This is a list of things I have learned about being a frequent traveler. Some of them I’ve learned in the heat of a moment, and some of them have been lessons that have taken a while to sink in.
Yes, it can be a little lonely sometimes.
I’m not saying that spending a weekend in Paris with your sweetheart is lonely, I’m saying that being a full country/continent away from your family and your friends for months on end, can be lonely. If you’re interested in really LIVING in other parts of the world, prepare yourself for a few lonely nights. You will miss out on things (birthdays, weddings, etc) back home, and it will suck. A lot. But you have to weigh that with the opportunity you have taken. Travel is such a privilege. Realizing that you’re lucky enough to be experiencing new parts of the world makes missing those things gets a little easier.
No, not every trip is going to be fun or relaxing.
Some trips are absolute nightmares from the second you leave your house until the second you come back. |Just because you plan that carefree weekend in the Caribbean, doesn’t mean that is what you’ll get. From missed flights and mis-booked hotel rooms to costly unexpected expenses…sometimes things just don’t work out. That old phrase “anything can happen” doesn’t just refer to anything good happening.
Your financial situation will change.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a budget backpacker or a luxury 5-star-hotel splurger…traveling frequently means that your bank account won’t stay the same for very long. Traveling does cost money…how much money is up to you (and there are a ton of posts out there about traveling on a budget!) Be prepared to spend money and be prepared to lose money by taking a lot of time away from work. If you’re not okay with an ever-changing bank account – the travel life isn’t for you.
You will lose friends. And that’s okay.
Keeping in touch with people is difficult in itself, let alone when your postal code changes more than your status updates do. It will be really difficult, and it takes an effort from BOTH people, and honestly, sometimes one (or both) people aren’t interested in making that effort. But that’s okay! Seriously. Losing touch with people is very, very normal even when you’re in the same place. There are a lot of people who will just kind of drift out of your life, and some of them will hurt. You will be left to feel abandoned, or even worse, like you abandoned them by living your own exciting life. But there are also a lot of people who you’ll just let leave. Both are totally normal, and (usually) there’s no hard feelings…especially for people in their 20s. It really makes you appreciate the ones who make it through with you, though.
You could also gain life-long friends, if you let yourself.
Travelers like other travelers! We like sharing our stories, and it’s nice to have someone who can relate to your struggles of immigration, finances or loneliness. You will meet a ton of new people while you travel, from places all over the world; and it’s okay to become friends with those people! Just because you’re making new friends along the way, doesn’t mean you care any less about the friends you have back home.
You NEED “IT”…
“It”… that thing that makes you long for life. That thing that makes you take risks. That thing that thrills you or even that thing that quiets your mind. Travel is a way to find whatever “IT” you might need in your life at that moment. Traveling shakes things up in a time when it’s so easy to just go through the motions in life. That long weekend in California, or that day in Paris. That wild, rum-filled haze of a week in Cuba, or that educational trip to Spain. Sometimes you need it. And it can’t always be found in your day-to-day life.
You don’t have to choose between a career and a travel lifestyle!
SHOCKING, I KNOW! Because all you ever seem to hear (even from myself, I admit) is all the “I quit my job and moved to ____” or the “My travel lifestyle is so much better than my days in the office…” This isn’t always the case. Although I realized when I started to travel that I wasn’t actually happy in the career I had chosen, not every situation is like that. There are tons of people who love travel AND their job. There are people who would never give up a career to be a full-time traveler. You don’t have to pick between career and travel. You can love both your job and travel equally.
And on that note, I’ll add one more, personal one. Everyone has that one personal truth…that lesson you learn that hits so close to home and teaches you about yourself. That thing you realize one day, and from that day on you know it to be true. And mine is – full-time travel isn’t for everyone! It certainly wouldn’t suit me.
This is the most important, weirdest, hardest and most surprising lesson I’ve learned, and it took a while for it to really sink in for me. I always thought I’d love to be that person who is always on the road, a different country every month, etc. I always longed for that kind of life, but now that I know myself a little better and have some experience traveling, I can tell you I am NOT cut out for the full-time travel lifestyle.
I need the stability of my home, and I get insane anxiety if I’m away from home for too long (especially away from my cats!) I realized that those trips that lasted a few weeks were a little too much for me.
At first, I thought this was just something I needed to cope with and “get over”, but I was so wrong! The anxiety that stems from being gone from my home too long is my body and my mind telling me that I need stability. I’m not a person who can be on the road all the time. I’m not a person who can spend half the year sleeping in different beds. I’m a person who needs to walk into her own home and re-charge my batteries. A lot of people use travel as a way to recharge and reset themselves, but for me – my home does that the best. I need my bed. I need my fluffy rug next to the fireplace where I read my books and play with my cats. I need a place to call my “home base”, and from there I can see the world at my own pace.
Have you learned any travel truths of your own?
Share them in the comments below!