That is me, holding the earmuffs and wearing my cleanest boiler suit, against the backdrop of I-don't-remember-which-place-it-is! And that is how my life used to look like, before I decided to quit and started searching for the best travel job!
Dirty, sweaty and noisy are a few of the adjectives that a marine engineer has to get accustomed to, on a daily basis. And yes, traveling is also a big part of the life.
Most of the people who only heard about this profession might only be aware of the foreign travels, tax-free income and the glamour of the uniform. Well, now you can at least see the 'glamour' of the uniform from the above picture. (We do have a real shiny uniform though!)
Life of a marine engineer in a big cargo ship is always a dirty business. The heat, the noise, the super sticky heavy fuel oil, the steam lines, the rolling and pitching are some of the things not many people get to hear from these engineers who work three to four-story below the water level, almost all the time!
But let me tell you, this is one of the best jobs for those who love traveling!
When you are traveling as part of your job, it is never the same like proper traveling, in which you go to distant land and explore the culture, enjoy the beauty and savor the local delicacies. It always remains as a part-of-the-job travel. This is more or less true with traveling as a ship's crew.
As a seaman, one gets to travel to exotic locations depending on their luck and the ship's route. If the ship is going to some popular cities in the world and it has a longer port stay, the crew of the ship is allowed to go out, depending on their work hours. Though the time one gets to explore the area would be limited to a few hours only, in most cases. This gives the sailors a chance to set foot in a foreign country and explore as much as possible within that given time frame.
You know that, if you've been to Mumbai port, you can't really say you've explored India or if you've been to Port of Los Angeles you can't really say you've experienced the US. But as a seaman, you still get to see a lot more foreign places in comparison with many other professionals (please exclude the Pilots, air hostess and so on).
When you are signing in on a ship to become a ship's crew, your visas are taken care, your food and accommodation are taken care and thus you get to travel around the world for free! Sounds like a great travel life, right?!
This is one of the cheapest ways to see as many foreign lands as possible, for a sailor gets to a destination almost for free. But then you don't really get the real essence of a place in that short duration, as I had mentioned earlier. At the same time, one can inflate their ego by quoting the names of the countless places they have set their foot onto, during their short 'shore leaves'.
But between these short bursts of joy called 'shore leaves', these commercial mariners work hard under challenging conditions and with limited resources. The free travel isn't really free and it comes with a price. Hard work under tough conditions is that price!
Can you imagine working continuously in a temperature close to 50 degree Celsius or living a few days under heavy rolling and pitching when you can't even sleep properly because you are rolling from one side to the other along with the ship's movement?! Working in such tough situations are challenging, rewarding and fun, all at the same time. To get things done by fighting these challenges head-on makes the life on board thrilling.
Then as a reward for your struggles, you get to see a different part of the world, away from your home. But here the keyword is 'see'! You don't really experience this place, you only 'see' it, take a few snaps with the nearest most important attraction you can find and come back to the ship again. This for me wasn't a real way of traveling.
A marine officer gets more than a couple of month's holidays between their contracts. If one is passionate about traveling, this is the perfect time to travel, because you have money, free time and a passion to travel! This sounds like an ideal job for a passionate traveler, doesn't it?!
Unfortunately, in most cases, the time between the contracts just flies away on family commitments, friends, and binge watching. There will be a few short trips here and there, but the dream of traveling wide and far usually takes a backseat. And within no time, it would be time to get back to work again.
In this way, life vanishes right in front of your eyes, one contract at a time! As moving higher up the ladder becomes more important, coupled with family responsibilities and other societal pressures, travel dreams wouldn't be anywhere near your top priorities!
I didn't want that. I wanted to travel more, travel wide and far. Above all, I wanted to explore a place and earn experiences rather than 'see' places and earn a tax-free remuneration. One can't work for money alone and be satisfied at the same time, for a long time!
That is me after a few years, holding some quick fix breakfast and wearing my work wear, against the backdrop of the machine that I used to drive around in the mountain roads! And that is how my life started to look like after I decided to quit!
The cliché repeats. I quit my job and started traveling.
Quitting my job without any backup plan led me to my only option, to travel using my hard-earned savings. Thus I became a stingy-thinner-than-the-shoe-string-budget backpacker! I traveled to different parts of South India on and off, keeping my home as my base.
Couchsurfing helped me to cut down the costs of accommodation while I was traveling. The attitude I had gained by going through the hardcore life at sea prepared me to accommodate the hardships of the road and embrace it. Thus I was able to travel with a very small budget for a long time.
However overly romanticized the notion of quitting one's job to travel, in reality, it is quite hard and frustrating to live each day using up your resources, without the security of a regular income! You live with a fake faith that everything is going to be alright and with a real frustration because you can't really see how it is going to be alright.
In short, the life of a traveler is not always happy. It might be a happier life than most people, but it is equally frustrating.
When you are frustrated and don't know which way to take, that is the time when you need some creative outlets to express and to vent yourself off. It was one such day, I was trying too hard to find some motivation to try to keep me on track and ended up reading some self-help book. Just like Jules says in 'Pulp Fiction', it was divine intervention and the idea came to my mind!
Start a travel blog, now!
Thus a journey of thousand miles started with the first step, just like that, out of impulse! It brought me back the feeling of passion that I was missing for a very long time. I was super inspired. I could sit down for long hours and churn out blog posts, one after the other and never get tired of it! Within one month I made a lot of good friends and within three months I created 100 blog posts!
The impulsive idea to create 'trablogger' gave me a direction when I was lost and seeking a way out in the dark. The intensity of that passion stayed with me for almost a year.
Exactly after a year of creating the blog, I self-published a book, that too a paperback version, just like that because I wanted to know how to self-publish a book!
These impulses were creating my life, one impulse at a time!
Just as the title of my book says, I realized that journey itself was my path! By then I had decided, I have to live the travel life! But I had no ideas on how to go about it.
Though it is said that 'travel is the only thing that you buy which makes you richer', you still need money to buy it, maybe not a lot, but you still need some. In short, if you want to be a perpetual traveler, you need to find a stream of income, steady or not! But I couldn't think of anything away from a travel life.
Thus started my hunt for the best travel job in the world.
The starving traveler started to wander aimlessly looking for stories and ways to earn an income on the side. The life of a marine engineer was never missed. By then the birth of a travel blogger was complete! 'Trablogger' was ready to face the challenges! That is how a marine engineer became a travel blogger and never turned back. That is the beginning of my search, my search for the best travel job in the world!
My hunt for the best travel job in the world is an ongoing process. Next week, you get to read how did I found the best travel job in India (or rather how the best travel job in India found me!).
But stay tuned because in a couple of days you will get to read 'How this Merchant Navy officer shifted his career into filmmaking and killing it'.
What is one thing in your life that you are passionate enough to pursue even if you have to quit everything else?!