To a lot of people, I appear to have the dream life of long term travel and being able to work for myself. I often get emails from readers who say, “I wish I could have your job! How do I do it too?”
When I meet people in hostels and I tell people I’m a travel blogger, they are often fascinated to know more and tell me “Wow that must be the best job in the world!”
Most of the time I nod and say, “yeah it’s pretty damn cool”, but sometimes I want to say…
I’m tired of traveling.
Long-Term Travel Has its Downsides
There I said it. I’m scared of sounding ungrateful. Or of bursting the illusion that long-term travel is awesome and fun. Sometimes I avoid saying what I do for a living because I know I’ll be asked about it.
As I get a little bit older, I no longer feel the same desire to travel as I once did. A large percentage of my year is spent traveling; last year I visited 15 countries, and so far this year I have set foot in 7 countries. I try to travel slow these days because I enjoy myself a lot more, but I still don’t have a permanent home.
I often feel this constant tug of war between wanting to put down some roots, and wanting to see more of the world.
On the one hand I get to see some incredible places, do awesome things and meet new people. On the other hand, I don’t want to live out of a suitcase, and I want a routine.
I’m realising more and more these days that I have been traveling too much. It is becoming difficult for me to balance my work with travel, so I need to slow down. There is a huge backlog of blog posts I need to write about my recent adventures to Burma, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines. I’m struggling to get much posting done about my current trip here in the US, and I need to finish writing my e-book.
When you work online there has to be a healthy balance between work and play. And sometimes I am just all play and no work. When I’m not being productive I feel guilty, and I don’t feel like I’m reaching my career goals. It makes me happy when I am moving forward and creating something, but travel means often neglect that part of my life.
Things stop having the ‘wow’ factor
Sometimes, when you have too much of something, it stops having the ‘wow’ factor.
Imagine you won billions of dollars. I bet it would feel pretty exciting the first time you purchase a new sports car. But when money is no object, do you think you would have the same excitement every time you bought something?
When a person takes a vacation from work it feels special and exciting. They’ve had something to look forward to for a while. But suddenly when you travel all the time, it loses that special feeling.
I start taking things for granted.
Things start to look the same. I’ve seen so many churches, waterfalls, sunsets and temples that they all start to blend into one.
In Halong Bay, I took a junk boat cruise where we visited a cave with stalagmites and stalactites, and I just shrugged and thought “Not as incredible as the Wieliczka salt mine in Poland.” After seeing the temples of Bagan in Myanmar, I’m not sure that any other temples could impress me like that.
I guess you could liken the travel addiction to any kind of addiction. Things become less pleasurable and suddenly you need more and more to generate that same excitement.
It’s difficult to have relationships
Traveling around makes it very difficult to have relationships. When you meet someone you like in a foreign country, there is always that thought lingering in the background…one of us will have to leave. You might just have a whirlwind romance for a few days, or you might decide to travel together on the same route for a while, but that ticking-clock feeling sucks. No-one wants to feel like their time will be up soon.
If you decide to make it work in the long-term, ultimately either both of you decide to live in a new place, or one of you has to move across the world to be with the other. In this case, both parties really have to be sure about it, because otherwise it can lead to resentment.
Too many goodbyes
I have made lots of friends traveling the world and every time it sucks to have to say goodbye.
Sometimes you spend a few incredible days hanging out with a new friend, and you feel like you’ve known them all your life. Then just like that, you have to say goodbye. I wish I could keep them in my pocket and take them with me!
When I’m traveling I often go to stay with friends I have met around the world. I get to be part of their lives for a while, and then I have to leave again. For a few weeks I get to experience a little slice of normality, and I feel a little bit envious. Yes travel is cool, but it’s also nice to have a group of friends around you.
For once I want to know that the only word I’ll be saying is “Hello”.
It’s Tiring Living Out of a Suitcase
Travel can be tiring. Packing, unpacking, staying in dorm rooms and hotels, booking flights, planning bus routes, reading maps…it all gets a little bit exhausting.
Sometimes I just don’t want to have to think about anything. I want to work on my computer, cook a proper meal at home, go to a gym and not do much else. I want to be able to put neatly-folded my clothes in a wardrobe instead of living out of a bag. I want to be able to do laundry at home instead of going out to get it done.
I like eating out, but I really miss having a kitchen with everything I need so I can cook a nice healthy meal at home. That’s why I love staying with friends because at least I get to experience having a home, even if it’s just for a short while.
I need at least a semi-permanent base. I recently rented an apartment for a month in Phuket, Thailand, where I started my fitness challenge to stay in shape while traveling. I felt good about myself and enjoyed the time alone, but I also knew that Southeast Asia is not where I want to live. It may be cheaper than other parts of the world, but I couldn’t live their long term. The question is, where will my base be? I am on a mission to find a home, I just don’t know where it is yet.
Have you ever been tired of traveling? What did you do about it? Leave your comments below!