Many people have asked me how I could just leave my job and seemingly travel perpetually. How can I afford it? How do you find places to stay for free all the time? How do you find places to volunteer? All questions I’ve received by email, and now I’m sharing the secrets in a series of posts about how The Happy Nomad Tour Rolls and what things are like behind the scenes.
Have you ever arrived in a place and felt something? Maybe you felt great; maybe you felt like something was off. Maybe you felt nothing; maybe you felt “at home.”
It’s hard to isolate this feeling from your own internal biases. Maybe a place feels like home because you’ve lived there your whole life. Maybe a place feels great because you’re from a place with limited sunshine and haven’t had a vacation in years and you suddenly find yourself surrounded by sunshine and palm trees.
In my case, I do my best to keep my ear to the ground as I travel, but also my ear to my heart. I am not actively looking for a place to live, but I can’t help but think about it and see how I feel everywhere I go. As I left Cyprus, a place I felt quite free, open, and harmonious, I took a short plane ride and found myself in Hungary.
Hungary is awesome and Budapest is a wonderful city to visit. But as I put my ear to the ground and my ear to my heart, I didn’t like what I heard. At first I thought maybe it was a bit of homesickness from Cyprus, missing all the amazing people I met there, but it wasn’t that.
In most respects, it’s nice being back in Europe. The systems work for the most part, there is plenty of information online, the internet is fast, you can drink the tap water and not die, etc. But at the same time, I was surrounded by people who weren’t smiling, who at times were quite rude, impatient, and seemed to complain when given the chance.
More than this though, it was like I could feel the collective conscious and it felt very…heavy. I don’t know how else to explain it. It just felt heavy and unhappy in a way I don’t think I’ve experienced so far on this journey. And by no means do I think this is unique to Hungary. I think many places I’ve been before in Europe are similar, but I’d have to visit again to confirm.
When I go back to the U.S. I feel the same. I feel a general malaise, as if a plague of unhappiness has swept the nation. Since I’m from the U.S. it’s hard to be objective. Still, I feel it.
On this trip I have discovered many things, but an unexpected find is that it’s definitely easier to be happier in some places than in others. Again, this is all relative to the individual. Given my personality and what I want out of a place, some places and cultures are much better fits. And the places I see now as good fits wouldn’t have been back when I was working in Denmark and planning this journey because my personality has changed so much these past couple years.
I think I could live anywhere and be happy. I know I could. But some places would require more conscious effort than others.