Stages of Long-term travel
I’ve wanted to write this for a year now, but it didn’t feel right until now. As many know; travel is relevant to the person doing it. Some travel for a quick holiday, some take a year out, others are perpetual. From what I can see I am the only one out there traveling in search of home in this way, and writing about it as well.
For those looking at this travel journal live you’ll see that the timer of my journey is ticking over to 5 years of travel now. That’s five years of travel without returning to anywhere for a quick rest, or chill out at home. I don’t have any place like that anymore.
This has been a solid five years of travel in continuous search of home.
I’ve been through several stages over the past five years. As it’s relevant to my own quest; I don’t know if others have experienced something similar or not. What I do know from reading books, blogs and from the mass of personal email I get from people wishing the same, there are a few similar trends.
Year zero (the start of long-term travel)
This is the beginning. One’s first tepid and anticipated steps out of the cocoon of home and into the real world that many fear to tread alone. For me it was the start of a life time of working, saving and dreaming. I spent 6 months in a euphoric state of see everything and do everything. I partied, I met as many people as possible. I traveled for the sake of travel. It was my first taste of a dream becoming reality.
After 6 months reality kicks in, and the been there, done that mentality to late nights out works its way into your daily life. Now it’s time to see, learn, and engage in travel.
Year 1 (traveled for one year)
The first milestone. You’ve accomplished something that most travelers wish to get done. You know the ropes, learned from a few mistakes. And, you have moved up in the ranks of hostel table chit chat. People are happy to travel with you and learn, you are happy to have them come along as like it or not you still make mistakes and it’s always good to have someone around.
Year 2 (2-2.5 years of long-term travel)
Travelers Ego kicks in. You’ve been at it 2 + years. You know the ropes like the back of your hand. Your stories move up to the higher level of the travelers table. People want to know you, ask you questions, and gaze at you as if everything you say is better than a guide-book. After all, you’ve been there, and done that.
I’ve seen some people mouth off on a frequent basis in hostels once they reach this stage. Know it alls who like to mention they’ve been on the road 28 months 3 weeks and 5 days whenever someone new sits down. Their own ego fails to let them notice the looks people shoot at each other as this person can top everything you’ve done, or has been to the one place that was better than where they were.
Thankfully I was in an isolated place during this period. And while I did mouth off, I had some friends who were more experienced in certain travel aspects. They were also good enough to kick my ass when I did unleash the travelers ego!
Year 3 (3 years + of long term-travel completed)
For me this was a difficult year. 3 years of travel without returning to anywhere is pretty much uncharted territory for most. During this year I found loneliness sneaking up. Along with a loss of purpose. Day to day in normal life we have jobs. An anchored social life, and routine.
I found emails drying up from friends once they realize “Oh, he really is going through with this thing.”
It was a struggle to keep going and stay motivated. I’d not accomplished anything in my mind. Other travelers became less interesting again, as I’d been there and done that.
Travelers ego was no longer a problem as I simply didn’t like to talk about travel so much. I was trying to refocus on a task at hand that didn’t seem to be getting closer. And, there was no one else out there that one could relate with. Reality was setting in.
One’s clothes also need replacing by now too.
Year 4 ( moving well into the fourth year of long-term travel)
Something (a place or person) snaps you out of your lost and hopeless mentality. Purpose comes back and you reestablish goals. Things become clearer. And you start to put things together in a more systematic way. Discussing travel with others is no longer interesting as you know yourself better than others how to do it.
This is new territory and you begin to see a pioneer mentality to travel, and how to cope with long term travel. You are confident in everything, prepared for anything, and nothing fazes you.
Other travelers no longer swarm around when you answer about how long you’ve been traveling. Instead they nod and give you a strange look as if to say – why? and how? and; is this person sane or not?
Survival. Purpose. Experience. It’s all too easy to travel now. Every country has the same basics that you know exist. One seeks out the places that others do not venture to. It’s not so important to see the Pyramids in Giza as it is to touch base with the simple man in the street selling oranges.
This is again new territory and instead of mapping it out. It’s the lessons from the past that truly seem to be holding one up to the ridicule of so many years of travel.
I don’t mention to people how long I’ve been traveling now. It get’s too many strange looks. Too many repetitive questions.
In my own journey I know more than ever about the feeling of home. I know where it’s not. I no longer have to linger anywhere. I no longer doubt. I know what I am looking for. This is perhaps the year that is the coming of age in this journey.
Year 5 ( 5 years of long-term travel completed right here, right now)
This is what you are reading :)
The future (moving into year 6 of long-term travel)
As learned in the last year, things are easier now. I know more about this journey that I ever thought possible. While practical reality is more relevant (finances), the fact of the matter is my search is suddenly becoming a lot more clear.
When things become clear the steps are not so lonely, and those very first steps in year one are retracing themselves back to the soles of my feet. The adrenaline of a new path in life. My journey around the world in search of home is 5 years old.
I fought my whole life to do this. I could have stopped and just settled on many an occasion. I am glad I did not. Though this causes a future sacrifice. The fact that I feel closer than ever; more than ever- washes any apprehension away.
I am not unique in my search on this planet. Millions grasp, claw, break the rules, sacrifice and challenge societies dictates to strive for a new and better place to call home.
I just happen to be writing about it here. Maybe it can help some others who are on the cusp of taking that first small step into the giant stride of hope.
I met a man from Niger who crossed the Sahara on foot to find home … he did it.
I met a woman from Nepal who sold everything to smuggle herself to the U.S.A to have a chance at a good life … she did it.
I am a guy traveling the world in search of home … I will do it.
If you are looking for practical articles about long term travel preparation do check out my exclusive page on long term travel advice.