I’m well aware another title for this post could easily be ‘Privileged People’s Small Problems.
But give me a moment to explain myself. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way the location independent lifestyle is being represented. It’s usually pretty unrealistic, most obvious case in point being the whole ‘laptop on a sun-lounger’ image. Please. It’s too bloody bright to see your screen properly, your thighs catch fire from your battery overheating and your sweaty fingers render the touchpad useless.
However, sticky thighs are the least of your concerns whilst living the backpacker-with-a-laptop lifestyle. There are loads of experiences you will have on the road that’ll cause you to question your wanderlust. BUT, not only will these experiences make you feel quite proud of yourself when you overcome them (hey, it’s ok to be impressed that you got yourself to a hotel using mime), they may just open your eyes to what it’s like for people fleeing their homeland and being forced to integrate into another country with no way to communicate or integrate.
Sorry, I can’t be flippant all the time. Oh ok, here’s more flippancy.
- In the words of John Lennon, “Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do.” Except it kind of is, and for the foreseeable future, we’re going have to live with borders, passports, and refugee crises. Sorry I digress. You need visas people, and sometimes, getting a visa is a pain in the ass, boring, time consuming, and expensive. Some countries won’t even let you leave the airport for the night when you’ve got a 12 hour stopover. So instead of spending the night in the king sized suite you found on Booking.com for a bargain, you spend hours trying to get into airport lounges, potentially gain admittance on some ruse, and proceed to drown your self-loathing with free gin until you pass out in a smelly pile of disappointment.
- ATMs in certain countries are but a built with a removable face, probably so they’re easier to clean right? Wrong. So the brilliantly far-reaching skimming scams can copy your card and take your dosh. And it’s not only ATMs. A friend of mine caught a small person (child or little person, it wasn’t clear) using a portable skim machine on her card UNDER THE COUNTER at the supermarket. Do NOT keep all your money in one account. That is all.
- You love your family. And you love them even more when they’re in a different country right? So you think. Until you find yourself blubbering to your mum on Skype because you’re exhausted of telling new friends your life story and your friends at home think you’re an over-entitled selfish commitment-phone. You WILL miss people.
- Remember Bill Murray’s character in ‘Lost in Translation’ struggling to understand the Japanese photographer’s directions? Or the Japanese prostitute’s character struggling to explain to Bill that she wanted him to rip her stockings? You may laugh (I’m still laughing), but being misinterpreted for months on end may lead to increased alcohol consumption.
- Money. You want to keep traveling? You need to keep working. Seems straightforward enough. Except you had no idea how good you were at procrastinating. See also: Discipline, Time management, Work/Leisure balance, and why Tim Ferris is NOT a digital nomad.