I’m Not In This for the Travel

I wanted to share Kristin Sanders’ LitHub essay Some Reasons to Become a Literary Digital Nomad (Even If You Fail) first because it’s a great piece, and second because—well, if you’ve been on the freelancing blogs and/or the financial independence blogs, you’ll learn that a lot of people are very, very excited about the promise of travel.

Once you can work from anywhere and/or don’t have to work, the promise promises us, you’ll be able to see the world.

Sometimes that kind of thing works out, as Em Burfitt learned in her recent guest post:

I got to work in Paris, staying in an Airbnb I rented from money I’d saved up. From writing. Not working hours and hours of shifts to make ends meet but from writing. Two years ago, I never would have believed I could earn enough to live by writing for only five hours a day. Let alone doing so from my favourite city in the world.

Sometimes it’s more complicated than you realized, as Laura Leavitt explained in another recent guest post:

While I cannot always stay in a hotel or a separate space from family, it made me realize that if I want to get work done while I’m on a trip, I need my own space. Ideally, this space needs to be completely separate from the family gathering, so I don’t feel like I’m making the whole event “less fun” by sneaking away to work on my laptop.

And sometimes you get Kristin Sanders’ experience:

You think you’re going to do this because all of the writers you love have done this, the older dead writers, not the living writers; most of the living writers seem to stay in one place for whole decades of their lives, as if writing takes something like concentration or routine, but who are you to say?

When I read that paragraph, I think “how wonderful would it be to stay in one place for an entire decade?” It’s something I haven’t tried since childhood, and when I think about that—and everywhere I’ve lived since then—it becomes clear that that the real reason I’m not interested in the travel promise is because I’ve already done my share of traveling.

When I was in theater grad school, for example, our program required each of us to spend a semester doing something “practical” (to prove we had the skills to do it), which is how I ended up teaching Shakespeare at the University of Hyderabad and then backpacking across India.

When I was trying to make it as an indie musician while also earning money on the side writing for content sites, I learned how to file copy from bus stations and comic conventions and hotel rooms and friends’ couches.

Now I measure my life in how long I can go without having to travel somewhere.

I still want to visit new places, now and again, and am using my “visit every Disney park in the world” as a template for how I might spend the next three years—because no, I’m not just going to go to Tokyo just for the theme park, I’m going to make sure I stay long enough to see the city as well.

But I also think about how damned lucky I am that I picked a grad school that sent me to Hyderabad for a semester, and then got an executive assistant job that had me assisting executives in Bangkok and Shrivenham, and then spent a couple of years doing the comic convention circuit as an indie musician because WHAT HAS MY LIFE EVEN BEEN, HOW DID IT HAPPEN THIS WAY?

So I’m not in the freelancing thing—or the FI thing—for the promise of travel.

I’m in it for the promise of being able to sit in a room of my own, the same room for days and weeks and months and years in a row, and know that I have everything I need to do my work.

And then to be able to leave that room and be part of a community. ❤️

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