About long term travel

(This article is part of a series called:  Checking in at 6 months.)

To my astonishment, we slipped into this nomadic, carefree lifestyle as if we were slipping into a pair of comfy, old slippers. There was no adjustment period, no finding our groove; from the moment we began, it just seemed to fit. Sure, we were a little nervous at the beginning especially travelling by bus and we were inexperienced about living in hostels.  But, I didn’t pine away for what we left behind, in fact, I never, not for a second, looked back.   This lifestyle seems to fit so well that I’m a little worried about how I’ll ever go back to our old lives…..but I’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

You may recall that when we set out on this adventure, we had no plan other than to travel without a plan.  Six months in, and I love travelling like this.  Travelling long term without a rigid schedule or plan has been absolutely exhilarating.  It has allowed us to be flexible and adaptable, giving us room to travel where ever the wind takes us. I never in a thousand years would have thought I could travel like this.  I love the freedom we have and the feeling that we have time on our side.  Paradoxically, now that we have more time, I no longer feel the need to do everything and see everything like I would on a typical two week vacation; I know that it’s impossible to see and do it all.  So we are content to experience what we experience at the pace we choose to take.

But this kind of travel does come at a cost and this has probably been the biggest challenge of long term travel thus far.  Without a plan, staying ahead of the game in terms of meeting your basic needs – accommodation, food, transportation – requires relentless research and short term planning.  This wasn’t as difficult at the beginning of our trip when it was low season.  But since high season began in December, we cannot just show up somewhere and expect to find a bed to sleep in, or to buy a bus ticket on the spot.  We need to plan at least a few days ahead.  Since we’ve been staying only a few days in one place, that means we are always researching for the next place to stay. And then once we arrive somewhere new, then we need to do more research about the place and what it is we want to see and do while there.  All this research is time consuming and downright exhausting at times.  We have developed a system where we divide and conquer rather than duplicating efforts.  Chris usually researches the hostels and I research the transportation options, although it’s not set in stone.  And we accept that sometimes things go well and sometimes things don’t and not to hold it against each other when shit happens.  Things always seem to work out in the end, sometimes better and sometimes worse than expected.

Speaking of pace, we are travelling at a faster pace than we originally intended and we still need to figure this out.  We recognize the symptoms of travel fatigue – a lack of interest in seeing new sights and a yearning to go home – and we have felt this several times over the past six months.  When travel fatigue hits, we slow down and stay put for a few extra days, doing nothing touristy whatsoever.  If we can, we cook our own meals which I always find grounding, and we just chill out, read some books, and watch some of our favorite shows or some movies.  And when we’re ready, we pack up and hit the road again.

As we look ahead at the next six months, we both agree that we would like to spend longer periods of time in one place, up to a month at a time.  Of course, this means fewer places to visit, but we hope we will enjoy deeper, more enriching experiences in the places we do see. [read more]


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