The Vagabond Journey

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.

 

What is a Vagabond?

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.

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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.

 

Journey of Freedom

 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.

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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?

-      Money

How do we pay for our living expenses?

-      Money

Why do we need a room mate?

-      Money

How do we pay for ‘societal’ entertainment?

-      Money

 

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.

 

Downsides to Vagabonding?

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.

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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.

 

Pets Suitable for a Travel Lifestyle

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.

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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.

 

Temporary Pet Ownership

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.

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Me, BF & Paddy – September 2009

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.

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Me, Eva, Byron & Misty – house sitting February 2010

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.

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BF with Byron, our temporary cat while house sitting – February 2010

 

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.

 

Is Vagabonding for You?

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.

Here’s how to do it:

-          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

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Me @ my first wwoofing gig – BC, Canada, June 2009

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!

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