The One-Way Ticket – I Dare You

by Ashe Vagabond of the Vagabond Express

Hey, so travelers, there’s a subject I’d like to cover.

You’re heading out the door, bags in tow. You’ve got a flight to somewhere new, exciting, grand, maybe exotic or maybe just cool.

Passport? Check.

Money? Check.

Travel insurance? Probably a check.

Hotel reservations? Check.

Phrasal handbook of the local language? Check.

Return airfare? Return airfare….wait….return airfare?

Here’s the moment where we all diverge into certain experiences, and hence categories. Normally when one thinks of going where man hasn’t gone before, or at least leaving the comfort zone of home to explore a new set of customs and heritage, they anticipate such a thing within the mental constructs and expectations of a round-trip ticket. Yeah. So you’re heading off to Tahiti, but you’re coming back. Even if you do a study abroad program in Paris for a year, you’re coming back. So what about those maniac travelers who live life in one direction, in a series of one-way tickets?

I can think of only three ways to comprehend these folk, and I am one of them. We are either:

      1. Totally insane
      2. Way too easily bored
      3. The bravest folk on Earth

1. Totally Insane

To be honest, and this is based on my experiences with other expats, I think it’s a little of each. Most of us are, for lack of a better word, totally insane. We’re eccentric nut jobs who carry the customs, language, nuances, and traditions of such a compilation of countries that we are, for all intensive purposes, effectively schizophrenic when it comes to our personal culture and values – the ones we carry on our insides. We’ve seen so many darn ways to doing something that we end up keeping the ways we like and canning the ones we don’t. For example, if you saw my morning breakfast routine, it looks a bit like a Turkish, French, and German cook got into a fight in the kitchen and then had to compromise by allowing each to dominate 1/3 of my plate. Oh, and don’t forget my very American essential coffee. And if that’s my breakfast plate, let’s not even get started with my mental process. For those of us who have taken the one-way dive in countries as diverse as Asia and then to Europe and then off to South America, may Odin have mercy on your culturally schizophrenic soul!

2. Way Too Easily Bored

About the boredom, yeah this goes without saying. Most people in my native land are ADHD when it comes to television programs, books, magazines, and the internet. The attention span of most Americans is about that of a “New York minute” and they need to buy new crap faster than they can manage to fully orient with their old crap. Take this ADHD quality and suppose we one-way ticket freaks might have a bit of that too, only we don’t change the channel furiously from HBO to Animal Planet and then to the Food Network. No. We jump on a plane directly to the dramatic Mediterranean coast for some real hot-blooded drama and passion (HBO), then do a jump hop off to Africa to check out wild lions (Animal Planet), and finally run off to Afghanistan for some really exotic cuisine (Food Network). If you ever wondered whether or not boredom plays a role in this incessant globe-trotting, let me assure you: it does. We like the challenge of learning a new langauge and about new customs, which means there is nothing stimulating left for us once we’ve accomplished this.

3. The Bravest People on Earth

Next on to that bravery. Yep. What you call insane, some might call brave. And vice-versa. Do you have any idea how terrifying it is to get on a plane that is going in only one direction? Have you the slightest clue? Now, what I understand to be the “numero uno” reason that most people don’t really leave their native land is due to some combination of comfort and fear. Many times I’ve been told that I am brave, but it’s said as though I have no fear. Um, wrong. I am scared shitless usually as I approach the passport control (I always think they’re gonna reject me!). I’m scared on the plane, off the plane, meeting people, fumbling through a new language. I am afraid of getting trapped in a “weird” (foreign and therefore strange) country. I am afraid of eating something totally gross and dying from a wacky ass disease. I’m scared that some exotic bug will crawl in my window at night and bite me with a poison that no one has even seen before, that freaky bug! I wonder if certain plants are gonna give me rashes, if the water is clean, if someone staring at me is a sign that I’m about to get mugged, or if the public transportation is really safe. Man, I’m scared. The main difference between those at home who are scared and those abroad who are scared is that we did it anyways. Yeah, we faced those fears, and we face them everyday.


Because then you know what you are really made of.

If you don’t believe me, go buy a one-way ticket. I dare you.


6 Comments to “The One-Way Ticket – I Dare You”

  1. I would love to travel with a one way ticket but my husband thinks our three week plus trips to Europe are long. He says I could just live out of a suitcase which is what you are doing. Wonderful!

    • Hi Karen. I love your photo, by the way. Oh, man, the hubby detail. Yeah, I am so obsessed with globe trotting that I divorced a man in order to be able to travel. Had he been a vagabond too, then no problem, but he wanted to just sit around in the US all day….he didn’t even want to so much as VISIT another country. Talk about a bad match! I am not suggesting you divorce, goodness no. Actually, travelling AT ALL makes a big difference in your life, because it broadens perspectives so much.

      Well….if you guys ever fall in love with a place, maybe you could convince him. Or maybe you could retire in Paris or something. Why not?

  2. I dig this all… but…
    There’s something to be said about living a life that is secure, with some kind of stability. I find people who travel all the time are
    just unhappy with who they are and think they can just run away from troubles or even themselves. It’s great to explore and
    see different cultures and people, but can you do that for the rest of your life? Do you really think at 75 you’ll be on the road,
    no support, no kids, no insurance, no retirement fund, still living from one paycheck to the next? Don’t you think there is an age
    limit to being this.. carefree? In other words, when does one grow up and be responsible instead of flitting from one place to
    another? (These are general questions, not intended to disrespect or offend anyone… just things I’d like to know in order to
    understand the couple vagabonds I know!) =)

    • Hi Mel,

      Good questions, and I was actually pondering that myself just recently.

      First of all, let me make it very clear that the open road is FULL of troubles, some of them worse that what you’d find back home where it’s comfortable, as you’ve mentioned. Medical issues are a big one out here, as well as keeping up to date with a legit visa status, having an actual job to support yourself, and dealing with sometimes totally insane cultural issues (like being stalked all over the streets of Turkey on a daily basis by men who think you really are a prostitute). Trust me, there are plenty of troubles out here, especially for those vagabonds who don’t have the luxury of a rich mom/dad back home sending them regular checks or at least bailing them out from time to time. I’ve had neither. It’s been sink or swim since day one.

      About growing up…nah..growing up? Well, to be perfectly frank, I have a student loan back home that I send money for each month, I’ve always held down at least one full-time job in any country I’ve stayed in, paid my rent exactly on time, never been involved with the law in any negative way, and I’ve kept my visa status legal (harder than you might think).

      If you’re trying to understand the vagabond you know, then it will be hard to give a generalized answer to you. Actually, by the very nature of a vagabond, each one is quite different, as I mentioned a bit about all the different cultures we carry within us, which depends on where we’ve been.

      By the way, there’s also a big difference between a backpacker and an expat/one-way ticket person. A back-packer literally lives out of a back and never stops moving. The one-way ticket freak is actually signing up to deal with all the troubles and “responsibilities” that will be brought on in the new country.

      At 75 years old…I hope I will have married a cute boy vagabond and have had vagababies with him 🙂 Seriously. About an age limit, no, there isn’t one. I’ll stop roaming when I can no longer walk. But about preparing for the future, absolutely, there is a time for that. I know many vagabonds with a healthy savings account and I personally am planning to go for my PhD soon, which will put me in a better position to support myself later in life.

      Thanks for visiting, by the way.

  3. I know you a little bit better now. You made me laugh and cry. That’s not all that hard to do
    but I appreciate it. Thank you for your candidness.

    Your sappy, ADHD Auntie Lala

  4. I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

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