There is no magic behind traveling the world and leaving the cubicle – all you have to do is leave everything behind and do it. The hard part is continuing the journey, and as many backpackers find out when the glamor is gone. Most people aren’t born to travel long term, in fact we have an innate compulsion to stay put, maintain a routine, and be in familiar surroundings.
These conditions are difficult to meet if you’re planning an around the world trip, backpacking indefinitely, or simply want to get away for a long time. In order to keep the trip going and you traveling you need a steady supply of determination and be aware of the signs that you’re returning to normalcy.
It’s easy not to notice your transition from a traveler to a resident or expat since the change is both gradual and swift. Below I’ve listed some of the changes you’ll notice if you’re a backpacker who’s no longer a traveler.
Staying In Once Place
By far the most obvious condition, it’s easy to overlook when you’re not ‘staying in one place’ at home. An American hiking and traveling all over Southeast Asia stops being a traveler after 6-12 months of living in Bangkok. As the novelty of traveling wears off, the comfort of staying in one place sets in – an urge you’ll need to overcome if you want to move on to the next place (or not return home).
No Longer Having Another Destination
Travelers have plans. Although they might be loose ones, like “I think I’ll go to Madrid and see what happens”. When “see what happens” becomes “I’m looking for a job to stay with this cute girl I met”, then you are well on your way to losing your title as traveler. It’s easy to fall in love with a new locale and if you find happiness in a new city. As traveling and being a traveler get older, there are plenty of new things (which may have been old at home) to keep your attention, and ultimately distract you from continuing your travels.
Meeting That Cute Boy or Girl
A fling that goes further than you thought it would could spell the end of your travels – either for a short period, a longer time, or permanently – depending on how things go. Don’t expect your sweetheart to pack up and take off traveling with you, a long shot at best. Being social creatures, even the sole traveler yearns for friends and people to be close to. Use technology to your advantage and keep in touch with those people with some tech for travelers.
Falling in Love with Exchange Rates
Dreams of living in exotic places where “everything is so cheap” can be part of falling in love with exchange rates. The problem is that, eventually, you’re going to run out of euros and start living like a local. You can keep this going though by continuing to work for (or finding) a job back home that pays you in Euros or dollars. A great gig, especially if you’re staying put in Mongolia. Better yet, most of these essential tools for digital nomads are free.
Other Warning Signs
Here are some other things to take note of to keep the trip going.
- You begin selling some of your travel essentials.
- You begin losing touch with your close friends back home.
- The thought of traveling scares you or feels like a hassle.
The best thing about getting out of ‘the routine’ is that it’s quickly curable. Book your next flight, explore the local area you’re in, or even go on a staycation while on the road! While it’s not necessarily a bad thing, if you want to keep the trip going you can’t afford to miss the warning signs, otherwise you’ll be staying in the same place for a long time. Hey, isn’t that what your were doing before you left home?
[photo by: the_moment]