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Creation Date: September 7th, 2016 02:52 PM
Spenser TR Spenser TR is offline
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In Moot Member Blogs An intro, and living like a Traveller Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #1 New September 10th, 2016 07:48 AM
Iím a fairly normal middle-aged guy from the US, and at the moment Iím wandering the world for a year carrying just a single bag. At the moment, Iím sticking to Europe and Iím down in the Cyclades off Greece, but later Iíll wander around down in Africa.

Visualize a typical backpacker: scruffy, unshaven, lanky, hand woven jewelry around wrists and/or ankles. HIs last shower was at least 5 days ago. His red tank top, head rag and dark green fishermanís pants havenít been washed in twice that time, and heís bent forward under the weight of an enormous backpack. With an extra bonus bag worn in front, for all the stuff that wouldnít fit in the flexible steamer truck heís wearing on his back.

I donít look anything at all like this guy.

I look more like a thinner Phillip Seymour Hoffman or Anthony Bourdain, sleeves rolled up on a white linen collared shirt, with jeans or khaki shorts. I do wear flip-flops though, stylish ones I got at home that are appropriate there for everything and just fine for travel. My bag is a Tom Bihn Synapse 25, which is probably smaller than the one your kid lugs to school every day.

Actually, almost every physical thing I own in the world fits into this bag. Certainly everything I use as I travel this year. I havenít owned a home in years ( and couldnít be more fine with that ), and I donated my pickup to the local high school right before I left home.

All my clothing, gadgets, hygiene items, and so on are either on my person, or in the bag. But as I travel from place to place I do not look like a backpacker, more like a guy out for the weekend, or maybe just a comfortable afternoon.

Itís a lifestyle, a very definite decision that I thought a lot about, researched, set goals for, and worked towards. I used to be pretty ďnormalĒ by Midwestern US standards, but over time I made some pretty serious decisions about what was important, and how Iíd like to live. I moved out to the Hawaiian islands, and then from there I started taking a year now and then to walkabout.

I bring all this up here because it feels like there are more than a few similarities between how Iím living at the moment and how a Traveller plying the Spinward Main might live. This is not intentional, but made me smile when I realized it. Iím a somewhat-mature guy at the height of a solid career, maybe in semi-retirement, wandering my universe. I donít have my own ship, rather I book passage. Iíve done the passenger-on-a-cargo-vessel thing, as well as fly or train it to the next locale.

My itinerary and destination list is pretty much by whim. I like living in a single place for about a month or so and then I move on, but if a place strikes my imagination Iíll make a long weekend out of it.

Some common questions that come up:

--Are you rich, to travel this way?
Ha. I am definitely not rich. I live a quality lifestyle and stay in clean places - apartments or AirBnBs - and I pay way less for living than most people I know pay on rent or a mortgage. In my experience, it costs way less to live while traveling than it does to stand still in the US, especially at home in Hawaii. As far as money goes, I lived frugally for a while and saved before I started this, and I work a few hours a week from a laptop to earn a bit as I go. ďWine money,Ē I tell my clients.

--What about clothes?
If you invest a little in the right things, you can get a complete wardrobe of clothing that fits in a small bag but works for everything from the beach to a night on the town to a day of hiking. If I got invited to brunch at the embassy ( not very likely, but who knows? ) Iíd have to lay my hands on a sport coat somewhere. But barring that kind of thing, Iím pretty well set. Merino wool is a miracle fabric - spendy, but amazing for the traveller.

--What about your Stuff?
This is definitely a thing. Before I left on this walkabout I sold or gave away just about everything I owned. I do this about every 5 years or so and it feels amazing, but itís not for everyone and itís always an effort. I have a couple rubbermaid bins back home, and a few winter items in the midwest for when I visit friends there, but mostly Iíve gotten rid of my stuff. Iíve made some pretty serious decisions about whatís important to me, what I canít live without.

--How do you, um, live?
I always laugh when I hear this, but I definitely know what people mean when they ask. I read a lot in awesome, peaceful or picturesque places. I take pictures. I write. I spend lazy hours in cafes talking with people about ideas and events. Now and then I take a class or wander the city center. I meet people who invite me for dinner or to some local festival. I canít really buy a new thing unless I get rid of something I already have.

I rent furnished studios that come highly recommended or that I see myself.

I chase the summer weather so donít need serious outwear, although what I have with me would be good down to about 40F. When I feel itís time to move I look at a map, talk with some locals, and make a decision. then I see how I can get their in an interesting, cheap way. Sometimes that part comes first; a great deal to an interesting place makes that place way more attractive.

This is not my first luau and like everything you do, with practice and an open mind you get better.

--Do you speak a ton of languages?
No, just American English, broken French, and some ASL. This carries me pretty far in todayís world where English is often the bridge language. If thatís not an option charades, facial expressions, and a smile works pretty well or basic stuff. Also, Google has an amazing free app that can translate on the fly whether I hear it, type it in, or point the camera at it. Amazeballs, as the kids say.

--Are you a wandering hermit? What about family and friends?
I am pretty self-directed, but of course I miss friends and family. I stay fairly connected in that casual way with social media, but I call, Skype, and text as well. Thereís no break in my comms - all calls and texts come to and go out from my regular ( smart )phone just like when Iím back home, and this helps a lot.

--No really, what are you carrying with you?
If you want a gear list, I'd be happy to break it down item-by-item, maybe put it in a table, in true Traveller fashion.
Views: 325 | Comments: 6

RSS Feed 6 Responses to "An intro, and living like a Traveller"
#6 June 6th, 2018 09:26 PM
coliver988 Says:
Late to the party, but your hats got me interested. I am impressed and frankly I awe. I have a co-worker wo basically quit, and spent a few months picking apples, then a work-vacation thing in Jamaica, a few weeks in Peru. Another coworker just got back from Mexico and decided to move there, no job in sight. I am one of those from Marc's quote in your other entry, but I am very happy there are adventurous people out there. And yes - it really does seem that you are living the Traveller along the Mains!
#5 May 8th, 2017 01:06 AM
BytePro Says:
Thanks for the response... look forward to the gear list post... That's a nice list of places - of the dozen, any places more memorable than the others?
#4 May 7th, 2017 05:28 PM
Spenser TR Says:
I'll write up a post for a gear list; this is definitely a thing that evolved over time and from place to place. Stuff wears out, stops being useful, or you finally come to grips with the idea it's never going to become useful I'm back home now, but here's where I got to - Ireland, the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovania, Tunisia, and Morocco. I'd average about a month in these places, sometimes longer. For finding places to stay, Mostly I used AirBnB. My method was finding a place that had at least several solid recommendations from people who seemed legitimate themselves. Now and then I'd forget all that research and just arrive at a place, walk around and find random locations - signs, tourist depts, random people in a coffee shop - duck my head in to take a look and rent it there. TripAdvisor and HomeAway also work, but I used AirBnB more. My entire trip I've never had a bad experience with lodging, and only a couple "eh" experiences.
#3 May 7th, 2017 05:02 PM
BytePro Says:
Wow - would be very interested in that gear list... And where you've traveled... And more details on finding places to stay! Downsized to a few crates a few years back (when I lost my passwords) and have recently been considering a similar lifestyle - so find this blog post fascinating and timely... Thanks!
#2 September 12th, 2016 01:54 PM
Spenser TR Says:
Ha! I feel like that's a reference to something I can't recall... and I am tempted to answer literally : )
#1 September 12th, 2016 12:58 PM
But do you know where your towel is?

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