My So-Called 2-Suitcase Life

Thursday, October 14, 2010

by abbey*christine
'Travel is like adultery: one is always tempted to be unfaithful to one's own country. To have imagination is inevitably to be dissatisfied with where you live... in our wanderlust, we are lovers looking for consummation.' Anatole Broyard

2 years, 3 continents, 4 countries and 5 moves later, I’m still feeling tempted and unconsummated.

After I was bit by the travel bug in 2008, I was never the same. It started with the unscratchable itch to live in a different country. So I quit my job in Manila and worked in New York for a year. Then I moved to Germany and eventually to Switzerland for love. Europe told me I couldn’t overstay my welcome. So I had to give it all up and go back to the Philippines eventually.

That’s when I slowly accepted my fate, got my old job back and took on the responsibilities of a normal 20 something adult. When I came back, everything about home was the same. It was I, who was completely changed. Try as I might, I can’t seem to stop myself from booking a plane ticket I could hardly afford and hopping on the next plane headed to ‘anywhere but here’. (Ask Reannon, she knows.)

Call it non-conformity. Call it escaping adulthood. Call it nomadic, barbaric even.

I’m calling it my 2-suitcase life.

What I love about it:

Minimalist living. If you can pack your entire life in less than an hour and fit it all into 2 suitcases then you know you have only the essentials. People can truly live on so little. I’m not making a huge spectacle of owning less than most people. But if you’ve moved as many times as I have in the last 2 years, you’ll end up an accidental minimalist too. When I want something, my main consideration is ‘Can I bring it with me on the next move?’ So I've learned to value experiences more than possessions.

Unattached to things. The only things I considered ‘valuables ‘ were my passport, my camera 'Gabe' and my hard drive with over 3 years worth of photos. I already lost the hard drive. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with. I cried. But like most trips, I got over it and moved on.

Live curious. Everything is so fascinating! I can’t help but photograph and relish every single meal. (And no, it’s not just because I’m Asian!) I check out the local MacDonald’s in whichever country I’m in to know what different offerings they have. And I don’t even like MacDonald's!

Be fully aware. Travel allows me to focus on the HERE and the NOW which I hardly do when I’m back home. I don't zone out even when I’m just going for a walk. I have to experience everything. That also means ignoring my fears while traveling.

See the world differently. After I’ve seen a teeny weeny bit of the world, I find it more difficult to make judgments based on race, culture and ethnicity. To single out a group of people. put them in boxes and compare their culture to mine would be hasty generalization. I don’t travel just to look for the familiar comforts of home. I travel to search for anomaly in this increasingly homogeneous world.

What I hate:

Rolling stone gathers no moss. I try to learn everything, only to unlearn it and start from scratch. My facebook page tells me I have hundreds of friends scattered all over the world. But I keep in touch with only a few.

Everything is measured in terms of the next destination: ‘Sure, I can get this pair of shoes, but for this price I could go on a 2 week trip to Laos!’ All my hard earned savings go to the ‘travel fund’.

The compulsive urge to check out those budget airline fares. ‘They have promo flights to Australia in 6 months! But I’ll be in Cambodia by then, dammit!’

Strained relationships. For someone who hates goodbyes, I say it often. The hard part is when I meet people on the road that I genuinely share a connection with. We travel for some time and enjoy each other’s company until we have to part. Constantly moving from one continent to the next pretty much kills the chances of continuing relationships and establishing a career. But I agree with Chris Guillebeau when he said: 'If you really want to head off in pursuit of a big dream, something's gotta give.' (read full article here)

Coming back. There are people who bawl their eyes out in airports. I’m one of them. But not because I have to leave. It’s the coming back that sucks.


Are you living a 2 suitcase life? Would you like to? What do you love and hate about it? Let the Sole Sisters know what you think.

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15 sole trails

  1. There are a lot of people who'd envy the kind of life you chose to lead. and I'm sure deep within you, as much as your feet itches to move about, one day you'd want to have a home base, or maybe you keep your home in your heart and one day it would want to stay put, wherever that/he may be... :D keep sharing your stories Lois. I like reading your thoughts, feels like I've traveled myself. :D

  2. I love hearing from you Sherl! Thanks for the comment. I'm just glad that my 'home' has agreed to come along wherever these itchy soles want to go next. But that's another story... It's great you started writing again :-)

  3. Beautiful entry, Lois :) Sadly, I have too much stuff, when in fact, as you said, I can live with just a laptop and an Internet connection. Thanks for this, you inspired me to dig through the mountain of junk in my room and throw out the stuff I don't need :)

  4. Awww.. appreciate the note, Nina. The minimalist part has its upsides and downsides. But if it inspires you to do a garage sale, why not? Now I just have to convince my Sole Sister Cherry to do the same. ;-)

  5. Your heart is your home :) - Ness

  6. I love your blog that you share with your sole sister. I am at work, and have started reading your blog (got the link off the post you placed in CS Manila) an hour and a half ago, and I've been hooked. I've realised I've smiled whilst reading your articles as I've enjoyed the humour and the adventures you two have shared with all of us.

    Oh, LDRs, what you do to us. :) The travel bug bit me and it started with an LDR some 5yrs ago, :) like you, my European welcome cannot afford to let me stay there for as long as my doemstic bliss can. I also had to go back home to the Philippines, and needless to say, the relationship failed after less than a year.

    My favourite so far was this - checking out the local MacDonalds in every country you go to --- we have this in common!!! I 'grew up' with MacDonalds (constantly having it for breakfast every Sunday after going to church, the constant 'baon' for school field trips, the midnight snack whilst slaving over school work back in high school and Uni, the easiest food I can order & eat within minutes now that I am in the rat race - you get the idea, I'm a McDo kid LOL)

    Keep on writing, ladies. I love and savour everything you've written so far. Good luck on the 6 month SEA trip. I shall watch Darjeeling Limited and I'm sure like you, I will be in awe with India, and dream of going there solo - soon!

  7. Thanks Ness. This made me smile today.


  8. I love hearing from you Sherl! Thanks for the comment. I'm just glad that my 'home' has agreed to come along wherever these itchy soles want to go next. But that's another story... It's great you started writing again :-)

  9. thank you for sharing your story, Lois! feels like i've know you personally :) i have itchy soles as well and ever since i started living away from home, my feet have been itching for more adventures. 

  10. I think we may have the same story Yvonne. Thank you for following our adventures. I love to hear about other Filipinos with itchy soles...

  11. i like your view about minimalist living..i was reminded by how George Clooney in Up in the Air describes his suitcase and what it contains..i wish i could travel the world too..i've started travels here in our country and would want to explore the world..thank you for your wonderful blog and how it extinguish the fear of travel..have a safe journey..

  12. I really liked that George Clooney movie. Mainly because I envied his character's life, the frequent flying part. It's great you are traveling in the Philippines first. I realized how little I have traveled here and plan to change that in the near future. I wish you many happy adventures Kim. Thanks for leaving a thoughtful note!

  13. Hi Lois and Chichi, you keep on inspiring me to travel and how you put your love for travels into writing. Kudos!  

  14. Thanks Ire! Welcome to the sisterhood! Keep walking...

  15. I can't believe I just stumbled upon your blog just now! I just started reading and I'm already hooked. Your posts are very insipiring. I hope I can do what you do someday.. :)


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