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How do you handle the emotions of long-term travel?

  • antoniamitc-
    hell

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    Hi guys,

    I'm currently planning for my second long-term trip. My first lasted 3.5 months, mostly split into a month each in Thailand, peninsular Malaysia and Vietnam, and moving at a reasonable pace (so an average of 3-4 days in each place). I'm hoping to travel for longer next time, but I'm not certain how I'd handle a longer trip (from a psychological/emotional perspective).

    I noticed during my first trip that once a month, after about 3 weeks of travelling about, I found myself really unwilling to move on again, just not willing to face bus rides and navigating a new town and tramping around carrying my pack. Each time this happened I was in a quiet seaside location (often in off season) and ended up just chilling on a porch with a book for 5-6 days before I felt prepared to move on again.

    So my question for the other more experienced Travelfishers is: do you find the experience of travelling for 6 or 9 months different from 3 months? Does that sense of being unwilling to move on get worse on longer trips (assuming you've experienced it), or is it just something you wait to pass?

    I also noticed that my last month, in Vietnam, I was feeling ready to come home. I'm not certain if this was because I knew I was scheduled to fly home soon, so it might not have happened if I was planning to travel for longer. Or was it because I didn't enjoy Vietnam as much as the other countries? (Or did I not enjoy Vietnam because I was ready to come home?)

    So those of you who have experienced that ready-to-come-home feeling when travelling, does it go away if you push through?

    Sorry if this sounds a bit vague - I just worry that I'll plan a 6 month trip, and spend the last 3 months wanting to go home (or chuck it in early).

    Thanks,

    #1 Posted: 9/9/2013 - 14:15

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  • LeonardCohe-
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    I've never travelled for a long time. I usually get a good fix of travel in 3-4 weeks.

    "I found myself really unwilling to move on again, just not willing to face bus rides and navigating a new town and tramping around carrying my pack. "

    That's natural. Bus rides and constantly moving is tiring. Why do you want to travel for 6 months anyway?

    "I also noticed that my last month, in Vietnam, I was feeling ready to come home. I'm not certain if this was because I knew I was scheduled to fly home soon, so it might not have happened if I was planning to travel for longer. Or was it because I didn't enjoy Vietnam as much as the other countries? (Or did I not enjoy Vietnam because I was ready to come home?)"

    If you're feeling like coming home weeks out from the flight that would suggest you're over it. I usually only start thinking about the end in the last week.

    3 weeks out from the end you should be right into the trip and enjoying it.

    What are your hobbies?

    What do you hope to achieve by travelling for 6 months?

    If you don't have a clear plan you may well end up feeling the same way again and be sitting on a porch for days reading books. That's fine if you want to do that but that's not something you can't do at home.

    #2 Posted: 9/9/2013 - 18:44

  • somtam2000

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    I think a lot depends on the country you're travelling in and you're frame of mind at the time. My longest non-stop trip was about a year give or take, and that certainly had ups and downs.

    i had three months in India and that almost broke me - when I crossed into Nepal I would have happily nuked the joint -- but then I absolutely loved Nepal and the month there really worked to recharge my batteries.

    Taking a holiday from a holiday can really work wonders - be it just chilling reading a book for a few days or whatever, but I also think not over planning is important. When I meet travellers who have an itinerary like a military expedition, and one they're really failing to keep up with, I'm inclined to say they're really "doing it wrong". With a decent amount of flexibility you're better able to take advantage of the random opportunities that pop up,be it travelling with others to break up the loneliness or just putting your feet up.

    There's no right answer of course, but going with your gut feeling and acknowledging its not a world record attempt are good starting points IMO.

    #3 Posted: 9/9/2013 - 23:21

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    "Each time this happened I was in a quiet seaside location (often in off season) and ended up just chilling on a porch with a book for 5-6 days before I felt prepared to move on again."

    First of all, there is nothing wrong with this. So you chilled at some comfortable (for you anyway) spot for a week. Some people come here and spend their entire vacation in one spot. And there's nothing wrong with that. So it doesn't mean there is something wrong with you.

    "I also noticed that my last month, in Vietnam, I was feeling ready to come home. I'm not certain if this was because I knew I was scheduled to fly home soon, so it might not have happened if I was planning to travel for longer. Or was it because I didn't enjoy Vietnam as much as the other countries? (Or did I not enjoy Vietnam because I was ready to come home?)"

    Only you can answer that. I'll just say that the first thing in dealing with any issue - particularly psychological and or emotional, is to acknowledge it. And you've done that. I think you can figure this one out for yourself. You sound like you might think something is wrong with you, but I can assure you a lot of people feel the same way. I get that way when on the road for just a few days without my daughter. She and I are close and do a lot together. So if I go somewhere and she's in school, I can easily find myself saying "Man, I got to get home."

    When I was a young soldier with the big green machine, I could go somewhere for a year, living like an animal, and it wasn't a problem. But now... I'm less up for that. Got a family. But if I had to, I could. So if you really want a longer trip, I am sure you can handle it, as you know yourslf already.

    #4 Posted: 10/9/2013 - 03:15

  • chinarocks

    Joined Travelfish
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    To be honest, my initial reaction when reading this title and original post is don't be so dramatic and be thankful that you have the wherewithal to be able to even consider travelling for an extended period of time given the mass unemployment and poverty in the world at the moment.

    #5 Posted: 10/9/2013 - 04:18

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    China - I wouldn't say at the moment. I would say always. Most people don't have the weerewithal to do serious travel ever in their lives. The era we live in is actually more affluent than any in world history. We just tend to lose perspective because of the lousy economic conditions of the last six years. But in the big picture, that's just a blip on the screen.

    #6 Posted: 10/9/2013 - 04:22

  • somtam2000

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    I dunno, just because you have the means to do a long trip doesn't make these invalid discussion points. I mean obviously longer term travel has a very big upside, but it isn't all up.

    #7 Posted: 10/9/2013 - 05:03

  • antoniamitc-
    hell

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    Thanks for the feedback everyone.

    I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with me (sorry if I gave that impression). I'm just trying to figure out if I'd enjoy a longer trip, or if I'd be happier with a 2-3 month trip - everyone's different after all, so perhaps we each have a length of trip that suits us best, just like we have a style of travel that suits us best? That's why I was curious about other people's experiences of pushing through the ready-to-go-home / had-enough-of-this feelings.

    Ta,

    #8 Posted: 10/9/2013 - 07:13

  • SBE

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    So those of you who have experienced that ready-to-come-home feeling when travelling, does it go away if you push through?

    Sometimes. Like Somtam says it often depends where you are so moving on to a different place can change things. Other travellers also make a huge difference. Sometimes you meet people you really get on with and have a blast and sometimes you don't. I find the travellers you meet well off the main tourist trail are generally more interesting to talk to. I think I'd get bored out of my mind staying in Thailand for six months but it's really nice to go there for a few weeks after you've been roughing it... variety is the key. If you're inherently lazy like me it's very easy to flop down in a hammock and not do much for weeks on end in countries like Thailand and I do think WTF am I doing here sometimes. If you start feeling like that it's probably time to heave yourself out of the hammock and go somewhere interesting that requires a bit more effort. The challenging stuff is what you remember most vividly afterwards (minus the actual discomfort you felt at the time thank goodness). The easy lazy days just become a vague blur because every day is basically the same, not unlike being at the office in fact.

    There's a really good blog by an occasional TF poster who's a single mother who's been traveling to the most out of the way places imaginable with her young son for three years now. They do have down times of course but wow, what an inspired and inspiring life choice.

    http://www.escapeartistes.com/about/







    #9 Posted: 10/9/2013 - 07:22

  • LeonardCohe-
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    "I'm just trying to figure out if I'd enjoy a longer trip, or if I'd be happier with a 2-3 month trip"

    We don't know you. Only you can really answer that. Surely you know what you like and don't like. But then again one gender does have trouble making up their minds.

    I know I'd be happy on a 2 years trip but only on a bigger budget. I'm not a $30 a day person. Give me $100 a day no worries I'd do it. If money wasnt an issue I could easily travel forever.

    #10 Posted: 10/9/2013 - 09:11

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  • chinarocks

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    "$100 a day"

    You sound high maintenance Leonard.

    #11 Posted: 10/9/2013 - 09:25

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    I just like quality things and I'm not looking to date you so no need for you to worry about it.

    #12 Posted: 10/9/2013 - 09:28

  • datt

    Joined Travelfish
    10th September, 2013
    Posts: 1

    I traveled for six months in 2010 - was already two years living in New Zealand (I'm from Brazil) and I remember felling happy every single day of my trip. And thankful that I had the opportunity to do something most of the people only dream about. But I also remember the last days of the first month were the hardest. I felt really tired of packing and unpacking - plus the bus rides, the humidity in SEA bla bla bla. I think the key is the willingness to move on: that's the reason we hit the road anyway. And try to diversify your itinerary. After a few months in Asia, why don't you try a different continent - South America or Africa, for instance? Is always nice to know a new culture, food and people and it gives your journey multiple perspectives. I did that, spent three months in Asia, another 3 in Eastern Europe. Willing to do that again soon.

    #13 Posted: 10/9/2013 - 10:39

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