By Erin Somerville
Today, I sold my body for money. I always jokingly knew it was a viable back up option if I ever needed a bit of extra cash. I mean, who wouldn’t pay for a little bit of this? But until today, I never thought I’d actually go through with it.
Okay Mum, before you cancel my Christmas presents, no, I haven’t engaged in prostitution. Yet. Instead, I have sold this wonderful body of mine to the British health system. For the sum of 400 beautiful pounds (or a number of international flights) I now have the delicious decision to be injected with TB or Malaria and see how my body holds up. Technically I may not be a hooker, but while I am putting my body on the line for cash I still can’t help think of myself of somewhat of a biomedical prostitute. After all, I am dealing with small pricks and foreign fluids in exchange for cash on a regular basis.
There are many things people on the road are doing to keep the travel dream alive. Those who aren’t being biomedical warriors are slaving away at dodgy pubs for the minimum wage, or weeding overgrown gardens for a reculse in Portugal for some food and a bed, or volunteering at any hostel that will take them on. To many, it sounds awful, but living on the breadline actually isn’t all that bad.
I’ll be the first to admit my life is not what last year’s Erin would call ideal. I haven’t had a haircut since January, I haven’t updated my wardrobe since girls were getting away with jeggings, I won’t be able to afford a gym membership until Type 2 Diabetes hits, and my iPod hasn’t been updated since Gangnam Style was only a fearful figment of music greats’ imaginations. But I am happy. For every designer shoe I have walked past in Paris, I have gotten so much back in return.
Ridding yourself of a disposable income is one of the best things I will ever (temporarily) do. Never before has a meal at a restaurant ever tasted so good, or has a new dress ever been so lovingly worn, or has meaningful and intriguing conversation been so savoured over dinners in the absence of television and phones. Priorities are never so easily put in place when money isn’t around. The manicure can wait until you can pay off that trip to Belgium, and the spare change you were going to head to Topshop with will be better spent buying potential new mates beers at the pub.
Travel has not only taken me to the other side of the world, but it has also taken me to the other side of the financial divide that I have always managed to somehow float above. It isn’t until you have woken up on the cold ground with strangers in Spain, or gone without meals to save up for that famous duck l’orange, or swallowed your fear of blood tests for cash to travel with your missed and beloved family, that you truly appreciate the simple things in life. The highlight of my life on the road can’t be captured on camera as vividly as the Eiffel Tower or sunsets in the Adriatic. It’s the experience of simply making ends meet everyday in this cold northern economy that will stay with me every day when I one day return back home to the Lucky Country down under.