There are downsides to long-term travel: the five-hour friends, the quick relationships, the solitude that leads to loneliness. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
But then nothing ever is.
Despite those occasional downsides, I think long-term solo travel is something people should try at least once in their life. Even if you don’t like it, try it — it will teach you a lot about yourself. It’s made me a far better and more awesome person, and I’ll go to the grave preaching its gospel.
But a couple weeks ago, I came home to NYC and created balance in my life. In finding that balance, I’ve come to a stark realization: I am no longer a long-term traveler.
The thought of spending extended time on the road doesn’t fill me with as much excitement anymore.
A month or two of solid travel? Sure.
More than that? No thanks.
I like having a home. I like this website and the work involved with it. I like having a stable set of friends. I like traveling around the country talking about travel and helping others.
Spending extended time on the road makes it hard to accomplish what I want to do with my life now. Everything suffers if I try to cram in too much stuff into the work/life/travel mix.
I still dream about travel all the time…literally.
When I’m asleep and dreaming, it’s usually about travel. I recently had such a vivid dream about losing my passport, I jolted out of bed and ran to where it was to make sure it was still there! (It was.)
Years ago, I wondered if it was possible to travel for too long. Back then, I didn’t know. I was four years into my travels, and the sky was the limit.
Four years later, I think the answer is yes, you can.
At least, I can.
I’ll never give up travel, but right now, extended trips are a thing of the past. The road may never end, but now I want an off-ramp and a rest station before I continue on it.
Long-term travel suited my lifestyle for a long time, but while I’m now even more passionate about travel, travel is not the only thing I want from my life.
As I said last week, there has to be balance.
Maybe one day, I’ll meet someone who will say to me, “Let’s spend five months wandering around Africa!” I’ll look at them and say, “Let’s spend six.”
But as I write this today, I look in the mirror and no longer see a long-term traveler, just a backpacking, budget one.
We get used to a certain way of life, and it becomes hard to change. Whether it’s cubicle life or life on the road, we identify with something. It becomes part of who we are.
What happens when I’m not nomadic? What happens to me?
There’s a quote that says, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” My harbor is the road. It’s my comfort zone.
But as I soon enter my thirty-third year of living, I no longer cling to that. It’s been two years since I wrote about “the end of my travels,” but I’ve finally come to terms with what I wrote there.
And I couldn’t be happier.