The Effects of Long-Term Travel

It would be a lie to tell you that travel is all blue skies and green grass year round. When I had made the decision to travel, I thought my life was going to be easier once I left. The first few weeks were indeed easy, I felt I had adapted well (partly because China makes travel so easy). I also had saved enough money to travel the entire year without work. I hardy ever looked at my bank account and went on about my days without worry. But it really didn’t take long before things started to go wrong and realize that travel is not at all that easy.

The Bad

It’s exhausting…

Arrive in a new city, attempt to locate hostel/hotel with a large backpack holding you down, finally locate a hostel but it’s over priced, continue searching, locate another hostel, see room if it’s okay, pay, unpack, lock everything up to make sure it doesn’t get stolen, get map out for a place to eat, ask reception for recommendations, see sights and attractions, get lost, attempt again the next day for the sights and attractions, pack, get on a long train or bus ride…. Repeat.

It’s a routine that gets exhausting.

Friends are short term

My friends at home have known me for years -some even since Kindergarten. The friends I have made on the road have known me for a few months if I’m lucky. Still, I can relate to my new friends because of our common interests in travel. Many of them I’ve kept in contact with and met several times more on the road. Unfortunately, most of the friends made while traveling don’t stick around as everyones paths are different. Good Byes are never easy and no matter how many times I say it, I will always hate it.

Positive side to this is I ‘ve met people from all over the world. My friends are spread out throughout the world.

Language barrier can get annoying

There are days when I really don’t feel like everything should be a mission to accomplish. Sometimes I’d like to just buy something and walk away. I attempt at learning as much of the local language as possible but it’s hardly ever conversational. Food is the worse to go wrong. I love trying new foods and I’m not a picky eater at all but there have been meals of total disaster due to the language barrier and having no idea what I was ordering.

The feeling of home

The rush of entering a new city is exciting. Exploring and discovering new things. It’s great. What sucks is when I have to leave as soon as I start to get comfortable in a place.

Things start to blend in

Details that I once noticed when I first started traveling are now blending in with everything else. Not to say that I don’t enjoy where I am but to keep things interesting, I need a change in scenery. Going to too many temples can get boring. One temple every now and keeps me interested.

Tang Paradise with Ying and Yang

Then there’s the other side when things DO go right that makes traveling long-term worth everything. I could easily list out plenty of more bad things that effect long-term travelers but I could double it in the things that are good.

The Good

Master of geography

Prior to traveling, the map inside my head was limited to mostly American states and big countries. Now I can name locations in the most obscure places on earth. Two years of travel has taken me to places.

Appreciate family more

I’m grateful to have such a wonderful supportive family. Whenever someone asks me what I miss the most about home, I always say my family and friends.

Socially awesome and growing up

As a child, I was really weird (still am but now I’m cool weird). I was often made fun of or picked on. It was like this for most of my childhood and lasted for many years thereafter. I started by traveling solo for a year which introduced me to new communication skills I had never had prior to traveling. I’m now a much better public speaker and feel more professional when in a social setting.

Relaxed

Perhaps it’s just my mind playing tricks on me but I feel more at ease while traveling. There’s always something going on and I’m never restrained to one place. If I didn’t like where I was, I could just get up and go to another city or even another country. At home, I felt more ‘stuck’ although I could have always done the same. Not sure what the mentally of this is but somehow traveling does make me feel more relaxed.

Open world to settle in

I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve said “this is a really nice place, I could live here for a few months.” I’m in the process of apply for an Italian citizenship which will open up a whole new window of opportunities. Whenever I do decide to settle for a bit, it’s going to be because I’ve traveled there before and really loved it.

At the end of the day…

The pros far outweigh the cons. I love long-term travel.

 

 

Michael Tieso

Michael Tieso travels around the world writing, photographing, and filming his adventures. He is the Editor-in-chief of Art of Adventuring.

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