The intensive world travel, the globetrotting happens only by taking some time off to travel. No matter how passionate are you about traveling, this is the reality: if you want to get deep into the wild, into the culture, to go for the adventure, if you want to explore the real culture, it doesn’t happen with a tour guide or in just a month of well planned trip.
When you talk about traveling, people think you spend all your time in a 5 starts hotel, full of luxury, and they wonder what’s your secret, how do you do it? But well traveled people are far of being comfortable people. Nobody in this planet can afford travelling for a long time while having very comfortable life. I can bet on this! Because those who have the money to do it never actually go to travel for so long because they are too busy making money, or are just too well in their comfort zone.
It takes sweat, dirt, nerves, sometimes tears, overwhelmed moments, lonely times, and lots of strength to make your way out to discover the real world out there.
Here is a list of the most common price a long term traveler pays:
1. Say goodbye to your personal comfort
At least several times in their lives, all the globetrotters have slept in airports, uncomfortable night buses, hot trains with no air conditioning, or crazy cold buses, sleeping bags, tents.
To this you add going to sleep at midnight happy to have find a shelter for the night and waking up at 4 AM to catch a bus, or travel for 2 days with no possibility of taking a shower, or you get at 2 AM to a city after 30 hrs horrible bus ride and you have no place to sleep and no idea where to go.
Some of the prices I paid for:
– One of world’s most beautiful treks, Huayhuash, Peru: sharing a wet tent, have the nature as a bathroom for 8 days with temperatures from 3-20 degrees Celsius. Imagine you want to go to the toilet at night…
– South East Asia trip: I forgot the number of times I slept in airports to can catch a super early morning flight just because was cheaper, taxi was unsafe and expensive.
– Discovering the real super nice Cuban people – the authentic Cuban culture: traveling in trucks with other 100 people. After 8 hrs trip, on a mental bench you kind of know all your back side bones.
2. No more privacy
I met people, usually couples, who go for a private room while traveling. But besides some exceptions, when you go for long term traveling, you’ll share your room with other 3-8 people. Same for the bathroom. That means you shower in not the cleanest bathroom, or you wake up at 4 o’clock because somebody either got back drunk or is checking out early morning and makes noise. Or the classic: somebody snores loud enough to wake up the drunkest person. It’s all part of the experience and you have to adjust to it.
3. The plans are made to be changed or unexpected happened and you have to make your way out
There is nothing like a perfect plan executed perfectly. There is always something happening. If it doesn’t, something is wrong. And trust me, I’m a project manager.
Roads get closed without notice in Kashmir, French do strikes, election days means either dry day (no alchoohol – India) or no transportation (Bolivia), bad weather keeps you on New York Airport, luggage gets lost, planes break, and the list goes on.
In my personal collection I add:
– I run out of gasoline in the middle of nowhere in Mexico because I got lost with my friend, it got dark and our phones didn’t have signal.
– I forgot the number of times my luggage didn’t land with me and I recover it from a different country a week later
– I missed my connection to Mexico and 3 days of my trip because of snow in Bucharest and fog over London
– I missed one day of my super well planned trip to China because a plane broke. A scary flight – 20 passengers and 10 technicians.
– On a raining night, I was left at 1 AM outside Luxembourg train station because the French personnel from the train I was in and which suppose to go till Basel, got on strike.
And the list goes on.
5. Get ready to discover your body
I never knew I’m so allergic till I moved out of Europe. I did all the possible allergy tests at home and nothing. But I’m allergic from bed bugs to jungle flies, from some sea fish to moisturizer cream. Somebody else offers more allergies?
I met people who can’t acclimatize at all to high lands.
If you eat from the street you do get sick. I didn’t, but I met people getting to hospital because of food poisoning.
6. Your favorite things are not out here
We all have our small things which make our live better, more comfortable, or just matter a lot in our daily life. From personal care staff (a toothpaste or deodorant) to gadgets or favorite food, which the place you are in, doesn’t have them.
I love chocolate! I left Romania in Aug 2015 eating a 100gr table a day, completely addicted. Now I barely eat 10 gr a week, and all because I could never find a real good chocolate out here. But in the end I discovered there is a life without chocolate and sweets.
7. Prepare to face loneliness and depression
There is something call long term traveler depression. It has about one pick point after you traveled quite a lot, and suddenly, for no reason, you are not so enthusiastic any more about any other world wonder, any other Unesco world heritage, you start spending lots of time alone, connected to the friends from home, or not, doing nothing, just burning out the day. You feel alone even you are surrounded by people. You miss a good friend to be in the same state of mind as you to can understand you, but non of your friends out there with you. They are in different time zones, they are in different mood or they are just at home, and not traveling as you.
There are 2 other tough moments of your long term traveling:
– one is your way back home. Even you are enthusiastic to go back home to see your friends, is not easy to just take the flight back home.
– and the last challenge or your trip and most probably the most difficult one, is the unwrap and the reintegration back to a routine. How do you live a stationary life after such a trip? When everyday was a special day, when over dinner you were talking about the military regime in Argentina or debate the Fujimori leadership in Peru, when you were the special one with a story to say and one you are just another guy in a cubical?
The purpose of this post was not to scare you, but to show you the other side of the story of a well traveled person. Most of the times people say the good things. They see the nice part of the experience. But trust me, long term travel pays its toll. I’ll write in the future about The life after globetrotting and Me, before and after traveling the world and then you can envy us, the globetrotters. Follow me to get notified when the posts will be online.
If you have some experiences to share, please leave a comment out here so we grow more the long term travel awareness.