What do I mean by alternative living?
Simply that I wish to conduct my life by travelling with a keen view on being economical and having a unique set of experiences which are not defined by any imposed time constraints or other restrictive goals other than those of the immediate present. Living life in the present is important to allow me to conduct my life in a much more positive, stress free fashion.
This article is the first of a short series where I seek to explore all the issues and factors affecting any decision to hit the road and travel in an alternative fashion. A simple example of this different travel is that I have determined it is least desirable for me to spend significant time in hotels (as I have done in the past) but rather concentrate upon hostels, house-sit opportunities, woofing and volunteering services in return for bed and board and thereby reducing the cost of my adventure.
Many people in the western world (and beyond now) spend the bulk of their lives working in a job they are largely dissatisfied with, returning home daily only to eat, sleep and recharge their bodies prior to heading back into the same job with the self same degree of satisfaction/dissatisfaction. The reward for this self imposed diligence is to gain a salary which makes it possible for them to pay their monthly bills and probably spend the whole year saving for the two week holiday which takes them away from the drudgery of what is often an unsuitable job.
Everyone has to work I hear you scream…this is normal. Sure it is but does this mean that it is the only way we can conduct our lives?….nope.
Obviously many other people are wholly satisfied with their lot and truly love their job/occupation and if I harboured any degree of envy it would be for these lucky individuals. This article is aimed at those people who, like me, think there must be something better than the life they currently live.
So before we kick off on this exercise to see if “Alternative Living” is possible, what do we actually require to live on? In terms of money and lifestyle choices for example.
Think deeply and total it up, what are your out goings and are all of these necessary for your survival? There are many things which we have led ourselves to believe we could never do without but if you are to live on a certain budget then you have to be really honest with yourself to assess what you can and cannot be parted from. This can become a very liberating exercise so do not be frightened to explore deeply.
Consider those outgoings which are therefore absolutely essential for your well being (eg food, drink, shelter) then determine whether these could actually be provided for less in different countries and if they can then you do have a very interesting economic option to explore.
Live and travel in a country which is cheaper to live in with the advantages this will bring.
There are other considerations of course and many of these are not related to those essentials which impact the budget; rather they depend upon your emotional needs but may still be equally important to you.
- How important are your friends and family to you?
- How important is it that you have continual face to face contact with them or could you survive by phone or email contact?
- Do you need your family around you at all times?
- Have you got children and what are their needs?
- Do you have a house and mortgage?
- Do you have pets?
- Do you have a partner with their own needs and requirements and do these tie in with yours?
- Have you got dependencies…and are they real dependencies?
- Do you have a position in your job upon whom others are dependent?
- Do you have any specific health issues?
- Do you have a business which would suffer if you legged it for an extended period?
I have had to consider my own situation and I fall somewhere in between the lone traveller with no dependencies and someone who does have to attend to responsibilities in this country periodically and I can therefore only afford to spend part of the year travelling abroad….this can still amount to “Alternative Living”
Does this mean that we need to retire? Do we no longer work?
Well this really does depend on a number of other considerations.
- How old are you?
- Have you any regular money coming in?
- Do you have savings?
- Perhaps you have access to a trust fund which could be used to fund your travels?
- Have you got a pension?
- Have you got transferable skills you could use in a foreign country?
- Do you have specific desirable qualifications?
- Are you fit and healthy?
- Do you even wish to work abroad?
You will certainly have to pay for accommodation and food at certain times when travelling…this has to be paid for from somewhere. You will definitely need to spend out at times to get from A to B so these travel costs must come from somewhere.
It is possible to live for long periods doing unskilled work on farms in return for your food and accommodation and so this is one of the major mechanisms for maintaining an economic lifestyle.
I have done this on a number of occasions and have each time swapped a high pressure corporate job for a slow paced, healthy lifestyle on organic farms and even though I earned no money at all and did work relatively hard I was rewarded by a great sense of release and well being. You can find out more about this activity in another article on this site…WOOFing in Greece – Pros and Cons There are a number of other organisations offering a similar facility in return for your work or labour, one of these is a site called Helpx and is definitely worth visiting.
There is also the opportunity to live in someone else’s home in return for perhaps looking after the person’s pets or cutting the grass and some light maintenance. (the featured image at the top of this post is taken from my most recent housesit in a luxury villa in Southern Italy!) I have developed a house and pet-sitting website which provides house owners with a view of my skills and experience so that they might consider engaging me to mind their house. I have successfully conducted numerous housesits and now have a respected reputation but there is absolutely no reason why anyone cannot begin to get involved in this very attractive means to and economic end. Your first move would be to research some of the House and pet sitting sites and the ones I have used most is www.housecarers.com and www.trustedhousesitters.com but you can get a real flavour for what is involved in building your own respectable profile by visiting my own website and of course you can always contact me in response to this article or through my site. My son Paul is currently on a 6 month sit in Greece and has written an article for this site “Housesitting is NOT for Everyone” which is must read.
Go it Alone?
There is one other very important thing to consider before you jack in your job to head out into the world on an Alternative Living journey……are you going to do this on your own……do you have a partner who wants to accompany you on this venture?
This has it’s pros and cons of course but you both need to conduct the assessment exercise individually before you then consider the exercise jointly.
Travelling with someone else WILL be a completely different experience but it need not be any less fulfilling. Indeed since you may then share rooms etc you gain an economy of scale and further cost reductions….good point.
Either way…have a good think and work out whether you are content to continue with your present life or whether you wish to make this change to your life…it does not have to be for the rest of your life but even a short period on the road needs the same detailed consideration. ENJOY
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