Not all travel blogs are 100% honest, because it’s hard to keep writing truthfully when things get really hard. This one, though, is 100% pure, ugly honesty.
When I started The LITMO Life, it was two months before I was getting on the road full-time. I had given notice at my job, I had told my friends and family, and I had decided it was worth it to start a travel blog before I became, well, a full-time traveler.
The reason I did that is because I thought it was important to show all the aspects of a full-time travel life. I didn’t want to start a blog in the middle of my fabulous journey – where I posted picture after picture of beautiful destination and dazzled with my tales of culture and experience. I wanted to start it from the very beginning, so I could show people what it was like to prepare to leave, including the logistical aspects (like selling everything I owned) to the emotional ones (like saying good-bye).
More than anything, I wanted to talk about what it was really like – on a day-to-day basis, including the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, and everything in between.
This, then, is one of those posts to talk about the honesty of not only full-time travel, but also full-time freelancing, full-time blogging, and full-time humaning with other humans.
Here’s the thing: it’s really fucking hard. And anyone that tells you otherwise is lying.
There’s no point in running a successful travel blog if you aren’t telling people the truth about what life is like. My intention has never been to lead people into a travel lifestyle because I want everyone to be more like me. In fact, the reason I just wrote my book about quitting your job to travel the world is because I really believe in this lifestyle and I believe there are a lot of people, like me, who just don’t fit with the traditional life our culture and society tells us we should be living.
The LITMO Life isn’t about living my life. It’s about finding the life that works best for you – and makes you the happiest. It’s about living the moment only – whatever moment you choose to be in.
So let me tell you why it’s really fucking hard, for me, in this moment.
1. I’m incredibly freaked out about money.
A lot of my distant acquaintances thought, when I began this journey, that I was a trust fund kid with unlimited dough coming from my parents. My close friends knew better, but it’s a myth I’ve had to dispel time and time again. The truth is, my parents aren’t funding this little life upheaval of mine. I worked really hard as an attorney for several years and saved up money. I thought, at the time, I was saving for a house or something equally distant in the future. It turned out, though, that I was actually saving for the day I quit my job to travel full-time.
Now, of course, I never planned to live off my savings. That’s the key, here. I set it up so that I would start freelance writing full-time – so I hopped from a full-time legal practice to a full-time freelance writing career. In fact, despite that I wasn’t sure I wanted to be an attorney, I would have kept practicing if it meant I could easily travel. Unfortunately, the law isn’t an area that lends itself well to remote work, so I had to switch.
I knew it would be a struggle at first and I was prepared to dip into my savings the first few months.
Here’s the thing, though: it wasn’t a struggle at first.
It was incredibly easy.
I’m not sure if it was my resume or my skill or what, but I found an almost full-time gig (30 hours a week) immediately – within two weeks of quitting my old job. I found a few other freelancing gigs along the way and I was making a lot of money. I was also spending a lot, because it turned out to be a lot harder to travel with a pup than I thought, but it was fine.
Then, it all seemed to fall apart. I’m not sure what happened, but one by one, my freelancing gigs started ending – either because the client was out of money or the project was over or some other reason that had nothing to do with me. It didn’t matter at first, because I was focused on building up my blog to bring in a full-time income anyway, and that had been working really well, too.
Then that fell apart as well.
I’m not sure if it’s the depression America is in because of the election or just the end of the year or what – but both my freelance work and my blogging income has dwindled in the last few weeks.
And I’m freaked the FUCK out.
2. I’m worried that I’ll never be able to work for myself.
Part of building this life wasn’t just that I didn’t like being a lawyer – it was that I didn’t like working for other people. I could’ve continued to work in the legal arena and ultimately owned my own firm – but I didn’t want to do that.
As a lawyer, I didn’t feel like I was making the world a better place. Sure, my pro bono work in animal rights work was great, but my actual practice area – intellectual property – just seemed like a racket, especially for some of the big companies I was working for. I wanted to get out – but I didn’t want to just get out, I wanted to figure out how I could help people.
So much of building this blog was figuring out how I could help other people figure out how to make their lives better. I really believed in that – and still do. I took a Life Coaching course, I wrote a book, I write these articles – all because I want people to know they’re not alone. If they feel like they don’t fit or that they’ll never find their bliss, I want people to know that was me – and you WILL fit and you CAN find your bliss, you just have to do a bit of work in the process.
That said, I’m worried that it was all for nothing. Everything is stalled and I’m feeling like the future I wanted will never come to be.
I’m still in a place where I’m struggling to work for other people, so who knows when I’ll finally get to work for myself.
3. I miss my old life.
I love traveling. There’s no doubt about that. But I’m also starting to miss my old life.
I’ve been on the road full-time now for four and a half months – and I’ve spent the last bit at home. And I’m still starting to miss my old life. I don’t know if it’s misplaced reminiscence for a twinge of familiarity or if it’s truly missing my old life, but there’s definitely some melancholy there.
I miss having my own space for a morning routine, I miss CrossFit, I miss being able to stay fit really easily. It sounds stupid, but CrossFit especially, and my running community, was a big part of me and it’s just super hard without those things I loved.
I miss calling up a friend to have a stupid sleepover on a Friday night. And oddly – I miss being in a relationship. I don’t think it’s an actual relationship I want, but the familiarity of some of my exes. It sounds stupid, but CrossFit especially, and my running community, was a big part of me and it’s just super hard without those things I loved.
And constantly being in new situations is difficult for an introvert like me.
4. Nothing seems to be working. And I’m depressed.
Plans haven’t gone exactly I’ve thought. I’ve had to edit everything, from my expectations of my “leave the States” date to my expectations of my book sales to my expectations of blog traffic.
And without CrossFit and my running community, I’ve definitely fallen into a bit of a depression. I’ve been sleeping a lot more than normal and I can’t seem to find the enthusiasm for things I once did. It’s really been a bit of a black hole lately. Thank god I’m a strong believer in therapy, but still – it’s been awful.
Add to that – the election. I’ve given up a lot of people I thought were “friends” because of outrightly racist or misogynistic things they said. I feel like I’m in mourning. I’m not sad to lose awful people from my life – I’m sad so many awful people exist. And I’m sad our nation chose to put an awful person in office.
It all feels kind of bleak.
I also thought people would be more inclined to “help” – if it was easy methods of helping. Stuff like sharing my blog or my book or buying a t-shirt they liked. The truth is, though, the internet world is a big, scary, full one – and it takes a lot to get even a bit of people’s attention.
Nothing has just “grown” – it’s going in fits and spurts. And it’s freaking me out and making me feel overwhelmed.
5. I’m nervous my dream of living a life of full-time travel was a pipe dream.
What if it was all for nothing? What if I’m completely wrong about the traditional life? What if there actually IS no other way to live other than the “normal” way?
I don’t actually believe any of these thoughts, but in the moments where it’s all feeling really hard, it’s easy to let all the doubt in. It’s a hard life for many reasons, not the least of which is just because it’s a different life.
And the truth is, I don’t actually know if it’s possible. There’s no getting around that. It could all just be a pipe dream.
And if that was the case, it would really suck.
6. It’s hard to find community.
Not a lot of people do this. So despite the fact that I’m surrounded by incredible friends and family, everyone else is living a much more “normal” life than I am. So when I say it’s lonely or I’m worried about money or I don’t like not having a place to call home, other people can try to empathize, but mostly, I just feel like a crazy person.
And I have lots of other nontraditional beliefs, too – I’m vegan, I had my tubes tied in my twenties, I don’t believe in monogamy…it’s hard not to just feel like a freak all the time.
After all, I’m the one that decided to leave my whole life behind in search of…I don’t even know what.
7. People think I shouldn’t be allowed to complain.
And of course, I’m living the travel life. It’s beautiful and amazing and full of self-discovery. So writing “it’s really hard” travel blogs like this isn’t going to make me any friends. In fact, it may lose me some. For some reason, people seem to think that just because you’re not living a 9-5 life, everything should be easy.
And therefore, when you talk about how hard it is, you come off like an asshole.
So, here’s the thing: people keep telling me it will get better. And objectively, I know it will get better, if only because the only constant in life is change. Things will go up and things will go down…but inevitably, according to the laws of the universe, they should go back up again.
While I can internalize that logically, I can’t believe it emotionally.
So I’m going abroad in a few weeks, but I’m not even sure why. It’s because I made a plan and for once in my life, I’d like to stick with something, but I don’t know if it’s worth it.
Did I make a huge mistake? I’m not sure.
But the only way to find out is to keep going in one direction or the other. So for now, I’ll stick with this one.
Full of honest travel blogs and all.