If you could change one thing about your typical backpacking adventure, what would it be? Most avid backpackers would probably say that they wish they had the ability to explore for a longer period time. While some people get lucky with the time off they have from their jobs, others are not so lucky. Getting out “as much as possible” still isn’t the same as “whenever I want.” And, going for a short time means you can’t quite explore a place the way it’s intended. If you had the chance to leave it all behind for an unforgettable experience, would you? It seems impossible, doesn’t it?
But, what if I told you it wasn’t?
We see it all over the place now. People quitting their jobs, selling their stuff, and leaving it all behind to pursue their dreams of traveling or connecting with nature. Some people think it’s irresponsible, while some of us are envious, imagining what our lives could be like. Would it be like a chapter in “Wild,” a scene from “Into the Woods,” or would it be your own original story?
If you’ve EVER wanted to endlessly explore your country’s backyard (or another’s), there’s absolutely no reason on this earth you shouldn’t be able to. This is your life and you should live it however you want to. It just takes a little bit of courage and a little guidance.
Start with this.
Figure out what’s holding you back
What is it that’s stopping you heading out for a long time? Is it your kids? Your mortgage? A dead-end job? A car payment?
Is it pure and utter fear?
Each one of these “setbacks” can be dealt with. You just have to be flexible. Have kids? Bring them with you. Find a way to work out their schooling, or do it before they reach that age. (Remember, a trek like this will be the best education they could ever get.) Is it a mortgage? Rent it out to tenants to cover the payments. Too much stuff? Storage units can go for a $1 a month. No savings? Figure out how much you would need and how long it will take you to save that up. You’ll be surprised how much money you WON’T need in order to support yourself.
Lastly, are you scared? That’s normal. Find support in people who were once where you were, and are now living the dream. Watch documentaries that will inspire you. Focus on the part of you that wants to do this, and let that take over everything else.
You’re free to go now, but you don’t know where to start
Whether you want to road trip it to different backcountry destinations or you prefer to just walk from place to place with your backpack, there’s no right way to go about long term exploring. Whatever you choose, there’s a few things to you’re going to need. Food, money for emergencies, money for fun adventures, and if you don’t want to separate yourself too much from reality, a way to pay for your phone bill or internet (from your awesome RV, of course)!
Creating your itinerary, or lack-thereof
Not sure where to go? You don’t need to. This isn’t a four day, jam-packed trip to Disney World. This is your endless adventure. There’s no need to rush through anything, because YOU will choose when this adventure is up, not your work schedule. The only thing you need to have is a list of all the hikes you’ve ever wanted to do and parks you’ve wanted to visit, and make sure you hit them all at some point of your journey.
Returning to the “real world”
So, maybe you’re not planning on doing this adventure forever. Maybe having the chance to do it for six months, three months, or a year, is enough time to have you check things off of your backcountry bucketlist. Eventually, you’ll return “home,” or maybe you’ll decide to make the wilderness your humble abode. No matter your choice, I can guarantee you that you will never look at your life the same way ever again.
Remember, we always regret the things we don’t do in life. If you have ever had any inclination of leaving your 9-5 job for something better; something more meaningful, then just do it. The backcountry might always be there (if it doesn’t get destroyed), but you won’t always have a chance to access it like you do now. And, it doesn’t need to be forever. It doesn’t even need to be for a few months. It just needs to happen at some point in your life.
If you would love to pursue your time in the wilderness for more than just the su please do it. Find a way. It’s possible, and it will be the most rewarding thing you will ever do.