Thinking About Living on the Road? (Part 1 of 4)

I’m watching a tiny little sugar ant scurry across the cement at my feet. It reminds me of the man, Kino, in Steinbeck’s novel, The Pearl, as he watches ants in the morning himself. I suppose I watch them too with his same detachment. This little ant doesn’t bring anything with it on its journey. No Cliff bars and water or map and compass nor first aid equipment. He just goes.

It also makes me think of when I went to Europe in my mid-20s. My eyes glimmered with jealousy as I saw friends and friends of friends head off to backpack in fantastic places. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Go out and travel the world like them. And then one day I found myself crying my eyes out on a train. An old man reached out and put his tanned hand on my knee. “Will be okay,” he tells me. Those may have been the only words he knew in English and I tried to appreciate them. But I was broken hearted that this thing I had known was not true. I realized traveling alone across the globe with just an over packed backpack was not for me.

It’s hard to remember the exact relief I felt when I landed back in Denver. The idea of it sloshes around in my head like sea sickness. As if I finally stepped off a boat I’d been sick on for a month straight. You’re almost nauseas of land’s stability by then. Oh how much I’d missed my own language. I’ve tried to put a finger on what exactly made the experience so obviously unenjoyably to me. Looking past getting my camera and all its photos stolen or later getting my phone taken, and getting lost, and the language barrier, I like to say it’s because I was alone.

Even with the knowledge I gained about myself and travel, I continue to feel drawn to movement, toward vagabonding, some sort of wanderlust. But what I’ve found is that I’m less like an ant and more like a turtle.

While I admire those folks who can travel light some with just small packs, I’m more inclined to bring a familiar place with me, hence my last year of van life. If you haven’t already, I suggest reading my other post about what I learned in my past year of living out of our VW Van. And then I’d like to bestow you with some advice about what we brought, what I wish we’d brought, and what I should have left behind in parts 2, 3, and 4 of this series.

(This is also posted on Steemit where I spend most of my social media time these days. Check it out for yourself. Same username @jayjayjeffery)

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