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Going off the Grid. Why you should spend your 20's immersed in the world.

Updated on December 28, 2013

Which to choose, the status quo or the World?

I have lately been perplexed by the status quo. I have struggled with societies "need be's" and "oh no, don't do that" list of things, for quite sometime. Through my current profession, (barista, barista) I have had many conversations and met many people who were much happier and successful than the clones of society I had been surrounded with my whole life. These conversations about building a cabin in the deep woods of Ohio or taking a motorcycle and a tent across the U.S. led me to dream and wonder about a free lifestyle. Then I thought, why do we spend this time of our 20's stressing over college degrees, locking down an internship and finding the dream job? Not that any of those things are unacceptable they just haven't been what I've needed or wanted. I must admit that I have done the college degree and thank the universe for my English degree but, in my mind it is my back-up plan. It is my secondary choice at the moment, something to fall back on. Anyone can point a finger at me and call me insane but searching for a job right after graduation was not something that sounded appealing. I graduated early, took out minimal student loans and worked all through school. Leading me to be able to travel and seek out the world from now on. With my hypocritical's stated, I will move on. Some people are not meant to go off the grid with only a backpack and abandon society however, the ones who can should definitely do it. There are several problems that 20-somethings face emotionally and mentally. The struggle that comes with growing up from 18-21 can lead most of us into unhappiness and unhealthy depression and the anxiety of not knowing who we really are. How can we find out who we really are when we are stuck in the confines of a dorm room at a 4-year university, papers and finals beckoning down on us? College is great but it has become a means to end. You only find a fraction of yourself there and it gets you a piece a paper that can get your foot in the door of a high-paying job. Some need that piece of paper to survive but I believe some of us only need our souls happy to survive. A lot of us can survive with the freedom that comes with traveling, living off the land, backpacking, etc. And the following is why and how to do it. Freeing your soul from society has never been better.

Recent trip ended with tattoos and lots of latitude and longitudes.
Recent trip ended with tattoos and lots of latitude and longitudes.

Acting on your Epiphany

I had my epiphany multiple times from 21-22. It would come and I would want to run with it but would let my inhibitions get the best of me. Then there was the day when I had my manifesto. I was unhappy and unsettled. I was suffocated with the thought of an 9-5 cubicle work week. I knew I would not, could not be happy with life until I escaped and ran full force into the world. I made the decision to do something about it. From then on, I dedicated every ounce of energy to getting my life to a stable spot just to leave it. I was electric with anticipation. It was the best decision I could have ever made for myself.

Things to keep in mind:

You don't need a lot of money.

You don't have to have many plans in place.

You don't need that many special skills.

You don't need to know a plethora of foreign languages.

You need courage, determination, and to not let your excuses get the best of you.

The best parts of your life will always be waiting for you. Jobs will always be waiting for you. Life is the only thing not waiting for you. The time you have to go out into the world with nothing holding you down is limited.

Putting off things like education will only open you to the best education you could ever give yourself.

Which would you choose?

Which would you be able to live out of for 1 year?

See results

The wonder of three.

Most people do not understand what it truly means to live off the grid or to live out of just a backpack. Granted, fully committing to either is a complete lifestyle change that will transform anyone.

Living off just the land: There are several ways to do this. Whether it is living out of a tent in the Alaskan Wilderness for the summer or roughing it for a few years on the Oregon coast in a cabin you built yourself. You will do it in a way that suits your overall being. Depending on your finances you can add in small types of comforts like running water (wells can get pricey,) electricity (a monthly expense,) indoor plumbing (why even leave suburbia?) Cabin living is something that can be done year round and is much more of a committed lifestyle that leads to lots of freedom. I do recommend to definitely having a wood-burning stove. They're amazing and will help you survive through the long winters. For the more wanderlusting spirits out there with a small budget and fight with spontaneity, tent living is the way to go. Nature can be your backyard and you can change its scenery as often as you want. There are a ton of things available today to make it easy and comfortable to live out of a tent.

Now, abandoning your lives to live amongst nature in its raw form is something that doesn't come with a paycheck. Most people are freaked out by that and it stops them in their tracks. Since there is no Twitter or Facebook in the middle of Montana's deep frontier, what else do you have to do with your time than to be hunting for food, growing your own vegetables, fruits (you can grow bananas indoors!) and herbs, gathering water etc. Though these things take some skills they aren't impossible to do. There are many blogs and websites you can look at before you venture out and get the resources you need to survive. I highly suggest spending the little money you need in order to have the essentials needed to survive in the wilderness. It is an adventure that never leaves you.

Backpacking: Backpacking may be for the less adventurous but it is still rewarding. It requires more planning throughout the excursion as far sleeping and having enough money for traveling expenses and food. You stick to your backpack living simply but are immersed in the most beautiful cities and exotic places surrounded by different people day in and day out. Free and on your own but not alone whereas living off the land will most likely isolate you to just animals and nature.

I highly suggest doing one of these or all three in your 20's. They lead you parts of yourself and experiences that you will never be able to get anywhere else.

My cousin's snowy cabin on the Vermont/Canada border.
My cousin's snowy cabin on the Vermont/Canada border.

Why do I need to do this?

First of all, you do not need to do this. However, here is why you should strongly consider something like this.

Life doesn't stop but gets more and more complicated as you reach your 30's.

It is pretty understandable that the only freedom we gain as we inch toward 30 is purely financial. The more we take from society the more tied down we become. We get married, buy houses, get jobs, have to pay for our cars, we have more bills to pay and have more responsibility that is much harder to leave in order to backpack through South America. It is much easier to be 25 with a lease ending soon and a faithful 1998 Subaru to book a flight to Greece for a month or two. We have more freedom to do these things now rather than later. Which is a philosophy most of us don't realize.

Your hometown knows who you were but the world knows who you will be.

It is common knowledge that the more experiences you gain throughout the world the more you come to know who you really are. What you dislike or what you never thought you'd like. The only way to gain these experiences is go out and capture them.

Suburbia can suffocate you slowly and without warning.

The sense of freedom we have in our 20's can be a good thing or a bad thing. It can make or break a person with its responsibility. Most of us turn 18 and can't wait to be on our own in a tiny apartment, making our own rules, eating what and when we want, paying for our own things, and not doing the dishes for two weeks. However, these responsibilities lose there luster for more than 75% of us. And keeping up with the bills and renewing lease after lease can burden us and make us feel trapped and grounded in a routine. Routine kills the spirit. Whether you spend two weeks traveling or two years. DO IT.

Traveling makes us capable to understand a wide range of people and issues.

Whichever you choose may it be backpacking through China, building a cabin in Northern California, or hostel jumping in Europe if you spend time amongst the local people you will gain an understanding of things you wont ever get from the nightly news. If you isolate yourself in the woods you will become one with the nature around you and understand how important the relationship between Earth and man is. You will understand the animals whether you befriend them or eat them. If you spend time bustling around Amsterdam you will converse with the locals and understand whatever is currently going on in Amsterdam, (I don't really know right now.)

What they teach you in College...

Is nothing you won't learn yourself when you immerse yourself among the stars. Pack a backpack and leave. If you're brave enough you will always figure a way out to survive with little in the big old world that we take for granted. Your 30's will thank you for every adventure you have in your 20's. Your 40's will be comforted by the "mid-life crisis" you took at 25. Your 50's will lead you to reminiscing as you take a nostalgia trip to Bali. Your 60's and beyond will lead you to providing wisdom that surpasses even Buddha.

Another tattoo after an intense month in Australia.
Another tattoo after an intense month in Australia.

Blogs, Websites and other interesting things to help you get started.

The blog that got me started in the right direction:

Currently using this website to learn about hunting/cooking/growing my own food in the wild:

Off the grid goodness:

Where I bought my first backpack and learned the do's and dont's of backpacking:

More backpacking blogs that are extremely insightful:

Sites for the less adventurous but still travel hungry:


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