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.
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.
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.
Jim Cheney is the creator of Tripologist.com. Having traveled extensively in North America, Europe, and Asia, Jim enjoys sharing his love of travel and some of his favorite places to visit around the world. He lives in Pennsylvania, USA, with his wife and two kids.