What am I doing here? – Ageing Itinerant Writer

Hi Vagabonds,

What am I doing here? This week? This year? Right now?

Vago Damitio's weekly travel columnI”m thinking a lot about time and age this week. Thinking about where travel is headed and in a big way about where the world is headed. It all ties in, but it might just take me a second to get around to it. You see, the world is changing and as a result of that (as would logically follow) – world travel is changing and the reason all of that is changing is because all of us are getting older.

Vago Damitio MoroccoI know, it’s an obvious truth – but here’s the thing, it goes deeper than that. The average age of the population is climbing. Life expectancy is climbing. Birth rates are going down and immigration is going up. At no time in the history of the world have we ever faced anything like this.

And that’s not all- at no time in history has it been so easy to travel, so easy to create, so easy to share with the entire world. But, wait, I’m diverging a little bit.

So, look at the world through your own lens as I’m about to look at the world through mine. I’m 40 years old. Two hundred years ago, my life would be pretty much over and I’d most likely be dead.  A hundred years ago, I could expect that 4/5ths of my life was complete. It was all downhill from here. Fifty years ago, I could have expected that 2/3rds of my life was complete. Twenty years ago I might have expected to live to 70 years and today my life expectancy (on average) is 80 years. So essentially – today, I’m the equivalent of a 20 year old from 200 years ago.

Morocco Expat GuideBut I’m not done yet – In the next twenty years- my life expectancy will go up to approximately 100 years. By the time my current 80 years come up, some futurists and scientists expect that humans will be living to 200 years! So, when I look at it like this, my life is really just beginning…in fact, I’m the equivalent of a 20 year old today in terms of how much living I have ahead of me!

Okay, so consider this…the age of retirement is 65 years in most developed nations. Now, if those people live to be 100, that means they have 35 years ahead of them with no work and their income coming from pensions being fed by current workers. Now imagine me (long life scenario) – I retire at 65 and have 135 years ahead of me – What??? Seriously – WTF? Even if I have just 35 years ahead of me, that is most of my current 40 years…what am I going to do with all that time? And how am I going to support myself? Because we all know that the social security and pension system is failing. It has to, there are fewer young workers and more retired and about to retire pensioners…


We’re already seeing several effects of all of this in the travel world of today. Retirees are traveling the globe in never before seen(and always increasing) numbers. Go anywhere and you are bound to see at least one person traveling in their 60’s. And most likely, you will see more than one – herds of them moving along. These aren’t like the decrepit senior groups you used to see in Vegas either (well some of them are)- these are intrepid travelers – hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, volunteering, teaching – you see, they’ve retired and now, they aren’t real sure what to do with their time, so they are traveling.

short stories of Vago DamitioThese are the lucky ones though. Already many nations are pushing to raise the age of retirement to 70 or higher. They have to. The smaller, younger work force isn’t producing enough engineers, doctors or other highly skilled workers. And even if they were, they wouldn’t be able to support the huge numbers of pensioners we will see in the next ten years – so the only solution is to raise the age of retirement and keep older workers in the workforce for longer – but, it’s a stopgap measure. The disparity between birthrates and death rates means that at some point the pension and social security systems are going to fail. It will probably be about the time that I’m reaching my retirement age (I thought) about 25 years from now – if it lasts that long.

Whoa. Add to that the resources are definitely reaching peak volumes, the cost of travel and living is going to skyrocket (because not only are more people not dying but the birth rate continues to bring new people into the world so we can expect almost a billion more people in the next ten years) – I don’t mean to scare you, but this is the reality unless something far worse were to happen which we can all hope and pray it doesn’t.

So, what am I doing here? Here in Morocco in 2012? Well, I’m preparing for that future. Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not buying guns and hoarding canned goods, gasoline and water – I’m preparing for a world where I can’t expect to get a pension or social security. I’m preparing for a world where I have 4/5ths of my life ahead of me. I”m preparing for a world where I can expect to need to provide for myself and my family for at least the next 65 years and possibly the next 135 years!

How am I doing that? Personally, I think the travel industry is going to explode in the next decade. It’s going to explode with more and more senior travellers looking for something to do and a nice way to spend their pensions. It’s going to explode with more and more young people putting off their careers while they travel since they (like me) will have 40 years of working life ahead of them even when they reach 40! And it’s going to explode with more and more people who are in between (like me) trying to find authentic, valuable experiences.

Puget Sound Gillnet boatSo, in preparation for my next 135 years – I’m building Vagobond Travel Media. And, since I have a lot of time on my hands here in Morocco, I”m also following my chosen vocation and writing, editing, and publishing my work. At the moment, I’m publishing everything in the Kindle format. I think the Kindle is going to outlast all of its reader competitors- I’m betting on it. In the next three years, I suspect there will be mass adoption – something like smartphones in 2007-2010.

In November, I wrote a new novel Douchebags, Fags and Hags which I’m still editing and revising for publication – but since then, I’ve been on fire re-editing and publishing my existing work. Most recently, I finally published Not My Morocco which is the story of how and why I’m here in the first place.

I’ve been on fire. In late December, I also finally published my Expat Guide to Morocco which had been on the burner for a while. While I want to eventually add more information to it, I figured it was better to publish it with what I have now and update it later in case someone needed the information. Plus, that frees me to get other things going.

I’ve created my first collection of short stories – Meliptimous Taggle and Other Stories and published them for Kindle in addition to publishing a short photo and verse memoir of my time working on a Gillnet Salmon Boat in the Pacific Northwest, Gillnetting in the Puget Sound.

And, I’ve finally fixed the formatting errors in Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond, Liminal Travel and my novels Slackville Road and The Hu Factor.

All of this is in preparation for a world that will be totally connected, filled with e-Reading devices, and where I can’t expect a safety net for me or my family for the next 160 years…so think about it. If I make $1.00 per book sale and I manage to sell twenty books per month then that’s $240 per year (I certainly hope I can sell more than 20 per month though!!!) Now, multiply that by 135 and it means that I’ve earned $38,400 for my 200th birthday party. And that’s without any interest being paid. I’m guessing that even with inflation, that will take me and Hanane to someplace comfortable for a couple of super old farts and maybe our 160 year old daughter will join us.

So- that’s what I’m doing here – at least for now. For those who are interested, you can find all my books at my Amazon Author Page

News Reporter

Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook