Free spirit or freeloader?

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We’ve all been there: You’re travelling abroad and you ask a good friend or family member who lives in Paris/New York/Zurich/Add City Here whether you can crash with them for a few days to save on costs for the rest of the trip. You’re a good houseguest, clean up after yourself and maybe even cook a meal or two before thanking them profusely and going on your merry way.

But what happens when the vacationer is a wanderer? A grown ass person who subscribes to some sort of childish gypsy lifestyle ideology where they aspire to wander around Europe/Asia/America/Enter Continent Here “indefinitely” whilst doing a few odd jobs or trying to find the right job and (this is key) mooching off kind-hearted friends. Now, I am sure that there are individuals out there who do not mind having to pay extra for food, utilities, possibly transport and having to sacrifice their privacy to accommodate this… ahem… free spirit. I am not one of those individuals. I mind. A lot. And I have had the privilege of coming across not one, not two, but three of these lovely tightwads.

I had barely clicked “post” on my first Instagram picture displaying a setting in my new city, when one of them came crawling out the woodwork. I hadn’t spoken to this girl in 7 years, but she acted like she had been a bridesmaid at my wedding or some shit. “Oh I’m coming to Europe and was wondering if you could host me.” Host her? I thought that it seemed like an odd choice of words. The image of a host and parasite popped into my mind… But I scolded myself for being quick to jump to conclusions. After all, maybe she just meant to stay for a few days? I made it clear that I am living in a studio apartment and I am not settled, but this did not deter her. She had just rented out her apartment in South Africa and was dead set on coming to Europe indefinitely to travel and do “some makeup and blogging.”

The warning bells were like foghorns.

Look, if you want to be a wanderer, I respect that. Heck, I admire it. But do it on your own damn dime. You’re not a college kid. Be an adult and take responsibility for yourself.  If you have to learn to forage mushrooms and crabs for food, then do so. If you have to clean toilets to make money, get on with it. That was part of the choice you made when you decided to live an alternative lifestyle. That’s what it is, a choice. Not an excuse to drag out your responsibility-free college existence.

Lastly, here’s a tip for all houseguests: Don’t overstay your welcome, and at least repay the person who opened their doors to you. Splitwise is a handy calculator designed to help you figure out just how much you owe your generous friend.

Happy travels everyone!

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