It was a sound plan: follow up on the immediate post-return blog posts with an update on life after traveling three months later. When the 90-day mark passed, I revised it to 100 days. Then that milestone date passed without my noticing as well. Back in February, while in Malaysia, I pondered how time on the road differs from time in “normal life.” Now here I am, 124 days after landing back in the U.S., and those observations ring true louder than ever.

Not working for the Man every night and day

I was supposed to have a job. I am still looking. Rereading that earlier contemplation on travel time, the Dylan Thomas quote at the end—”Do not go gently into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”—resonates with me. At times I find myself feeling angry at having to look for a job in the first place. Traveling was so much more enriching and inspiring, a day job seems like a prison term, looming. I get angry and overcome with feelings of impotence at not having found a job yet. When I quit the job before the trip, I told myself I’d be more picky next time. I am finding myself again in the place where I’d take any job I’m qualified for, never mind the right match. Which makes me mad.

On the flipside, I write more, even making some money with my work. A year after we visited in Sarajevo I finally wrote the essay I researched there and could not get around to writing while we traveled. Even better, the piece got accepted for publication at Compass Cultura. Another piece of travel writing, about the very city our toothbrushes are now, will appear in Narratively magazine this Friday. I also just began a freelance writing gig for Oregon Beer Growler, marrying my passion for writing and craft beer, and I am submitting other creative nonfiction work for publication in journals and magazines around the world.

Finally, Lindsay and I are writing a book about our journey of the life of travel. We’re planning to self-publish a collection of essays about the various aspects of traveling. If everything goes according to plan, the book, tentatively titled Home Is Where Your Toothbrush Is: Reflections from the Life of Travel, will be available about a year from now, just in time for Christmas 2015. We’ll keep you posted.

Life of permanent travel

Before returning from the trip I resolved to continue a life of travel, to live as a permanent traveler even while living in Portland. A short reflection on how that was going some two months into it should appear in the inaugural issue of Asterisk magazine later this November. Four months later, the results are mixed. I do slide into bad habits and get lazy about exploring the city I think I know. Then there are days like yesterday, a Sunday, when Lindsay and I discovered our new favorite Vietnamese restaurant in town (Pho Oregon on NE 82nd Avenue) and went for a drive to Stevenson, Washington, just ’cause. The lesson: like traveling outside your hometown, traveling at home requires extra effort.

Grass on this side

Thanks to the trip, when I really think about it I allow the joy I feel about writing and being a permanent traveler trump the negative emotions around the job search and staying in one place for a few years. Therein lies a major life change in my attitude brought about by the long-term travel experience. If I would add anything to the list of lessons I learned from traveling, it would be this: I appreciate what I have more than ever before. Both Lindsay and I are healthy, we live simply and cheaply, and we have each other and friends and family who love us back. Grass on this side is pretty damn green.

10 Responses

  1. Jenni

    I do see how it would feel like a jail sentence (one that you are looking for no less!) going from constant travel to a full-time position somewhere. I do hope that you find a job that touches on your passions so that it can not feel like jail, but an awesome new chapter in your book of life. I’d encourage you to continue making efforts to create a living from your work as a writer, traveler, blogger… it could be that your full-time job is exactly what you are doing now, but being paid for it! 🙂

  2. Rhonda

    Well said. Yes, the grass can always seem greener.. but, even while we are working to get back on the road again, we are counting each day as a blessing for we, too, have our health, eachother, a dry place to call home, and two adorable black dogs. Life is good.

  3. kelsey

    nice to hear that you can dedicate time to writing. like jenni said, you should definitely try to pursue that as a full-time “job”! 🙂

  4. Jen

    Great perspective. Really looking forward to chatting with you in person in a few months. Yunno, when we are back in the area, looking for the “perfect… okay maybe alright… okay whatever pays as long as there’s free coffee” job and plotting our next trip and writing all of our blog posts we didn’t have time to write on the road. 🙂 Looking forward to hearing more about the book!

    • Peter Korchnak

      Wait, there’s jobs with free coffee? I’ve been looking at this all wrong!

      We, too, planned to catch up on writing blog posts from the trip after returning, but the reality of being back took over. Which isn’t bad, just different. Luckily, now we have all that material to put in the book. No worries, we’ll keep you et al posted.

  5. Ashley

    I think this is an internal struggle all us travelers go through. When I’m traveling I’d like to feel a little more grounded with a bed to call my own for more than a week, the ability to hang out with friends & family, and to have a regular paycheck.

    And then when I’m home I feel the itch & all I can do is dream about my next adventure & how I’ll find a way to make a living without sitting behind a desk all day! 🙂

    • Peter Korchnak

      We always want what we don’t have, don’t we? That’s the reason the simple advice to appreciate what you have is so difficult to follow. But then, there’s only one way to scratch itchy feet!


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