Charli Moore of Wander Lusters
Hometown: Norwich, United Kingdom
Quote: “There’s nothing you can’t overcome if your desire to achieve is strong enough.”
How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip?
I first came across Vagabonding in 2010. I’d not long graduated University and had thrown myself into an unpaid internship in London. Working long hours for little financial reward I, like so many graduates, lived in hope that my efforts and experience in the field would be rewarded with employment. I was one of the lucky ones. Not only did I land an internship with one of the leading arts organizations in London, I was offered a job at the end of it. Then just 14 months later, I quit. I didn’t quit for any other reason than the simple fact I wanted more, more from my existence.
For a number of years my partner and I had spoken of our desire to travel, and while he had supported me in my decision to get a foot up on the career ladder, we both knew that a period of travel was something we wanted. However at that point, travel was something we couldn’t necessarily find the time to achieve. Six months into my first job I read the phrase, ‘Anyone with an adventurous spirit can achieve the feat of taking extended time off from work to experience the world.’ After reading Vagabonding cover to cover I knew that our dream of travel was achievable, all we had to do was make it happen.
How long were you on the road?
We flew out of Heathrow Airport on 1st June 2011 and we’ve yet to return.
Where did you go?
The first 6 months of our travels were spent predominantly in Costa Rica, although we spent week here and there in Toronto, Chicago and Granada, Nicaragua. We utilize house sitting assignments to subsidize our cost of living and so tend to allow our itinerary to be dictated by the opportunities we are offered. Securing an assignment in Vancouver we made the transition from the warmth of the tropics to the frigid winter of British Colombia, and took the opportunity to hone our snowboarding skills.
Seattle and Hawaii offered stepping stones for our journey over to Australia. There we activated working holiday visas and spent the following 12 months on an epic road trip which would see us almost circumnavigate the vast red continent. As I type these words I’m sat in a campsite in New Zealand’s Abel Tasman National Park. The last 13 months have offered us the opportunity to hit the road once more, this time to explore the landscapes of Australia’s indomitable neighbor.
What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey?
Before leaving home I worked as a PA in the London arts scene, and my other half worked in IT for a large multi-national.
Did you work or volunteer on the road?
We’ve both held working holiday visas for a large part of our travels to date and so have managed to pick up freelance work as we travelled around on our road trips. Now that travel has become an integral part of our existence, we’ve started to look for ways to source a regular income on the road.
Of all the places you visited, which was your favorite?
We both fell in love with the lush landscapes and laid back vibe of southern Costa Rica. Our house sitting assignment in the region opened our eyes to the joys of simple living and we became quite adept at living off the grid. Having said that, New Zealand is currently taking strides towards the #1 spot. I’m constantly in a state of awe; each new location we visit offers insight into Mother Nature’s phenomenal creativity.
Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging?
I’m not sure that anywhere we’ve travelled has been disappointing; to me a new location has merit simply because I’ve yet to explore its landscapes and understand its cultures.
Which travel gear proved most useful? Least useful?
I keep two travel sporks in my purse at all times. I’ve used them on planes, in cafes and on the streets of every country we’ve visited. I’m sad to say least useful has been our Pack Safe. A metal mesh bag that is designed to secure a backpack and prevent theft, it has seen the light of day only twice.
What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?
Freedom and enrichment. My vagabonding lifestyle offers me the freedom to explore the world on my own terms. I’m not bound by annual leave or the constraints of a package holiday. I can experience the locations I visit as I choose. My travels enrich my life, there’s really no other way to describe it. I’ve found that I’ve received an entirely new form of education since leaving home. I’m grateful for the opportunities I have and thankful I have found myself with the freedom to travel.
What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle?
Despite the many positive aspects of perpetual travel, there are two things of which I am conscious my vagabonding life does not promote. The first is relationships. I am blessed to have such a wonderful travel buddy in my partner Ben, however we do not have a social network of friends and family whom we see regularly. Our friendships are made in passing, and while many are built with strong bonds we know that they may only result in infrequent conversations from across oceans and continents.
The second is stability. Unlike many of our peers we are not working hard to invest in property, we have no plans to start a family just yet and our career ladder looks entirely different to that of those with whom we graduated. We’re on a different trajectory to most, but in our eyes it is one enriched with experiences and understanding.
What lessons did you learn on the road?
I’ve learnt a lot about the person I am. Long term travel provides challenges that a daily 9 to 5 routine does not, and so it offers the opportunity to test limits and push through barriers. The last 3 years have taught me I’ve a lot more passion, understanding and strength than I had previously thought.
How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip?
The concept of vagabonding has become a constant in my life. No longer is it just a term that defines an inaccessible lifestyle, it is now something that inspires me to strive to achieve my goals.
If there was one thing you could have told yourself before the trip, what would it be?
That travel would enrich my life more than my previous 23 years of education, so why had I not already booked a flight and crammed my life into a backpack.
Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure?
There’s nothing you can’t overcome if your desire to achieve is strong enough. Whether it be escaping your 9 to 5 or relinquishing the ties to what is considered as normality, there will be elements of long term travel that seem unobtainable. Believe me, in 12 months time you’ll look back at the person who waved goodbye to the life they knew and you’ll thank them for having the strength to follow their dream.
When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey?
We plan to continue our New Zealand road trip until our visa expires later this year. From here we’ll fly to the USA to take up a house sitting assignment and then … who knows.
Read more about their insatiable wanderlust on their blog, Wanderlusters.
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Image: Arturo Sotillo (flickr)