Heretofore, my two Biggest Loves: the tendency to run around the world all by myself and then to write books and blogs about the experience, were just shacking up together. These talents of mine were not exactly wed. Well, what did they know? It was just a hobby!
That changed this week when I became a card-carrying member of the International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance and signed up to attend their conference in San Francisco on my way across the Pacific Ocean to explore Australia, New Zealand and all the gorgeous islands scattered in those blue, blue waters: Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti and many others. I guess we can call this my Honeymoon!
Such a wedding will take as much planning and preparation as if I were marrying a real live man. The work has already begun in earnest. First, I got my Florida house into great shape and leased it, furnished, to a couple who will cherish it as I have. Airtreks is lining up my plane tickets for the next quarter of a year and that’s how I’ll buy them from now on. I leave home July 25th, perhaps never to return.
I’m retiring to The Wild Blue Yonder; to everywhere and to no place in particular! The realization of all this is a bit of a surprise…. even to a constant world wanderer like myself. But it’s all in how you look at it. Of course I’ll still stop for rests and I do plan to settle into beautiful places for good long stays. It just won’t be the same place every time. It just won’t have MY STUFF waiting faithfully for me to – what? Wear? Read? Ride? Drive? Look at? Flip through? These days I’m pretty well culled. What I still have is already out of sight and mind, stored away into an owner’s closet here. Living like this will take a mental adjustment, to be sure, but life on the road keeps the STUFF trimmed down and still allows me to buy more when I need it, see it, or want it. Just so I keep giving things away, like I’m doing now to prepare for departure.
Seniors do this all the time. Ask anyone who has retired to a motor home. Usually that’s two people trying to fit themselves into a few square feet.
You might ask why I’m becoming a professional Travel Writer/Photographer. Because editors PAY you to write stuff about places….all sorts of places….in all sorts of ways. I can recommend a wonderful vacation spot or I can report on a funny incident or list ten reasons to do what I do at my age involving airports and foreign languages and why I’m not afraid.
Newspapers, magazines and all the print venues we are accustomed to holding in our hands need constant filling up from a large assortment of new writers for each edition. An even more voracious stream of reading material is the online press, destined to overtake traditional media in less than two years. 1214, the pundits say, will be when most of us do our reading on ebooks, computers and telephones. It makes sense to me to gear my writing toward this soundbite generation, especially if I can make money at it. After all, I’ve had the satisfaction of publishing three good books, each close to three-hundred pages long. Let’s see if less is really more….especially in the pocketbook.
Because, there’s also the business of free goodies: meals, hotel rooms, excursions, theater performances and such, which are eagerly offered to visiting travel writers in hopes of a favorable story. In my case, I’d be going to these countries anyway, snooping about for excellent tales to tell. Always before, I’ve had to pay for every little thing. Can you guess why I stay in hostels?
Now, I can report home from between silken sheets in luxury spas and ski resorts. This will qualify me to do a sociology piece on class differences between the backpacking set and the millionaires. I think I already know which one I prefer…and it’s not the got-rocks.* Ah well, we all must sacrifice when we travel!
*I like the easy cameraderie of the adventurers.