It’s understandable when people I’ve met during our travels say, “You’re so lucky! I wish I could do that.”. The lifestyle of being able to travel and work anywhere in the world truly is something to be thankful for.
But then there’s always another side to everything. From eight months in South America and still traveling, here are five truths about long term traveling:
1. It’s Not a Long Vacation
Long term traveling is fun. In South America, we got to see various famous sites, eat delicious food, experience cultures, but I was still working. And I had to do the laundry, dishes and chores.
On vacations, it’s not normally very long so you have endless things to do and it’s exciting. With long term traveling, you can actually get bored. To give you an idea… I did the best I could to appreciate and be excited about the 50th church we stood in front of.
In the first few weeks of our travels, we met a guy on our tour group. To make a long story short (he told us story after story during our van ride) he’s been everywhere. Something he said that’s interesting is, “Everything starts to look the same”.
It’s true. You start to think, did I see this somewhere else before? Or it looks familiar. However, don’t get me wrong. There’s always something else that’s unique about every country that’s worth seeing.
2. You Have to Adjust
In the first month of traveling, I was excited about everything. From buildings to language to food to what the locals wore to all those things that were not what I was used to seeing back in the US.
Three months in, all the excitement started wearing away and was replaced with a need for familiarity. There were times when I just wanted to sit in the apartments we rented and not go anywhere because I didn’t want to face the unfamiliar.
This is when the realization of needing to adjust took place. It’s kind of like moving except with traveling we were moving temporarily then having to adjust to another city and sometimes, culture. With that said, it’s true that through travel, you learn to be adaptable.
3. It’s Not Cheap
Pretty self explanatory and probably the most obvious one.
You could find the best deals and try to stay in cheaper accommodations but in reality, it all adds up unless somehow you travel for a living.
4. It’s Addictive
Yes, sometimes you need to take a break and get bored of seeing the same thing (refer to number 2), but truth is, once you start long term traveling it’s hard to stop. After taking a break for a month in an apartment in Montevideo, there was a desire to start traveling again.
And especially since I am traveling with my family, it’s not like I’ll miss them. In fact, my aunt and grandma visited us in Uruguay.
5. There’s Lots of Planning
It would be lying if I said my mom had this idea of traveling long term, then we just left after purchasing a plane ticket. About two and a half years prior to our departure was when my mom had the idea.
During the beginning of those preparation years, I hustled. Went to school, played on the school golf team and did extra classes online, even on weekends to graduate a year early at 16. Other than my own preparation, we sold our home and the majority of our belongings.
Selling a home meant having to keep the house spotless all the time. It also meant going from living in a house with three bathrooms to an apartment with two for a year before traveling. Then while traveling, a place with more than one bathroom was rare. You could say learning how to share a bathroom was all planned too.
Then of course not only is there a lot of planning beforehand, you have to plan while traveling. Since we went without a set itinerary, planning was a must and sometimes brought up arguments and long discussions since everyone in the family has their opinions!
So maybe long term traveling doesn’t seem that glamorous anymore. But really, it’s all worth it especially since there’s always something to learn from every experience along the way.
Stay tuned for 2014 travel plans!