Why I'm Giving Up Life On The Road
1 year, 7 months ago 67

Why I’m Giving Up Life On The Road

Next Post
Previous Post

rays of light antelope canyon3

Why I’m Giving Up Life On The Road

I should mention that I’m not quitting travelling entirely. But I am leaving behind this long-term travelling lifestyle and moving back to the UK. I will be putting behind me the long journeys lasting months, and replacing them with 2 or 3-week trips.

I felt strangely lost, like I was leading a ghostly existence. The waves on Phillip Island, Australia, were smashing against the rocky shore, and I had an hour before the sun would set. Thinking about the life my wife and I had been leading for 7 years, I was amazed at all the things we’d experienced.

As well as travelling extensively, we’ve lived in Korea, Indonesia and France. And throughout that time we’ve lived a completely minimalist lifestyle, owning barely more than 2 backpacks of belongings each.

It has been quite a journey, which included learning (and then forgetting) 3 languages, finding photography and creating my business, and most importantly, becoming far more comfortable with who I am.

Visiting spectacular nature spots, standing atop mega-buildings, looking out over the nightly glow of gigantic cities, seeing massive man-made monuments, experiencing earthquakes, climbing active volcanoes, isolated in seeming remoteness, and generally living an adventure that most would dream of – we have loved it.

Yet something was now amiss. I knew what it was because it wasn’t the first time I’d felt it. I knew I was ready to give up a travelling lifestyle.

Why We Started Travelling & What I Learned

The journey began with a desire to see more of the world, but our biggest drive was to move away from what we considered average, run-of-the-mill lives back in the UK.

Seven years ago I was craving excitement, stimulation, and greener pastures. A change of scenery would give me a sense of adventure. A new country to live in would make me happier. Selling or throwing out all of my belongings would liberate me.

And yet, not one of these things has been true.

With every change of scenery, I was still me, no more adventurous than before. In every new country I remained who I was. Selling and throwing out my belongings left me with fewer belongings, nothing more.

I think that my initial beliefs and ideas around travelling were way off the mark.

What I realise now was that before I left the UK I had an idealised version of who I should be. I should be an adventurer, or unique, or living a ‘desirable’ life. I suppose we are flooded with images from T.V. and social media of people leading seemingly incredible lives, and maybe I thought that I needed to be that person, living that life.

During all of this time I feel like I’ve been ticking things off a list. But this isn’t a bucket list. Quite unexpectedly a list in my head of all things I didn’t want or need in my life seemed to take shape early in our adventure.

But what is left at the end of everything, is a married couple who find comfort in a cup of coffee at a nice little cafe, or a morning tea (much of our day involves tea and coffee) at a lake somewhere, watching sunrise.

During our last stay in Korea, my favourite part of the day was before sunrise. We had massive windows, 20 floors up in our apartment right in the centre of the city. I’d drink a cup of tea watching the city wake up, and people busying themselves. I loved those mornings.

At the heart of this is just an appreciation of the simpler things.

What I slowly became comfortable with was that I’m okay being me, whoever I am. I don’t need to be some idealised version of myself. I don’t need to travel great distances to be inspired. I think travelling helped me to develop this new understanding.

The truth is, I’m kind-of boring. I’m not at all the thrill-seeking explorer I once thought I was, and tried to be.

I spend my days, as well as drinking tea, reading books, listening to podcasts or working online. When I’m on the road I don’t go to exciting tourist places and do crazy things, like bungee jumping. When I’m on location shooting, I’m 100% photography focused. It is all I think about at that time.

I’m also an introvert, and that is something I wouldn’t have known seven years ago. When people meet me they note that I’m confident and like to keep the conversation flowing, but most of the time I prefer to be alone, or with my wife, close friends and family. Yet we’re always told we need to be more confident, work on our social skills, be more outgoing – we’re all supposed to be an individualised version of Tony Robbins. And I bought into that idea. I do believe it’s healthy to regularly stretch our comfort zones a little, but not so we can become someone we’re not. But instead, stepping outside our comfort zones may lead us to experience something we may otherwise have missed.

I can’t believe that I used to think there was even such a thing as an ‘average’ life. It seems so absurd now. And pretentious.

Why I’m Leaving Long Journeys Behind

I love the idea of finally having a home, instead of sleeping in foreign beds, on floors, or in airplanes. I look forward to an evening beer with friends along the River Tyne. My taste buds are craving a more consistent diet, with meals being enjoyed in my own dining room. And settling down to a good book, T.V. series (any recommendations for new T.V. series is always appreciated!), or movie now and then seems like heaven on earth.

This isn’t what I’m supposed to say.  I’m supposed to say I love travelling and my life is an incredible adventure. But I feel that travelling is often over-romanticised through the media and social media. It’s easy to be drawn to someone who seems to be living this perfect nomadic lifestyle. But what we only see is the best parts of their life. Look at my social media and you will see little to nothing of the bad sides of travelling. While travelling certainly does bring magical moments, it also has its incredibly boring moments, or even stressful moments.

I don’t mean to dampen the dream that so many have of abandoning their lives and hitting the road. That isn’t my intention. This journey really has been incredible, but you should know that it isn’t all roses. And I hope your reasons for travelling are somewhat different to what mine were.

I do encourage every one of you, if it is your desire, to get out and see the world.

I hope I don’t sound ungrateful about my time on the road. I love to visit beautiful locations, especially a quiet landscape. At White Pocket, which I visited a few days ago, I turned to my wife as we sat, completely alone, surrounded in morning silence after filming this tutorial, and said this was one of the most amazing places I’d ever visited. It was worth the journey.

Without travelling I simply wouldn’t have found my passion and career as a photographer. And of huge importance, it is allowing me to go home with few regrets, wonderful memories, and as a much more confident introvert than I ever was before.

Essentially, I’m leaving behind these long journeys because, although they do bring wonderful moments, I’ve found life on the road to be a somewhat lonely existence. We have met and befriended hundreds of people. Yet a tiny few of these people have become real friends. Most of our conversations are the same conversations we’ve had hundreds of times before; ‘where are you from?’; ‘what do you do?’; ‘how long have you been on the road?’

It seems that we rarely get to know a person long enough to really forge a connection. And the older I become the more I realise how important people are in my life. I know I said I tend towards introversion but even introverts still like to connect with certain people.

The other reason I’m abandoning a nomadic existence is because I crave familiarity sometimes. Everywhere we go is new. Everywhere is a place to explore. That can be exciting, but week after week, month after month, year after year, that excitement can start to fade. I want to walk down a street sometimes and not have to get out my map to see where I am.

Routines – When I was at university I swore I’d never get into a routine because they were boring! I was a typical rebellious student. What I didn’t know back then was that some routines are extremely healthy. Both our bodies and minds need them. Our bodies enjoy a healthy eating and exercise routine. While our minds benefit from all sort of positive routines, like seeing family and friends regularly, waking up at the same time each day etc.

Life on the road as a photographer challenges these healthy routines. I have tried to keep up as many healthy routines as possible, but I must say that I’m not always successful. Sometimes you can’t find healthy food around – you just have to eat what you’re given. Sometimes it’s 45C outside and you can’t run. These seem like small things, but add each one up and you can be left feeling a little at odds with yourself.

Looking at my life over the past seven years, most of my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. But right now I feel like the path I’m on isn’t fulfilling. The greatest pleasure I get is creating photos. That is something I would never want to give up. But the excitement/adventure we feel when travelling doesn’t feel like enough to give us a rounded, meaningful life.

I’m not sure what a meaningful life for us looks like – maybe children, maybe not. Maybe a nice, quiet house in the country, or maybe a trendy apartment in a buzzing city centre. We won’t know that until we try. But what I do know is that I have taken from this travelling lifestyle everything I think I can. I’m ready for more.

And of course, the travelling is far from over. I now have the good fortune of exploring Europe and more of the Americas over the next 2 years, only in shorter trips, rather than months at a time. And I do so with the knowledge that after each trip there’s a familiar bed waiting for me, in a city with good friends and a loving family. That thought makes me smile.

Maybe I’m just getting older. But a slower life seems very appealing – something I never thought I would have wanted 7 years ago.


How I Created The Image – Before/After Post-Processing

antelope explanation

ant before 1

ant before 5

ant before 4
ant before 2

The Cool Bits -Technical Info

Processing Time: 40 minutes
Exposure Blending method: luminosity masks in Raya Pro
No. of Exposures: 7 (3 tile, 6 exposure panorama, with 1 extra exposure to remove tourists and paint in the sand in the beam of light)
EV Range: 0, -4
Aperture: f/8
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 14mm
Lens: Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
Camera: Nikon D800
Plugins: N/A
Luminosity Masks: Used to recover over exposed highlights

Workflow Explanation -Antelope Canyon

This image was created using Raya Pro – The Photoshop Plugin.

The below image gives you a rough idea of how crazy this location was! Lots of photographers and tourists, all competing for the best view.

I could image how incredible it must have been to walk these canyons alone. They are spectacular at the right time of day, when the beams of light shine through.

The beams of light nowadays are created by the guides you must hire to visit the location. Our guides had shovels which they filled with sand and threw into the air. Initially we just see sand filtering through the beams, but with enough shovels full of sand, the sand and dust lingers in the caught in a cross-breeze. When this happens we are left with those solid beams of light you see in my image.

antelope canyone tourists

Initially I was just looking to shoot the single beam of light touching the ground. Then all of a sudden I looked up and saw two more beams starting to grow. I panned up and shot a few brackets, and then panned all the way up, shooting directly above me and shot the upper part of the image.

At the time, some tourists we still in the little corridor on the left. I panned down and waited for them to leave so that I could shoot the pano again. When that area was clear, the beams had faded significantly. Our guide threw some sand into the beam of light, which I captured.

In the end, I decided to use the initial exposures for the pano, and just used a later exposure to replace the area where the tourists were, and to add some of that falling sand into the beam of light.

I recovered the larger over-exposed areas where the light touched the surfaces of the canyon. I used Luminosity masks in Raya Pro to do this. I did this mainly so that there weren’t any areas competing with the beams of light for brightness.

p.s. Check out my YouTube channel for lots of free luminosity mask tutorials, if you’re new to LMs.

Once I stitched the tiles in Photoshop, I had to use a combination of the Distort and Warp tools to straighten it up and get it to where I wanted it. The originally stitched image suffered from a little bit of distortion.

Then I went through a careful process of dodging and burning to add depth to the image. I’ll create a tutorial on this soon. Essentially, I created a new layer, set its Blend Mode to Overlay, chose a white paint brush to dodge or a black brush to burn, and started painting over certain areas.

In case you were wondering how I stitch difficult panoramas together, I created a tutorial showing you exactly how to do that: Photoshop Secrets 23: The Easy Way To Stitch difficult Panoramas.
After a couple of contrast adjustments, I created a nice vignette that sat around the outside of the scene, and most of the sand in the foreground, so that the viewer’s eyes would be taken quickly to the beams of light first. You can learn to do here: Quick Photoshop Secrets 9: Awesome Vignette For a Moodier Scene.

Finally, the image was sharpened and resized using my free sharpening tools, which you can download here: Quick Photoshop Secrets 16: Perfect Sharpening & Resize for the Web

As always, I hope you found this useful.


Your Email Will Remain 100% Confidential
Next Post
Previous Post
  • Robbie Duckworth

    Really interesting read Jimmy. I am excited to see what the future holds for you :) thanks for the great tutorial again and giving insight as to what the location is actually like (with the tourists etc.) I am visiting New Zealand at the start of next year and your photographs have majorly inspired me into the photographs I will be taking at places like Lake Wanaka etc. . I have also installed Raya Pro and am finding it really useful. Thanks again :).

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      Hi Robbie,
      You will absolutely love NZ. It’s convenient, varied, and drop-dead gorgeous.

      I’m actually going to post all of locations for NZ, including GPS coordinates and descriptions of each location on Shutter Evolve in the next few months, so keep your eyes open for that.

      I have thought about writing more about how I started to promote myself, but it’s a tricky one. While there are certain things I did to promote myself, much of it has been organic. And I’m not sure how relevant much would be at the moment, since marketing evolves so quickly.

      But it is certainly something for me to think about writing in the future, if there is a demand for it.

      Thanks for the comment and enjoy NZ!

      • Robbie Duckworth

        Thanks for that. I’ll only be there for a couple of weeks meaning I won’t be getting to all the locations. Will be spending most of my time in the middle/on the west coast definitely visiting Lake Wanaka, Milford Sound and Mount Cook but in turn won’t be getting to Moeraki Boulders, Dunedin and Nugget Point etc. That’ll be very useful though thanks :)

        If you ever choose to write about it, I would love to read it and i’m sure others would too, your decision though.

        Your photos have got me really hyped for NZ, from everyone I know that has visited they’ve all loved it. 176 days to go haha!

  • http://www.adrian-evans.com/ Adrian Evans

    Nice one Jimmy, looking forward to the next chapter of future Jimmy & Co best wishes :)

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      Thank you kindly Mr Evans. Might even manage to meet up the Welsh countryside at some point!

  • John Esslinger

    Hope to see you around London again. Cheers!

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      I look forward to it John!

  • Simon Patterson

    Well that is a huge step, and no doubt such a major change is quite scary! I hope you and your wife settle down well after life on the road for so long. And I look forward to seeing what you produce in future.

    Great slot canyon image, too. It’s the first slot canyon image I’ve seen that looks anything like it. This is no mean feat, as I’ve seen hundreds of images of the place, all very similar to each other.

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      Thanks Simon. Yeah, it is little bit strange thinking about settling down, but hopefully the transition will be an easy one.

      Thank you for the compliment. There are a ton of images of these types of canyons, I just hope I captured something unique.

      Thanks again :)

  • Simon Patterson

    I wondered if we’d see any Phillip Island images, as it is my neck of the woods, and you’d mentioned you were going there. I haven’t seen any from you so far… sounds like your mind had bigger fish to fry at the time!!

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      I’m afraid Phillip Island was the one that got away. The conditions over the 8 days we were there never fell right. So it’s a location I will have to re-visit in the future.

      • Simon Patterson

        Ah, that’s disappointing; I guess that’s one of the joys of landscape photography. If only you were there in the past week, one particular incredible sunset to be had and a few other decent ones.

        I’m glad Phillip Island provided you with some inspiration in your life’s journey anyway, even if it didn’t provide you with great light!

      • http://www.mixed-up-pix.smugmug.com tizza70

        Phillip Island creates it’s own weather system and during winter and spring it’s just vile. I’m not surprised you had 8 days straight of what I’m guessing was near cyclonic conditions? I strongly advise that if you ever go back, go in summer/autumn. Those winds are the roaring 40’s and blast southern Victoria and Tasmania for months on end. They are relentless it’s always so unbelievably cold and dark, but the clincher is the wind chill. That wind rips off the Southern Ocean and its’s evil because it’s travelling straight up from Antarctica with nothing in the way. I really hope you made it down the Great Ocean Road. I travelled my state with work extensively, mainly for location TV news as a cameraman and know some great places that you’d never hear about.

        I can’t wait to see how you captured my home state through your strange lenses. I live on the outskirts of Melbourne, which I didn’t realise you were coming through. I would have thrown some suggestions your way.

  • richie_pour

    Thanks for this honest post that pulls the curtain back on the glamorous life of travel. I resonate with a lot of the things you said about finding meaning in the more “boring” things of life as we grow older. Your work is beautiful. And I’ve learned a lot from your tutorials and blogging.

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      Thank you Richie. I’m delighted you’ve found my learning resources useful. And I’m glad you feel I’ve offered a little of balance to the ‘reality’ of a life on the road.

      Thank you for commenting!

  • Kevin

    I’ve been following you for quite a long time Jimmy, your travels and more importantly your photos. Thank you for this very honest piece, it sheds another light on the prospect of travelling. I myself am quite an introvert and always idealised the traveling and capturing photos as a haven I must retreat to. However it is no bed of roses.

    Thank you again for sharing this piece on your blog and I sincerely hope to see more pictures and scenes that you happen upon. :)

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      Thank you Kevin. I suppose everything in life has its good and bad points. Travelling seems to be one of the extreme instances where the highs are very high, and the stressful times can be very stressful (especially if you have the unfortunate experience of being robbed).

      But overall, I found travelling to be a liberating experience, and the type of travel we choose can perfectly suit our own personalities, whether we’re introverts or extroverts, or anything in-between. Just learning which one you are at that moment in life is the trickier part.

      Thank you for commenting and visiting the blog.
      Take care

  • thebush

    Jimmy, I totally understand your feelings and your reason for wanting to settle down. Thank you for a well written post and good luck finding your “home”.

  • Dan Francis

    Also when you get back to UK you’ll be very close to the Lake district and Scottish highlands and all the landscape opportunities they offer :-)
    The longest I travelled was 9 months and even with that time I can understand what you are saying, and seven years is a huge time!
    Love the image as well, I’ve not seen it shot before with so many light rays.

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      I’m seriously looking forward to exploring the UK a lot more. Hopefully the weather will be kind :)

      • Dan Francis

        I hope so to, though as you know, you can never rely on it :-)

  • Faye Dunmall

    Wonderful photo and insight Jimmy, thanks for sharing. I feel like I’m at the beginning of your journey – just starting out in photography and desperate to travel, explore and escape my ‘average’ life in the uk. So much so that I’ve been planning a more nomadic lifestyle for the coming years. Reading this has really helped me to reflect on my motives and aspirations. Hope you both settle back easily and enjoy exploring closer to home with a solid base to return to.

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      Thanks Faye.

      I hope I helped you to look at things differently rather than discouraged you from travelling. There’s lots of wonderful experiences waiting for you out there, as you already know.

      Take care

  • dihowden

    I had to smile when I read this, the majority of us ‘age’ into these conclusions, settle into who and what we are. You just went about it a little differently via a wider range of experiences and we got to enjoy it vicariously. I don’t rage against the machine anymore, accept my place in the world, realise my not so green pasture is surely somebody else’s and try to find my zen moment each day. Happy home returning Jimmy!

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      My zen moment…I like that.
      Yeah, stepping out of your garden and into someone else’s, you quickly realise that the grass is either equally green, or rather patchy. It’ll be nice to return and appreciate my home that little bit more.

  • Tim Gupta

    Thanks for your honesty and for sharing this wisdom you’ve gained over your years of travel. My wife and I have been debating doing a shorter version of this (6 months – 1 year), but part of me has wondered about running up against one of the things you describe – the loneliness of full time travel. Appreciate you sharing this, and I wish all the best to you as you begin the next chapter!

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      Thank you kindly Tim!

  • http://explosiveaperture.com/ Clint Burkinshaw

    Hey Jimmy,

    Just wanted to wish you the best of luck in regards to the new chapter of your life that’s ahead. I have to say, it was a good read. I relate quite a bit to it what you wrote. I’ve been on the road travelling for 11 years now (with work scattered throughout), and I too am starting to have these stirrings.

    I really miss little creature comforts, in which everyone else takes for granted. E.G. buying the right milk that I’m after from the super market. Getting a mug sized coffee. Being able to afford healthier food habits, than cheaper unhealthier options (that help me extend my trip further). Or even just being able to go from A to B without having to go through hours of discomfort & sweat. But most of all, one day I wish for a proper nights sleep (haha). A million and one of those little things that everyone takes for granted (but which I seem to have been deprived of for years) have been getting to me this last few months, and I too am coming to the decision of which to settle down a bit and travel will be demoted to only several weeks a year, rather than a whole year itself.

    Anyhow, from one traveller to another. Happy travels my friend. Wish the best for your new chapter ahead :-)

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      Thank you Clint!

      It’s incredible how much we take for granted in our daily lives, and how much living without those things can impact you.

      Good luck on your next chapter, and on getting a good night’s sleep :)

  • Chrystal Hutchinson

    Jimmy may I ask how you managed to afford travelling for so long at a time?

  • Sue

    Very interesting and open article. I hope you and your wife settle down ok to your new, chosen lifestyle. It’s great going away but its also great being at home. I hope you’ll continue with the work though. I have been putting your Photoshop Secrets on my Facebook page, scheduled one a week.

  • Bernard Wolf

    Hi Jimmy…….I really like your tutorials and your photography. I have your Raya Pro.

    I wanted ask you if you drove to White Pocket on your own & what vehicle or did you have somebody take you in as the road can be tricky?

  • http://julianaimages.com Julie Watson

    Best of luck Jimmy

  • Arvind N

    A man travels the world in search of something and comes home to find it. I wish you all the best, Jimmy.

    You are a sincere person and we appreciate all you have done for community.

  • http://www.joshuaguntherphotography.com/ Joshua Gunther

    This is the best article I have read in a long time and confirms within my heart what I have already suspected….Full time travelling really does have its challenges. Sometimes having a home base to adventure from makes all the difference. I wish you the best of luck in your journey and again thank you so much for sharing this. Amazing.

  • Ray Farrugia

    Yeah Jimmy….waiting & staring into the abyss of the great Southern Ocean will have that effect on you!! It’s the one I spend most of my photography time contemplating.
    Good Luck Mate!

  • Cecil Whitt

    I loved this article…thanks. I would probably skip the TV series though, C.

  • Jimmy Dau

    Life is about many chapters and the next one is coming up. I spent three years travelling and craved the routine and enjoying the simple things that I took for granted prior to traveling. It sounds like you’ve found your purpose out of the time traveling and I wish you all the best for the next seven years!

  • Ole Henrik Skjelstad

    Thanks for writing this and for being so transparent. And from one introvert to another: Wish you all the best and hope you and your wife can find a home in UK in which you thrive and flourish.

  • Rani Meenagh

    Hey jimmy, I’ve been following you for a while now. I remember with envy how you sold up everything and hit the road with just a few backpacks. My husband and I are saving for a year off, to travel around Europe. Not sure if it’ll be enough time! But thanks for sharing your adventures, it’s inspired me to do one of my own. X

  • Dan Thompson


    Extremely heartfelt post man, and I appreciate what you’re feeling. Belonging somewhere is a huge part of the human experience. Good stuff!

    Let me say though that watching you and several others do the full time travel thing has been hugely inspirational to me. Specifically it inspired me to get out from behind a desk and go see the world. I’d been traveling short term, vacationing really, for quite some time, but a little over a year ago I finally found a job that affords me the opportunity to go to new places and experience cultures in deeper ways. It’s awesome! People like you were the push I needed, so, thanks!

    …and welcome home!


  • Assaf Frank

    Hi Jimmy,

    I loved to read your confession. I recommend you watch ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ if you haven’t seen it yet. You and your wife will love it, you are Sean Penn in it :))

    Good luck in your new path.

  • http://www.avernus.com.au Gerard Blacklock

    Great read Jimmy, its actually not often I will take the time to read a article to the end, however in this one I did, good luck with the next phase of your life and I am sure you will not regret one bit of your last several years travelling. I just came back from the UK and Scandinavia (with wifey and two kids)and the thing I appreciate most about traveling is the way it open ones mind and eyes to much more than if you are stuck in one country.

  • http://wildlightimagingstudio.com/ Michael

    Interesting and thought provoking post. I thought maybe I had burned out on photography. Maybe I just need to try short trips. To put this statement to scale, while you were bouncing around countries, I was taking 2 week intense photo immersion trips in the US (home country) a couple of times a year. Each trip I would log 3,000+ miles and do nothing but photography. Maybe I should switch to 1 -3 day trips and slow down?

    Antelope Canyon- the people stuffed into the corner in one of your images is why I’ve never visited Antelope Canyon. I’m good with enjoying others images of it. Sometimes…

  • Jim MacBeath

    Hi Jimmy,

    Good luck with your decision to travel less. We travel much less now too and find there is so much to see and photograph in the UK. We live in the north east of Scotland and happily don’t have to travel too far to find scenic photographic material.

    We really enjoy your video tutorials Jimmy. They are easy to understand and have improved our photographic and processing processing skills immensely. Keep posting your tutorials. They are a real joy to watch.

    Best to you…Jim & Heather Macbeath…

  • http://talesfromthebackroad.com Mary

    Wonderful post! Sometimes it takes a journey to figure out who we are, and that is exactly what you allowed to happen. We have been living, and traveling in our RV for 4 years. We are both introverts, so we always try to find places that are out on the middle of nowhere as best we can. One thing about traveling in the RV is we always have our home with us. The backyard changes, but we have all the comforts of home. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always glamorous, just like you said. But for now, we enjoy it and it’s what we do. Mostly we travel to art shows, my husband is a sculptor and I “try” to sell my photos. We are thinking of building a small home base that we can go back to and work a couple times a year. We’ll see if that pans out. Good luck with this next phase of your life, everything happens for a reason,

  • Rae

    HI JImmy,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights. Many of us will never have the opportunity to even try a nomadic adventure, so it is great to hear the up and down sides of one. Also I think it reminds us to look to the positive side of what our current circumstances offer and that great photography can be accomplished anywhere.

    Have loved following you. Your tutorials have been so helpful and inspiring and I don’t doubt will continue to be so. Wishing you all the best in your new settled life.
    ~Rae (Peeblespair)

  • http://www.intentionallylost.com Kevin Wenning

    I’ve not done the permanent travel lifestyle but rather 2 to 4 week trips as often as possible. Knowing that I have a family and comforts waiting at home makes it easier to reach a little further and have patience with uncertainty and discomfort when I do venture out. And then after a few weeks the travel starts to feel like the new routine and I appreciate my travel experiences less in some ways. So being able to go back and forth between home and travel lives keeps each one precious in different ways.

    Thanks for this very thoughtful and transparent article. I’ve followed you for a while now and have been amazed at how productive you are while dealing with the uncertainty of the full time travel lifestyle. No doubt you’ll continue to amaze us!

  • duncan

    There is nothing average, there is just now and each now is unique. It sounds as if you have been on quite a life journey.
    From my perspective, and selfishly, I rejoice in the numerous and quality images you have chosen to share; thanks.

  • rebecca

    I have no desire to travel full time though I love to travel. I have found traveling by car much less stressful than without. My happy medium is to live in a place where you are always just a 1-2 day car ride away from endless amazing photography options. For me, that’s California.

  • Douglas Sigler


    I spent a lot of years traveling the world as a photographer in the US Navy, and then more years trying to make a living as a travel journalist after that. I too eventually reached a point where I knew it was time to settle down and have a “normal” life. During those years, my family and friends would marvel at my adventures, and not wanting to disappoint, I rarely confided to them the true nature of the lifestyle. I thought it better to let them enjoy my tales through their imaginations.

    True adventure lays in the eyes of the beholder.

    How I’ve explained this these many years later, is to ask a person if they enjoyed the tales of Indiana Jones. Who doesn’t? High adventure! But then I point out that while we, the audience, are enthralled and rooting him on, we really do miss the point that he is not having an adventure. He’s getting beat up, shot, chased, dragged, and nearly killed at every turn. It is in the telling of the tale that it becomes an adventure.

    You have lived the true drudgery of world travel. However, remember that your drudgery has been the adventure of a lifetime for those who spend their days sitting in a cubical at some meaningless job. That my friend, is the hardest drudgery of all, and for them, knowing that you are out there somewhere, shooting in some exotic location, bringing back your amazing images, well somehow makes their average life seem a bit more bearable.

    Enjoy your new path in life. My break into the normal resulted in romance, love, marriage, two beautiful daughters, and stable employment; but it also has left me working in a cubical, enjoying your well spent life, wondering how one day I might return to what once was my normal.

    • Luis Figuer

      Douglas, that was a beautiful and inspired response. Thank you.

      • Douglas Sigler

        The key for your life transition is to always make decisions that when you reach the age of 60, and you will, you can feel you have no regrets. You’ve had an amazing journey that will fuel everything you know and do as you go forward. Stick with your intincts, they are sound.

  • Jane Fraser

    I’m not surprised you are giving up being on the road. 7 years is a long time, well done, that in itself is an achievement. We have been travelling for 4.5 years with the first two having 6 months at home between. We have a caravan in the US which makes things easier, but having to be out of the country for the other 6 months is hard work. At least being in the UK you will be close to all the places you want to travel. Our home base is Australia which is not so convenient.

  • http://www.kleibernet.de/ Sascha Kleiber

    Hi Jimmy, did you use Orton Effect on this one? And did you emphasize the beams the way you did with the light rays in you CJ-Video some days ago?

  • Hector

    Very interesting post Jimmy. Great to hear such honesty. I think it’s a problem for all the internet Photography and Photoshop Gurus. They have to pretend they have a great live travelling here and there and saying how successful they are. Nobody wants to follow a failure, everyone wants to follow the latest success story. There is a huge amount of luck involved and being early into the race for success. Trey Ratcliff is a very interesting example. He is a nice photographer. I don’t think even he would consider himself the worlds best online photographer but he’s very successful. He was in early with HDR. He was clever doing a free HDR Tutorial (which actually initially wasn’t very clear). What he was very good at was creating a great following and selling them things. He’s got better and better. He’s selling more and more things. All of them expensive. His linkup with MacPhun and Peak Design bags are masterpieces. I’d say there are loads of us who could make suggestions as to how to make a better camera bag. Not too many of us could bring millions of potential purchasers with us like lemmings to buy them. He’s a lucky guy who has taken that advantage to the max. For every Trey there are hundreds of Trey hopefuls trying to eke out a living, trying to drum up support for things that they are selling. Very few succeed, it’s too late or they don’t have a new niche. Even Scott Kelby seems to have got a bit unstuck. What I like about Jimmy is his clear explanations on his tutorials . I bought the Easy Panel but I must admit not really spending the time to work out how it might help me. I wish you luck Jimmy with your new departure. It reminds me a bit of Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist it had the theme of “When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream” . The ending was also interesting. The boy finds is that in order to realize what you have, you need to experience something more. He also found what he was looking for right back at the point that he started from.

  • Don Johnson

    Jimmy –

    What a heartwarming essay. I know you’ll love your new life as much as the earlier versions. Here’s to home, hearth, and a wonderful woman to share it with.

  • Mus

    Hi Jimmy,
    I have been one of your silent readers/followers. I have always been inspired by your travelling and of course photography which I need not mention is remarkable.
    I would like to make a few comments on your travelling that you are ending. I do appreciate and hail your decision on going back and settling down.
    Artists all over do have tendency to get a little bored or tired of same routines and to explore more, they like to change, so did you. You wanted to explore and change. Perhaps now you need to break your travel routine.
    I as a learning photographer like to travel, but for me situations are limited, for once I do have less means of economic power at my disposal, with a family and two kids it does take some time to have funds, but still it is all good. Another matter which I am sure you always have, is the liberty of your travel documents, I am sure you have a British passport which can allow you to go places and you always have a sense of security no matter where you end up, your government is always there to support you. Unlike in my situation, I do not have this liberty and I can only go to fewer places that also with much issues. This is not me complaining , I still try to make the best on what places I can travel to , I just want to make a point that you do have a lot more control over how you travel. So in the end I would like to put it this way, access of everything is bad and probably that’s what happened at your side, as in your write up I felt that you were really tired and perhaps something went wrong or you are not sure of your decision to go back. You need to be moderate. Keep travelling and exploring and keep sharing your experiences. Once you head back home and settle, do plan out to travel one place at a time and return, this will always give you a certain motivation and strength and the energy to revive again for your future travels.
    I haven’t travelled much, but as photographers, we do a double job, we have to travel plus take photographs which makes it even more tiring, the equipment, the wait for the right moment, changing gears, selecting the correct lenses, tripods, etc. So it makes the job tougher. :) and sometimes the insecurity of feeling if the shot was even focused properly or the whole exercise got wasted.

  • Dean Wall


    Great essay buddy. Good luck and keep the content coming. I am learning so much thank you.

    Perhaps someone else’s perspective will assist your decisions.




    Hi Jimmy,

    Your musing strike a note with me too.

    My modest approach has been to look at the miniature rather than the grand.

    I took inspiration from the world of Art………

    ‘to see a world in a grain of sand’ – William Blake (1757-1827)

    Inscape – ‘an insight or path into the eternal or beautiful’ – Gerald Manley Hopkins.

    Michael Erlwine (http://dharmagrooves.com/Photography.aspx) who’s work I enjoy, takes inspiration from ‘Inscape’. His ‘Inscapes’ are natures landscapes in miniature.

    It would be great now you have stopped travelling, if you could turn your undoubted skills towards miniature landscapes and shows us all how to get the most from them.

    Best wishes with your new direction.

  • Albert de Bruijn

    Hi Jimmy,
    Thanks for opening your thoughts and discussing deep feelings like you did. My wife and I just started a lifestyle of traveling in our motorhome and plan on spending our time traveling the US and Canada, visiting (and photographing) the many sights of these countries.
    We quickly found that were we “pushing ourselves”, trying to “see it all”, before moving to the next location. In doing so, we realized we were stressing, and have come to understand that we need to take time for those simple things you mention and describe so well. Sitting outside with a cup of coffee or watching the sunset enjoying each other’s company. We have also made a point of connecting with others at the RV Parks we stay at. While we are still occasionally getting “pulled into” the rush, we think we are well on our way of finding that perfect balance.

    Thank you again for sharing your views and we wish you and your wife all the best and hope that you too will find that balance which will give you the inner peace and lifestyle you crave.
    All the best . . .
    Albert and Linda

  • Stefan

    Hi Jimmy,
    The thing is you had a dream of travelling full time and went on to pursue that dream. In our own case, I have heard it said many a time “oh, we could never do that”. It seems to me, that many people tend to think of reasons as to why something is not achievable, rather than looking at it and thinking of ways to make a particular dream happen. We all need the right balance in life and that varies depending on the individual and the stage of our journey. All the best to you and your wife in this new journey.

  • Jesús Conde Ruiz

    Hi Jimmy
    I guess you fell like tthat thanks to these 7 years. Smart people evolve :)
    I am from Spainand I am living in Coventry for one year. Every weekend I go some place to Shoot.
    Lake District, Peak District, Brecon Beacons, Dorset, Cornwall, last weekend I was close to your home Northumberland!!! Shooting at sunset to try your techniques :) what I want to say is that you do not need to be “permanently” nomad to really enjoy photography :) I do understand, respect and I’m my case being 45 share your thinking process.
    BTW, I need 4 weeks I’ll spend 2 weeks in the Himalayas and one week in Africa!! Yes it is indeed possible to see your favourites Series at home and shoot mindblowing places!!!
    Check “The girlfriend experience”
    Looking forward to carrying on learning with your videos!!

  • Jesús Conde Ruiz

    Hi Jimmy
    I guess you fell like tthat thanks to these 7 years. Smart people evolve :)
    I am from Spainand I am living in Coventry for one year. Every weekend I go some place to Shoot.
    Lake District, Peak District, Brecon Beacons, Dorset, Cornwall, last weekend I was close to your home Northumberland!!! Shooting at sunset to try your techniques :) what I want to say is that you do not need to be “permanently” nomad to really enjoy photography :) I do understand, respect and I’m my case being 45 share your thinking process.
    BTW, I need 4 weeks I’ll spend 2 weeks in the Himalayas and one week in Africa!! Yes it is indeed possible to see your favourites Series at home and shoot mindblowing places!!!
    Check “The girlfriend experience”
    Looking forward to carrying on learning with your videos!!

  • Alexis

    Great and inspiring to read this in-depth personal article. I take it you’ve read Susan Cain’s’ “Quiet”, which to me (introverted) was an eye-opener as well. I’ve followed a different path from yours in that I moved my entire (young) family from Europe to the United States some years ago. It wasn’t adventure we were seeking, but a great business opportunity opened up and we made the leap. In the end, our years in the U.S. haven’t been better, more thrilling, or whatever, than those that preceded it. But I’m sure glad we found a home here that’s really that: home. I guess that longing emerges in all of us as we grow older.

    I didn’t expect the grass to be much greener on this side of the Pond, but don’t have any regrets about our previous life either. You should think of it the same way: You had a blast for seven years, saw great places, made fantastic photos, inspired thousands of us with even more fantastic tutorials, and built a successful business doing it. Be proud of it all and move on to a quieter life, and make some babies if you so wish… 😉

    Keep the tutorials coming, though! I’ve yet to run into a better photography instructor than you.

  • Paul Watson

    Hi Jimmy,
    I’m glad you are back in the UK as your tutorials are so helpful and love your style. As a brit based in Hong Kong i have the best of both the familarity of the UK and the exposure to Asia!
    Good luck exploring more of Europe I was I had explored more when i was there but will be something to do when i move back.
    wish you all the best cheers