Welcome to Project Life – Travel is Not Enough

Welcome to Project Life

Travel is not enough.

There, I have said it!

The blessing and curse of travel is that it gives you time to think. Analyse. Tear your self apart. Build yourself back up again.

In these times of self-analysis, I have discovered that travelling is fun, but it’s not the answer to everything and definitely not the purpose of my life.

What is my purpose?

Maybe I should start with a brief history of adult me…
Project-life-final

Seemingly I leapt from one thing to another with no obvious purpose, jealous of those who had a grand plan.

Being a shape shifter

Then about a year ago I met a man who described my ‘life floatiness’ as ‘shape shifting’. I’m going to call him The Dude.

According to The Dude, a shape shifter has the ability to adapt and change to whatever they need in life, at a particular time.

What a wonderful way to see it!

The term shape shifter has stuck with me. I like it. It gives me confidence. Plus it makes me sound like one of the frickin X-Men…

I now reject my old self-perceived flaky attitude to life. No longer do I float aimlessly.

In actual fact I had set myself mini life projects and achieved them one by one, before moving onto the next.

Project Life

Without realising it, I have also set myself mini life projects on this trip:

“I want to make house sitting the world a reality.” Check.

“I want to teach myself web design and make pretty websites.” I got my first paid job the other week! Check.

On the outside it appears everything is going great. Can’t complain. The weird thing is though, until recently I still had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that something is not quite right.

The potential to travel indefinitely is there, but do I want it?

At the moment the truthful answer is no.

Travel is great and opens up so many opportunities, but looking at it as a life plan leaves me empty.

It just feels just too self involved, going from one place to the next seeing new things and meeting people, but rarely inputting anything useful or meaningful into the world.

The next challenge

I look at many long-term travel bloggers and they also seem to struggle with merely just travelling. They set themselves bigger, crazier goals to keep life interesting.

Once you achieve something, you don’t just sit back and pat yourself on the back and think well done.

You move onto the next challenge. The more you extend yourself, the more you realise you are capable of. You stop putting limits on things.

And so my attention has changed to Project Life:

Instead of focusing on what I need to do for the rest of my life and freaking out about an overall plan, I am looking at mini projects to keep me on track and motivated:

Project volunteer – To make our travels more fulfilling we plan to volunteer on various projects in Canada and South America. Obviously this is still not 100% altruistic as volunteering makes you feel good, but there is nothing wrong with doing things that also bring you happiness.

Project return to the UK and build a tiny house – we have become obsessed in the last few weeks with the tiny house movement.

The idea of paying a mortgage for the rest of my life gives me heart palpations.

On the other hand I crave having a place to call my own. One built with my own two hands even more so.

The tiny house means we can do this. It’s literally a small version of a house, usually on wheels. People may call us crazy, but I now see this as a compliment.

It means if we get bored or need to leave, it doesn’t matter, we won’t be tethered to debt. It can also combine our desire for a more sustainable life and reduce needless consumption.

project-tiny-house

I am not spiritual and don’t believe in fate, but sometimes this world throws up coincidences I can’t explain. Just as we immersed our lives in all things travel when planning our trip, we have done the same with tiny houses.

Reading blogs, watching videos etc… Then we arrive at our Airbnb stay in Portland and one of the homeowners has just finished filming a documentary about the Tiny House Movement and injects us with a whole heap of fresh inspiration and belief.

Little coincidences like this keep you going on a new path.

Project start a family – this one obviously depends on our bits working (and may not be just a mini project), but we cannot escape our huge desire to create a little person and impart our (lack of) wisdom and show them an alternate lifestyle.

Life enhancing

I guess, like travel I am still looking for experiences that enhance my life, but to me they just connect more deeply with my beliefs and needs.

I am lucky to travel. We enjoy and it will hopefully be a part of our lives in the future, but it’s no longer our sole focus.

Project Life sees our short existence in the world as an experiment. Some things may not work, but others will. Each mistake is learned from. Nothing is forever. We can shape shift as much as we like and not feel guilty about it. Each project has the power to open up new opportunities.

Perhaps we are all shape shifters and don’t even realise it. We set ourselves impossible lifelong plans and get stressed, depressed and worn out trying to achieve them.

It’s cool if you do have a grand plan and it makes you happy, but I can’t imagine asking my 18 year self make decisions about my life now. It would be ridiculous, he was a tool. We change constantly, so it’s ok to adapt our lives to the new us. We should embrace it rather than fear it.

In the last few weeks whilst travelling America I have met so many people who are making their own path in life. Stepping away from the expected career and looking for a fulfilling alternative.

It gives me great hope for my very own Project Life.

But for now, my mini life project is telling me to focus on more immediate matters and make some delicious cheese on toast…

project-soulThought I should end with a super soulful shot so you can imagine me pondering life whilst you read this, innit – Deep man, deep…

33 Replies to “Welcome to Project Life – Travel is Not Enough”

  1. I love this post. I love reflections like this. They are so inspiring and I’m so glad you shared them. My husband is really obsessed with the small house, minimalist design and even container house movement happening as well. I can’t say I’m opposed. When we do return home, where ever we decide to make it I hope we can hold on to the free and feel good way of living with less as we are doing now. Good luck to you and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter brings!

    1. Thanks Yalanda, glad it’s inspiring 🙂

      I’m so excited by the small space! People are so clever with their funky designs and ideas. It looks like a challenge minimising, but I think it will be worth it.

      Thanks for following along 🙂

  2. “Travel is great and opens up so many opportunities, but looking at it as a life plan leaves me empty.

    It just feels just too self involved, going from one place to the next seeing new things and meeting people, but rarely inputting anything useful or meaningful into the world.”

    Great post that really sums up how I’m feeling at the moment. I love travel and I love constantly being on the move, but I feel my family growing up without me and my friends becoming more and more distant. Yes, I make new friends on the road, but their lifestyles are as transient as mine. We won’t be sitting on the porch together drinking wine and talking about the old days in our later years. I worry that I will be sitting alone doing that.

    Time to re-evaluate some priorities for me! Thanks for a timely post.

    1. Glad it struck a chord, it’s been bothering me for several months, but couldn’t put a finger on it until recently.

      It’s weird how it just hits you. I was chatting to Kellie in a bar the other day and just saying how I missed talking nonsense with my best mates into the early hours in some manky English pub.

      Now I’ve mad decision it feels great. Hope you have the same luck 🙂

  3. Great post!

    Really hits a lot of what I imagine a large number of longer-term travellers feel like, think a few will also be stealing the ‘shape shifting’ description.

    Good luck with the house build.

  4. Great post! I’ve been trying to figure out my own Project Life since I’ve never had much of a plan either. Congrats on your successes!
    I also love the tiny house movement. Living in Thailand has certainly proven I can live in a much smaller space…coupled with *still* having a mortgage on the condo being rented in the States, I look forward to a day of being free of that!

    1. Thank you Maria. Hope you have luck with a finding your project.

      Small spaces are so cool! It will be interesting to see if we can adapt, but either way we will have some tales to tell 🙂

  5. Wicked awesome cool! Rob, I recognise so much of myself in your story of adult you, though I prefer the term “quarter-life crisis” (it’s a real thing). I completely understand your desire for somewhere to call home but not wanting a mortgage. My husband Zab are definitely big city people, so while the tiny house movement looks cool, I don’t think it’d work for us. We’ve just bought a flat in Berlin to have as a base, though, so that should do! (We’re lucky that we can do it sans mortgage due to Berlin being crazy cheap and the fact that Zab sold his house in London). Congratulations on the first paid web design job by the way!

    1. Sam we have to meet up one day, I think it would be fun!! I will harass you when we eventually visit Berlin.

      I think looking at my family lifespan it is a-third-life crisis 🙂

      We would love to have a base too, but I think it’s more the project side which is drawing me in. If we have do enjoy it we have other plans for the tiny movement, but I think we will take it one step at a time….

      Thanks for the congrats btw.

  6. I’m all about project life, Rob. The only way I get things done is to break success down into manageable chunks. And I find one project always leads to a new one.

    From reading other blogs you’re certainly not alone when feeling that travel isn’t enough on its own. Since I’m just preparing for travel right now I’m in complete “I want to travel forever” mode, but a lifestyle isn’t enough to feel totally satisfied. I think it’s natural for people to want to feel they’re giving the world something useful and being creative in their own way.

    The tiny house project sounds like an awesome project to me. The satisfaction of being able to say “I built this” about where you live must be immense!

    1. I’ve accidentally lived that way it seems, but for some reason giving it a name provides me with comfort.

      The thing is you may indeed discover you want to travel forever once you get going. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it if it makes you happy, but equally travelling opens up so many other opportunities you see there is so much other cool stuff to challenge you (if you want).

      I’m so visual, that a project like this will make me extremely satisfied. Even mowing the lawn makes me happy, because I can see what I achieved (sad I know).

  7. I am so so so glad you wrote this, especially right now as we’re going to meet tomorrow (finally!) and I just have so much to say. I won’t make you wait in breathless anticipation for what I’m going to say (ha ha). I had that same kind of realization while we were traveling. Really in the last months of it. I haven’t been able to fully articulate it but we just realized that as much as we loved what we were doing, we knew it couldn’t be forever. Not because it’s wrong or bad, just it wasn’t enough for us. Which is weird because so much of it is freaking awesome. Can’t wait to chat about this tomorrow! I think the tiny house thing is amazing. I don’t know if I could do it or not, but we definitely aim to live in as small of a space as we can. But then I love to entertain…

    1. Was extremely cool meeting you today and chatting about life, travel and none travel! Good luck with all the stuff and things 🙂

      We have our slippers and PJs on by the way and it’s only 6pm…. Ahhhh comfort!

      1. As soon as I picked up the football fans, dropped them off and finally reached home, I was in my pajamas too! Bonus: mom bought me a new pair of fleece pajama bottoms. Mom FTW!

  8. Well said, Rob! Yes! I love this post and can definitely relate. Especially this: “Once you achieve something, you don’t just sit back and pat yourself on the back and think well done. You move onto the next challenge. The more you extend yourself, the more you realise you are capable of. You stop putting limits on things.” So true as I realize how my dreams have evolved over the years. Even now, for me, it’s not about working towards indefinite travel, but more about opening up the possibilities for mini life projects as you call them 🙂 And yay for the tiny house! Can’t wait to see how that project unfolds. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. Thank you kindly Sam!

      Indeed, we all have our individual challenges and it’s fun seeing where they take us and how our priorities change. I’m really pleased things are opening up for you in your chosen path too!!

      I will definitely share our many stories of mishaps and hopefully a few success as we build our tiny space. EEEEKKKK excited!!

  9. I love this post Rob. Andrew and I had similar realisations after we’d been travelling for a while; we found fast travel exhausting and freelancing isolating so we shifted our travel style to living in one place and teaching for a big chunk of the year and travelling and visiting home for the rest. Travel really does give you the time to think and reflect and we’d never be living the lives we are now if we hadn’t taken that first step of leaving London to travel. We couldn’t have guessed then that our journey would lead us here to teach in Vietnam but like you, our goals and needs have shifted along the way and we’ve recognised that and adapted. Setting mini-goals is great and I’m excited to hear more about your volunteering, this is something I want to focus more on in the future too.

    1. Thanks Amy.

      Me and Kel also burnout so quickly when on the road, but also grow restless when stationary. Stupid brain!!!

      It is great though how travel opens up life to many things, hope the teaching is going well! I will let you know what sort of volunteering stuff pops up along the way 🙂

  10. Hello, just found your website and am loving it. Came upon this post and I had to comment. Kai & I built our Tiny House before setting out to travel by bicycle in 2011. We’ve been in Mexico for the last almost-two years house sitting.

    So glad to hear of another Tiny House on Wheels convert. Check out our Tiny House page and videos of our 22 weeks building it. Still working on finishing the book but we’re getting there!

    I can’t wait to follow your new adventures.

    Abrazos!

    1. Oh wow! That is so cool Sheila!! What an adventure your life is 🙂

      I am going to watch every flipping video. I’m a complete novice when it comes to DIY but hoping to learn from all my inevitable mistakes and others too.

  11. Rob I’m commenting on this so long after I actually read the post but I just wanted to let you know that you really struck a chord with me on this. Even just the title of the post has been whirling around my head since you wrote it and we’ve since sat down and properly figured out what our own plan is going to be, after a whole year of moaning and feeling like fish out of water.

    I said back when you first started writing that I love the way you don’t flounce with words, it comes across as very honest writing and I think that’s why it makes it so easy to identify with.

    I’m so pleased you’ve figured out what you want for now and that travel has given you the opportunity to figure it out. Looking forward to seeing what the next step is 🙂

    1. Well Maddie I think you win the award for best comment ever. Means a lot, thank you. Flounce bothers me (typical northerner).

      Pleased it struck a chord with you, it had been bothering me for a fair while but I wasn’t sure what it was, but thankfully travel gives you time to evaluate what’s important in life.

      I’m very excited you have figured out a plan, if you fancy sharing it I’d loved to hear, or maybe it’s a future blog post?? Good luck with it!

  12. What a fantastic, liberating concept. To actually just embrace this way of life – call it alternative or whatever. It’s totally valid and worthwhile, and doesn’t mean we travellers are flaky. I feel like there is just too much to get out of life to only commit to one type of life/project/activity… I want to experience as much as possible!

    1. Thanks Colleen. Me and Kellie still keep chatting about Project Life and it makes me smile. Maybe I’m slow to thinking about life as many different activities/projects, but I’m happy to have finally got here. Valid and unflaky (new word!).

  13. All I have to say is that I AGREE. On so many levels. From the desire for more than just traveling, to having a tiny house (I want a yurt!) to starting a family… it’s all there for me too. One thing that travel has taught me is the importance of love and family. One thing we all have in common, all over the world, is how we love our people. I think it’s the core of all that is real and true. Tiny houses are just the bonus!!

    1. Oooh a nice cosy yurt! Lovely.

      Indeed, the realisation of the need to start a family hit me one afternoon out of the blue, whilst sitting in a quiet cafe. Since then it’s always in the back of my mind. Kel always ask me what the hell happened in that cafe 🙂

      So true, in Mexico even the poorest kids living in shacks seem to be so happy and smilie. They had nothing but family. Puts things into perspective.

  14. I am also obsessed with tiny homes! I want a tree house or log cabin with a big deck in the woods. There is certainly more to life than travel, although it will always be an important part of my life. I am starting to feel the pull to start a family but it still freaks me out a bit!

    1. Ha, it seems tiny houses are the new thing. I love em, although we may take create license on how small we actually do it 🙂

      Indeed, I can’t imagine I will throw away my passport, but it’s nice to have other cool things to aim for. Good luck in your plans whatever you decide.

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