and were picked up by a friend of my colleague when we arrived. This friend had no idea what we looked like; however he said we were quite easy to spot as he was aware of our experiment; and we were the only backpack clad beaming couple that emerged from the ferry.
We spent the rest of my birthday socialising with my colleague and his other clients, partying late into the night and even trying our hand at midnight basketball – a challenging sport as you have to ‘guess’ where the hoop is, and where your opponent is because it was pitch dark!
We stayed the night with our friends and the following day was quite magical. It involved assisting with the process of catching crabs; involving catching mussels to catch small fish to eventually catch the crabs.
The scenery of this place was absolutely stunning! The house was right on the water, with a jetty that enabled fishing, swimming, boating and more.
After eating, a spot of fishing and a dip in the water; we took a hike through the beautiful virgin forest, swinging freely on their rope swing; before finally getting a ride to our WWOOF hosts.
And wow. Just when we thought the day had been perfect, here we were pulling up to the amazing and elaborate gates of our hosts. This looked like the entrance of millionaires! My friends were so excited for us and what we had in store as they drove us up the winding, paved, tree-lined driveway to the main house; which looked like a mansion! Not at all what we were expecting from WWOOFing! I guess organic farmers aren’t poor and living basic lives like I had thought. At least not THIS host.
We were introduced to our new hosts and the dogs (some scary and aggressive, some sweet and cuddly); shown around the place briefly, and then shown to our room; which was kind of like a hotel room with a double bed, ensuite, and balcony overlooking the farm and further out to the ocean on the other side of the island. We could not believe our luck!
Our first day of WWOOFing would begin at 7.00am the next morning.
The day was rapidly approaching for us to leave the big city of Vancouver, and to start our journey which we affectionately dubbed ‘A Vagabond Journey’; as we realised that was a very fitting description of our LWW Experiment.
I first came across the term, ‘vagabond’, when I was looking for information on people who had done a similar experiment to what we were setting out on, as I was sure that we couldn’t be the first people to have come up with the idea of giving up work and travelling full time. That is when I came across the book, “Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel”, by Rolf Potts. Wow, what an inspiring book! If you haven’t read it, I recommend it to further fuel your fire for the quest for freedom. Not only did it confirm to us that we were on the right track, but it also gave us some ideas about how other people were doing it.
According to Dictionary.com, a vagabond is ‘a person who wanders from place to place without a home or job’.
This description fitted us perfectly, since we had given up the concept of working, and also were lifting our roots. It was a strange feeling not having a home to go back to. But also a freeing feeling.
This vagabond journey is a journey of freedom. What does it mean to be free? It is different for everyone. For me, it is tearing loose from the shackles that society (and myself) have placed on me. These “shackles” include a day job, the money trap, bills, obligations of living with a room mate, and other responsibilities that I feel hold me back from doing what I really want to do.
The day job, for example, is an agreement that I made where someone tells me what I have to do and I do it. I need to do this if I live in the city because I need to create money for myself to survive. I am therefore trapped in this situation (especially if I live in a city or town). There is not much that you can do without money. It costs money to travel from one place to the next. Even if you walk to the grocery store, you still have to pull out your wallet to pay for your goods. Anything to do with societal entertainment costs money (going out to a bar with friends, going to the movies, skiing, going to a hockey game etc). Then there is the cost of living – renting an apartment – something again that I have to agree to do for a certain period of time or I have to pay a penalty. Paying for the use of a phone, internet, electricity etc.
Then there are the obligations of living with a house mate – being considerate at all times with noise and cleanliness in particular.
But, if we look at all of the above, it is clear that there is one common denominator:
Why do we need a job?
How do we pay for our living expenses?
Why do we need a room mate?
How do we pay for ‘societal’ entertainment?
It was clear, that for me to break free from any of the above shackles, I had to come up with a solution that would enable me to live without money.
It is amazing how when one starts to ask a question, the answer magically turns up in one’s life. This is how it all came about for me.
So how exactly can you live without money? You’ll have to wait for that answer, as I’ll cover that in future posts.
Vagabonding, in my eyes, has more upsides than down. But it would only be fair to share some downsides that I experienced.
I’m sure other people may come up with other downsides to vagabonding; but for me, I think one of the hardest things for me about giving up ‘real life’ and stability; was not being able to have pets. In fact, I think this was THE hardest thing.
I had always been an animal lover. I grew up on what some may call a ‘hobby farm’, and loved the country lifestyle, having loads of animals and spending my weekends in nature. Although I quite readily dived into the city life after university, I always had in the back of my mind that I would love to eventually go back to that country lifestyle, especially when I someday had my own children.
All my life I had moved around a lot, moving schools, moving towns etc. Since I left home at the age of 17, I had moved house/apartment just about every year. I think the longest I stayed in any one place (since leaving home) was 1 ½ years. I’ve lost track of how many different places/homes I’ve lived in during my 35+ years; but I know it has been many.
I guess in that way, I was already well adjusted for the vagabond journey, as I became naturally an adaptable person and learned not to get attached to much because it just gets in the way of moving on.
BF, on the other hand, had lived in the one family home his whole life; before he finished school and moved to London. However, he soon adjusted very well to the travel lifestyle and also learned to get bored (as I did) if we stayed in the one place for too long.
On the other hand, I have a friend who could not cope with the ‘new’, not being able to see her friends and family on a regular basis; and having to start from scratch with no job in a strange city and no friends…i.e. nothing familiar. But she would not have realised that this was not for her had she not at least tried it. So I take my hat off to her for doing something outside of the box.
What is that saying? ‘A rolling stone gathers no moss’. BF and I certainly didn’t get much opportunity to gather moss once we started traveling more than ten years ago. When we did settle in to one location and start accumulating stuff; we inevitably moved on, selling off everything and removing any ‘moss’ that had started to grow.
So, as you can see; pets just wouldn’t have fit in with our lifestyle, as you can’t move around (particularly internationally) when you have pets. Well, I suppose you can, but it makes everything that little bit harder.
So we had to deal with the fact that we can’t have pets unless we do eventually find ourselves wanting to put our roots down somewhere for at least a few years.
There was one time in London when I just couldn’t handle not having pets in my life, so I did some research on animals and their life spans.
Did you know that goldfish could live up to 10 years? Who would have thought! That counted out fish as pets. However, I was craving the type of pet you can cuddle, and a fish would not have met those requirements. Not comfortably, anyway!
It just so happened that my boss at work had pet rats and raved about what great pets they make. They are affectionate, love cuddles, and quite intelligent. Further, after doing some research, I found out that rats make great pets for my kind of lifestyle because they only live for around 2-3 years.
Perfect! At least until one year into having them, I had to find them a new home because I was ready to move on again to another country. I still recommend them though, they brought me so much joy (despite having a chewing fetish which resulted in regular replacements of the telephone line).
Pet rats really were, for me, a great solution for getting some quality animal time. However, they aren’t suitable for the vagabond lifestyle where you are moving on more regularly due to their requirement for a cage, food, etc.
Someone once said there are no problems in this world, only solutions. That saying always stuck with me, and helped me through any so-called problems that came up for me in life. So it was no surprise when I found a solution for balancing my new vagabond lifestyle with my need to have animals in my life. Hence, my love of animals made the WWOOFing thing even more attractive for me, because it allowed us to bring animals back into our lives, without having the commitment.
The first WWOOFing host we with gave us a beautiful opportunity to have a temporary pet; as they rescued dogs, so had many on their farm.
In fact, whilst there, they took on a black Labrador named Paddy for 6 months on a quarantine exercise from Panama, before he flew to Australia to be with his family.
BF and I had always wanted a black lab, so we quickly fell in love with Paddy and he became ‘our dog’ during our time on the farm. He slept with us, followed us everywhere, and brought so much joy to our life during that period.
There were other beautiful dogs there, but none that we bonded with as much as Paddy. It made leaving that farm quite difficult, but I will always treasure the opportunity of being temporary parents to our dream dog.
Another opportunity arose for us to have temporary pets further down our vagabond journey, when we house sat in Alberta for a month.
House sitting gigs can be found all over the world, and there is a worldwide site for house sitting that we used: www.housecarers.com . However, there are many websites out there now if you do a Google search. I like this website because it offers house sitting gigs all over the world.
This was a wonderful experience for us. There were three cats, two dogs, and it was a beautiful house on a frozen lake with its own ice skating rink and a Jacuzzi. OK, this post is about animals so more on the awesomeness of house sitting in another post.
We had such a beautiful time for the month looking after all these animals. Again, it was sad when we left; but because we knew what we were in for, we had already mentally prepared ourselves for our departure.
I suppose what I’m getting at is that, although the vagabond journey has its downsides in regards to not putting roots down and having our own pets; it offered a fulfillment of that need, without tying us down or requiring a long term commitment.
You are the only person who truly knows whether vagabonding is for you. However, I will again say that you will not REALLY know if the vagabond lifestyle is for you until you actually try it.
I therefore encourage you to plan a trip, even if it is within your own country. Although a different country would be more effective for this experiment, I do understand that taking baby steps is sometimes a wise move, and by trying it out in the comfort zone of your own country first, you will get a true idea of whether this really is for you.
Some of the biggest impacts I had whilst vagabonding were when we did it in small, close knit communities. The experiences in these places were rich beyond measure due to the amazing people we connected with and witnessing the fabulous lifestyles they had created for themselves. The place in the world that had no doubt the most impact upon my life by far, was in Nelson, Canada. Nelson deserves an entire separate post/s of its own; so I will cover more on this amazing town in a future post.
Whether you are still in the corporate world/working world or not, I encourage you to plan your next holiday as a vagabonding experience.
- Select a country / region that you are keen to explore
- Find the wwoofing organisation / website for that location
- Research the wwoofing opportunities on offer
- Make contact with the ones that most interest you
- Book your holiday based on when you can wwoof at your chosen farms
I suggest wwoofing for your first vagabond gig because you will have the bonus of immersing yourself in the culture of the region and getting to know some locals who will no doubt show you around, direct you on places to visit & see in their region. With housesitting, although you will likely have access to a car to get around; you will lack the personal experiences you will have with wwoofing.
Have fun and please share any vagabonding experiences you have had or are experiencing in the comments below to help inspire others to try out vagabonding!
I made the decision to give up work and attempt to travel/live full time without working in a j.o.b. in April 2009. However, there were many events that lead up to this decision.
A Bit of Background
I think I can pinpoint the turning point in my life that lead me towards this full time vacation experiment to sometime between 2005 – 2006. I had been living / working / traveling in London since April 2000; and had the time of my life! However, as the story goes, I fell in love when in London; and my boyfriend’s (now husband) visa for London ran out so we had to make a plan if we were to stay together. We did all we could to stay in London but when that didn’t work out we decided to move to Australia and try living there for a while.
After living such a fun life in London that didn’t really feel like real life due to all the traveling and partying and generally just living in another country; we had a really tough time settling back down into ‘real life’. What we very quickly learned was: real life sucks! But really, we figured if this was what ‘real life’ was like, then we wanted out. Surely this couldn’t be it for the rest of our lives? Working hard, long hours; coming home and eating, watching tv and going to bed. No way, there must be more to life than this?!
Everyone we spoke to seemed to be happy in their life, but we just didn’t fit. Something had to give. We tried changing jobs, changing houses, changing cities and then we realised that although the change helped, it was only temporary until we fell back into that dreaded slump of ‘real life’.
Then, New Years 2007/8, we spent with some friends that also lived the London life; when one of my friends shared that the Canadian working holiday visa rules have changed so that Australians could apply for the visa up until their 31st birthday. What that meant was that I was now eligible for this visa; but only for another 5 months.
This small piece of information sparked a fire inside of me that I could not ignore and I decided that I should apply for that visa or I may just regret it. So I did, and I received it one week later. How exciting!
There was just one problem though: my boyfriend was South African , and therefore did not qualify for the working holiday visa. We looked into our options and the only thing we can come up with was that he go to Canada on a tourist visa and try and get work under the table. Otherwise, I would support us both.
We still had not made a direct decision whether or not we would go to Canada, and if we did, when we would go.
And then, about 4-5 months later, I came across an advert for volunteer recruiter jobs based in US and Canada. I immediately applied for both my boyfriend (BF) and I because I saw this as an opportunity where we could work together across the US; before going up to Canada. In other words: this was an opportunity to escape ‘real life’.
Interestingly enough, my boyfriend got the job in the US, and I did not make it through. He decided he needed to take the opportunity, so I decided that rather than staying trapped in my life in Australia, I would go to Canada. I could then fly to see him when I could and when he finished his contract he could come to Canada and we could travel.
So we quit our jobs, sold everything we owned, and in August 2008 went our separate ways: BF to LA, and me to Vancouver.
The next eight months were spent mostly apart, living separate lives and chatting on Skype whenever we could. I did manage to go and visit BF in San Francisco, Seattle and Bellingham; which was awesome. We also met up in South Africa in December for one month in December 2008, where we got married and spent time with family and friends.
BF finished his work contract in April 2009 and came to Vancouver to commence the next part of our journey.
When he arrived, friends of ours also arrived to visit before they went WWOOFing on Vancouver Island and traveling around Canada.
We were amazed to hear about WWOOFing, which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Basically, you volunteer a few hours per day helping out on these farms and in return the farm gives you accommodation and meals. In other words: this was an opportunity to give something back, learn some organic farming skills and also travel without requiring money. Win-win! This sparked an idea for us and we decided that we would do this at some stage, when we were ready to travel Canada and the rest of the world.
So I had been working in Vancouver for several months and although I enjoyed the people I worked with, I didn’t enjoy the work I was doing. In fact, I was quite miserable in my work. I was faced with a moral dilemma: how was the work I was doing making a positive impact on the world? I was working in the corporate office of an alcoholic beverage company, and although it had its benefits (free alcohol!), I just couldn’t fight the conflict within.
I had been working in human resources for several years and even when I was in Australia I started to realise that I just could not find a job in the corporate world that I felt satisfied in.
When in Canada, I received further challenges finding a good fit, and that’s when I started looking around for some inspiration to help me out. That’s when I came across the following books that changed my life:
The Joy of Not Working – Ernie J. Zelinski
Retire Young, Retire Free – Ernie J. Zelinski
Four Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss
Like a young boy secretly reading porn magazines; I started reading these books whenever I could; realising that if my boss or co-workers caught me reading these books, I may be faced with some heavy questions about my future with the company. So I read these books on the way to and from work, sneak out of the office at lunch time to read them, and in the evenings.
These books were so exciting to me and opened a whole new world that I did not know about. That familiar fire started burning within once more and I every spare moment was spent reading them or planning my next opportunity to read them. I felt so alive during this time!
Then, when I least expected it, my boss called me into this office for a meeting, starting with the words that made it immediately obvious what this was all about:
“I could not sleep last night because of this meeting I had to have with you this morning…”
Basically, it had become very obvious that I was not happy in my job and if I did not tender my resignation, I would be fired.
Now even though I had already been looking for my escape out of the corporate role and was not happy in my job; I did take this new development very hard. After all, I was being rejected.
However, I knew that this was for the best and my boss forced me to do what I was too afraid to do.
Have you noticed how that happens in life? When you make a decision about something but don’t take the action to make it happen, the universe creates a situation where you are forced to go down the track that you need to be on.
So that was it: I decided that here was our opportunity to start traveling. BF and I planned our next steps and the Living Without Work Experiment was born.
FACEBOOK MESSAGE TO MUM
19 April, 2009
How was your week?
Mine has been very interesting. I made the decision to resign at work which has changed our plans dramatically. I found out I would be losing my assistant at the end of the week which would mean me taking on twice the amount of work and I’m just not prepared to put myself through that stress.
So Jay and I have decided that this is a prime opportunity to don our backpacks and discover the rest of the country. We found this organisation called WWOOF (www.wwoof.org) who offer opportunities to travel the world while staying on their farms and helping them out with chores. In return they offer food and accommodation and sometimes there are paid positions.
I’m really excited about getting back to ‘farm life’, and getting out of the corporate world which is so stifling and so much political nonsense and control over what I can and cannot do. We can also do house sitting as well as this “wwoofing” which will mean a very cheap (almost free) way to travel around the world.
We can still apply for the visa for BF, which we’ll be putting in before we leave, and expect to be on the trails in about a month or two (it all depends what happens with work). I told work I can be flexible until they find someone.
So, we’re busy reducing our belongings once again, and planning our first step of the journey. We’re very excited! And at least this way it is something that BF can do legally (because he can’t work in a job until the visa comes through).
Lots of love you and the family! Xoxo
PS – I have died my hair brown. It is a little darker than my natural colour, but means I dont’ have to worry about going to the hairdresser for as long as we’re backpacking (which could be a long long time). It’s a brown bob at the moment and looks really strange. But now I will just let it grow and not worry about it. xoxo
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
26 April 2009
Hey gorgeous girl! how goes it?
Things have changed for us here. Things have changed at work and even though I was willing to stick it out until the end of the year, when I found out I’d be losing my assistant I kind of decided on the spot that that was it, I will not stay around and I put in my resignation It kind of took me (and BF!) by surprise when I made that decision but when we started re-planning what we’re going to do we started getting really excited! We are about to go “vagabonding”! have you heard of that? You have probably heard of WWOOF? World wide opportunities on Organic Farms? www.wwoof.org. We found out about it and decided we’re going to travel across Canada doing that – basically you help out on the farm for a few hours per day and in exchange they give you accommodation and food. You can do it at any one place from 2 weeks to 2 years and there are loads around Canada. What a cheap way to travel! We would then just need to rustle up money to travel between places and we’ll be sweet!
So, the planning is very exciting, we’re getting rid of everything that we have and replacing it with backpacking gear and clothes. I’ve died my hair brown so I don’t have to worry about the hairdresser for a long long time (pic on Facebook). We estimate that we’ll be off and running by mid-late June.
After Canada we then want to do something similar through Asia. We are excited about the adventure and to see how we deal with obstacles along the way, without money. We have been reading a lot of books and blogs from people who have done it and have realised just how possible it is to travel without money! During winters we will probably work in jobs so we can save for the next stint (ie flights to Asia, or however we’re going to travel). Actually, just spoke with BF and we may even go down US to South America then head over to New Zealand, then go through bits of Australia we haven’t seen yet (which would include Broome!), then head up through Asia, then Europe then Africa. Hmm…
Anyway, got to run because there is an ANZAC event on in Vancouver which we decided to pop along to.
Love you heaps and heaps!!! xoxoxo
I officially started this experiment four years and 2 days ago. I can’t believe it has been four years since I have worked for someone else in a J.O.B. and am incredibly grateful for this amazing, on-going journey and experiment that my husband and I have been living.
It is a Saturday today, but Saturdays to me feel just the same as Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays because they are no different. I still wake up each day, no matter what day of the week, with the same freedoms and with infinite choices on how I can or will spend my day.
I recently invested in a whole bunch of ‘how to’ books, so I could learn how to do things that five years ago I would have never of had the time. Such as, sewing, knitting, croquet, star gazing, permaculture gardening and more. My interests are expanding these days, as I suppose naturally happens when you have a significant increase in leisure time.
Some people may argue that if you have leisure time 100% of your time, you will start to take it for granted. Well I can tell you that after four years of 100% leisure time I have not reached a point where I am ungrateful, take it for granted or long for ‘work’. In fact, I seem to have become more and more grateful every day for my lifestyle; and when I choose activities to spend my time it is never ‘work’ because I choose things that interest me and that I want to do.
I am now a far cry from when I was a city dweller. Back then I spent so much time at work and going to and from work that I had such a small amount of leisure time each week; and when I did, i had to clean the house, do groceries, go to the bank and run all those errands I couldn’t do when I was at work. Even when I did chose more leisure-like activities in the city, they were always limited to what was on offer: movies, eat, drink, party or try and find some parks to be with nature. Back then I NEEDED meditation to cope with the lifestyle, but did not have much time to meditate. Now, every day is a meditation; and is filled with inner peace, joy and gratitude.
The other day a friend came to visit us on our farm and asked my neighbour if she ever meditates. Her answer was, “every day is a meditation”. She is also living a life without work and loving it. In fact, there are six of us here in our community living this life of awesomeness. So now you can’t say that ‘I’m just lucky’; because along with my community, I know loads of people who are loving living without work, and thriving in their lifestyle.
For a change, I write this blog entry the old fashioned way: with pen and paper, as I lay on our couch under a big old thorn tree, the sun twinkling down on me through its outstretched branches. My beloved chickens roam around my feet, birds harmonise joyously in the surrounding trees and the wind gently caresses my hair and my skin. This moment could not be more perfect. My whole days are filled with moments such as these. I am truly blessed.