Thursday, May 3, 2018

Am I Addicted To The Vagabond Life?

It's true - sometimes it seems that in my retirement I have become increasingly addicted to a vagabond ("having an irregular course") life.  But, like all things, it's way more complicated than any single word might express.  Let me try to explain.

It has been my observation that if you ask anyone fortunate enough to even be contemplating retirement about their plans -- among the first answers you get will be "travel."  But I've also observed that most just say it wistfully as they really have chosen to occupy their lives with commitments (houses, gardens, lawns, pets, activities and routines) that discourage more than short holidays much like they took while working.  And, some of those further limit their "travel" interests to specific, expensive destinations (only western Europe, for example) or to managed travel (cruises, tours, groups).  All have their place and purpose -- but I think my addiction is, therefore, not just to "travel," but rather to an "irregular" course of life.

I'm a little different.  I tend to love everything about the kind of travel that I undertake -- independent adventure traveling -- from the finding, booking, planning - to the in-country execution (navigating, exploring, learning) - to the satisfaction I get from completing my plans.  I never was a fisherman or a hunter -- but I suspect that my addiction to traveling as I do -- is similar to the fisherman/hunter.  Great satisfaction is gained from all aspects from anticipation/preparation to reflecting on the trophy photo/memory.

I'm addicted to the gambling-like rush that I get when I find the incredibly low air fare, when I score a superb accommodation at a reasonable price, when I successfully find great local foods, when I navigate in lands where I am sometimes forced to meet my daily needs without an ability to understand the spoken word, speak the language or read the signage -- where I must rely on my own ingenuity (and increasingly travel/translation apps).  I'm also addicted to what I call "senior backpacking" (NO - not actual backpacking - I need a comfortable bed and daily shower) - but where I make choices that keep me staying among fellow interesting and interested travelers - focused on local culture and cuisine rather than trying to recreate their USA life in a foreign land (sure there is western food and Starbucks everywhere - but I'll never understand why wealthy, often snooty, Americans travel just to experience what they do and eat at home!) Similarly, I refuse to buy any souvenir or trinket or gift (carry on luggage only).  I try to keep the focus on the experience - my photos provide adequate reminders of the trip.
So, yes -- I am addicted to the vagabond life.  It's not for everyone -- and I don't know how long my addiction will last -- but for now I'm having a blast.  If I never mow another lawn again in my life -- that'll be fine by me.