9 Realities of Long Term Travel

person_outline Tommy Walker
Dec 10, 2018

folder_open Travel Advice

timer 12 min read

A constant surge for adventure filled with exotic destinations, the best backdrops and all the cultures in the world – long-term travel for many people, is living the dream.

Through social media at least, the life of a long-term traveller is often heavily distorted with glaring filters and cleverly framed photo opps.

As someone who has been on the road for nearly seven years now, the nomadic life is certainly one that packs a punch. Long-term travel – defined, as being away from home and normally moving around constantly and regularly, isn’t as easy as it may look. It’s definitely exciting but what comes with the buzz also comes with the burst.

In the era of the ‘digital nomad’ (although I much prefer to call myself a freelancer) working and travelling isn’t a foreign concept anymore, many people are latching onto this idea of working as they want, where and when they want.

This can lead to the foundations of setting up a life on the road into long-term travel. It becomes less about the experience and more about the life. Let’s look at the realities:

Travelling Becomes The Norm

Whether you’re hopping on a plane for a quick weekend away or taking a month somewhere new to detox, travelling becomes the norm. You’re so used to travelling, having been on the road long-term, that your whole world revolves around travel. That’s one of the beauties of long-term travel; you’re not waiting for next trip or counting down the days, your life becomes it.

That Vacation Feeling Wears Off Quickly

Then again, we all love that feeling of going away. The novelty of a new place is energising and undoubtedly gets us into a good mood. However, that vacation feeling wears off quickly when you're travelling long term.

The more you travel, the more the novelties tend to diminish generally. The best way to counteract that is to not travel for a long time and then take a trip, or do something really immersive that is unique – such as the Galapagos or Peru.

The Sense Of Home Becomes Lost

I’ve been on the road now nearly seven years, since 2012. I’ve toyed with going home to my roots, but in all honesty, I know I won’t be fulfilled enough in the long term. The sense of home has become lost, and the road becomes it. Whether it’s a new country or just life continually moving about, home becomes a different meaning.

Working For Yourself Involves Risk & Effort

Like many long-term travellers, the ability to do so is because of being able to work as you go. The term ‘Digital Nomad’ is new but the concept isn’t. Working on the road is said to many peoples dream, and long-term travel normally goes hand in hand with that. But the realities of working for yourself or independently always come with risk. The effort to get there is often unseen by many outsiders and the risk, is always there. If you lose your job or flounder with work, you could have to start again. And that means physically too – you’d have to go somewhere and start a new life, even if it’s against your wishes.

You’re Always Missing Someone

Life on the road is exciting, new and international. But there’s always someone we miss. Most of us at some stage of our lives have been close to someone; whether it is a family member, an ex-partner or best friend.

That sense of belonging to a relationship or friendship is comforting. Life on the road voids that possibility and it’s only long flights and special occasions that provide you with the opportunity to reunite once more.

Adapting To Your Surroundings Becomes Easy

One of the things I still surprise myself with is how I tend not to be fazed by many different surroundings anymore. I mean, when I enter a country I just feel totally at ease. Before I was a seasoned long-term traveller, each country would inhibit my trip at the beginning and evoke a bit of anxiety. Now, country dependent of course, I just see it as the life I chose.

At Some Point, You’ll Miss Routine

Things like having a reliable close by friend, the same bed to sleep in, regular sport and exercise, a favourite coffee house and cheat day food stalls are all things I’ve incorporated into my routine while living in Hong Kong. I didn’t realise how much routine plays an integral part in long-term travel until I got into Hong Kong. It helps you recuperate and get ready for further adventures. Long-term travellers miss routine at some point, whether they like to admit to it or not!

Your Reasons To Travel May Change

At the start just getting out there and seeing the world is the number one reason to travel. Then it may be the constant freedom or a particular place.

Other reasons may include money, living a digital nomad life or escaping from something.

Eventually, the reasons to keep on the road will evolve over time. In my experience, I just wanted to see as much as possible and to be as free as ever.

I still have that with me, especially the freedom part, but now I travel constantly because of the work I do. If I didn’t have that work, maybe my goals would change.

But To Travel Still Drives You On

Even sometimes, in the moments when we are down and nearly out, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. If all the odds are against you, things are looking bleak, or you just need a change from the situation you’re in, travel will always be there.

Travel drives you on, to keep the long-term life and to keep living the dream.

Adventure is calling!

Tommy Walker

Tommy Walker

Tommy is a British freelance travel writer and social media micro-influencer. He’s been on the road since 2011 and he’s travelled through Europe, Southeast Asia, South America, Africa and Oceania, including two Working Holidays in Australia & New Zealand. His favourite destinations (so far) are Melbourne in Australia, Lisbon in Portugal, Thailand and Ecuador! Find more of Tommy’s work on his travel blog The Wandering Walker.