Do your possessions get in the way of your travel desires? Do you have to cancel or change your travel plans because there is no one to watch your “stuff” while you will be gone? Is it because of a pet (a dog, cat or other living creature)? Or is a business keeping you shackled to a desk or storefront? Maybe you are involved in too many activities (bowling league, cub scouts, soccer practice, etc.). Or have you committed to running a marathon or training for some big event? If you said yes to any of these things, then you are not so different from most people. Life can be a constant struggle to accumulate and hang onto things. You’ve heard the old adage “the person who dies with the most toys, wins?” I’m here to tell you that ending up with a lot of toys as you get older becomes a burden, and severely restricts your mobility. If you want to be able to pick and go, then having a lot of possessions becomes a hindrance that frustrates any ideas of medium to long term travel that you may have.
“I find myself surrounded with so many obstacles to the travel freedom I crave.”
Here I am at the point in my life that should be my time. Time for my wife and me to have the freedom to hit the road and enjoy seeing the world. A time to get away from all those things that kept me busy and tied down in the past. The freedom to wake up in some far-off, foreign land and have nothing to do that day. Nothing at all…
But, reality strikes. I own a home. I have a storefront business. My garage has become a warehouse for all the “stuff” we’ve accumulated over the past 30 years. It’s discouraging to think that I’ve assembled the mass of possessions that will ultimately be a hindrance to the wanderlust I’ve been feeling for the past ten years. So it’s important that I continue to free myself from the possessions that can bring the eager traveler to a halt (that would be me!). But how to shed a lifetime of “stuff”? And harder still – how to do it in a way that is acceptable to the other people in your life? Not everyone wants to give it all up and take off for years at a time.
As a business owner, I know that I can’t go far from the daily operations of the store. It is a labor-intensive business that requires customer service. I have to be there constantly to make sure the store is running right and that the employees are showing up for their shifts. We don’t have a lot of overlap, so if one person fails to show up, then the store can’t function (or I have to work alone). I find myself being at the store seven days a week. There’s nothing like a brick-and-mortar store to kill off one’s travel aspirations. I’ve been a slave to this store for 12 years. It’s time to cast off the chains and rid myself of the burden that having a business with employees can become. Just this year, I had to cancel a trip to Europe because of an employee who was unreliable and wasn’t showing up to work when scheduled. I felt it wasn’t worth the aggravation to try to go anyway, so we canceled that trip and I re-scheduled a summer 2015 trip to Paris. It’s only for two weeks, but I’m really looking forward to getting away! If you have a business, then you know that it is a huge demand on your time. If you can’t set it up to run without you for extended periods, then you might want to think about doing something else. Easier said than done, right? But, you’ll need to develop an exit strategy at some point. Why not start now and free up your time to enjoy the finer things in life? The travel life!
I guess I’m better at giving advice than taking it. I’m really trying to live by the words that I write in this blog. But nothing seems to happen as fast as you want it to. So it is a process that could take a few years. But I will get there and have the freedom I want going forward in life. I just can’t bear the thought of being tied down any more. I’m going to make it a point to travel every year now, no matter what it takes. It can be (and will be) done. It just takes some determination to let loose and go!
My dilemma is that I need to sell most of what we own (how do you do that?) or sell a bunch of things and find someplace to store the rest. I think storing a lot of items that are irreplaceable is a good idea, but my wife is horrified at the thought of renting a storage locker. She’s seen the “Storage Wars” shows and is afraid that we’ll lose all of our treasured items if the locker was sold at auction (to avoid this, just pay your storage bill).
I have a job that has changed over the last few years (my full-time salaried job – not the store). We are now being allowed to work from home a few days a week. I’ve been doing that for a number of years. It sure improves commute time. But the thing that I realized a while back, is that if I can work my regular job effectively from home, why couldn’t I work effectively from Europe or Asia? Lots of people are using the internet to give them freedom to relocate. I’ve worked with web designers, travel article writers, lifestyle coaches, and others who choose to live somewhere else in the world, but still make a living by staying connected. I have a third small business that I intend to grow this year (I’ve been working on it since late 2013). It’s a proposal writing and construction bidding business that will not always require me to be in a particular place. I can research the work and submit proposals from anywhere in the world. It will allow me to travel for extended times without having to always come back right away and sit at an assigned desk, like I do now. So getting this new business up and running is the key to gaining some of the freedom I’ve lost over the years. I am determined to take the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the last 12 months and put it to good use by winning a decent percentage of the contracts I will be working on. It’s exciting to think that I might finally be able to break free!
So now I really need to hear from you. What do you think of the idea of having the freedom to pick up and go for extended periods? Wouldn’t that be great? I’d be forever grateful for some feedback here. Let’s here what you’re doing to remain free of the cubicle farm!