On a recent trip to the public library we saw a man bathing, out in the open, with alcohol based hand sanitizer. He would take large handfuls and rub it under his shirt and pants. While this was an odd sight to witness at the library and would repulse many, it made me realize that he was just fulfilling one of the three basic human needs; food, shelter, and sanitation. These are the same basic needs of travelers, as well, but where do you draw the line at homeless or adventurer? What would you call a family that has no home, no job, and wanders around from place to place? While many would call this family homeless, others could see them as a family of adventurers out exploring the world. When we travel on our around the world adventure, I hope people see us as the latter.
One of the big questions we have asked ourselves in planning for our round the world adventure is, “What do we do with our house?” We could rent out our house while we are gone, but we live in an area where the money we would get for renting out our house would not even cover our mortgage, let alone the insurance, taxes, and maintenance costs. The other option is to sell our house. While many prefer to keep their houses and move back in after they are done travelling, we have decided to sell ours. We will be able to travel more freely with no worries about our house, or having to arrange repairs and payments. This will also give us the option of resettling anywhere that we like after we are done travelling. But, this will also leave us without a home and we will be true vagabonds. I think that many people refuse to sell their homes before they go traveling on a round the world trip so they will still feel attached to something tangible and real. Most people find it hard to have no place to call home. But how can you really see and experience the world if you are tied to your house? It’s like trying to sail around the world without ever pulling up their anchor. It’s hard to let go!
So back to my question of where do you draw the line at being homeless or being an adventurer. I think a lot of it has to do with your state of mind. Years ago I met a group of punk rockers that traveled up and down the west coast. In the winter they were in warm Southern California or Arizona. During the summer, they were in the Pacific Northwest where summers are near perfect. They traveled with the weather as migratory birds do. They had no place to call home, no jobs, panhandled on the streets for their money to buy cigarettes and alcohol, ate their meals at soup kitchens, and seemed happy. They were out seeking adventure. I have also met a lot of hippies that traveled around the country following the Grateful Dead. Many lived in much the same way as the punk rockers, and were happy. But many of the homeless you see on the streets and in the homeless shelters are very unhappy. So why would one group of “homeless” people be happier than another group of “homeless” people? I think it has to do with travel. Travel is adventure. You never know what is around the corner and what wonders you might find and it gives you something to look forward to; a goal in life. I feel that it is not lack of a home that makes someone “homeless.” It is the lack of travel and adventure. But I am not saying we can solve homelessness by buying a person living on the streets an airline ticket somewhere, I am just saying we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Some of those “homeless people” might be traveling on the cheap and having the time of their lives.
Now when we sell our house and head off into the big unknown, we are going to be doing things a bit differently than the punks and dead heads, or so we hope. We will not be sleeping under bridges or Volkswagen vans, nor begging for food or money. But we will hopefully experience the same awe and wonder that anyone who travels should feel. Sure we won’t have a house, but we will have a world in which we can explore.