I’m supposed to be this traveller, right; living out of a suitcase and being all minimalist and everything. Yet somehow I have still ended up with loads of stuff. To make anti-clutter matters worse, I now live in a house, rather than doing the van life/couch surfing thing that I was for three months at the beginning of the year, and when you have an entire room to exist in it’s even easier to accumulate stuff. It happens slowly over time, creeping up on you like a stray plastic bag in an empty car park on a slightly windy day. One moment it’s just you, your suitcase and an empty room, then suddenly you can’t even get in your room because the nine jumpers, the fifty-eight notebooks, the foam roller, the bag of bags, the six pairs of old shoes and the grandfather clock are wedged against the door, barricading themselves inside.(more…)
This may sound hard to believe given the title of this article, which is also ironic considering the points I’m about to make, but I was having a conversation with someone recently. I’ll pause to let that joke sink in for a minute.
He was about to start a job in a new city overseas where he didn’t know anyone, leaving behind all his friends and family and everything familiar; a daunting prospect for anyone. “But I’m pretty sociable,” he said to me, “at least I’m not, like, an introvert.”
“Like me,” I said, grinning.
Shit’s about to get philosophical around here so you’d better fasten your seatbelt, although you probably won’t need it because I’m a sensible driver. Over the last year or so I’ve surprised myself with what I can achieve. I can’t stand the cliché of going travelling and ‘finding yourself’ because it conjures up images of 19 year olds returning home with braided hair and patterned parachute pants and henna tattoos and stories of mind-altering experiences smoking weed at some grotty full moon party, none of which I would like to be associated with, particularly the parachute pants. Annoyingly though, as is the case with all the best clichés, there is some truth to the concept.
However, what you see on Instagram or in the travel blogs about the nomad lifestyle is a yarn told very much through rose-tinted glasses – as is always the case with social media (a concept I already dissected a few months ago). There are some really challenging parts to this travel thing that I think should be talked about, because I like to keep it real over here in Bella’s corner of lazy sociological musings. It’s not all lounging your way around the world to sip undisclosed beverages from coconuts in sunny locations. I know, I’m as disappointed as you are.
Van life isn’t for everyone. I mean, nothing is really for everyone because, incredibly, there are people who don’t like ice cream… or sunshine… or time off work… or Birkenstocks… or any form of fun, apparently. So you don’t need to read this article to know that there is a portion of the population who will not enjoy living in a tiny space with few possessions, doing without luxuries such as, I don’t know… electricity. In fact, you might as well stop reading now (just kidding, keep reading, it gets good later).
When I say that van life isn’t for everyone I’m addressing those who think they’ll love van life; those who have an idealistic fantasy about sticking their middle finger up to the nine-to-five for days or weeks or perhaps forever, escaping the stresses of the modern world in search of a simpler existence. Those who dream of leaving behind the ladle, the shower curtain, those clip things that keep bread bags closed, overdue hoovering, strangely coloured shoe polish that doesn’t match any of your shoes past or present, confusing water bills, bits of wrapping paper that are too small to be useful, and all the other crap you somehow accumulate when living in a house. Those who yearn to pick a place on the map and take off in a majestic house vehicle in the direction of the sunset, or, more likely, the direction of the place they picked on the map. Well, if you’re one of those people, as you’ve probably already guessed, I’m here to manage your expectations. Hi, yes, it’s Bella, we’ve met before.