While most updates on extended trips around the world consist of great photos and lots of cool hastags #amazing #bestever #bucketlist, there is another side of long term travel that doesn’t usually get much attention. But at over 5 months on the road I thought I’d share some of the realities of long term travel for those looking to plan such an adventure. To clarify I’m classifying long term travel as more than two months spent abroad visiting multiple cities, countries or destinations.
- It’s not all glitz and glamour: Sleeping on overnight buses, getting woken up by your dorm mates at 4 am and repeatedly getting lost are an inevitable part of any extended trip. Whether it’s hauling your backpack around in the 100% humidity of South East Asia, or getting stuck on an overnight trek in the rain, sometimes travel can be downright unpleasant. Earplugs, a perky attitude and a good rain coat are your best bet at fending off these constant travel companions.
- Food envy: While trying out the local cuisine is a must in any new destination, there comes a time when you’d give anything for your favourite foods back home. Whether it’s something as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (peanut butter is almost non-existent in South America), to homemade spaghetti and meatballs, there likely just aren’t any substitutes abroad. About the only Western food craving you can satisfy nearly everywhere is a Big Mac meal.
- Style goes out the window: At home you might be the best dressed among your friends, but abroad style now means wearing whatever two items in your pack are the least dirty. When you finally spring for some clothes washing, it’s like winning the travel lottery. Pack a few versatile outfits, pick up a local scarf for a bit of flair and remember – no one knows you there anyways.
- FOMO – Fear of Missing Out: It goes without saying that life at home continues on without you while you are away. Holidays are celebrated, nieces and nephews grow up, friends get married and move away. Choosing to spend an extended time away from your loved ones and friends will inevitably mean missing some important holidays and events. Luckily with all of the technology available today from Skype to email to Facebook, keeping in touch with people back home has never been easier.
- Not Another Temple: Whoever said you can have too much of a good thing is bang on when it comes to travel. At first every tourist attraction you visit will be breathtaking, exquisite, beautiful etc. etc. but there does come a time when you really don’t want to see another temple, main square, church or museum. It seems hard to believe when first setting out, but by the time you visit Temple #204 they really do start to blur together. If and when possible it’s always a good idea to try and break up long term travel with times spent in different climates or diverse countries or enjoying different activities to avoid the travel burn out.
There are certainly lots more travel truths out there, but hopefully this list will give you an inside look at down and dirty. Of course it goes without saying that the list of travel pros from amazing life experiences to visiting some of the world’s wonders greatly outweighs the downsides. Got anymore travel truths? Share them in the comments below.