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My Quarter Life Crisis: Thoughts on Juggling Travel and My Future

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My Quarter Life Crisis

“If your house was on fire and you only had time to grab one thing, what would it be?”

“MY PASSPORT!”

My coworker takes a pause in her family-feud style questionnaire to laugh at my outburst. It seems like a joke but it’s honestly the first thing that came to mind. Funnily, I actually keep it right beside my bed. Talk about perfect for a hasty getaway.

Needless to say I love my passport. I love it’s worn pages. I love the stamps; some of which are perfectly clear while others are barely legible, all crowded tightly together on the pages. Except for the Italian stamp from the jerk-of-an-immigration-officer in Rome who took a whole page to himself. I’ve even grown to accept (not love) my deer-in-the-headlights photo that awkwardly graces the second page. Not only do the pages of my passport tell part of my life story, and hold some of my most treasured memories, but they are the key to more. More fun. More adventures. More travel.

Over the past couple of years travel, for me, has morphed from a dream to a lifestyle. It seems like only yesterday that I was clicking through photos of Irish castles, the canals of Venice, Asian temples, and African savannahs while ‘listening’ to boring professors drone on about the criminal code, personality disorders, or absurd Freudian theories. Even though that was more than five years ago now, I still feel like that twenty year old girl stuck in the lecture hall. The girl who felt like her boring, typical life was slipping away far too quickly.

Except it hasn’t. The criminology grad quickly retired the research papers and bought a backpack. The girl who never went to Disney World for March Break, or partied on the graduation Caribbean booze cruise has quickly become the most travelled of her friends. I’ve swam off the islands of Croatia, hiked through the Scottish Highlands, and climbed the Temples in Myanmar. I’ve sang karaoke in underground Romanian clubs, drank with the Irish on Paddy’s Day, and tried pretty much every flavour of Polish vodka. In four years I’ve done so much more than I ever thought I would. But it’s not enough. I’m still riding the high, chasing the thrills, and searching for adventure. But as I edge closer to thirty than twenty I find myself starting to wonder if what seems to be the best choice for me right now is really the best choice for my future.

Once I thought I'd do my masters, and maybe even Phd in Forensics. Now I couldn't tell you where that red folder with my degree it.

Once I thought I’d do my masters, and maybe even Phd in Forensics. Now I couldn’t tell you where that red folder with my degree in it is.

While most people treat travel as a luxurious fling or affair, I’m completely devoted to it. It’s like a torrid, high-speed relationship that I just can’t say no to. The lows suck, but the highs are so good that it’s worth the occasional hurt. It’s all I think about and all I want. If travel was a man, we’d be the picture perfect pair. We’d be the couple that everyone wants to be, but with some potentially serious closed-door problems. Because although what I have right now is amazing, it might not be that healthy of a relationship in the long run.

My Facebook feed is filled with friends and old schoolmates who are getting engaged, married, and having kids. At almost 27 I can no longer brush them off as “really young” and being the odd ones out. As the notoriously single girl who runs around the world on her own, that roll has quickly become mine to fill. And it’s not the easiest label to change either. Spending 2-4 months of the year living out of a backpack doesn’t exactly make me prime girlfriend material. Not that I ever have the opportunity to meet someone at home for that to became a possibility. I spend my days working my butt off, sometimes at multiple jobs, to pay for my next plane ticket. I barely have time for my friends and family; much less bars, dating, and men.

Being a travel addict has made me fantastic with managing my money. I can make my own saving plans with target goals, work within a budget, and minimize spending. I’m actually really good at saving money for the future. The travel future. Right now as my friends shuffle through their funds trying to pull together enough money to shove into an RRSP before filing for taxes, I’m deflecting all suggestions at even opening one. They are thinking of retirement in 30 years. I’m thinking Asia in 5 months and maybe Africa or South America a few months after that. There’s no question that I’m planning for the future. It’s just not in the way that I probably should be.

This is the future I'm saving for

This is the future I’m saving for

While I am quick to admit that travel has changed me (I like to think for the better), and opened plenty of new doors, it’s also closed a fair amount of doors as well. Having tasted the freedom of extended time off and the flexibility of working from home, I can’t imagine ever going back to a 9-5 office job. I did away with that three years ago and have zero regrets. I chose to embrace my creativity instead of my degree, and the freedom that comes with it. But while it pays for my backpacking adventures, my job is more of a convenience than a career. The money I make right now will never be enough for me to buy my own house. And while I neither want or need my own house right now, I tend to think that I probably will in the not-so-distant future.

I’ve been accused of playing Peter Pan; chasing after the moment and not thinking about the future. But that’s the absolute opposite. I may be a dreamer but I’ve always been a dreamer with a plan. That plan has slowly been coming to life through this blog and the (amazing) followers who have supported my crazy travel tendencies. My dream job as a freelance writer is more alive now than it was when I started. But will it ever reach the point where it can be enough? It has for others, so I can’t help but think if it they can do it, I can too.

But can I? And if I can, in five or ten years down the road, will it still be what I want? As I read about the successful bloggers like Adventurous Kate and Nomadic Matt who, over the couple of years, are admitting to burnout and anxiety, slowing down and settling into apartments or places to call home, I wonder; will this happen to me? Probably. I love my family, I love having a dog, and I’m pretty sure, at some point, I want kids. But part of me wonders if I’ve ruined those chances. Half of me thinks that if I continue like this I’ll be the lonely old travel lady doomed to die alone. The other half thinks that if family and stability is what I want I need to get my shit together and figure it out ASAP. But I know I’m not ready yet, and if I chose that path right now I’ll only come to regret it.

So what do I do? I have no idea. I’ve got 3 months of travel coming up in Asia later this year and am hoping it opens some new doors to potential partnerships. I have a few ideas up my sleeve but will they work? I don’t know. I hope so, but even if they don’t I know I will still have the adventure of a lifetime. Because right now, this is what I love to do. So I’m going to focus on my now and continue searching for adventure in the hopes that, one day, I will find my happily ever after. Whatever it may be.

This girl doesn't need a ring on her finger to put a smile on her face. At least not right now.

This girl doesn’t need a ring on her finger or a home of her own to put a smile on her face. At least not right now.

 

16 thoughts on “My Quarter Life Crisis: Thoughts on Juggling Travel and My Future

  1. Cory Lee

    This might be my favorite post ever… from anyone. I identify with sooo much of what you said. Every time that I see another one of my high school friends getting married or having a kid, I panic a bit. I feel like I’m married to traveling, which I don’t feel guilty for, and I definitely don’t want a kid, but sometimes when I really think about it, I feel like I need to have a long term plan that doesn’t have anything to do with traveling. I’m only thinking about the next year and all of the places that I’ll go in that time. But why are we conditioned to think this way? It’s really not fair. I want to just live in the present and focus on what makes me happy. Maybe we can be roomies when we’re the old travelers (I would love to have tons of cats). Lol! Anyway, have fun in Asia and keep killing the travel blogging game! 😉

    1. Hannah Logan Post author

      Thanks Cory- it kinda sucks but I’m glad to hear I’m not alone 🙂 and yes we should totally be old travel buddies. We’d have the coolest blog ever 😉

  2. Vlad

    I love this, Hannah! I can relate so much to what you wrote, I had to stop and wonder how you got into my head 😛 Whenever I think about the future, it’s only about the places I want to visit next. Thinking about the future is scary for me, because I have no idea how it’s going to turn out, but luckily, planning my next trip is easy. 😉 So maybe we’ll meet again in like 20 years, both with a few cats in our arms, haha.

  3. Pinay Flying High

    Traveling is kinda like partying. You party (travel) crazy in your younger years and then at some point you get tired of it and would prefer something a bit more laidback and relaxed parties (travels). I’ve been in your situation and although I never saved a dime when I was traveling like a crazy person, I never had any regrets. When I look back to it, I’m reminded of the things I’ve done and not the things I could’ve done and that for me is much more valuable than anything else.

  4. Bell | Wanderlust Marriage

    Interesting post 🙂 I think focusing on now is really at the end of the day what matters, one thing I’ve learnt in life is that it is nice to make plans, but don’t always hold your breath! A friend actually told me her mum likes to say, “You make plans and god laughs”, whether you believe in god or not, I like this saying!!

  5. Anna

    I can so relate to this Hannah!! I’m in the middle of going through some changes in my personal life and once again, I find myself needing to make a huge decision about my future. I have absolutely no regrets for quitting my job and leaving the US to travel, but at the same time, I also feel like it closed doors for me. Because I know I will NEVER be happy in a normal job ever again, or even happy back home again, even if my family and friends are there! I have no idea what I want to do at the moment either, and I wonder what I will want in a year or three from now… I know so many people say to just focus on the moment, but I feel like I still need to think about the future somewhat…will I want kids? where would I like to settle down? shouldn’t I try to establish some kind of career again or what am I going to do about retirement when I’m old?! Argh!!

    Where are you planning to being in Asia later on?? Let me know if you’re going to go back to Kuala Lumpur!! It’s about time we meet!! xx

    1. Hannah Logan Post author

      I hate to say that I like this but I am glad I’m not alone! haha. I’m headed back to Asia the end of August. From the looks of it I will end up back in KL or Singapore en route to Brunei (at least that’s the plan)- will you still be in KL in September? Would LOVE to finally meet you in person 🙂

  6. Rebecca

    You don’t – ever – have to succumb to what society insidiously dictates to us: house, kids, white picket fence, dog, etc.
    I have settled in a country other than my own yet still travel frequently, either short or longish trips. I’m 42! I had the pressure from my siblings, accusing me of ‘running away’ and ‘being selfish’ (for not having kids)…but you know what? I’m not living life for anyone else other than myself…and I’m happy. And that makes me a better person to be around.
    Don’t feel pressured into leading a life you don’t want to – it’s not irresponsible to travel, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

  7. Elita

    It’s crazy trying to figure out the scheme of things you want for yourself especially when everybody else seems to know what you should want for yourself. But rest assured, some of us were meant to try things out differently – whether or not we have all the answers to our questions!

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