After 2 Years of Vandwelling

Posted by | August 25, 2017 | Opinion | No Comments

What can I say? It’s been 2 years, 3 if you count the planning faze. I’ve traveled around the continent. Twice. Over 100 000 KM on the odometer, a bunch of breakdowns, my highest highs and my lowest lows. It’s been a hell of a ride, but for the benefit of many out there I thought maybe I’d summarize a few thoughts on what it’s meant to live, travel, survive in a tiny rolling home for all this time.

First of all its important to understand that you travel to experience, and when you travel full time it’s like taking your life and pressing fast forward. I’ve experienced more in the last 2 years than in the decade leading up to it. I didn’t realize this would be the case at first, and honestly it wasn’t. It took some serious adjusting to turn my life into the chaotic whirlwind of new experiences that it is today. In part documenting every step not only for myself but for thousands of strangers on the internet pushed me in the right direction. It was also a necessary byproduct of a life of uncertainty. Working freelance, in new places, on a tight budget, forces you to open yourself up, to look for new options, to challenge previous practices, and come out the other end a changed person.

One of the fundamental traits of our subjectivity is the innate ability to normalize our surroundings. Whatever chaotic world we live in, no matter how bizarre and exotic it may seem to others, we somehow find a way to turn it mundane. This is what happened to me. After two years, I had become accustomed to a nomadic life, to solo travel, and to the uncertainty that came from travelling in an old beat up van. This was a blessing but also a curse. As much as I appreciate how invaluable this experience is, and how useful it’ll be in my future pursuing all my lofty goals, it simultaneously drained the excitement from my travels.

Compounded to this was the reality of prolonged solo travel, which teaches you a lot about yourself, and the world around you, but if not checked will sometimes result in acute social anxiety, which is fun. Maybe for some loneliness would be the biggest issue, but I’ve always found there to be overwhelming opportunities for social stimulation. In fact after a while it becomes too much. I believe this social exhaustion to be closely linked to loneliness, a form of social disorder shaped by being fundamentally alone. You’re always around people, but no one is familiar, and even though you behave as yourself, and don’t put on an act for strangers, it’s still alienating to lack that familiarity that comes from old friends.

There’s a lot that pushed me to change my life direction, but there’s plenty I’ve gained from this experience too. It’s been 5 years now since I last held a regular clock in and clock out job. For 5 years I’ve done work I’m passionate about. I’ve woken up at 7 am every morning excited to get to work doing what I’m passionate about. Whether that be editing videos, shooting weddings, fixing engines or driving hundreds of miles, I’ve pursued only what I’ve been passionate at. Despite the financial pitfalls and difficulties, I’ve succeeded mainly in developping a set of skills, a reputation, a body of work, and a career path solely focused on the passions of my life. This has opened more and more doors for me, the right kind of doors, the kind of doors I would’ve killed for a few years ago.

I look back on the person who set out on this adventure, how naive he was, and how much harder all of this was for him. I’m grateful for this road less traveled, it has help me build a life I love.

 

 

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