Thinking about work and travel

I’ve been reading a few different blogs lately here and it reminds me why I decided to find this home for my own content. I love the varied views that people have about life in general, the process of travel and what it means from A Small Wardrobe and my own decisions. Its nice perhaps to write a reflective piece every so often as I sit in the morning looking at cloudy skies in Shinjuku Japan. Thoughts and reflections on the changes and perhaps what they have wrought with my plans. Perhaps there is not a lot of interest in what goes into a thing and perhaps there is. I just feel, like the 5 pound chicken laying the 10 pound egg, compelled to write this down. Not so much to share it but sharing is good but as a record of a time and a place and a thought.

Back in 2017 around August I had traveled to Vancouver for a 4 day break. I loved going there because it was the last city on the pacific seaboard of my continent I wished to visit. It signaled the end of those trips because I had not found another city I wished to tromp all over, take pictures of, drink its beer and eat its food. I knew then something would happen as 2018 got closer. I had been waiting for the something since 2011. Seven years is a long time to wait but in this case I view it as a good thing. It let me patiently (sometimes) pay off debt, plan an exit, and then watch in a growing sense of disbelief as it all came together and by November of 2017 I was ready to give notice at work. This perhaps was a watershed moment since I was not moving to another job. I was retiring. That one word became more and more, like a giant steamroller signaling that a change in lifestyle would happen.

On 28 February I ended the whole work thing and walked out a free guy. I had met the goals and I felt had paid just dues for the reward. In my case the reward was a flight to Japan and on to Vietnam and then a new life that would kick off from the old one. For me, work and travel could not co-exist. I could no longer do the 4 day trips here and there. I did not want to return and get more projects to do and have more things to fix. I was tired of work and its forever challenges with colors of IT projects being like stoplights to progress when driving. It was not a hate of work. I love the work and the people and the things I did. It was more like a changing of the guard. You know when its time to change the guard. The bugle plays, the old guard marches off and a new guard takes its place. The new guard for me was not mere travel. Travel has always meant a begin and end and back to a thing. What I wanted was the motion of never-ending, slow hobo-ism across countries. I wanted to take my years left and take their measure and get the juice out of them. I wanted to live minimally out of a single travel backpack and carry on duffle with chosen bag ecosystem. I looked pretty long and the Tortuga ecosystem fit my needs. You know how it is when you find a thing and the “Voila” comes out. That’s how I was.

Now it was the time for the travel but more than the travel it was time for the vagabonding I so wanted. The old life with its morning alarms and sameness had to end. I did not want a home or a car or fancy clothing or additional things that weighed me down. I wanted to meet life on its own terms but yet apply mine to it. Retirement was the thing that struck on 1 March. I woke up rather hazy from a night of too much beer and had a few hours before the flight to Narita. But I knew then it was over. All that planning and thought and desire had all come to a single United flight at 11am on 1 March.

We all travel for reasons or for none. As a favored author Robert Louis Stevenson would say,

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

Source: Robert Louis Stevenson

Hell yes! Its the movement. Its like the walking here in Tokyo. Do I turn left or right. Continue straight. It matters not because I am traveling for its sake only. The turns are only navigation aids or impediments. They are not the quality of the travel or the things found when you make a turn.

Having learned this after the shorter work vacations to so many places, I realized travel was just a part of the thing. We have to create a world in the travel where we find value and for me that value is to travel for its sake alone. I think it bridges the gap from that single-minded purposeful movement from hotel to hotel with rental car to plane or bus to the actual thing my soul and heart needed which was not that purposeful movement.

Now I know what was hidden in all those trips I took. I needed those trips for a measure of sanity but I needed to retire to get the hidden gem. I don’t want to be an ex-pat or digital nomad or RTW traveler. I want to simply feel the earth beneath my feet with a good travel backpack and take the wrong turns.



Author: Michael Perry

I've been blogging for over 20 years and now am living in Southeast Asia. The blog is about my slow vagabonding wherever I want to go. My home base is in Cambodia but I'm rarely there.