Being a hardcore traveller, you sometimes find yourself in situations that would shatter a normal person. Being completely broke, with no safety net, is one of them.
Everyone can relate to the stress of seeing your bank account running dry, knowing you still have more bills to pay, and above all: rent, before it will top up again. What makes the life of a traveller different to most of you out there is that it happens often. So often that I'm getting used to it.
I remember the first time I found myself in this situation: I was in Toronto, Canada, living the hostel dream. Sharing a room with seven other people, working in exchange for bread and shelter. I kept on getting moved from room to room as I couldn't book more than a few nights in advance. I hadn't had a private moment, just laying in my bed all alone in the room, in about two months. My pockets were empty and I was skipping meals. Not just single meals, that is normal for people that work hard or get distracted, but all meals for the day. At one point I hadn't had a single bite to eat in about two days. My energy was drained. I went shopping for the cafe at the hostel and found myself at an indoor market, completely drowning in the aromas of spices, tees and coffees. I soon started feeling light headed, losing my balance, so I left the store and thought I probably needed some fresh air. Before I made it out to the street however, things went pitch black. Next thing I knew I was outside, sitting down on a bench. I don't really know how I made it there.
I was stressing a lot. Making big deals out of nothing, having fights with just about anyone that was giving me the slightest bit of resistance and freaking out over the impending homelessness that seemed to be inevitably waiting for me around the corner.
So what happened? Yeah, I did run out of money and free nights. But thanks to charitable friends and strangers, and a fair bit of luck, I survived until I managed to score a job. The following four months were amongst the best in my traveling life.
The difference this time is that I am much more prepared. I can spot these problems coming up, and I know I can manage this; I mean, I've done it before. Furthermore, I know it is always well worth the effort and the hardship you go through. Even though I sometimes don't know where my next meal will come from I always enjoy this life I've chosen for myself so much more than what society would have me do. I'd rather be broke on the road than be broke at university.
I also know that the conditions on the road change rapidly. Just a week ago I was in a lot of stress, unemployed, with an almost empty bank account and no safety net. Today I find myself in a completely different situation. I now have the luxury problem of having to manage the shift puzzle of two jobs that both want me in on weekends. Already in my first week there has been a conflict and I have a feeling I might have to make a choice of one of the two. But until then I will take as many hours as I can and get myself out of this state of personal bankruptcy.
I knew I would make it, I always do, and now you are reading the blog of a traveling bartender/waiter. I've forgotten how it feels to have money and to be able to do things, finally it will change. It's a good experience to go through every once in a while, especially once you feel how the stress and pressure lifts from your shoulders and heart. Finally you can breathe again, and sometimes a very good thing will come out of being broke. In this case I was forced to quit smoking as I could no longer afford tobacco, and I am happy to report that I am now nicotine free for about a week.
Even though you don't have much money, you can still do things. You might just have to budget a road trip differently, and if it means you have to sleep in the car, then so be it. Although we only spent the night in the car as there was no available hotel room.
In the days after Christmas I went to the Grampians, a mountain chain about three hours North West of Melbourne, for some hiking and relaxing among all the kangaroos that were everywhere in this tiny town called Halls Gap. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more kangaroos than people living there, apart from all the tourists of course.
We also checked out the MacKenzie Falls, one of Victoria's largest waterfalls and I snapped some pics of the cascading water.
Until next time,