Having just returned from two weeks (and lots of meetings) in the U.K. (posts forthcoming!) I’m more familiar than ever with the questions that follow when I mention the name of this blog.
The first response is usually, “that’s a fantastic brand!” or “how’d you get that URL?” followed by,
“What does part-time travel mean?”
It’s a great question and one that I presume everyone has a different answer to. Since I’ve been pondering this since before it was a term, I figured it was time I shared with you how the meaning has changed for me over time.
This blog began the way many blogs are born: I was bored and unfulfilled in my corporate job and seeking a creative outlet, a place to do something I actually loved. Back then, I hesitated to start a travel blog for longer than I’d like to admit. If I had started when I first had the idea, well, I know I’d have been in very little company at that time!
Nevertheless, I waited. I instead sat back and read all the travel writers and bloggers that were posting at the time. When I finally geared up to write my own, I listened to marketing guru friends and enrolled in a simple course. I think it was called, “How To Start A Blog That Matters.” The advice they gave me is some that I still pass on to this day, and that is: think of what isn’t being written that you wish you could read.
For me, what wasn’t on the Internet yet was a travel blog that didn’t want you to pack your bags and hit the road full-time. At that time I had a demanding job, a boyfriend, a lease…I just wanted to travel more than I was currently. I didn’t want to be nomadic for life. No one was writing for me. These nomadic travel bloggers were inspirational, sure, but relatable? Not at that time. And I had a hunch that I wasn’t alone in that.
So came about the concept of part-time travel: maximizing time abroad within limited vacation days. Meaningful travel for young professionals within the confines of their current limitations. The original idea was about things like stretching out business trips, negotiating for more time off, traveling close to home.
Of course, because life is funny sometimes, I then went off and did just the opposite of that. I had done enough thinking, enough daydreaming — a lot of that was around this fantasy that I had to travel for an extended period of time. (Perhaps all those nomadic travel bloggers got to me!) On paper I was living an ideal life, but in truth I was mildly depressed, overweight, in a relationship I wasn’t certain about, and surrounded by people I had absolutely nothing in common with. Naturally, when a friend mentioned during a Skype catchup that she’d be traveling for six months before starting graduate school in the fall, I told her, “I’m coming with you.”
“No you’re not!” she replied. To her, I had already done an above-average job of fitting travel into my life. I’d been to Asia twice that year, including a month of living in India through a company opportunity that I had creatively pursued. The year before that I had taken all of my accrued vacation time and lived in London for a month, traveling around Europe and quenching my travel thirst without losing my high-paying job. Still, at that juncture, I needed more.
I needed an escape.
I don’t recommend travel as an escape. Though when used sparingly, maybe once or twice in your lifetime, long-term travel can be an absolute lifeline, a way to get in touch with who you really are and to open your eyes to what you really want out of life. Plus, it was an opportunity for me to take this new travel blog of mine to another level, right?
Thus, part-time travel became full-time travel (for that year.) And it became very part-time blogging, as I ventured through 18 countries, came home, got my heart broken, picked up the pieces, and started a new life in San Francisco. Suddenly I was in a new life, and part-time travel transformed to take on another meaning yet again.
Part-time travel then became: using the eyes you see the world with when you travel to see your home. It was easy to do, I’ll admit, as I explored my new city of San Francisco. Travel had made what was important to me so much clearer, and it strengthened my resolve to live uncompromisingly in pursuit of it. After a year of traveling the world, I sought out to build a life at home as much as I loved traveling.
For no matter how incredible it is being out in the world, there is so much more I want out of life than can fit in a backpack.
Mostly this boils down to cultivating community and relationships, to the good people that add meaning to my life. One of the best things about traveling is all the amazing people you meet — one of the hardest parts is never getting to see those people after you meet them.
A space to call your own, shelves to hold your books, a box to get your mail, and a closet that you don’t wear on your back…these are all lovely things to have in life, but for me it is the people and the connections that really make a place home. It was a community that I was missing in my old job/city, and eventually what I came to miss most while I was on the road.
So now, part-time travel is a little of all of the above: balancing work and travel, balancing home and travel, living like a local abroad and a traveler at home, and finding your people. Lately, it’s also been the freedom to “try on” other lives, to visit places like London, Paris, and Bangkok every year and pick up where I left off, or to gain a fresh perspective when needed in places like Guatemala, Indonesia, or Greece.
I suppose the beauty of part-time travel, looking back some four years later, is that it is flexible by design. It grows and evolves with you. Part-time travel is not anything I tell you it has to be; it’s without pressure or confines. Part-time travel is simply prioritizing travel more than you are now. It’s not the number of stamps in your passport, or the Instagram likes your travel photos receive. It is a mindset.
Part-time travel is recognizing the transformative power of a journey — even if that journey is intermittent — and committing to making that a regular part of your life. You might even more deeply understand how you define ‘home,’ and how it has shaped you, why it’s significant. The best part about it is how it grows and changes as you do.
What will it be next? Only time, and life, and the beautiful ups and downs of the journey…will tell.
I want you to know at least this: however you fit travel into your life, you can do it in a way that doesn’t mean giving up everything and everyone at home. In fact, I’d argue that it’s even better if you don’t.
Tell me, what does part-time travel mean to you? How do you define it? Though I flatter myself the O.G. part-time traveler (at least on the web,) I am by no means its master. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the concept.
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