Long-Term Travel

A Test: Is Long-Term Travel Right For You?

Derek Perspectives, Travel Tips & Advice 97 Comments

Long-Term Travel
Do you enjoy being challenged? Would you maintain your sanity if you had to constantly face unexpected situations, surprises, plans that always changed for one reason or another? Could you handle a lack of routine and perhaps not knowing where you’ll be in a week or two from any given moment?

Are you okay with sleeping in different beds all the time, some comfortable, others barely more than a thin piece of foam set upon a hard piece of wood? What if you had to eat different foods, some familiar, others quite different to anything you’ve ever eaten before…does that sound appealing?

Would you welcome a situation where everyone around you thought differently than you do, had different beliefs and customs, practiced different traditions, thought and behaved in ways you’d never seen or even knew existed? Are you okay with being out of your comfort zone, far, far, far out of your comfort zone?

Are you excited about an opportunity to constantly meet new people from all around the world, people from all sorts of backgrounds, people with whom you will share amazing adventures and with whom you will create wonderful friendships? But can you accept the fact that you will often have to say goodbye to all of those new people shortly after you meet them, maybe because you have plans to travel somewhere else or they have plans to go their own way? Perhaps you’ll keep in touch and meet again someday, perhaps you won’t, is that okay?

Do you want to receive an education like no other, an education that only the world itself, experienced first-hand, can teach? Are you open to an education that just may alter the way you view the world?

Can you maintain an open mind at all times while always welcoming, and striving to grow from, the experiences and interactions that come your way, no matter what they may be?

Do you think you will be able to use your travels to benefit others?

Do you have a goal for your travels? Is there something specific you want to gain from seeing the world and meeting its people?

Can you find rewards in the tiniest of things? Can a handshake or an exchange of smiles bring you great happiness? Can you use such small actions to create a cross-cultural bond between yourself and other people? Do you feel that interaction between two people of different cultures, any interaction at all, can be powerful and extremely beneficial?

Are you able to cope with never being truly satisfied as your list of places you badly want to visit grows and grows and grows the more you travel? Can you come to terms with the fact that it’s impossible to see it all?

Are you fine living without a closet or a set of drawers? Does living out of a backpack or a suitcase sound good to you?

Do you understand that travel does not involve a never-ending stream of fun times, that there will be obstacles, tough situations and moments when you might feel confused, frustrated or even a bit lost? But at the same time, do you understand that despite all of those, there must be a reason why it’s so hard to find a traveler who regrets having traveled? Are you ready to find out that reason?

Do you think you have the determination necessary to achieve your goals? Are you willing to put in the effort required?

Can you picture yourself right now at some of the destinations around the world that you have always dreamed of visiting? Can you see yourself actually living the experiences you so often think about?

If you answered yes to most of the questions above, I only have one last thing to ask…

Are you ready to take the first step and start traveling?


Any travelers want to add any questions to the list? Is anyone else trying to figure out if long-term travel is right for you?

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Comments 97

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  3. Robert

    Yes. Yes and hell yes. Thanks for including the bad times of confusion, disorientation and overwhelming whatever. Like landing in Bangkok and your people don’t show or being let off a bus on the side of a road in the middle of Cambodia and what was the most beautiful
    Sunset ever becomes a terror when you realize ” next bus in ten minutes ” means nothing more than ” You get off bus Now “.

  4. Silviu-Florin Salomia

    Although most people would frantically answer yes to all these great questions, sadly not so many realize that travel is not reserved only for the rich and free. Traveling should be attempted and practiced everywhere and by everyone…no matter the length or the destination. I would love to travel indefinitely, but I would also miss my family, my friends, my bed and so on…

  5. naz

    omg, yes! yes! yes! thank you for all these questions Earl – im really glad i came across it. me & my partner are planning to start our long term (hopefully!) travel early next month – so im trying to read everywhere about travelling and nomadic lifestyle – also trying to figure out more about blogging (we just started a blog as well to document our journey) and how we can keep moving forward in our travels. your blog has been very helpful. i look forward to read more 🙂

  6. Banker in the Sun

    Great questions, Earl, and great point about long-term travel not being a never-ending stream of fun times.

    The hardest part for me has been meeting great people – but people who are on vacation! I’m working while traveling, while they’re enjoying a holiday. It can be tempting to join them for drinks every night or blow off work when they’re going sightseeing. But if I did that every day, I couldn’t afford to keep traveling.

    Finding a balance between work and play has been key to traveling long-term. You had a great article about this too, about how sometimes you hunker down and work for two months straight before getting back into ‘travel mode.’

    Besides balance, I agree with you that the desire to travel is the most important thing. You have to NEED to do it to make it work long-term. That passion will sustain you when the flight is cancelled (again), the guest house is overbooked, the food makes you sick or your wallet is stolen.

  7. Stacey

    I think I’m ready!

    I like that this post asks you the nitty-gritty questions. It’s important not to romanticise travel if it’s something you want to do seriously. You have to be real, or reality is going to smack you in the face when you disembark and it won’t be pretty!

  8. Dave K

    Thanks for the reply Earl. Sometimes trips just plan themselves when you are looking for tickets. The ticket prices that I found and my desire to visit interesting, inexpensive countries made my destinations a no-brainer for this trip. Unfortunately, I only have 3 days in Romania. We plan on going to Timisoara. I really wanted to see Cluj-Napoca, but that will have to wait. I am curious to hear your opinion of Timisoara.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Dave – I’ve only spent a couple of days in Timisoara but it’s quite pleasant. Not a whole lot to do and it’s pretty relaxed and quiet but it’s a good enough place to walk around for a couple of days.

  9. Amanda

    Edit:

    When I said ~$1000USD to spend, I wasn’t including airfare/lodging or passports, etc. I meant the $1000 was for food/trinkets/bus-taxi fare/etc. – spending money once we arrived.

    Also… I am in love with your blog, and oh-so-envious of your traveling!

  10. Amanda

    Earl… I ran across your blog today when googling ‘international travel from the USA for under $1000’, and came across your post about countries you can travel in for less than $1000/month.

    Now, I know you were actually referring to long term travel, but my fiancee and I are looking to go on a trip, and if we go international, it will be the first international travel for us both.

    What destinations would you recommend for first time international travelers on a budget, but that also have varied ‘attractions’? (Meaning, I am happy with beautiful scenery and interesting locals, but he is looking for a little more ‘fun’ in his trip a la something more interesting than picture taking) We would have about a week (including travel time) and about $1000 USD to spend.

    To travel the world has always been my ‘pipe dream’, and to have a chance, but be totally clueless about where one could/should go is extremely frustrating. I know it’s hard for you to make a suggestion, because you don’t know us, but no one we know really travels, either… so I’ve had to resort to asking for recommendations from strangers, lol.

    So how about it? Top 5 Recommendations for First Time International Travel On a Budget? 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Amanda – The thing is, it really depends on what would interest you overall the most. And if you only have a week, I personally wouldn’t go too far from home at all. If you’re in the US, then I would go to Mexico or Guatemala, otherwise, 2 days of your time would be wasted flying to Europe and 3 or more days flying to somewhere like Asia, and that doesn’t count the days you’ll spend in bed trying to fight the jet lag 🙂

      So, for one week, I would recommend doing a circuit around the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico or doing a nice trip around a few places in Guatemala so that you don’t have to spend much time flying or dealing with jet lag and can enjoy most of your week in the destination itself.

  11. Pete - Long Term Travel

    Good list mate. Especially like the fact that you’re asking the real questions as it’s not all good times and cool runnings… even though I love to travel more than anything, I’ve had some massive challenges on the road that you really don’t understand until you’ve been there. Simple things like getting homesick or simply being travel-weary are massive factors. I actually wrote a couple of blog posts about the ups and downs of long term travel that are both pretty relevant to the above, follow the links blow to check them out. Hopefully your readers will find them relevant and useful too 🙂

  12. Travel&Lust

    Brilliant blog post Earl! There are a lot of good that come with travelling the world without a known schedule but it isn´t for everyone to experience. Keep motivating everyone to experience the true gems in life!

  13. Catherine

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! I literally answered yes to every one of these…the one about a goal kind of threw me for a second, but once I stopped to think about it, I knew what my goal was, but hadn’t thought about it that way. This post makes me want to jump on a plane right this second! Just a few more months of saving and I’ll be on my way 🙂

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