Travelling for an extended period of time isn’t like a weeks stay at an all inclusive resort or a 10 day tour of Europe – it has a different feel to it, attracts a different kind of traveller and is based on two things: motivation and money.
If you don’t have motivation to keep moving, long term travel isn’t likely for you. At the same time, if you have things you need to be back for at a fixed date then likely shorter trips are more up your alley. What is driving you to get out there and see what the world has to offer? A sense of excitement? Soul searching? Do you just need a change? Whatever it happens to be, if you have some driving force spurring you on to look at the world in a different way and to set up shop somewhere far from home (long enough so that you start to think of it as ‘home’), long term travel might just be for you.
And oh yeah, you’re going to need money. How much depends on how resourceful you are.
As a guy who has travelled for extended periods of time on multiple occasions I may have some insight into what goes into planning for such an excursion whether it’s for a few months or for an indeterminate length of time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you first start to plan a trip of this nature but with a few helpful tips, it can definitely give you some focus, which in the end makes the travel all the more meaningful.
Tip #1 – Figure Out How Long
There are a ton of reasons why you may set your trip to a specific length, from obligations back home to you just don’t want to be gone that long. This doesn’t mean you are stuck to that time frame but it does give you a starting point or at least a plan. People with plans are far more likely to stick to something than those that just throw ideas around – maybe because it seems more real with a template.
Tip #2 – Preliminary Precautions
I know, I know, you’re ready to hit the road. Well guess what? So are any burglars that might be lurking nearby. That is why it is critical that you take a few preliminary precautions ahead of time to avoid coming home to an empty house. First and foremost, call the post office and tell them to suspend your mail until you return home. Another option would be to have a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member come every few days and empty out your mailbox. Aside from that, you can buy an inexpensive timer to turn your lights on and off at specific intervals to mimic someone being in the residence.
You can even take it a step further by installing a home security system to be your eyes and ears while you’re away. A blaring alarm sound or even a sign in the front yard is enough to thwart even the most experienced bad guys from invading your personal space. There actually several things you can do to protect your home when traveling. Just Google it! Travelers from across the globe have come up with some pretty ingenious and relatively easy ways maintain the integrity of their homes.
Tip #3 – Money is Important
Simply put – if you don’t have money, your trip isn’t likely to make it very far. Unlike short vacations that have fixed budgets, longer term travel is more open ended and can either be a huge money pit or surprisingly more affordable than you may think depending on the choices you make. There are really two ways to go about travelling long term, with the first being saving up a ton of money and staying until it runs out. Depending on where you are staying and your accommodation/activities, this can last quite a while or be over in a month – important to keep in mind.
The second way is to make money while travelling and is definitely the best way to extend your stay well beyond the typical couple of months many people can do without incoming cash. Some people take a job as the reason for travelling, such as teaching ESL, while others find work in a bar or restaurant once they are there. Keep in mind though, getting a job means you have less mobility and have more obligations, which can be the opposite of what you’re looking for.
Tip #4 – Destination Matters… To a Point
Some people just need to get away and it doesn’t matter where to. Other people start out in one place and just keep moving as the spirit strikes them. It’s always a good idea to have a rough idea where you’re going next just to keep you centred (ties in with Tip #1). When I start out planning for a trip, I use Flight Centre just to get an idea where I can get to and roughly how much it’s going to cost. They have branches in quite a few locations around the world (particularly the English speaking countries), making dropping in to make changes or find out what options are available a breeze. Many people are into taking those around the world vacations and Flight Centre can even organize that, letting you hit many countries at once.
Tip #5 – Don’t Fall into the ‘Just a Little Longer’ Trap
It’s so easy to lose focus on why you’re travelling and just get stuck in a different little rut in a new place, maybe because of the people you’re hanging out with or because the location just isn’t a good fit. This is one reason why I don’t like to travel for an indeterminate length, because I find people end up deluding themselves into thinking the good times can keep on coming and they will ‘start real life’ later, and then before they know it, so much of life has passed them by. Use travel to experience what the world has to offer and avoid procrastination!
Tip #6 – It’s Okay to Pack it Up
You are not a failure if you decide to head it for home after a few weeks or months. Just because you hear about people who stay on the road for years, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you (or even for them!). At the same time, if you are overseas and don’t like where you are but don’t want to go home, just try mixing things up. If you have been in one place for a few months or days and it isn’t working for you, move on. Maybe a friend said the place would be great but actually it blows – it happens. There’s nothing wrong with doing what’s right for you, because in the end it’s all a journey.