OK, so you’ve been away a year or two now and reckon travel’s well cool and you want to go on.
But you can’t.
You’re tired, numbed, overwhelmed.
Panic not, there’s a straightforward solution. Stop. Go home!
There’s no shame in this.
Forget the societal badge of honor of “I traveled for two years …”; why do something that doesn’t thrill you?
Stopping is the obvious answer, yeah?
But if going home isn’t good – cos your options there suck.
Stop on route.
Long term travel advice to save your sanity
Or volunteer (although the amount of disillusioned volunteers I’ve encountered makes me wonder about that option. Yet, there must be some cheerful stories… let me know).
If you don’t need the cash – then take a long holiday, get drunk every day or read, whatever, simply park-up a while – like 1-6 months. Simply disconnect from the stream of exciting experiences that is travel.
Or maybe it’s the endless journeying of buses, trains, taxis; the packing and unpacking and checking-in that tires you?
Personally, I don’t find the physical journey too exhausting traveling long and wide.
Long term travel is mentally exhausting
It’s the barrage of experiences and sights – and after 6-12 months of intense travel that overstimulates and, hence, tires.
So, when I get a headful of travel – like bursting madly, I must desaturate (before I’m ready again, to refill).
Like, needing to be a total vegetable.
So what sort of vegetable should you aspire to become?
Meaning that couch potato cliche.
For the first couple of weeks, I barely do anything but sit around. Watch movies or read, listen to music.
But mostly, I just stare into space with a bottle and daydream (on a balcony with a view of the beach or mountains or maybe even a cityscape).
For a period, I retreat from photography and also avoid browsing recent photo archives.
After a week or two, this veg state becomes dull.
So it’s time to get into work.
Amid the job routine (I teach spoken English-language skills and other subjects, including university essay writing).
During this time, I explore the local environment of my ‘new temporary base’ with small regional trips on weekends.
For those NOT interested in teaching, research online and surely you can use your skills to find work. Or, ask around locally, such as being a dive instructor.
Many backpackers take a break from long term travel by working temporarily in hostels, cafes, or other traveler-related spheres.
Some choose the outdoors, picking fruit or working on a moshav. Others line the street with ethnic jewelry or other wares, cut hair, bask, while digital nomads may ply web design, Internet marketing or stock trading online.
Simply, do whatever works for you.
Ensure your head’s empty before traveling long term again
The 6 months-on, 6 months-off formula works well for me.
But mix it up accordingly.
Sometimes a month is enough, sometimes 3 months away from travel.
Maybe a year is good, if you feel the need to settle down, to unpack your bag and to live “normally” for a while.
If you’re a restless soul like me, I’ve found that living – holidaying or working – somewhere new starts as a pleasant change and then slowly becomes “routine”.
The comfort and freshness of routine sedentary life fades.
Living a ‘normal’ life – albeit, still based in a foreign land – gets stale and as boredom begins, I crave a new horizon … the road suddenly beckons.
With cash in pocket from a temporary job, travel calls again and you surge with the excitement of all the endless roads ahead.
So the cycle spins.
This is my rinse and repeat formula for surviving years (decades, actually) of long term travel.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’ve been nomadic since 1988 in 120+ countries and this is how I’ve traveled for so long and far. Simply, by alternating intense overland journeys with mellow, foreign-rest stops. But of course, everybody is different and has differing needs.