I came across a hilarious essay in The New Yorker this week titled “Why I Quit My Job to Travel the World.” It’s a satirical take on so many travel bloggers’ mantras and honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air. Read the whole essay if you get a chance. For now, here’s a taste:
On paper, my life seemed great. I had a dream job, a swanky apartment, and a loving girlfriend. But something was off. I couldn’t bear being chained to my desk in a stuffy office any longer. So I decided to quit and travel the world, bringing only my passport, a small backpack, and my enormous trust fund…
My first few months roaming the world were life-changing. Every day, I updated my Instagram with photos of my favorite sights: cones filled with scoops of glistening gelato; my hand lightly resting on a café table, near an early edition of “On the Road”; selfies of me hugging depressed tigers too stoned on sedatives to drown themselves. Still, I needed to see more. My wanderlust had turned me into a wanderslut.
You may read my blog and think that I am one of these people. Meanwhile, I’m reading other travel blogs and thinking they are one of these people. (OK, so I am totally guilty of Instagramming gelato…) but the truth is I’m not someone who quit “real life,” travels the world no strings attached and never feels a pang for putting down roots in the U.S.
Here’s the truth.
We live in Switzerland thanks to my husband’s job. We didn’t leave everything behind to travel the world. We didn’t quit life; life goes on here. We are Swiss residents. We pay taxes here. We work here. We grocery shop, do laundry, clean the bath tub and go to the dentist here. It costs money to live abroad and a whole lot more of it to live in Switzerland.
What we did gain by moving here is proximity to most of Europe. Paris is three hours by train. Dublin, Prague and Florence are less than two hours by plane. It’s amazing. We can’t get enough of it. But it costs money and we’ve made sacrifices to make it happen. We rarely go out to restaurants in Geneva. We rarely shop for clothes or go to the movies. We funnel our money instead into our travel addiction. We have gained so much in intangible life experiences by seeing the world, but it comes at a price–both financial and emotional.
I miss Saturday brunches with my friends, monthly pedicures and my old job. I miss weddings and baby showers and little moments with my nephew. I miss my family. I still love the choice we have made, but I would never look down on the choice to live near family and put down roots. That sounds lovely.
Oh and that Instagram photo of gelato? It took me five takes to get the right lighting and a walk around the block to find a signal to get it online. That’s the truth.
Some more of my musings on expat life: