Travellers Today (written 2015)

Lets start by dispelling a few myths! Not all travellers claim benefits. Not all travellers have dreadlocks. Not all travellers have a dog on a piece of string. Not all travellers drink Special Brew. Not all travellers wear army surplus clothing. Not all travellers live in rusty old barely legal trucks! So who are travellers in 2015? Where do they go and how to they earn a living?

 

Travellers come from all sections of society. Some move onto the road because it is cheaper, some because they want to travel, some to get away from family or broken relationships. There are many reasons. On the pages on Travelling life you can read more about life on the road and on the Travelling Tales page there are stories from travellers about their experiences.

 

Whilst this website deals mostly with what the media might label as 'New Age Travellers' it is worth noting that these days there are a growing number of people of the road that would never really fit into this pigeon hole. There are a massive number of retired RV or plastic fantastic drivers that live full time in their vehicles quite often spending the winters in warmer countries. These people are probably as far away as you can get from 'New Travellers' but despite the differences can often get on, swap stories of travelling, swap books and help each other out especially when on foreign soil. Then there is also all the people in between the two extremes if you like. The lines are blurred and who wants to be labelled and put in a box anyway. The point is although there remains the 'New Age Traveller' there are so many more people on the road who are not labelled by the media this way and yet are living exactly the same lifestyle.

 

Some travellers in the UK do not actually travel that much, some say 'traveller' is a state of mind rather than a need to actually travel. Others would travel more if they could but limits on park ups, particularly when in groups as well as the cost involved in keeping moving keep them rooted to one site. The term traveller has been used by the media for anyone that lives in a vehicle or trailer but the fact is some people just want a cheaper way of life or to have less impact on the earth. Just because they live in a van doesn't mean they have to travel!

 

Earning a living is no different for a traveller than for anyone else. The advantage is that if you have a legal working vehicle you can travel all over the country (and beyond) for work. Being tied to one location can make it much harder to find work. Traditionally travellers did seasonal jobs on farm and at festivals. This is still a big part of traveller life but there are also lots of travellers doing all sorts of jobs. I know travellers that are builders, mechanics, gardeners, carers, cleaners, teachers and tattooists as well as lots of artists and crafts people.

Update 2020

The travelling community although still marginalised continues to grow. In the UK there are illegal sites that are tolerated as well as legal sites. There are also lots of travellers living roadside. There are many travellers travelling around the UK as well as the rest of Europe.

 

There is a thriving ‘grass roots’ festival scene in the UK which is close in many ways to the free festivals of the 70s. Many travellers, ex travellers and those close to the scene work at and attend these festivals.

There is also a new movement of travellers known as Vanlifers, these new nomadic vehicle dwellers have placed the idea of living on the road into the mainstream. Some identify with the traveller movement that went before them, others do not but it’s interesting to see another scene develop. Sadly it does seem more of an online ideology rather than a real community of people that travel together but that may well change.

Below is a selection of photos of different travellers from around the world.

Chilling.

Chilling.

Pig Field, Spain, 2012.

Tattooing.

Tattooing.

Pig Field, Spain, 2012.

Practicing circus skills.

Practicing circus skills.

Pig Field, Spain, 2012.

Out in the sun.

Out in the sun.

Pig Field, Spain, 2012.

Cleaning the lorry.

Cleaning the lorry.

Barranco beach, Portugal, 2011.

Discussing books.

Discussing books.

Ridgeway, Avebury, UK, 2010.

Jammin.

Jammin.

Ruta del Agua, Spain, 2012.

Making plans.

Making plans.

Pig Field, Spain, 2012.

Fixing clothes.

Fixing clothes.

Pig Field, Spain, 2012.

More tattooing.

More tattooing.

Pig Field, Spain, 2011.

Traveller kids playing.

Traveller kids playing.

Pig Field, Spain, 2011.

Horse drawn.

Horse drawn.

Avebury, UK, 2009.

Yet more tattooing.

Yet more tattooing.

Stanmer Park, Brighton, UK, 2011.

In 2011 I was asked to write a chapter in a book to be published on travellers and festivals. My chapter was to be about music and festivals in traveller culture, a more recent look at that theme as other chapters of the book were to have a lot of history. The book was published in 2012 and called 'Travelling Daze' it is still available from Enabler Publications but you can read my chapter here:

travelling-daze-cover.jpg