I’m a vagabond.
My life after six months without a home.
I’m a vagabond. It’s a term that I’ve just began using to describe the lifestyle that my wife and I have chosen, after reading the Rolf Pots Vagabonding book. In his guide, Rolf eloquently describes some of the things that we were never able to easily summarize about ourselves. We always knew that we were different than most of our friends and family, but just couldn’t peg a label to it.
It’s not as dirty as it sounds.
It’s time that “vagabond” hire a really good agency and re-brand itself. Say the word outloud, and it evokes images of scruffy characters traveling with a sack on a stick, hobo style. Gypsies. Bums. Hippies. People think of you differently when you don’t have a home on purpose.
We dumped all of our stuff.
I learned a while ago that “things” didn’t make me a happier or better person, and went searching for a better way. We’ve eliminated the majority of our belongings and everything we own could pretty much fit into a van. This is a continual, learning process, and we’re working on trimming even more.
We don’t have a home.
Or at least a home that’s ours. But we’re not Phish fans living out of a van, either. I’m too old — or too stubborn — to travel the world in a van, or on other people’s couches. A hotel feels unattractive and vacactiony. We wanted a private space to call “home” for a moment. So we’re not exactly roughing it, and live in furnished apartments on a short term basis. We might not pick the furniture or colors of the walls, but we live like locals. It’s a nice feeling to be recognized at your favorite coffee shop, bodega or cocktail bar. And all of these new neighbors have provided insight, learning and experience that we didn’t have before.
We live on less.
Fortunately, the moment I walked away from my day job, work came searching for me. I’ve been approached by a handful of creative agencies who I perform freelance work for. I may be more financially secure than people younger in their careers, but from what I’ve seen, vagabonds find ways to finance their adventures as creatively and diverse as the vagabonds themselves. Everyone can get by with less than they think, and I know that we live on far less than many of my peers do. I have friends who couldn’t imagine living on our budget, and yet I say the same about travelers who I’ve met along the way. The reality is, this is a lifestyle that’s possible for anyone who really, really wants it, and who is willing to make the sacrifices required. Those sacrifices will be different for each of us.
One thing I’m sure of: when you stop collecting “things”, you’ll find that you have significantly more cash in your pocket. You’d be surprised at how acceptable a single pair of jeans and three t-shirts can be. Impossible as it might seem, the world will get along just fine if you don’t Instagram a new outfit tomorrow.
People say “life is short”. Life is today.
If there’s one thing that the vagabonding lifestyle has taught me so far — it’s that life is out there waiting for you to experience it, each and every minute, hour and day. If you choose to forego vacations and give those moments to an employer instead, that’s your choice. I spent a lifetime of working long hours and weekends, putting off adventures for some far away, undetermined day. It took a while to learn that we live life every day. And every day can be an adventure.
People die unexpectedly all the time. Nobody proclaims “I’ll be dying in the late fourth quarter, so I’m going to cut my hours until then.” Most of us die by surprise, without ever devoting time to our dreams of adventure. Also, lots of old people are frail, and can’t do things like hiking to Machu Picchu. Nobody is guaranteed to live until retirement. Or even past tomorrow.
There will be bumps in the road.
You can’t plan everything, and if you did, you’d only be on vacation — not living your life. And when you take life as it comes…or as you feel, there will be bumps. Expenses that you didn’t plan for. Emergencies. Disappointments. Bad apartments. Things you never imagined that will yank your adventure in a direction that you never planned. Things you love, things you hate, things that confuse or frustrate you.
You’ll have the most epic days of your life, and the most mundane.
This is the life of a vagabond, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.