Traveling is not vacationing (the downside of life on the road)

Someone asked me how I felt recently and I solemnly looked at them with bags under my eyes and uttered, “I need a vacation.”  They laughed at me and asked, “aren’t you always on vacation?”

Most people travel to get away from the daily grind of their regular lives.  They book tickets to far off locations that have all inclusive resorts with picturesque sunsets and beautiful white sands that they bury their toes in.  They sip cocktails with little pink umbrellas in them while asking their lover, “isn’t this the life?”  Eventually it comes to an end and they go home to the “real world.”

travel for challenge

I travel for the challenge, not the relaxation.

I travel for the challenge, not the relaxation.  I want to grow, not stop time for week long increments.  I’d rather eat out of a dumpster than an all you can eat buffet.  I sleep under bridges, not roofs.  On the ground, not king sized beds.  I’d rather keep the wind in my sails than settle down and imprison myself with possessions and the false sense of joy they bring me.  My success is based on what I can do without, not what I can indulge in.

Sometimes I pretend my life is like a comic book and I will only do something because it will make a good story to tell to my grand kids some day.  And sometimes that makes me feel like a big phony asshole.  I feel like I have something to prove to everyone who thinks I can’t do it forever.  “Watch me,” I say even though secretly sometimes I wish I’d find a reason to live a normal life where I only travel during those few weeks a year everyone calls “vacation.”

As much as I sometimes think I want it to end though, I can’t just turn it off.   Sometimes I find myself thousands of miles from anywhere familiar all alone and all I can feel in my heart is emptiness and a yearning to “go home.”  I can’t simply return home after being gone for so long.  That idea has become so abstract, I’m not sure where it is anymore.


Maybe it’s here in Palenque, Mexico.

I grew up in Detroit, but that hasn’t felt like home in a really long time.  When you’re gone long enough, everything changes without you, leaving you expecting something familiar on your return only to find yourself in another foreign place.  That girl that professed her love to you the night before you left will have a child on your return.  That place you used to go to find yourself will be torn down and long gone.  The company you worked for has shut its doors.  Your new found perception of the world will leave you alienated from the people who don’t get it no matter how much they love you.

I’ve missed every birth, death, wedding, funeral, graduation, and party that if only I were a bit closer I would have have been to.  But sometimes there are oceans and skies spanning further than I can stretch keeping me from my loved ones.  Being there in spirit only goes so far for a lot of people before the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” starts to kick in.  If your love can be fully expressed in words, you’re probably doing it wrong.

During my travels I’ve done a great job of mastering first impressions.  I can walk into any bar on Earth and charm my way into someone’s home.  My downfall though is that I’ve spent so much time doing this that I don’t know how to create long lasting deep connections with people.  Too many times I’ve found myself falling in love only to hear, “what’s the point when you’re just going to leave?”

But this isn’t a pity party and I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me.  I’ve chosen this life, built it up from the ashes of my former existence, and I don’t plan on stopping until I find something better.  Even though I’ve found some of my lowest lows on the road, I’ve also found some of my highest highs.  The manic state has fueled the addiction and helped me to move on to see what lies around that next corner instead of sulking in the corner afraid of what is going to happen next.

I’ve pushed myself to my breaking point, picked up the pieces, and glued them back together.  Like a healed fracture, my spirit won’t be broken in the same place twice.  Each defeat gives me the ability to come back stronger, smarter, and better equipped to handle whatever is thrown at me next.

I definitely have my moments though where if it weren’t me telling the story, my heart would swell with wonderment and a bit of envy.  But I know the truth that those moments are only half of the story.  What I show the world is often just a cleverly orchestrated marketing campaign that skews the results of my experiment to hopefully inspire the world to see the world, because even though my actions are extreme, traveling will change you forever for the better.

  • Rob Cochran

    Your honesty always impresses me. Thank you for sharing your journey with me. And for allowing me, in whatever small way, to be a touchstone in your travels. The word “courage” comes from the Latin word “Cor” which means heart. You have so much “heart”, it makes sense that you are the most courageous man I’ve ever met. You inspire me like no other human being ever has. No matter how bad it gets out there, know that you inspire courage in others. Because you give your heart to everything you do. And if you ever need a home to come to, you have not just one, but many. And you may count me in that number. You are loved and treasured by those who know you. And those who meet you, are blessed to be in your company. Thank you, Chuck, for being who you are. I love you with all my heart.

  • ravi

    That was so good to read. Thanks for writing.