Travel Planning. Expert Advice.


September 10, 2012

6 Things I Learned From 6 Months of Travel

5 Light Packing Tips for Long Term Travelers.

Recently, my wife and I finished traveling for six consecutive months. At times, it was challenging, but overall, it was a highly rewarding experience that I would encourage everyone to do at some point in their lives.

Before we left, I did a lot of planning for the trip. Even so, there were several lessons that we learned along the way.

So, to help those of your lucky enough and adventurous enough to set out on a long-term trip, here are six things that I learned from six months of traveling.

1. Traveling is as Fun as the Destination

During our travels, we spent the entire six months traveling by land. From our arrival in Singapore until our flight home from Istanbul, Turkey, we took trains, buses, and boats across thousands of miles of land. Instead of the stresses of flying, we were able to relax and enjoy watching the world go by.

When you travel by land, you can really understand the land that you are crossing and how it changes. If you do it right, taking overnight buses or trains can even save you the cost of a night of lodging and give you extra time at your destination. For a better understanding of why I love traveling by train, check out the article I wrote, aptly titled “Why I Love Traveling By Train“.

2. It’s Okay to Seek the Comforts of Home

Normally, I would encourage my readers to immerse themselves in the local culture and try to live like a local as much as possible. And, while that is great advice, I must admit that there were times where I really just wanted to eat a hamburger.

When you are traveling for months, or even years, on end, you will eventually want to have some of the comforts of home, especially at mealtime. And you know what, that’s okay. Don’t let anyone tell you that it isn’t.

Of course, make sure that you try the local food, drinks, etc., but don’t feel bad if you really want a hamburger, some french fries, or a salad.

Traveling during monsoon season can be wet, but very beautiful. (Creative Commons: Flickr User Beyond Elements)

Traveling during monsoon season can be wet, but very beautiful. (Creative Commons: Flickr User Beyond Elements)

3. Consider When You Are Traveling

This is a huge point for both before and during your travels. Otherwise, you might end up in the middle of the rainy season without any prior warning. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t travel to a country because there might be a lot of rain or because it’s the height of the tourist season. Sometimes, there are things that you can only do or see at certain times of the year. Just make sure that you are aware of what season you are going in.

For example, if you are traveling during low season, it is probably unnecessary to book accommodation ahead of time because you are unlikely to have much trouble finding a place to stay. On the other hand, if you are traveling to a popular destination at the height of the “tourist monsoon”, you might want to consider booking your hotel or hostel a few days or weeks before you arrive.

The same could be said for transportation.

4. Take Some Time Off

No matter who you are or how much energy you have, you can’t travel for months and months without a day off every once a while.

During our travels, my wife and I found that we liked to take a day off every week to ten days. When we took a day off, we slept in and did as little as possible. For example, we would often spend our days watching tv, sitting in a coffee shop, or catching up with our family and friends on Skype. No matter what though, our days off were lazy days of doing nothing.

Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for taking a day off. If you are traveling long-term, you’ll sometimes need to take a vacation from your travels.

If you don't take some time off, you'll feel like a whiny baby. (Creative Commons: Flickr User bbaunach)

If you don’t take some time off, you’ll feel like a whiny baby. (Creative Commons: Flickr User bbaunach)

5. Sometimes You Have to Splurge

I like roughing it as much as the next backpacker, but doing so for months and months on end gets tiring. So, every once in a while, splurge on a nicer hotel for a few nights. It’s amazing what a private room with a comfortable bed, a tv, and a hotel swimming pool can do for your energy levels. If possible, try to arrange a day or two of rest while staying somewhere nice.

6. You Can’t See Everything

No matter how long you have, even if it’s a lifetime, you can’t see everything.

I’ve been continually asked if I went to this place or that place on my travels, and much to people’s shock, have often had to say no. Even if you have six months of travel, it’s impossible to see everywhere you might want to see or is recommended to you. So don’t try!

Besides, you have to save something for your next trip!

Do you have any other lessons that you learned while long-term traveling? Share them in the comments section below.


  1. Great tips! Especially like the permission to have days off, and not rush around and cram every single thing in – just not possible!
    And you are right – it’s good to save something for next time! Ha!

  2. Agree with all those points – particularly the pressure we put on ourselves to see absolutely everything we can! I recommend making an anti “must see” list of all the things you didn’t see but coupled with smaller, quirkier things you saw or did instead…

  3. These are some great tips! We live by the rule that you need some home comforts once in a while when traveling.

  4. Ady

    The most important aspect….approximately how much did you end up spending?

  5. For a longer trip pacing yourself is certainly important. One of my travel philosophies is that ‘half the fun is getting there’, regardless of whether you are travelling long haul or around town. I inevitably find that my special trip moments occur in between the ‘tick the box’ tourist destinations. As a result I do not use options like hop on hop off buses which keep you firmly with tourists and away from the locals.

  6. Rafidah

    This is a great article. Remembered my own experience traveling alone in Paris, there was a time where I only go out to a flea market in the morning and had lunch. After that just stay in the apartment for the whole day to sleep and relax. Turns out that taking a break from my vacation was the thing that I needed to motivate myself to explore more of the wonderful city 🙂

  7. You’re spot on! On my own backpacking trip (I was on the road nearly four years) I would splurge once a month, like clockwork. I roughed it in hostels and cheap guesthouses every day, but one night a month, I’d go to a ‘luxury’ hotel with strong, hot showers and a buffet breakfast (I had a monthly pancake and maple syrup craving – I’m Canadian).

    And I got around the foodie homesickness by carting around a jar of peanut butter for emergencies. But please don’t tell anyone. 😉


      A jar of peanut butter, huh? Since you are Canadian, I thought it would be maple syrup. 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  8. All great pieces of advice. It’s a shame number 6 is 100% true. Probably the most frustrating.

  9. Fabian

    Nice experience, I want to travel like you someday…my best wishes

  10. Matt

    This is a great summary! Especially the point number 6 “You can’t see everything!” is very important and a good lesson to learn! It would be even more helpful to realize this before you hit the road! It’s great to get an idea of a city, to get inspired, meet people, and everything. And somehow it’s awesome if you wanna see everything, because this means you are curious and you want more. But it can be also very painful and annoying when you realize you just have to legs and the day just 24 hours. Therefore, get an idea, meet people, take the best time with you possible!

    Again, great 6 lessons, very reasonable!

  11. I’m not a long term traveler; I usually take 2 to 3 week holidays a few times a year. But I love your lessons as they apply to any type of traveler. Even during small trips, I still miss home food and occasionally indulge in Thai food even when in Zurich 😀 and during action packed days, I also try to fill a free day in between. Agree with you totally about never being able to see each and every single thing in a place. And I’ve made peace with that. Just enjoy what you can and what’s in front of you 🙂

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