It was seven years to figure out what Joey did, no one seriously knew, no one really pushed and asked. He was aloof and hard, London, pulled a lot of girls while concerningly unkempt. Joey could always pay his steady bar tab, tipped, and had properly covered a lot of the world over an extended period. He seemed like he knew things, but never specified what. We assumed he was a drug dealer.
There are patterns to funding travel, options.
- Hard labour plus virtual freeganism, multi-year tour-de-force.
- Stockpile spoils of young professional salary, avoid blowing on top shelf bourbon, become expat.
- Be secretly rich.
- Be a hustler.
Joey, he was a plumber.
My longest trips were funded by semi-insanity. I knew I needed to clear student loans; even at a low interest rate any payment would be a potential burden. I also needed as much of a safety net as possible, and to keep what I was doing to be kind of a secret because it involved maintaining precarious employment until pulling the chute. In my mind, I was halfway gone — my apartment was styled like a migrant worker lived there (mattress on the floor, suspicious lack of personal belongings). I briefly considered how much I could more I could save if I just slept in my office under my desk and got a gym membership, eating my third stale muffin of the weekend collected at 6:00 pm after “muffin Fridays” at the office, while figuring out how to turn in my recyclables for cash conveniently.
It wasn’t all as harsh as that sounds — always a pint or lunch with coworkers when everyone was going (aka keeping the escape plan secret). Some go much further. Whatever works.
I once had a guy in Paris from a blue blood background sermonize about how hard being a summer caddy at the golf club had been. YOU DON’T KNOW what it’s like TO SELECT THE CLUBS, man. People do what they have to do. He also admitted to voting Republican when that was really, really not a done thing in the international backpacking set (is is now?). I get that to many purists, I’m probably that guy. There’s always another sacrifice to be made, someone harder-core.
Looking back, though, it was actually part of the trip, and behind every trip story are the details of the life leading up to it. Je ne regrette rein.