THE downside TO long term travel
Updated: 03/02/19 | March 2nd, 2019
When I meet people and tell them about what I do or how long I have been traveling, their action is normally something like, “Wow! That is so awesome! You’re so lucky! I wish I could do something like that!”
To a lot of people, my job is the best job in the world.
Essentially, I get paid to travel. and who wouldn’t want to get paid to travel the world?
But people only think of the good side.
After a while, I get worn out of describing what I do. Now, I rarely ever mention it when I meet people. My lifestyle is not all glitter and gold and I hate the gushing. The lawn is always greener on the other side.
When I started my blog, my goal was to become a travel writer. I wanted my name in guidebooks.
But then I interviewed guidebook authors and swiftly realized that their jobs were not the idealized professions I had in my head. They work long hours, have to travel quickly, and are under tight deadlines.
The same can be said about long-term travel. There are lots of terrific things about traveling forever. but long-term travel presents you with a lonely existence sometimes. like everything, there are lots of downsides.
I once asked if you could travel for too long. two or three years of constant, always-on-the-move travel can wear a person down. It’s not that you can only travel for two years and never again — it’s that you can only be on the step for so long before you long for something like roots.
Travel uses people the chance to see new places, experience new cultures, make new friends, and learn about themselves. but whether you are on a 6-month, 1-year, 2-year, or open-ended trip, there are also downsides.
For starters, relationships are ephemeral. I have said a lot more goodbyes in three years than any individual must say in their lifetime. I recently traveled with a Canadian girl who said to me, “You need to be used to goodbyes by now huh?” The way she said it was very sad but she was right. I do have to say goodbye too much.
One of the best things about traveling is all the people you meet. but one of the worst things about traveling is also all the people you meet.
After years of hellos and goodbyes, you can become numb to it all. Sometimes, I just don’t want to meet anyone.
You develop a sense of detachment.
Why must you open yourself up again just to say another goodbye? It makes you a lot more guarded. Not all the time but often too often. Because, despite the best intentions and Facebook, you know that 90% of the people you say goodbye to, you’ll never see again. Your life is filled with 24-hour pals who made that brief time terrific but are soon gone. who wants a life filled with that?
Secondly, it makes having a relationship with the opposite sex very hard. It’s hard to find love on the road. It does happen, but relationships tend to last as long as you are both traveling together, or as long as you are both staying in the same city.
I haven’t had a girlfriend for longer than three months in years. I’d love to have one for longer, but I’m always on the move.
Moreover, a lot of girls don’t want to get into a relationship with you if they know there is no hope of you settling down. It’s hard to make a commitment when you already know there is no future. The reality is, just like with friendships, relationships are hard – and harder when you know you are leaving in just a short time.
Finally, you get tired. really tired. Of traveling. Of everything. After a while, everything becomes just another “one of.” That 100th church, 100th waterfall, 40th hostel, 800th bus ride, 600th bar… it’s not the same after a while. It loses its charm and luster.
Travel becomes unexciting. Ask any traveler — at some point, they hit that point where they are sick of traveling. They just need a few days or weeks to recharge their batteries.
After three years, I step a lot slower than I used to. I’m in no rush now. If I want to spend 12 hours out sightseeing, I can, but I tend to be out for a few hours and just kick back the rest of the time.
After all, I’ll be wherever I am for a while. slow travel is better travel, and it fights the “just another” syndrome.
But even still, travel can become exhausting, and there are times you never want to see anything with the word “historic” in front of it ever again. Some days I just want to spend a week in front of my computer enjoying motion pictures and TV.
Long-term travel takes a certain type of person to enjoy. You need to be independent, you need to be able to spend lots of time alone, you need to be flexible, and you need to be able to deal with constant change. After all, how lots of goodbyes can you say?
How typically can you have 24-hour friends?
How long can you go without a consistent relationship?
How long can you step without having a home?
These are questions I wonder about. Eventually, I’ll find the answers. I don’t think people can step foreverunless they are trying to escape something.
Me, I’m just trying to see things. I have another two years of travel planned before I become Semi-Nomadic Matt. two years is a long time away to really know anything.
But I do know that these negatives are like snowballs. They start out small but get bigger and bigger the longer you travel. And, I think eventually, they roll over us all.
Helpful travel Resources
In case you’re on the road and struggling with being alone or travel burnout, here are some valuable resources where you can get support and find other like-minded travelers to spend time with:
The Nomadic Network – The Nomadic Network is our travel Facebook group. It has nearly 15,000 members from all around the world and is an remarkable place to get local tips, find people to travel with, and get recommendations if you’re feeling down or frustrated. We also host meet-ups around the world, which is a terrific way to connect with other travelers and locals.
Couchsurfing – using the Couchsurfing app is a terrific way to meet up with other travelers or locals. You don’t need to stay with them, either. simply meet up for a coffee or to check out a museum — whatever you want! If you’re seeking to connect with people while you’re on the road, this is app is a must.
Meetup.com – If you have a certain interest or hobby, check meetup.com to see if there are people where you are who also share it. If you love to swing dance, see if there is a local swing dance club. If rock climbing is your thing, check and see if there is a local group you can meet up with. chances are you if you have a hobby, some locals will have it too!
How to travel the world on $50 a Day
My new York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will show you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”
Click here to learn a lot more and start reading it today!
Book Your Trip: Logistical ideas and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a low-cost flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches web sites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the least expensive rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t forget travel Insurance
Travel insurance will secure you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s detailed protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it lots of times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
SafetyWing (best for everyone)
Insure My trip (for those over 70)
Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Ready to book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.