Travel over work, work over travel… over friends?

February 9, 2016

I have no regrets about my time on this life-avoidance trip. I left Dallas without much of a plan: just visit a friend in Chattanooga, work in Atlanta, and see what may come in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington DC. There were some times I felt a little out of place – meeting a Couchsurfer who was particularly fond of rats and eating bugs – but others offered a great deal of perspective.

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I had lunch with fellow MatadorNetwork blogger Katka in Manhattan and listened to how she was trying to make it in New York City. Nothing is as it seems online. Simon and Martina, two YouTubers known for their love of K-Pop and all things Asian on their channel Eat Your Kimchi are doing what they love for a living, but still have to deal with crippling health problems. Jeffrey Deskovic, a Couchsurfer I stayed with in the Bronx who was wrongfully convicted of a crime, causing him to serve 16 years in prison, now has a house, a cause, and friends, but is it still deeply affected by what happened to him, naturally.

I had a number of writing assignments I should have finished last week, but was enjoying myself too much in Washington to sit in front of a computer. As a result, I don’t really have much waiting for me in LA. I was able to pick up some trade show work in Atlanta, some more in NYC, and even some tutoring in DC and Boston. I still have online ESL lesson with a Korean student, and have been working to develop a network of clients to be a location scout (but this may prove too difficult without a car).

The point is: I’ve seen a large variety of people who have their own definition of the work-life balance. And maybe I am too naive, slowly letting my credit card balance accrue as I search for the best way to spend my time.

I could hop a flight out of the country right now and be sleeping in a hostel in Siem Reap by nightfall, but there are two big reasons I’m not seriously considering this:

1. As I’ve made clear in my writing, I have little-to-no desire to travel alone anywhere anymore. The exceptions are short visits to friends. Though I maintained a pretty good flow of people on this northeast trip, there were times – even with decent Couchsurfers – I questioned why I hopped on that plane, and what I was doing.

2. Although I firmly believe opportunities are everywhere, the chance of me picking up a decent career or even full-time work while I’m abroad are slim to none. I can legally work anywhere I want in the US, and it’s time I made a serious effort to be semi-nomadic. Although I was still searching for short-term gigs in New York and Boston, I was spending the rest of my time applying for full-time jobs that suited my tastes.

My keywords, you may ask? Traveler, Japan, abroad, adventure, intercultural, travel consultant, travel consulting, passport, cultural. In addition to writing jobs. If I were able to develop a good network of writing assignments, I might consider staying as a freelancer, but the lure of a steady paycheck and benefits is strong. I wasn’t able to appreciate it in Seattle, but maybe I can in LA.

People. All about people. My trip to Paris was cold, wet, and amazing just because I was with Duygu (the free nights at the Park Hyatt didn’t hurt either). Los Angeles has the same potential. I have a friend from high school working in West Hollywood, another in Burbank, and one who’s around off and on in Long Beach. There’s someone new and special coming into Sacramento, and I’d like to explore where things go with her. Possibilities. I have world enough, and time.

A few years ago, if you’d asked me my ideal kind of life, I’d have said to be living abroad with an amazing woman, waking up to early runs on the beach, relaxing during the day, and spending the afternoon and evening composing my travel memoirs. There’s nothing wrong with holding that up as an ideal, but it’s an unrealistic goal. Right now, I think I’d be happy with a modicum of travel in my life, as long there were someone special in my life. I might even be willing to accept an ordinary job.

It’s an unfortunate reality of our world that where we work usually goes hand-in-hand with whom we spend the majority of our time and who we attract. It’s entirely possible to meet friends or a lover on the road and have those relationships continue no matter where you go; in much the same way your attitude during travel draws others towards you, attracted by your youthful curiosity and positivity, so too can working a job you love form the foundation of real relationships between coworkers and those in your city.

That’s why I need to change the focus of this blog. I love traveling, but my desires lie elsewhere at the moment. My next journey is going to start with my transition to a full-time job and a stable living situation. No contracts like Seattle. No fleeting relationships with flight attendants. Just life, and living it day by day.

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