Long Term Travel | The Ultimate Guide | 2021

It seems more and more people right now are ditching their jobs and heading away to far-flung destinations to live and travel on a long term basis…

 

Scrolling through Instagram, you’ll see beautiful travel pictures from people, maybe even of friends, travelling the world, not doing (much) work and generally having an amazing time. All that, and they’ve somehow been away for months or even years!

 

As you scroll through such images you can’t help but wonder, how the hell are they doing this?

 

How can someone possibly travel to all these places without having to come home?

 

It all sounds so dreamy from the outside but what is the long term travel lifestyle actually like?

 

Here’s exactly what we’re going to find out in this post;

Table of Contents

What Is Long Term Travel?

Well it depends. 

 

Long term travel is going to mean different things to different people.

 

If it’s for your first ever trip and you’re thinking of a big one, then maybe 6 months is long term for you.

 

Whereas I know plenty of people who have been travelling for 3 years or more…without going home. 

 

Myself included. 

 

Long term travel is generally considered 6 + months but I think if it feels like a long time to you, then it’s long term travel regardless of the time frame. 

 

Whether you’re planning a 6 month trip or intend to head away for years, there are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to consider… 

Advantages Of Long Term Travel

Travelling the world has some incredible advantages and there are plenty more than what’s included on this list.

 

You’ve likely heard the term ‘broadening the mind’, but let’s look specifically at some of the amazing positives you’re going to gain from saying ‘yes’ to long term travel.

1. New Cultures

It goes without saying that travelling to new countries introduces you to new cultures. 

 

It’s amazing to see how things are done and how people behave, in different corners of the globe. 

 

Although many countries will share similar cultural traits, there are places (generally the further away from home you go) that will be completely different to anything you know. 

 

I can remember the first time I left Europe, I landed in Sri Lanka and just couldn’t believe it. Just how many people were around me, the heat, and how crazy the roads were! 

 

A little culture shock is mind-broadening at its finest.

2. Meeting People

People are everywhere you go, so whether you’re an extrovert or introvert (like myself) you’re going to be meeting lots of different people on the road. 

 

I’ve found that in most places, the friends I made have been other travellers (from all over the world) rather than any locals, even after staying somewhere for many months. 

 

Some of you may have a totally different experience, but I often find local people already have their groups of friends and family and to be ‘taken in’ as someone who is only around for a few months is rare. 

 

That said though, some people you meet on the road (traveller or local) will become your friends for life purely through some of the crazy (or sketchy) experiences you share.  

 

This is a huge benefit too long term travelling.

3. Cuts Travel Cost

Traveling on short trips is actually a lot more expensive than with long term travel. 

The longer trip lends itself nicely too affordability. 

 

This is because of better deals on accommodation when you book for longer periods. I’ve found this to be true with hostels, Airbnb’s and even some hotels. 

In addition to this, renting a house or apartment for lets say a 2 month period, is not only going to cut the rent down, but will allow you to have somewhere to cook your own food. 

 

This means you won’t have to eat out all the time and dwindle away your savings.

4. Work/Life Flexibility ​

Realistically if you’re going to be travelling long term, you’re going to want to find work. 

 

Even if you have saved enough money for just a 6 month trip, you’ll find it’s actually awesome to have something to do. 

 

Online jobs are becoming increasingly popular and many people are turning to the ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle to allow for perpetual travel. 

 

Whilst on the road, you can find a great work/life balance and earn money anywhere you go.

5. Appreciation For What You Have ​

One striking thing you’ll notice is just how little some people have.

Especially in countries considered ‘3rd World’. 

 

Seeing happy people with little to no material things will really make you question stuff you complain about back home and makes you really appreciate the things we take for granted every day in ‘the west’. 

Disadvantages To Long Term Travel

Although the endless travelling life seems like a dream, it’s not all partying, meeting people and taking amazing photos. 

 

There are definitely some downsides. 

 

This is especially true with travel that lasts over the year mark. These are often overlooked, but here are some things I have personally struggled with having been on the road for 3 years now.

1. The ‘No Home’ Feeling ​

After a certain point in time (I can’t remember the exact moment this happened to me) you begin to lose the sense of ‘home’ you usually have. 

 

You spend so long in countries that are awesome travel bases, but in the back of your mind you always know it’s temporary.  

 

Where you were born and where you grew up will always be your home technically speaking, but as a full time traveller you likely won’t own your own piece of property and you’ll end up returning to your parents or a friend’s place whenever you return. 

As nice as it is to see your parents and friends, you still feel like it isn’t your own home. 

 

This is something that increasingly plays on my mind as I become older…

2. No Meaningful Connections With People

Often during a long trip, you’ll meet people and even become close friends with them for a while.

 

You may feel on top of the world and the friends you make or even relationships you have, can be amazing but usually there comes a time when you move on and head to your next destination.

 

Unfortunately, this means a lot of friendships and relationships do end. 

I am fortunate enough to have some really good friends in different parts of the world so I can always tap into that ‘homely’ feeling and have more meaningful connections when travelling. 

 

I think this is actually the main reason I have been able to travel for so long.

3. Missing Friends & Family

You’re always going to miss your friends and family back home. No matter how much you’re accustomed to travel. 

 

That’s just fact and even for the hardiest of travellers, it’ll be something they struggle with the most. 

 

When I first moved away from home at 18, I was homesick one day and I told one of my coworkers about it who had also moved away at a young age, he told me;

‘Mate just remind yourself why you’re here and remember you’re only 24 hours away from home on a plane, you could go home tomorrow if you wanted to’.  

 

That stuck with me and I often reassure myself with the statement.

4. Sense Of Belonging

This is a strange one that goes back to our natural human instinct of wanting to belong to a group. 

 

Most of the time (in my case anyway) you are on the outside looking in as a traveller, meaning even if you’re somewhere for a long time, you’re still only a temporary fixture in the area. 

 

It’s only when you move somewhere permanently that you can get that real feeling of belonging again in the community. 

 

This is especially true if you are a long term solo traveller. 

5. Setting Up Your Future​

When you’re having such a great time on the road, it’s super easy to forget about ‘normal life’ and you end up living in a weird travel bubble. 

 

Over time however, the following thought may creep up on you; 

‘What the f*ck am I actually doing with my life?’. 

 

It’s a strange thing to think when you’re supposedly living the dream and It may just be a society thing ingrained into your brain. 

 

That said, the thought of the future and ‘what you’re going to do next’ is a real hard one to ignore. 

 

It is also hard to save up for a house or invest money when you’re living and working on the road as the lifestyle generally takes up most of your income.

Long Term Travel Planning

Saying Yes or No

Now we’ve looked at the positives and negatives associated with long term travel, it’s time to decide if it’s for you. 

 

Are you going to take the leap? 

 

I’m always one for saying ‘f*ck it and go… no matter what.

  

However it is important to be ready for some of the challenges described above.

How To Prepare For Long Term Travel​

Once you decide to leave, there are a few things you need to decide. 

First being where you actually want to go. 

 

This is an exciting decision and where you choose is going to depend on what you want to see/do and also…what photos will look good on Instagram. 

After deciding where you want to go and what you wish to do there, you need to check the following; 

 

  • Travel Insurance Cover (How long can you get cover for) 
  • Average weekly costs for each place (accomodation, food, transport, activities) 
  • Potential work opportunities 
  • Visas 
  • Any vaccinations requirements 
  • Safety information 
  • Any other tips and tricks for each destination

Long Term Travel Packing

Minimalism ​

When it comes to packing for such a long trip, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and try to pack things for every possible scenario.

 

I’ve taken clothes and shoes for every climate possible before and ended up not using most of it.

 

So before packing for any trip, I’d highly suggest that minimalism really is key! 

The less things you have, the less you have to worry about.

 

As well, you’re less likely to lose or have things stolen. This is especially true for any clothing or jewellery that is precious to you.

 

Anything of significant value or importance leave at home in a safe place.

What You NEED

Although you want to be taking as little things away with you as possible, there are some things you just need! 

 

These things include;

  • Clothing for hot & cold weather (I barely take any clothes and still only have 1 bag for all my clothes even after 3 years) but it is up to you how many clothes you take. 
  • Comfy all-rounder shoes
  • Good backpack 
  • Technology bag 
  • Laptop 
  • Iphone 
  • Earphones
  • E-Reader  

I think that more or less covers the essentials, you want to have enough comfy clothes that both look good and you can wear in hot and cold weather. 

 

Most importantly, you’re going to want to have good tech stuff. I mean how else are you going to get all your photos on Instagram

 

A laptop so you can organise things and do any work is super important. (I use a mac air, that is super light for travelling), a good iphone or camera for the snaps and also an e-reader/kindle is super handy. 

 

You’ll likely have plenty of time to read when you’re away and it’s just so much easier to have all your books in one place!  

1. Get Online Work

Whether you only plan to be away for a short time, or heading away indefinitely, I think it is super important to be doing some sort of work.

 

Not only will this keep your bank account topped up, it will stop you from going mental!  

 

Dreamy as it sounds, waking up everyday to relax with no purpose is actually not that fun when you can do it everyday. 

 

Having work you can do from your laptop can help you keep travelling and give you a sense of purpose on the road. 

 

If you’re serious about traveling full time, you can learn how to become a digital nomad with this post.  

2. Regularly Call Family & Friends

This is a massive one for me personally.

 

Thanks to technology we can Facetime and message our loved ones all the time. 

Although it isn’t the same as seeing them in person, it sure helps when you’ve been on the road for ages. 

 

Everyone is going to be different with how often they call their family but I like to call my parents every week to catch up.  With my friends I’m in constant contact with through social media.  

 

3. Go Out Of Your Way To Help People

Helping other people is a good thing to do anyway, but when travelling it’s even better. 

 

As we discussed earlier, It can sometimes be hard to make friends with a local crew. 

 

But in addition to being super friendly, go out of your way to help and offer help to anyone you speak to. 

 

It can be about anything, whether you’re giving someone a lift or inviting someone for food it’s not only going to allow for better connections with people, but it will also make you feel amazing!

4. Allow New People Into Your Life​

For me i’ve always made the mistake to isolate myself a little, travelling with the mindset of ‘already having my set friends at home and around the world’ but with this way of thinking you’re closing yourself off to potentially amazing friendships and relationships.

 

Allow the people you meet to come into your life! Go on trips with new people and really make an effort to create lasting friendships, this will make a massive difference to your mental health over a long period of travel time.  

5. Learn​

I think it’s always important to be learning and developing your skills as you travel. 

This could be the language of the place you’re in, an online skill or anything self development related. 

 

Putting time into any of these areas will not only improve you as a person, but will give you a sense of purpose when you’re travelling.

 

6. Create/Work Towards Something - Sense Of Purpose ​

Like learning, creating or working towards a project is amazing for having a sense of purpose! 

 

This could come in any form for example, creating a website, writing a book or making a video. 

 

All creative outlets to consider whether professionally or your own personal use. 

I can’t tell you how important creating is when on the road for a long time!

7. Journal

Amazing for your wellbeing.

 

Just write everyday. It doesn’t have to be an amazing literary piece and no one ever has to read it but for you it will help to keep track of what you’re doing on your trip and your life in general. 

 

Chances are, you’re going to have some experiences that will make great stories one day so journaling them is a fantastic way to keep record.

Conclusion ​

So there we have it. 

 

Everything you need to know about long term travel. 

 

I mean, that’s a huge statement as when you do commit to long term travel, it does actually become your life. And I definitely don’t know a lot of things. 

 

It almost becomes like you’re not travelling anymore and that the road is just your home. At least that’s how it feels anyway. 

 

After experiencing both the good, the bad and the ugly of long term travel, I would highly recommend taking the leap and going for it! 

 

I hope this post has helped you with any fears you had and who knows, maybe I’ve made the decision easier for you? 

 

Before I leave you – I’ll leave you with one last statement; 

‘You Never Remember The Things You Didn’t Do’ 

 

P.S – If you’re away for a while and end up hating it, you’re only 24 hours away from home.