Should I give it all up and hit the road?

by Beau Johnston
Overland Travel 4Runner

I am asked by friends and family, quite regularly actually, when I am going to give up my day job and hit the road with Krista.  The response I always give must come as a surprise to most - 'Not in the foreseeable future.'  'But why?' they often reply.  I guess it really boils down to my perspective on life and work.  While part of me longs to see new places, meet new cultures, and experience the flavors of the world; I am in love with my career.  I know I know - in love? Really??  Well, it is true.  I am, after all, an engineer - nerd - and my career allows me to tinker, design, and work with some incredibly talented people!

Living Overland

I know it must sound strange, but I really do love what I do.  Because of this, it is hard to balance my desire to travel with my desire to design.  Let us look at this for a moment.  Did you notice I said I was in love with my career; I did not mention my job. (Although if my boss is reading this - I love my job ;-))  All joking aside, I think many people get bogged down by the monotony of life and work; just needing an escape from it all.  Now, this post is not meant to be a 'self-help' guide to finding your ideal career path; I can only speak for myself and what I have observed in my life.  I have, in the past, been in a miserable career path that was full of stress, anxiety, and I felt like I was not appreciated.  I wanted to run away from it all and hit the road.

Beau & Krista Johnston

Looking back on my previous 'life,' while I was not happy, I can say I was not happy because I was doing something that wasn't me.  So what does all of this mean?  Well, I think some would still say I am 'stuck' at a desk job when I want to travel the world.  I think I am fortunate to have fallen into a career that challenges me, allows me to do what I want to do, and affords me the opportunities to take kick-ass trips with friends and those I love!  Why can't I have it both ways?  Why can't you?

Beau and Krista JohnstonI believe some of the popular outdoor/overland forums have made us think we must be on the road one/two/five years to feel accomplished.  While I am all for people making trips like this, and one day I plan on doing the same, we shouldn't be sucked into the idea that is necessary.  Why can we not be satisfied exploring the world around us and still have a satisfying career?  Rob Anderson said it best in his Adventure IQ blog, 'We explore our backyards and backroads….we spend weekends not weeks on end.  We traversed Idaho on dirt and probably had the same feeling as those who explored Africa by Land Rover.'  I believe we can strike a balance between both desires.

So how do we find this 'happy medium' between work and travel?  I think the first thing is to set goals, much like your career goals, to work toward.  Once you know what you want to do, you can derive the plan to achieve your goals.  Think outside of the box and be creative when developing your plans.  Let us say you want to drive across Canada and into Alaska but cannot afford to take two/three weeks off to make the trip.  You could follow the lead the Menards and plan the trip out in stages, identifying locations along the way to store your vehicle and fly home.

Beau Johnston

So why am I writing all of this?  I guess in all of this rambling, and I apologize for my rambling, I want to give a shout out to the 'weekend warrior' traveler; you are not alone.  One should never feel like they are looked down upon because their life does not revolve around being on the road.  I may not have the opportunity to drive a Land Cruiser across all seven continents or spend 18 consecutive months driving around India, and I am okay with that.  Life is what you make of it and should never be a competition in travels.  Live your life and don't get sucked into feeling inadequate because you can only afford to make weekend trips!