When my dad was younger he bought a book called Europe on $10 A Day. Unfortunately times have changed and that $10 is now $50 a day, or more. Equally unfortunate is the fact that he never made it to Europe. A lifetime later, he is hoping to go when he retires. I hope he does.
This is a pretty common scenario. Many people wish to travel, as a way of life or maybe just to a specific place, but never get there. For one, it's a huge privilege to be able to travel. Most of the world's population doesn't have that luxury, so we should acknowledge it for what it really is: travel is a product of social and economic inequalities; having the money and time to spend traveling isn't something available to everyone. It becomes even more difficult when we have competing priorities. Establishing a career, building a family, and buying a house are all typical milestones that conflict with long-term travel. When doing the work-family-house route, vacations become the norm. Every few years the family can get away for a week or two and throw off the shackles of the status quo to try something new, somewhere new- and that's great. But for those interested in long-term travel such milestones often get in the way.
Not surprisingly, it's difficult to Couch Surf around the globe when you have a 9-5 career; it's hard to wander the towns and cities of distant continents when you have to contribute to raising a family; it's challenging to be able to afford to backpack abroad when you have a mortgage to pay. These obstacles force us to make choices. Granted, there are some families who have taken their lives on the road, like Charles and Micki from The Barefoot Nomad, and that's wonderful…but most of us have to make the choice. It is never a permanent one, but it is a lasting one.
So, what are your priorities?
I have a university degree, but continually find myself making minimum wage because I don't want committing to a career to impede my freedom. I have no house and rent tiny apartments so I have the money to travel abroad. I'm selling my van to pay for my trip to Australia- because these are my priorities. Your priorities will be different and will require different choices, and that's perfectly ok. The key is that we understand our priorities and make choices that reflect them. In the end, you don't get anywhere without a direction- so pick one.