5 Things That (can) Suck About Long-Term Travel

Shiva imitation, Rishikesh, India

Shiva imitation. Rishikesh, India. By Nicola Wheeler.

Guest contributor: Nomadic Matt.

In my last article, I talked about the highs of travel. While travel is a mostly amazing experience, nomadic living is not always glitter and gold. In fact, if you spend enough time on the road, something bad is bound to happen. Murphy’s Law is never wrong and eventually you find that there are plenty of lows to go with your highs.

Getting bored

It’s hard to imagine but it is possible to get bored. When every day is Saturday, it is easy to watch them roll past blissfully. However, after a few months, travelers typically get a little tired of the routine. You desire to “do” something. There are only so many churches to see, so many beaches to relax on. Before long, you begin to see everything as “Just another…” object. It happens to us all and is definitely the major low of the road.

The act of travel

The act of traveling itself can get tedious and stressful. There are only so many long train rides and bus rides you can take before it starts to wear you down. That first twelve hour bus ride is different but the twelfth one is just a chore. Travel itself becomes a pain and after awhile it is easy to want to give it up and not go anywhere.

Getting sick

Eventually we all get sick and the worst thing that can happen to you is getting Delhi belly in the middle of nowhere India. I’ve gotten food poisoning three times and it’s never fun. No one travels around the world to lay in bed for three days but the reality is, you’re going to get sick sometime. It’s most likely going to be food poison too.

It’s important to take a deep breath, relax, and realize just how lucky you are to be traveling.

Quickie friends

It’s hard to believe but meeting people can be a travel low. I love the flux of people. It creates variety and keeps things interesting. But after a few months of constant hello’s and goodbyes, you begin to wish someone stayed around for longer than a few days.

The ephemeral nature of backpacking makes it hard to maintain long lasting relationships with people. You can meet the most amazing of people but once you go back to your own countries, life gets in the way and it’s hard to maintain contact.

Being on your guard

The ugly truth about traveling is that you have to be suspicious of people. As a traveler entering a foreign country, you need to figure out quickly who is there to help you and who is trying to rip you off. Travel helps open you up to become more trusting but if you are too trusting, you could end up somewhere you don’t to be. The longer you travel the better you are able to decipher who is who. But, always having to figure out who is who is a real drag. It creates a wrapped sense of trust. It’s just not fun being on your guard all the time.

Life on the road is one giant high punctuated by a few lows. But even the lows are just minor annoyances. Anyone who travels long-term will suffer from the above afflictions at some point. The trick is not to let them get the best of you, because some can last weeks. It’s important to take a deep breath, relax, and realize just how lucky you are to be traveling.

About the author:

Matt turned nomadic halfway through 2006 and has been on the road ever since. He’s planning trips through Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South America, but anything can happen: he’s a nomad, after all. Check out his blog, Nomadic Matt.

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Discussion »

  • #1Sam

    Great post. Travelling for a long time isn’t always what it’s cut out to be, especially if you’re travelling alone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but there are some bummed moments on the road as well! Quickie friends; great new term and so very true!

  • #2Paul Moroney

    Hi Matt,

    Great that you talk of the down side of long term travel too, just to give a balanced picture.

    I plan to travle soon, and its good to prepare for the highs and the lows.

    As you say… a good deep breath, a beer, and to realise how lucky it is to be able to travel, and be in good health…puts every low into perspective. ;o)

    Keep up the great work!

    One question if I may…I am 47 years old, do you meet all ages on your travels, and do most travel alone or in pairs?

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