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Long-term Travel Worries

Posted by rledez1990 on 27/3/2012 at 06:39

Hi everyone,

I was laying in bed last night after an evening of being really excited about travelling for 6 months, and suddenly felt really worried... what if someone in my family gets ill (...or dies...) while I'm away? My nan (grandmother) is as fit as a fiddle now but she's got an underlying illness and she's getting older - what if something happened while I was on the other side of the world?

The thing is, I'm not really a 'what if' kind of person so I suppose what I'm looking for here is the same reassurance that I would give to someone else if they brought up this topic. I can't wait to travel again - it is in my mind almost every second of every day! - but now I've thought about this I'm really worried and can't seem to put it out of my mind!

#1 rledez1990 has been a member since 12/3/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 106

Posted by MADMAC on 27/3/2012 at 09:17

A wise old boss of mine once told me "Don't worry about things you can't control".

You could what if yourself to death. What's the point?

#2 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by rledez1990 on 27/3/2012 at 09:19

Thank you :)

#3 rledez1990 has been a member since 12/3/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 106

Posted by busylizzy on 27/3/2012 at 14:26

Honestly, if you didn't do things because of all the 'what-ifs', you would never get off the couch!

My remaining grandparent lives in the US, so I actually have this issue all the time as I live in NZ!

Two-three years ago, I enjoyed a 6 months trip in SEA and had similar considerations, to some extent - but my biggest concern (aside from getting a job when I returned) was my 15 year old cat who was starting to show signs of arthritis. I had raised her from a 6-week old kitten and she had been with me 'through think and thin'. I left her with my parents while travelling, and I knew that it could be the last time I saw her. I was on a Thai island, two weeks away from returning home, when I got the dreaded email. After a few hours of bawling my eyes out in my room, I made myself wander down to the beach for a swim and snorkel in the hopes that would help cheer me up. Have you ever tried crying while snorkelling? Not recommended....

Seriously though, whether it's your cat, your grandmother, your parent.. there is always a risk. If you got news about a family member being sick while away, then you have the option to do an emergency run home if necessary. But.. what if they don't get sick (or worse) and you don't go away? Then you have just missed out on a wonderful opportunity.

Before you leave, spend some special one-on-one time with your family members. At least if the worst happens, then you know that the last time you saw them, it was a special time.

You can't let the'what ifs' stop you from living your life. It's like the tagline at the end of my posts... you only regret the things that you didn't do.

#4 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152

Posted by rledez1990 on 27/3/2012 at 17:59

Thanks for your words :) I know I wrote about my nan in my post, but I neglected to mention my very old dog Chip in case people laughed at me! I will follow your advice and make sure to spend lots of quality time with everyone before I go. It was never an issue that I might not go... I just needed a bit of reassurance I think. Thanks again x

#5 rledez1990 has been a member since 12/3/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 106

Posted by caseyprich on 27/3/2012 at 21:47

I've been living in China for 5 years now and have seen the passing of a Grandmother, my Father-in-Law, and several dogs and cats. When you choose to go to the other side of the world you accept this possibility and learn to deal with it. I was able to fly home to see my Father-in-Law before he passed, not so lucky with the others. However, I have a job to consider when it comes to flying back.

If, however, it is for the purpose of travel, then I think you have to assume nothing bad will happen - but if it is a big worry then keep enough money in your bank account for an emergency return home. Planning for contingencies is an important part of travel.

#6 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281

Posted by DLuek on 28/3/2012 at 04:46 TF writer

Great advice on this thread so far.

As Madmac says, you can worry all you want but that won't change the fact that most things are out of your control. I've found there's peace in understanding that we can't control too many things - it certainly makes it easier to accept when things do go wrong.

On the other hand, sound advice from caseyprich that "Planning for contingencies is an important part of travel." Some things are in your control - like having travel health insurance that would fly you home in the event of a sudden passing of a loved one. All we can do while traveling is our best to be safe and have back-up plans if things go wrong, but just by considering these possibilities before hand it makes an actual emergency much more manageable. We can't control what happens, but we can control whether or not we keep a cool head no matter what does happen, and thinking about all the possibilities before hand helps a ton in that regard.

And also great advice from Busylizzy (as usual). One of the positive aspects of long-term travel is how it forces us to take stock of our lives at home - what we're leaving behind and how much it means to us. I worked the same old job for almost ten years before quitting and moving to Thailand last Sept., and never had I appreciated all my friends and the times I'd had there until I was actually walking out the door for the last time.

Similarly, I left behind Grandparents in their late 80s, and I made it a point to visit them and spend some real quality time with them before I left. They told me their life stories, how they'd met and about all their adventures. It was really a sweet experience, and if I hadn't been leaving home chances are I never would have deliberately taken the time to do that. I might never see them again, but at least I have the peace of mind of knowing that we did have that special time together.

Okay, getting a little sappy :0 but I appreciate your questions on the more mental aspects of travel... Everyone goes through this stuff but not many actually voice it.

#7 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,345

Posted by rledez1990 on 28/3/2012 at 05:11

Thanks for the advice caseyprich; I'll look into travel insurance that covers that sort of thing, and also try to save up some sort of emergency fund. IF something did happen, is it possible to fly home and fly back out again to resume the trip do you think (if, in the circumstances, you wanted to)?

and DLuek: I think it's important to consider what you're leaving behind when you go on a long trip but, at the same time, it would be ridiculous to let dreams slip away just in case something bad happened. I've got so many little worries about going away- worries about family, coming back and having to establish ourselves again in terms of jobs, finances, a home... but everything is outweighed by the excitement that I feel, and I think that says it all :)

#8 rledez1990 has been a member since 12/3/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 106

Posted by busylizzy on 28/3/2012 at 14:08

"I've got so many little worries about going away- worries about family, coming back and having to establish ourselves again in terms of jobs, finances, a home"

You will find that everything just falls into place. If you're worrying about it, it means you are thinking about it. If you're thinking about it, you (should be) planning for it.

As DLuek says, we all have similar worries. In fact, I'm working them all again as I tentatively plan for a long term trip next year. Here's some stuff to think about:

1. 'Stuff' - you are quite young (comparitively!) so probably haven't accumulated much 'stuff' yet. But start getting rid of stuff that you know you don't want. Believe me, once you get the travel bug, and you pack/unpack a few times, you start to realise which of your possessions are worth keeping, and which you can afford to let go. Some people give it all away.... I sell my stuff online. I've gotten rid of enough 'stuff' in the last 2 months to treat myself to a little trip to Tonga at Easter -wahoo!

2. Storage - assuming you put the rest of your stuff into storage, think hard about what you will need when you come back home. I had a large storage unit (too much stuff!) - and kept boxes of important stuff that I knew I would on my return at the very front of the unit. This included suitcases of clothes appropriate for returning to work, boxes of 'important papers' for tax returns, and my laptop, etc, and cleaning supplies for when I moved back into my house after it had been rented out. If you are a keen cyclist (or whatever) you'll want your bike (or whatever) handy. Think about your first week and month when you return and work out what you will need.

3. Finances - when planning a budget for travelling, add an extra 10-15% contingency - just in case. If you don't use it, then it's survival money for when you return - or extend your trip. But you don't want to have the stress of running out while on the other side of the world. Also - think about what money you will need for your first two months when you return. Because you are young, you might be in a position to live with family for awhile which will keep costs down. Either way, you don't want to return to zero savings!

4. Work - when you come back you will want to sort a job out pretty quickly. I'd suggest updating your CV/resume before travelling. That way, your most recent work experience was fresh in mind, and it's ready to send out when you decide to come back home. If you're mot taking a laptop, email it to yourself, and you can get the process underway as you get close to a return date. Trying to write your CV while travelling when you are in a completely different mind space would be tough! I remember sitting on a beach on Koh Phangan with my netbook 2-3 weeks before returning home, reviewing my CV one last time before sending it off to prospective employers. Low stress!

Speaking of work, I better get back to it. That's enough rambling for now - and you just got far more advice than you wanted anyhow!

#9 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152

Posted by bedu on 29/3/2012 at 05:08

I'm by my very nature, a shy person who worries about the 'what ifs', but I've still been here in Thailand for years. If I had worried about 'doing things', I would not be here.
Six months flies by so quickly, you will be wanting to be out here for longer.

Come and 'do it', and if you get any problems on the road, then we're here to help answer any of your issues.

Good luck, safe travels, stop thinking too much!

#10 bedu has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 58

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