How to get up and enjoy travel again

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ December 29th, 2011. Published in: Travel blog » Nepal.
Airline lunch

Last meal? No chance ... actually it was seriously good!

I no longer felt the rush of travel in South East Asia … so I left

I nearly feel like putting up several big disclaimers with this post. So to thwart a wave of hatred and misunderstanding, take this as a personal journal entry; rather than a reflection on tourism and people.

Like many, I always have a hidden depth of expectation when being in a new location. Malaysia and Thailand were certainly no exceptions. Lands of must do adventure activities and travel culture etc. The rest of the generic blurb can be found on any tourist brochure.

Why then was I finding myself so frustratingly bored there?

Travel is what you make it?

Ah, the same age-old argument. Of course it’s true.

I can jump on a plane tomorrow, stop off in ten airports, and tell everyone I’ve traveled around the world. Maybe even broken a record or two – Just nod at these people, and possibly turn the other cheek.

I found myself trying to make up ways to create more adventure for myself  in South East Asia. Random town visit with no guidebook. Trek off into a random bit of jungle in the mild hope of discovery. Urban exploration and city archaeology. All these things rang a very familiar bell. Isn’t this what people do at home in one form or another?

The Himalayan mountains from a plane

View from the plane window

I sometimes think I’ve tapped into why the noose of familiarity tightens with all forms of lifestyle . Other times not.

Personal boredom, or something else?

In a hotel I see swathes of lazy( sorry – “designer”) backpackers out “adventure traveling”. Sitting back in wait for their tour pick-ups to arrive. Is it me, or is that just a charlatan affair? (source)

Or, if you are reading this, is this really adventure touring? Really?

Maybe it’s a case of an old school honorable term that’s been commercialized?

Or maybe it’s me who has missed a beat here.

I know there’s a problem when I feel this way. It’s easy to be disliked when you start to say these things like this.

So the answer is to find out why, and do something about it.

Add in the personal ingredient

We all have our own likes and dislikes. We have our issues, problems and personalities that effect many things we do. Travel is included. This year has been … well, as I wrote in my members newsletter a “Annus Horribilis”. For me at least.

On the road to recovery I thought about traveling back to Brunei, which I really enjoyed on a previous short break. Or even travel through Sarawak and down into Kalimantan. But, it just didn’t have the thrill in it for me. Moreover, there was no desire to even contemplate living in these places.

All I could think of was rice, sweat, humidity and more designer tourists. Something was very wrong indeed. Maybe being sick in this place has left a chip on my shoulder. Or a lingering extra burden to carry. Bitterness can eat you up, so it’s best to hit it straight on.

Himalayan mountains getting closer

There they are again ...

How to get the adrenaline pumping again

What was missing? Was it really just the recent dark burden of illness. Or was something else lacking?

I would lie in bed at night thinking about what would really get me feeling the wilds of life and travel again?

Sarawak, caving and jungle … hmm, no this is what I don’t want right now.

Head into Burma / Myanmar … No, the thought of more monks, crammed buses and rice didn’t appeal.

Look further … Vietnam … maybe … it’s cold, and I do miss that.

Australia? No, I still don’t get a feeling for the place. But the desert at night could be cold.

Then I felt a little surge in my blood. The cold … it brought back memories … Good ones. I was on to something.

And then I found myself smiling …

How to get up and go …

I booked a flight to Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia. Not a bad price but still. Then overland from Malaysia to Bangkok, the city with a big international airport.

My plan, walk into a travel agent and ask for the next flight out.

It was easier than I thought. I went straight into an airline office in Bangkok. Barring some obscure security rule I found two lovely ladies.

When can I fly next?



“Yes, it’s off season. Plenty of seats.”

Of course this all took me by surprise, and the reality was I didn’t want to leave that quickly. I had to write this post for one! And, more importantly I had my heart beating with excitement for the first time in a long time.

When such things happen, I’ve learned to savor the moment.

An empty Nepal Airlines flight

It's the off-season, and my plane is empty ... nice decor though, it is as the crazies say: Destiny waiting.

So, I booked for four days later. Got a paper print out. Went back the next day. Paid. Got a real paper ticket complete with tiny ink stamp. Return date … one year.

To feel good again

I was smiling for most of the next day. I emailed friends and let them know I was on the way back! I was going back to the first place I’ve ever mentioned here that really, truly gave me the feeling of home.

How much would have changed … I knew, as equally as my expectations were running high, that they could be shattered in an instant. But I didn’t care. I felt so good. My palms were sweating with excitement, and I was walking with a tall confidence that’s been lacking for a while.

I was going back to a place I once really never wanted to write about. The kind of place you don’t want anyone to really know is so great. Yes, I once thought like that. But things have changed. It’s no longer 2008. It’s the end of 2011.

The Mayan’s say this is it. No more after 2012. I say …  just bring it!

One giant leap …

I want to meet some real travelers again. I want to meet the crazies I met before. The people who take up challenges and thrive on them. I want to hear real travel stories that campfires are still lit for. I want to take up my own challenge and make a place to live. I want to throw caution to the wind and join the elements for an adventure to the edge of the world.

I want to push my limits as a man again. I want to put out challenges and accomplish them or fall to a knee whilst trying my utmost.

I want old school travel. I want to see the worst on offer and the very best there is in the world.

I know there is something lying in wait. I came close to discovering it before. I will unearth it this time.

If we are but single grains in the sands of time. I will take my grain and make it shine in the clearest of skies. Hold it up for all to see. Standing proud in what I have and will accomplish.

This is one small step for me, but a giant stride for one man on a global quest!

Nepal 2011 poster

Doh! Did I miss something? Never mind, I'll do it better myself next year!

Coming soon: 

I am still up a mountain …  A scheduled article or two, as I make my way …


P.S. Apologies in advance for the lack of replies to comments. I will reply once I’m back online. But for the first time in while I am off the grid, and probably up a very cold mountain … and I must say it’s a rather refreshing way to start 2012 … enjoy!

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41 Great responses to How to get up and enjoy travel again

  1. mandy says:

    Remember I asked on Twitter why you chose to go back to Nepal? Think all my questions being answered here and I go all the way with you. Admire the spontaneousness of it too, isn’t it part of the ingredients for a well lived life?
    Looking forward to when you come back and share with us your accomplishment.

    • Hey Mandy, just back and trying to catch up!

      Glad this answered some of those questions from Twitter. I’ll have something out later this week about that ultimate question of “Where is home” too that I hope you enjoy!

  2. James says:

    Honestly the idea of just getting on a plane like that makes me nervous. I guess there’s nothing to be nervous about. The unknown, friends and family. That’s all. I think I feel what you described.

  3. Here here! I adore this post. Adore your words that aptly describe how I’m feeling these days.

    I could use some real stories, some messy tumbles and being off the grid for a while myself. :)

    Cheers, and enjoy!

  4. Jan says:

    Looking forward to your 2012 posts. Travel is different today compared to 10 years ago. The challenge now is to find a challenge, before it was to avoid the challenge.

  5. I’ve personally found that when I’m stuck in a bit of a travel rut it often boils down to not challenging myself.

  6. Michael says:

    Glad you still got it in you. Keep on truckin!

  7. Malcom says:

    Keep going Mate. Reading this made me smile every minute. You’ve gone further than most already in so many ways. This is just an example of why.

    If there was a self help on life tour, I’d ask you to lead it. Take up inspirational talks. You’ll have the room aghast.

  8. Kira says:

    I understand this completely! After travelling for 2 years and 3 months, we decided to go back home two weeks ago and a week later we were in the plane heading back. I had the feeling I was over-satisfied and could not enjoy travelling anymore.

  9. May Ann A. says:

    Reading this article just now while on the train on my way home from work, I thank you for making me smile as opposed to all the dull, exhausted faces around me. I am amazed after all the years of travelling you’ve done, you still have that spirit in you that is all about adventure and real travel. It’d be very interesting to sit by a camp fire and listen to all the stories you’ve got to share. Looking forward to all your future articles.

    BTW, you owe me an article on what exactly “home” is for you. ;)

    May Ann

    • Hello May Ann, just back from trekking so please excuse the delay.

      There’s no definitive way for me to keep going. It’s all that relative stuff. But, going back to a place like Nepal certainly helps considering my first impressions, and my need for some cold :)

      BTW yes that “Home” article is over due. It’s been in draft format for a while and due out over Christmas. But with the shift in countries I held out on it. It should be out in a day or so! ;)

  10. Poppie says:

    Wow! If I didn’t know any differently, I’d say you were me!
    I went overseas this year, in search of HOME. I backpacked thru Europe & UK, as I had always felt a deep sense of belonging, especially in Ireland or Scotland.
    But imagine my shock(pleasant) at discovering it was the snow areas that I felt fully alive in!
    I only went to Vienna to dance under the Crystal Chandeliers in a real palace & my heart and soul were captured by the history, the beauty, the music, the snow, the architecture, the good Kings & Emperors!
    I thought it would be the English/Irish/Scottish country.
    Not a stir of any heart strings there.
    So, to-day when you said you felt the need for the cold, you had me!
    I enjoyed the Himalayas when I was there & the people, but not the lighter fluid they called “Drink”!
    All the best & hope you recover soon.

    • Thanks Poppie. I too enjoy snow more than sand. Of that there is no doubt. It’s just a shame it’s not so easy to come by in comparison.

      • Poppie says:

        Dave, have you been to Europe, where the mountains are? The bunch of them around Italy & Austrian border? The Swiss Alps with the little towns of Interlaken, Thun etc, around the lake with the snow covered mountains creeping down to the lakes edge are really beautiful. What exactly are you looking for? A quiet out of the way, place, a colder/snow place, a village, a thriving metropolis, an arty environment…or really, Peace within?
        When I was in Edinburgh, a girl told me she was on her search for her “Home” too, same as I was.
        Something inside me said to say to her…”Home is not really a place so much, as finding your passion first and doing it in a place you love” I received my answer also!
        For some people, their passion is family, some career, some music etc, so they go where their passion dictates.
        I was ready to move back to Europe, as it’s so beautiful in the snow, but I had not yet discovered my passion, so I knew inside it would be a temporary thing, even though I desperately loved it more than any place else on earth.
        Still looking…

  11. Hi Dave – greetings from Georgia … left Armenia today. I know how ya feel, as you know I have been over-landing thru Central Asia and Iran – fascinating places; plenty of adventure – but now approaching Europe … can’t do it … I, too, bought a plane ticket – back to Asia. First stop: Bangkok. But I think China’s calling me again.

    the candy trail … a nomad across the planet, since 1988

    • Armenia, now there’s a place! Personally out of purely selfish reasons I am looking forward to you going back to China … Mainly so I can read of your exploits in the stans! Would be keen on making a by-line through there myself.

      • Cheers Dave. Recommend this region – especially “out of season”; besides, the snow makes for some pretty pics. But yeah, after some months within any given region I get restless, and so change regions often. So for now, back to Asia for me before the next big continental drift (maybe back across Africa or hop the Pacific Islands; hard to say). As for blogging – I hope I can be bothered … I rarely do anything these days beyond simple photo essays. Anyway, good luck to you on your new direction – see you out there, somewhere …

        • I couldn’t agree more with you about out of season in those regions … most regions actually! Best time to see them.

          Again rather selfishly I wish you’d write up more things about the places you visit. Not many people have been, done, experienced what you have. Aside from countless empty bottles and broken hearts I think you’d have an imeasurable amount of info stored away in the grey matter than would look great on digital ink or even just paper!

          I know it’s a personal think, cataloging it all that is etc. But from at least one other person, and I’m sure there are more, it would make for some great reading!

          Either way, enjoy!

  12. Sabina says:

    Ohhh, Dave, I love this post! It’s so honest and heartfelt. I’m so happy to hear you’ve got a place that feels like home and that you’re going back. I notice that today is your seventh anniversary of traveling! Arghh! I could never make it that long. And I understand entirely the desire to find home. God bless you as you bring in the New Year and always.

    • Thanks so much Sabina, just back from trekking. So catching up. Yes, seven years down and heading into number eight!

      All the best to you in 2012, I’m not sure if it’ll be the year I head back to the mid-east, but if it is, I ‘ll look forward to meeting up with you!

  13. flipnomad says:

    excited for your next posts about nepal :-) im thinking of going there again if i could save enough money and hopefully back to india too :-)

  14. flipnomad says:


    happy 2012 Dave…

  15. Sometimes too much of everything is not a good thing. I bet many others who just want to be in your shoes.

  16. Sol says:

    Hola D. This is the first time I write here, but I´ve reading your blog for a while tough. About Nepal, Annapurna..etc.. been there..done that. But yes, it was much more than that. But I´m not writing because of that. I think that I´m writing to u because there is something we share, and many people don´t get it. That travel actually is not necessarily about being a “tourist”, and writing about travel is…is…or the sstories aren´t touristics…Well,nice post. Hope u find what u were looking for there (I´m remembering now the movie To Vlemma tou Odyssea (Ulysses’ Gaze), but looking for the real traveller…).- Sol

    • Hello Sol, glad to see your first comment.

      I very much agree, it’s not always about being a tourist. It’s just about life. The same as many other genre’s.

      I’ve got Vlemma tou Odyssea (Ulysses’ Gaze), yet to watch, but I will over the next few weeks! Thanks for the reminder!

  17. Reeves says:

    I can see why you’d be bored in south east Asia.

    I’ve lived in Thailand for a decade and am definitely more than just a tad sick of it and itching to leave. Hopefully that’s going to happen towards the end of this year.

    I can see the appeal of Malaysia though. I love it every time I visit and often stay longer than I plan. :)

    • I think it’s an individual thing. Boredom in SEA that is. That and other little factors. Personally I prefer Malaysia over Thailand in many respects. But I’d take remoter areas away from the tropics over all.

      Again, just personal preferences! :)

  18. Holy cow- I hate that feeling. It’s frightening for me when I begin to find a place boring. I think- it’s gotta be me, cause I know I haven’t explored everything of a city or country. It’s as if it’s been “home” too long and I agree, you begin to feel like you’ve lost your zest for living or seeking out new things. As much as I love Bangkok, that’s exactly how I felt and it was alarming (hence pp shows, etc..; did that mean I fell out of love with it so soon? Made me wonder.

    Change is good and I’m glad you’re kicking off to a new perspective of finding adventure that revives you! Cheers to your 2012! Hope to cross paths with you. =)

  19. Ayngelina says:

    I can totally relate, travel was becoming a bit of a chore for me so I decided to just stop and now I’m finally ready again. Although nothing as crazy as what you are doing – I’m far too lazy for that.

  20. Loeffle says:

    Thank you for the lovely plane and flightmeal shots :)
    Was a bit busy the last weeks, so I’m only at 28th december in my Google Reader now.
    Hope things are well in Nepal!

    • No worries Andreas, I’m a bit behind on my RSS reading too. Glad you remembered the food shots!

      • Andreas says:

        Was looking forward to the whole “escaping from ASEAN” story, so of course I didn’t forget the flightmeal.

        Have a very busy period after Christmas and the winter is very snowy. Not easy to clear so much snow while having some health issues.
        Next week will be hard, but then it should get better…

  21. i just saw this post now and i have heard about your blog for many months now (since i started traveling). i’ve read two posts thus far and loved both of them. i just have to leave a comment on this one. the things you felt here resonated with me so much. and i have to say this entry was well-written it kept me guessing til the last line. and i was so glad it was Nepal! the one place in the world where i truly felt the joy of travel. more power to you, man!

    • Hey Paul,

      Thanks for stopping by, and glad you found the blog!

      It’s something special to find a place where travel is a true joy. A place where you go once and thereafter it get’s under your skin so you want to return.

      Enjoy the experience each and every day!