How to deal with
downsides on travel –
the long term travel syndromes
and my solutions
November 14, 2018
November 14, 2018
To all out there on a long term travel –
You and me, the travel addict ones, are traveling since months, a year or even more… Let’s draw the picture.
What our friends think we are doing on long term travel: partying and having love affairs on paradise beaches. What our parents think we are doing: escaping the hard reality of Life by extending our travel every six months. And what we think we are doing: well, if we knew it, it would be too simple! Yes, sometimes, being on the road for so long brings confusion. We get the feeling of being lost and… sick of traveling! Who would ever think that wandering the world can also have downsides? Well, it actually happens to some of us, solo travelers. And there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Help! I feel sick of traveling... is it that bad?
You are long term traveler – on the road since several months. You love what you are doing. And know how lucky you are to have this great opportunity to see the world. Meeting a lot of people and having crazy experiences – good and bad ones. But today, you just feel stuck. You don’t know anymore where you would like to go. Neither what would make you happy. To make a decision becomes a Chinese brain teaser… and you just want to go back home.
Do you think it is weird to be like that? Be reassured: it’s completely normal. I kept asking myself the past months what was wrong with me. Being in Australia, this amazing country… and I couldn’t help feeling lost. But after talking with fellow travellers, I found out that we all have these doubts. I think that travellers who don’t have this phase don’t experience the travel in its whole – a surprising and chaotic journey, where it doesn’t always go straight. It’s the moment in life when you put yourself at risk. To learn who you are. And it doesn’t come without headaches!
You arrive from a long flight to a new place. Or you are on a road trip and get lost on the way. Of course, it’s at this moment that your phone goes flat, the Wifi doesn’t work, the people don’t speak English, the address of your hotel has disappeared magically… and other enjoyable things. We travelers all know these situations. Now an expert in this kind of travel difficulties, I have developed some automatisms to avoid these stressful but not less adventurous travel experiences. And it’s quite trivial… Be always prepared, when travelling to a new country or city! By arriving late, at a place where it could be difficult to get Internet or where people might not understand you, make sure you have a plan B.
Before departing, charge your laptop, phone, and tablet. Also, buy extra credit for the first few hours in a new country – to be able to get Internet or calls, and also before finding a Sim Card or a Wifi connexion. At airports or in the streets of many cities, you might find Wifi hotspots… but it’s not the case everywhere, like in less developed countries. Sometimes it’s just not powerful enough.
Have also ready the name of your accommodation, the contact number and a map / indications of how to get there. Remember that paper – this old school white thing you write on it – can be useful in case your electronic devices decide all together to fall asleep. So, just write all indications you need on a notebook.
Another useful travel hack: have Google translator ready on your phone and / or laptop. If people don’t understand you, you just have to show them the translated text on your screen. Don’t also forget to tell your next travel place to one of your friends or family members.
Finally, a travel tip old like the World… have some cash on you! In the middle of the Australian outback, on an island or in a little town somewhere in Asia, you won’t find necessarily an ATM or a bank. You don’t need to have too much on you, only maybe to pay a taxi, a night at a hotel or food. In case of an emergency, always have something you can rely on. You will feel more relax and thus, able to handle the situation like a professional traveler!
Choose the right way of traveling… according to your personality. As solo traveler, it’s even more important to feel completely at ease at the places you stay and travel through. And to feel good, try to choose the travel destination which will match personal travel expectations. So, if this must-do spot seems too touristic or just doesn’t inspire you, go to another one. It’s the same for hostels. If in need of a chill place to socialize around a beer and not a fan of big backpackers’ crowds, look at smaller familiar hostels or low budget hotels. And if feeling like partying the whole night with international travelers, backpackers hostels are perfect for that. Read the reviews on accommodation platforms like Booking.com or HostelWorld. Look also at blog reviews and backpackers Facebook pages about accommodation. Check the hostels’ websites to get an idea of the atmosphere.
Because it’s also about people you meet… and people often match with the style of the place.
Something I noticed on my long term travel: feelings can be like a rollercoaster. On travels, it goes up and down, sometimes more down than up. Backpacking or traveling on the long term is emotionally challenging. Because everything is so intense, we experiment tons of emotions every single day while being out of our comfort zone. Happiness, sadness, disappointment or excitement… sometimes, all together. Solo travels are awesome but it’s not all pink every day. Good and bad experiences have 10 times more impact on you than they would have in ‘normal life’. So, relax and live every emotion at its full! You are traveling and free to experience anything you want. And with time, you will get used to these mood fluctuations and learn to deal with them so that you make the most of solo traveling.
Know when to make a break in your travels… because it’s normal to feel sick of traveling. Weird but true! You booked a one-way ticket to live the adventure of your life. A year, maybe more… and at the start, full of motivation. A few months later, traveling is now daily life. To move from place to place and from people to people have now no secrets for you. But it’s exhausting. We, as human beings, need some routine from times to times. So, how long can we wander across the world as a loose cannon? That’s a question only you can answer. But in the meantime, take a break when feeling sick of traveling. Book a private room for a few days. Look for a job at a nice place for a few weeks. It’s a good way to settle down for a bit and appreciate even more the next trips. Do Workaway and live in a house with a family – Workaway puts you in contact with hosts against a yearly fee. In Australia, New Zealand, Europe or USA, Woofing is a well-known option for travelers – working on farms for food and accommodation through the website HelpX.
You see, plenty of options give you the opportunity to recreate a home sweet home feeling… before hitting the road again!
Talk… about your thoughts, your fears, your plans. Having some people you trust – friends, family back home and fellow travelers – around you is really important. To say loud what is whirling inside your head will help you to sort out your thoughts. To get advices and other points of view on your situation can confuse you first but it’s also precious. You can talk to people you know very well – good friends at home – but also to travelers you have a good feeling with. They often feel the same as you. And if you don’t feel comfortable speaking about it, writing is also an awesome way to put your thoughts on the table.
Always making new friends and talking to new people will lead you to… be sick of being with people! So, take time for yourself. I really enjoy taking some time apart from other travelers. Alone with myself, I can reload energy, be more focused and be even more social on the next day. Being with just yourself confronts you to inner fears, hopes and who you really are. It makes one’s stronger and self-confident. Isn’t it the point of solo traveling?
Maybe one of the most difficult parts of a solo and long term travel… the challenge of getting used to ephemeral relationships. Missing stable friends and / or sentimental relationships is an unavoidable part of long term traveling. So, better be Ok with that! Because you won’t settle down for a while, it’s difficult to expect something serious from the others, in friendship or love relationship. On a solo travel, it might be difficult to accept this succession of goodbyes. Especially when you meet people you truly appreciate. To avoid disappointment and sudden sadness, be prepared to live intense moments and leave the person at some point. Everything can happen, of course. But it’s better not to force Destiny and just remain independent.
Yes, flying to the other side of the world and ending up on long term travel involves getting out of the System. Meaning, you literally become a nomad. You will say bye to your flat, to your regular job, to your health care and other social advantages you might have had in your home country. It’s a bit like losing an identity… to gain a borderless one. At some point of your solo travel, you will have thoughts about coming back home and you will get anxious. How to get back to a regular Life and routine? How to find your place back on the work market?
My solution to that: leave the moment… and try not thinking about the comeback too often. It sounds cliché but it can be a hard task for a lot of us, travelers. Leaving in the present is not easy in our modern Occidentalized society. Social pressure commands you to settle down after your studies. Get a job, a partner and a goldfish (more original than a dog)… that’s what society thinks we are supposed to do. And among friends and parents who keep asking when you come back, it’s sometimes scary to see yourself outside of the box. But life is about opportunities and also randomness, so enjoy the “right now” and you will find your path without stress.
When you are at this point, it’s because your long term travel ended up to begin a new phase… back to Reality and Routine! According to my French friend, serial traveler met in Australia, you will first put on weight when you come back home (count at least 5kg in a few days!)… and also get alcoholic for the first few weeks (or maybe more than you already were during the crazy travel time). Because you will have to eat all the food you missed during your long term travel, and to do party with all the people you left behind. They deserve it after such a long time away. Between two hangovers, depressive moments are not to exclude… you will miss travel freedom and adventures like crazy. But it will be also awesome to have your own bathroom and your own bed…
Take it easy and let it go… it’s not always an easy part as solo traveler (speaking of experience) ! Don’t forget that you are traveling. It’s supposed to be a good time and even having difficulties, try to enjoy the present and go with the flow. Travels are not compatible with stability and fixed plans. So, take life how it comes. I think (because that you enjoy your travels way better when you manage to follow this mantra!
All the tips I give here are the ones I try for myself. Like you on a solo travel, I know the fun moments as well as the downsides of long term travel. And I came to this conclusion: solo traveling give us so many things – encounters, experiences, hopes but also doubts and fears. It literally changes our way of seeing life and, the only thing I’m really sure of, it makes us stronger. So, smile go for it and make the most of your solo travel… because it’s an unique adventure!
I am made of photography,stories from the road and a good dose of passion. I am Ophélie, French-born traveler always on the go. My travel photography blog is about sharing my travel experiences, tips and my addiction for adventure. To help you explore countries on your own… as an independent and curious traveller.