Photo: David Sorich
1. Sentimental value
It took only three trips to LaGuardia and back on the subway, lugging around my unwieldy heavy bag, before I was done with anything that didn’t have a purpose or weigh less than a few ounces. This included a deck of cards that a friend from London brought me, the external microphone my boyfriend gave me for Christmas last year (that I’ve never used but felt too bad to leave behind), and the two expired passports I usually bring along for good measure.
All items of sentimental value have been intermittently packed into flat-rate USPS boxes and shipped to my parents, to be collected and re-examined whenever my traveling ends.
2. Trying to be fashionable
When I have to fit everything into my 33L Lowe Alpine pack, my priorities change. It may be summer in New York, but I’m sporting the same black leggings I’ll be wearing in Munich in October — and in Vienna in December.
I’ve opted for nothing that makes too much of a statement that I might not want to still be making in three months when the rest of the world rotates out their wardrobes.
So far, nobody has commented when I wear the same top two days in a row, or the entire same outfit on Monday and Friday of the same week. Further proof that the person most obsessed with me is…me.
3. What everyone back home thinks
Most people back home were endlessly supportive of this trip, but the longer I’m gone, the more they start to voice valid questions I just can’t answer: Will I ever come back? Am I happier traveling? Do I miss having a home?
I have general feelings about each of these questions, but when you set off on an indeterminate-length trip whose current itinerary includes Greece, Ireland, England, Croatia, Germany, France, Spain, Morocco, Austria and six more months… It’s just hard to tell. These people ask because they care, but also because they have their own ideas about what a full-time traveling lifestyle looks like. The farther I get from “home,” the less I feel connected to what friends in Seattle think about me and what I’m doing right now.
4. What “home” even means
I lost my sense of home a long time ago, when I began moving every few years, and traveling with increasing duration and frequency.
“Home” right now is the small apartment in Brooklyn where my partner and I gratefully crash each night after working or exploring Manhattan. Next, “home” will be a series of rooms we’re renting from an airline pilot while he’s in and out of Chicago for work. After that, it will be a 3rd floor rental from a young married couple in Des Moines, then a cabin on a yacht in Western Greece.
5. How long it’s been since I’ve seen my friends
I now have the freedom to look forward to seeing them in the future. My best friend in Chicago and I will pick up right where we left off after not having seen each other since she visited me in Seattle in 2014; my close friends in London will bond over pints like no time has passed since our last one three years ago.
Instead of thinking back on how long it’s been since I’ve seen the various friends I have around the world, I have the luxury — yes, I acknowledge that this kind of freedom is a luxury not everyone can have — to plan a future with every friend I am willing to travel to meet.
6 .Winning an argument
Traveling full-time with a partner is a challenge for the relationship. Between the sense of perpetual displacement and isolation, we have only each other to rely on — but it’s not all sunshine and roses.
Now, I’m slowly learning “how to argue” and when to stop. Sharing our living space, coworking together, and traveling all the time, we have plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company before whatever next chapter our relationship progresses too. I’m trying to savor that, and sometimes it means biting my tongue and taking a deep breath. After all, we’re on an adventure that many people would love to undertake — some things just aren’t worth getting worked up or giving a sh*t over anymore.