The decision has been made. You’ve spent months (sometimes years) debating with your soul about what it is, exactly, that you want from life. Once you’ve finally realized that breaking free is your ultimate goal, you think all your problems are over. That’s it! The hard part is over! You’ve made the decision to cut the shackles which are holding you back and to set off into the sunset; oh how wonderful do you feel right now?!?
Forgetting something? Not so fast there cowgirl…
Yes it is true that the hardest part, for me personally, was coming to the realization and making the final decision, that long-term travel was what I craved most. Yet this does not mean by any stretch of the imagination, that what came next was pure bliss. It wasn’t. It was a bit hellish actually. I had an apartment to sell and the contents to store, I had to disconnect from everything in my life, hand in my resignation, pay off my credit card, close all my accounts and, if all that wasn’t enough, I had to break the news to my mum. Once you learn my mum is Italian, then you’ll understand my angst ^_^
Handing over the keys of my former abode to the real estate agent felt like a huge relief. Sort of. You see, everything about the ‘breakaway’ was immensely contrasting for me: I was elated yet hesitant, adventurous yet cautious. Nothing about it was black and white and, to tell the honest truth, nothing has been ever since. I love travelling with every inch of my soul but at times I get homesick, friend-sick and mamma-food-sick. Whilst I cherish making new friends every day I miss having D&Ms with my life-long friends. I dare say that life for most long-term nomads is one of contrasts and contradictions, so I suppose the internal turmoil I felt when I was in the midst of reorganizing my life was Mother Nature’s way of telling me ‘well you better get used to that kid…there’s a lot more where that came from!’
Being virtually homeless at the age of 31 felt a little scary although having a 3m³ storage space full of my ‘stuff’ helped alleviate my fears. This was my back up plan, my fall-guy, this was my way of saying that while I very much wanted ‘out’, I did also want to leave the door ajar. Just in case.
Considering that the next time I saw my stuff was when I flew home three years later to sell it all off, one would think that I’d be an ardent advocate for complete and total initial sell-off. But I’m not. Sure, sometimes I kick myself at having spent $6,000 over three years to store things I never needed nor wanted again, but I do think my gradual detachment from what I sometimes call my ‘previous life’ was exactly the right recipe for me. I’ve had people ask me how one just breaks away completely and sets off, but fact is I have no idea how anyone could do that either! I did it in steps and it worked a treat and this is something I would highly recommend to anyone who feels a little nauseous at the mere thought of ridding themselves of their life-long’s possessions. I can plead and beg and swear to you that you won’t give two hoots about them in two years time, but fact is everyone needs to get there on their own.
I left my car with a friend who paid and maintained it whilst she used it (sold that two years later), consolidated all my accounts into one and took a debit VISA card with me (incidentally this is still the only bank account I have) and I did take out an emergency MasterCard for the unthinkable. Knowing that I could buy a flight home at ANYtime helped put my mind at ease.
Those who are intending to live an expat existence in another country will probably have an easier time I dare say, but of course cutting off from the emotional attachments in our lives will always be the biggest challenge. It really does help to keep in mind that, this being the 21st century and all, one can get back ‘home’ in two days from just about every corner of the globe. Your chosen financial step of choice (do you live off your savings a while, make virtual connection before you leave etc?) will also determine just how nervous you’ll be at the airport, yet I imagine that even the most organized wannabe-nomad will suffer many sleepless nights.
Taking all the necessary steps you need to free yourself from your restrictions is never going to be the easy part. Emerging from the other side unscathed however, will definitely be the most rewarding.
Welcome to your new life.
Written by Laura Pattara