The Side Effects of Long-Term Travel
Taking off to travel for months on end sounds like a dream, and most of it is. You get to spend your time however you want – exploring foreign cities, trying new foods, or taking epic road trips. However, not every moment is a stroll along les Champs-Elysées. Sometimes, like in the photo above, the path is flooded. Over my last twenty-two (and counting) weeks abroad, there have been a few aspects that surprised me. Here are the main side effects of long-term travel:
Yes, you do get bored sometimes when traveling the world. Most vacations are a whirlwind, as you try to sight-see and experience as much as you can. On my first backpacking trip across Europe, I spent about four nights in each of the five countries I visited. On my current round-the-world trip, I’ve often spent two weeks to a month. That time is luxurious, but it can also leave you with afternoons where you feel like you’ve done it all, and you’re ready for wherever is next.
Traveling the world is life-changing, and you don’t want to waste a minute of it. Still, there are days when you just want to relax in a coffee shop with your laptop and not feel guilty about it. That guilt came as a surprise to me. Long-term travel can make you feel like you should always be on the go, like every day has to be spent climbing waterfalls.
Even though you expect this one, you can’t stop it from happening. Sometimes, juggling different languages, currencies, time zones, and cultures can wear you down. Situations will arise—like when every train from Beijing to Shanghai is booked that day so you must scramble to find a hotel—and in that moment, you’re over it. That stress, along with the boredom and guilt, will pass, which leaves you with:
The more you see of the world, the more you realize there is to see. Long-term travel will have a few bumps in the journey, but it’s the ultimate freedom. Others might expect you to get homesick, but you can’t get enough of it. Before traveling, I had never thought of visiting Transylvania. Now, when my screensaver showed me a picture of it, I started researching. (Seriously, it looks beautiful!) Long-term travel will turn your love of travel into a full-blown addiction.
I never planned on this trip lasting forever, but the further I travel, the more I wonder how I will be able to go back. Long-term travel may have unexpected side-effects, but don’t let these stop you if given the chance. When traveling, your most likely prognosis is happiness.