Vagabonding with Maxime

After living a nomadic lifestyle for the last five years, Maxime, a 26 year old vagabond from France, gives some insight into his lifestyle, how he affords it and how taking some wrong turns led him towards the path he is on.

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 I lived in my small town for most of my childhood and teenage life. Dad is a business man and social magician, Mum is a perfect house wife. I’ve got a younger sister and a baby brother. We’ve all been raised with love and support, which I’m very grateful for! We grew up in an amazing part of the world,  so we didn’t really travel when we were kids. I grew up believing that I needed to go to school,  then University, then start a career.

All that was tough for me because I was very lazy at school,  and I wanted to become a rockstar. But I did the minimum effort I needed to do to have my degrees, and today (even though I never had to use them) I see my degrees as a parachute, a back up plan.

Anyway,  at 16 I saw Into The Wild and that movie changed my life. I started hitchhiking everywhere, then I organised a few trips across France by hitchhiking on a very low budget. I quickly learnt that you could travel with very little money if you didn’t mind doing it rough. And also that the experiences provided by that “struggle” are way more powerful and rewarding than taking the easy and usually expensive path. 

Fast forward to me being 21, interning in a recording studio in Louisiana, trying to find my path in the music industry, and after three months, realising that I was looking for a career I didn’t want. (I realised) that all I wanted was to bum around the world for a year. So I went back home,  started working,  living at home, saving every penny, and 6 months later, in September 2012 I started living a nomadic lifestyle, and I’ve haven’t stopped since.

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Right now,  I’ve been living for a month on an Island in the Philippines. I came here to chill and surf for a month.  It’s such a beautiful place,  very simple, and not that developed yet,  even though things growing super fast. There hasn’t been any good waves,  so I’ve been focusing on playing gigs (I play guitar and sing) in bars around here,  and basically living a rockstar life made of coconut water,  cheap chocolate bars, and other sensually gratifying pleasures!

My philosophy on money is : the less you spend, the less you need, the less you work. 

So first I try to spend as little money as possible. Then I plan my travel knowing where I can work,  when I need to work. For example, I knew I could get money in NZ,  so when I was running low, I moved to New Zealand, travelled on the cheap there,  found a job,  lived in a community with no rent, and saved as much as I could,  to travel freely again. I also busk and play music in bars,  restaurants and cafes for food and money.  Which allows me to not spend too much of the money saved on my bank account. This money I keep for flights,  emergencies and comfort. I recently got certified as a surf Instructor, so now I’m planning on making money with that,  which will allow me to live by the beach in exotic places.

I envy some of the digital nomads,  because they can make a serious income while traveling. It must be really freeing. And I think if you can make money from your computer, do it!

The main benefits for me,  is the growth. This kind of life style make you grow in ways you can’t even imagine. I think it’s mostly because you can start fresh wherever you move. No one knows you.  So you can really work on becoming who you really want to be. You know when you go back home, people might still see you as the person you were when you were 18. And that really slows down your growth, cause whatever you do,  they will hold you back to that old self. And you also got a shitload of free time!  And you can use that to learn, read, study,  or just do nothing.

When you learn to be alone and do nothing,  you learn to be comfortable with yourself. And that’s something we don’t do enough. Comes back to the old cliche saying: I travel to find myself.

What’s challenging is the constant pressure of society, asking you to conform. Sounds hippy as fuck,  but it’s true. I’m super happy doing what I do. But there’s always this voice in my head, telling me that I need to think about my future, that I need to build a family, make serious money and all the blablabla! It takes a while to say FUCK IT and just do what you really want to do. But I tell myself that I have to trust whatever is happening. Because as long as wake up with a smile on my face,  I’m exactly where I need to be!

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I’m (also) lucky enough to be able to emotionally detach from people. So, yes, saying goodbye is tough, in the moment (and I say goodbye a lot) but I quickly recover from it.  As soon as I’m onto the next adventure, I feel better. But it is still pretty tough to leave behind places and people you love.  And in your head there’s this “what if I stayed?!”

But the biggest sacrifices, the toughest thing about being away from France, is not being able to stuff my face with cheeses, croissants, baguette and garlic.

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