Road Wisdom: From Tourists to Travellers

It happened around six months in on this trip. We were somewhere around northern Argentina or southern Brazil. It happened to us both around the same time, which is significant I think, though we didn’t talk about it for another month or so. Something changed. It wasn’t a conscious decision we had made or a specific incident that changed us… we had changed. It’s hard to explain exactly, but it was at this point that we officially transformed from tourists to travellers in a much deeper sense than in just the name or the sense of the word. Heck, we had been calling ourselves “travellers” since the trip began, I mean we had more than a year of travel ahead of us after all, right?… But maybe that was just it. Ahead of us. Things had changed a lot in our first six months on the road. We’d learned to adapt our daily lives to rapidly and constantly changing conditions and were aware that each day our lives would be altered significantly by outside forces…and that was okay. The 3 sets of clothes in our backpacks WERE our wardrobe now and subconsciously we knew exactly what to wear each day based on what we would be (or might be) doing. In about 15 minutes upon our arrival at our new hotel room we would methodically transform it into our temporary “home” without even saying a word. It was part of the process. We had learned what things cost in the world and that haggling sometimes wasn’t worth our time. If someone says something is 5 dollars, we’d offer them 50 cents and walk away. 9 times out of 10 they’ll yell after us agreeing to our price, the other time we didn’t need it anyway. We’d stopped booking things ahead of time as we knew our plans would always change whether we wanted them to or not. We had developed all of these skills and tools, and so much more, from our months of intensive seasoning on the road. But something else happened at that six month mark which is what really changed who we were. We stopped thinking about home as a place back in California. THIS was our home now. Wherever we were that day. No longer did we compare things to our previous life. No longer did we start sentences with “when we get back”. No longer did we long for our house, our clothes, our cars, our nice stuff… because that is what it had become to us. Just stuff. We stopped thinking of this trip as a temporary vacation from our lives with a beginning and an end. This was our life now. It might sound simple enough but it really changed our whole perspective on what it was we were doing with our lives and where we were headed. We didn’t have to go back to how it was or where we were. Maybe we’d go back, maybe we wouldn’t. The whole world was open to us now and our path was anything but clear. A new sense of freedom, opportunity and uncertainty swept over us and redefined who we are. We’ve been on the road 299 days now and we still don’t have a return ticket purchased, and that is a wonderful thing.

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