Living out of a Suitcase


Like I mentioned before I got rid of my apartment, sold all my furniture, gave away all of my clothing except for enough to fill a suitcase, and decided to travel indefinitely until I figure out what to do next. Indefinitely could be 1 month or it could be a year or more. Basically I thought I'd keep doing this until I figured out what to do next or ran out of money. I hope it's the former.

It's been 5 weeks so far and in some ways I'm already tired of it. As I pointed out it can be pretty lonely. Some of you are probably great at going to a cafe, bar, library, club, whatever and making new friends. Me, so far not so much. But, another thing is it's hard to plan anything. Being lonely I don't want to lock myself in my hotel room. But, I don't know where to go "work" assuming I want to get some "work" done. For example in SF you can go to nearly any coffee shop and there are laptop PCs opened at > 50% of the tables. I rarely saw that in Helsinki, Stockholm, or Antwerp. I did look up places for that in Stockholm but of the 4 I checked out, one was no longer there, one had only 2 of 4 people doing it and no free wifi, one was explicitly for this and was full of people with laptops but it was also HOT inside seeing as how it was hot outside and there's no air conditioning in Sweden. Anyway, that's the long way of saying it feels hard to get anything serious done while traveling.

What prompted me to write this post though was there's another different part and that is I have to plan where to live every couple of weeks. In July I picked Helsinki (1 week) and Stockholm (3 weeks). Sometime during those 4 weeks I needed to pick the next place, preferably earlier. A friend told me she was having a wedding party at the end of August so I went to Antwerp (1 week) and I had another friend in Brussels which is next to Antwerp so I planned Brussels (1 week). That's only 2 weeks planned. Several friends told me I should see Berlin so I picked Berlin (2 weeks).

So at this point in time in 3 weeks I'm homeless again. I need to pick something and plan it. On the train from Antwerp to Brussels I noticed that seems kind of like a life lesson there. I'm guessing most people, I know me, basically just follow the path of least resistance through life. I know I did mostly. Until 18 I went to school. I picked a college for some random reason, applied and got in. Nearly everything since then has been just what's come up. My first contract my dad found. My first job my friend's mom found. My second job an x−coworker recommended, etc.. etc... In other words I didn't actively chose so much as passively did whatever was offered when I was in a place of need.

Now though I have to choose where to live next. Do I go to Copenhagen? Oslo? Amsterdam? Cologne? For how long? 4 days? a week? 2 weeks? Apparently I can only stay in the EU for 90 days so where do I go after that? NYC? SF? LA? Tokyo? SG? KL? For how long? Imagine you applied that to life? Why are you in your present place of residence? For how long? How many people actively direct their life the same way I'm having to actively choose places to live?

So far this travel as exciting as I'm sure it seems like it would be to you hasn't been without issue. First off I'm alone. For some of you that's great and I still hope to grow in that area but I'm not doing so well so far. Another though is that most of the time travel is the exception. You travel for 1−2 weeks and then come back home where everything is decided. Your daily routine, where you need to be at what time, etc. On vacation you get 1−2 weeks break from that but what if you never had to go back to work? What if you could do anything you wanted? What would your routine be then? What if you didn't have to go home tomorrow but could go somewhere different at any time? Would you? Maybe you've got enough responsibilities that you can't actually do that.

I'm not complaining. I'm certainly lucky to be able to do this. I guess I'm just pointing out the grass can seem greener. I mentioned to one of my old roommates that I was going to travel and she thought it was the awesomest thing ever. But she's young an attractive. She can go pretty much anywhere in the world and people will want to help her and meet her, probably guys will try to pick her up or offer to show her around. Me on the other hand, an average looking white guy in my late 40s, well, no one wants to help me or pick me up or show me around. In other words, the experience she's imagining when she thinks it's awesome as a vastly different experience then the one I'm experiencing.

I'm sure some people could make this awesome. For whatever reason I'm lacking that skill. That's not to say it isn't great. It's just not amazing. In fact I read a book that claims long term travel is actually diminishing returns as far as how happy it makes you relatively to short term travel. In other words, several short term adventures is better than one long term adventure apparently.

Stockholm Notes
The Ubiquitous Swedish Chokladboll