In one of my past articles, I wrote about how much travel can enrich your life. As well as opening your eyes to new experiences, travel will make you appreciate the world you live in, and the people who inhabit it. In short; it’s pretty good for both, the mind and the soul but you don’t need me telling you that. You probably know it already. The benefits of traveling are clear for anyone who’s gone to another country and given that going away can have such a transformative impact, it isn’t unusual to feel a desire to take travel to new levels. Specifically, to travel for a long time rather than a week every now and then. Long-term travel has obvious benefits. Why else would so many students take gap years? Most of us listen to the stories of those who’ve taken the plunge with green-eyed jealousy and blatant envy. And, when those feelings become overwhelming, you may decide you’re going to do it. You’re going to go on the long-term travel adventure you’ve always dreamt of and it’s going to be the trip of your lifetime.
Don’t worry; I’m not one of those people that will tell you otherwise or try to change your mind. In my opinion, nothing beats the life-changing experience of heading away for an extended period of time. However, long-term travel is not the walk in the park you might be expecting. You may already know that this will be different from the typical five-day excursions you’ve had until now. Only a few of us realize just how difficult long-term traveling can be at times and to help you prepare, we’re going to look at some of the realities you might not expect along the way but are bound to happen.
1. You will need to establish a time frame
We know how tempting the idea of a long-stay vacation with no timeframe can seem. Isn’t that how they do it in the movies? Perhaps. But, it’s not the best option in real life. In reality, you need to know how long are you planning to stay. That involves knowing how long you’ll stop at each destination, and also the length of your trip as a whole. While it hardly suits the carefree, nomadic lifestyle, a timeframe can keep everything afloat. It’ll help to dictate your budget, what you need to take with you, and much more. In short; that simple time frame will hold your trip together and, that’s essential. You certainly wouldn’t find that carefree attitude much fun if you ran out of money and believe it or not, even the most chilled out travelers usually take care of this before they leave.
You can also opt for a debit card that you can use in other countries. However, make sure first that your bank account is issue free because it might hinder you from using your card.
2. Accommodation could get pricey
It’s also worth sparing a thought for your accommodation. Up until now, hotels have always served you well, right? Sometimes, you can even get great deals and save up to 20% on your stay. However, when it comes to long-term travel, they are out of the option. Hotels are luxury options for short-term stays. They don’t suit a lengthy stay in the slightest and the cost associated with it is ridiculously high. One other option you might have is finding an apartment. This a probably the best option if you’re planning to stay for six months or more. There’s no denying that it’ll save you a lot compared to staying in a hotel.
Alternatively, you could look into cheap hostels in your destinations but bear in mind that, over an extended period, this could still get expensive. If you plan to visit a few different destinations, hostels are probably the cheapest option available but don’t forget to shop around to find the most affordable ones in each destination. Living in hostels is a different experience that doesn’t have all the perks of hotel life but is something your bank balance will surely be grateful for.
3. Learning a new language isn’t easy!
When we go on vacation, most of us learn a few basic phrases of the language spoken there. You know the drill; please and thank you. Can I get the bill, please? Hello, goodbye. The BASICS. But, if you’re heading away for anything longer than a week, that much won’t do. First of all, not wanting to learn the language is pretty arrogant. It’s like saying “Thank you so much for learning good English, I’ll return this favor by not bothering to learn a single word of your language because you have made your language useless by learning another country’s language so well.” The saddest part is I met a lot of people that actually do this. If you’re looking to start learning a new language, check out Babbel. It’s an amazing language learning platform and I just can’t recommend it enough. If you want to sign up, you can use this link to get 15% off on your first subscription.
Since you’re already effectively living in another country, you need to learn how to communicate with the locals. What’s more, learning the language can open up incredible opportunities. This way, you’ll be able to converse with locals, get involved in activities, and much more. You don’t have to be proficient but you should be able to hold down a conversation by the time you leave. Once you start using that language on a daily basis, you’ll soon become fluent before you know it.
4. There will be times when you hate your new country
To put it frankly, shit happens when you live abroad. And solving these issues isn’t a cakewalk. It’s a normal part of moving abroad and there will be times when you feel like you belong neither in your new nor in your native country. Having this complex range of emotions is completely normal, so don’t let that bring you down. Look at it as a relationship. And we all know arguments are an inevitable part of it. You are allowed to get mad at your partner, even hate them at times. It’ll be temporary. Just make sure to not bottle in your feelings because that never ends well. The bottom line is, moving to a new country isn’t going to be ideal as portrayed in books and movies. However, I never met a person that regretted living abroad. But I have met many that regret never trying that.
5. This won’t be anything like the travel you’re used to
Perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind is that this won’t be anything like the travel you’re used to. In fact, it’ll be unrecognizable compared to the experiences you’ve had until now. Long-term travel is less like a vacation, and more like a new life elsewhere. This is especially the case if you plan to be away for a year or so. Forget sitting on the beach and chilling out with a glass of sangria. You might want to do that kind of thing for your first week, but the rest of your time couldn’t be more different. In truth, this time will be much more like your everyday life than you might expect.
While you’ll be in a new, interesting setting, business needs to resume as usual. That could mean getting a part-time job and even signing up in the local gym. In short, your days will be much more ‘normal’ than you might imagine. However, that may come as a culture shock but once you adjust, you’ll be able to grasp the new experience, open your mind, and start getting out of your comfort zone. And this is where the real growth starts happening. This is where you start learning lessons that stay with you, shape you, change you…
Helpful resources for long-term travel
Saving money on flights is one of the most important things for people who like to travel a lot. If you want to learn about another great way to save on flights, check out Air France’s Discover the World at a low price program; I warmly recommend it.
If you want to save on travel insurance, go to World Nomads for the best deals for long-term travelers.
If you want to rent a car during your stay abroad, this AutoEurope special offer can get you 20% off on car rentals worldwide.
Finally, if you’re collecting points and miles, you can track and combine all of your loyalty programs and save on every trip with points.com.
What do you think about some of these aspects of long-term travel that people aren’t usually talking about? Did you experience some of it on your own skin? Let us know in the comments!