Since I’ve quit my corporate career in 2015 and became a full-time nomad, I’ve learned that long-term traveling has its own challenges. It is something very different from short weekend trips. When you’re on the road for months, you’ve to think and act differently. From packing travel essentials to maintaining a daily personal routine to keeping a hold of your budget, long-term travel is a different deal altogether.
I mean I remember when, before becoming a full-time traveler, my weekend holidays had only one agenda: to relax, unwind, and not care about a thing. I would pack anything (always more than I wanted); spend money (on food and accommodation) carelessly, and plan more than what was necessary.
So yea, where long-term travel offers amazing life experience, it does come with its own set of challenges, and these tips will help you maintain your new nomadic lifestyle and avoid chucking it all in after a few weeks.
When you are planning to stay on road for months, the most important thing to keep in mind is to pack light. And to do that, invest in a good lightweight backpack and other accessories. From small things like carrying polo T-shirts (that you can roll and shove in any corner in your backpack) over carrying fancy shirts to investing in a light-weight travel-towel over a traditional big-sized one, by packing smart you can make your journey a lot easier.
For example, when I started traveling (and blogging) I owned a bulky 2-kg Nikon DSLR, and its size and weight always curbed me from carrying a few extra pairs of clothes. Moving forward, when I decided to change my camera, I bought a Mirrorless Sony, weighing less than half a kilo and a size almost half than that of the Nikon’s, and I cannot tell you how big of a difference it has created.
I mean packing light may just sound an obvious tip, but I’ve seen people still failing at it miserably. Invest in a good lightweight backpack from a reputable store. Don’t stock up on basic toiletries at home, you can buy them anywhere and you’ll find a lot of hostels now supplying these. Try to avoid the extra weight and just pack the essentials.
Further Reading: What I Pack For My Travels
Packing light may just be a clichéd travel tip, but it can really make your journey smoother if you oblige to it. For example, I take only what is necessary, and if I really need something, I buy it on the way. It’s not hard to find medicine, toiletries, clothes or even an umbrella, anywhere in the world – and that’s pretty much all you need to survive while traveling.
Save On Accommodation
For a long-term traveler, Accommodation is a big expense, making it important to be careful to not end up bleeding too much money when booking a place. I have traveled across Europe once without spending anything on accommodation, and how I did it?… By using hospitality networks. If you’re planning on staying in a town for weeks, I recommend volunteering and saving 100% on accommodation. Networks like WWOOF and Workaway are great to search for volunteer options. I’ve personally used workaway and volunteered in Europe and Australia for weeks.
If you’re traveling at someplace for only a few days, try Couchsurfing. There are hundreds and thousands of hosts welcoming travelers in their home across the world.
For those who want to pay and have full freedom as they travel, the best way to save the maximum is by renting a property. Not only renting a property/apartment is cheaper, but it also comes with benefits like getting a bigger, better and a home-like space – all at a fairly cheaper price. Use booking.com’s apartment page to find one of the biggest online inventory of holiday apartments across the world. Other than booking.com, I personally prefer and have tried Airbnb, in India and abroad.
Another way to save money is by buying a caravan, sharing the costs between a few friends and doing a road trip. This not only saves you money that you otherwise end up spending on fancy hotels but also have full freedom of going anywhere. Imagine having your hotel on a pair of wheels, that’s what caravans are all about.
Here is more on Tips On Booking Budget Accommodation While Traveling
Remember, Long Term Travel Is Slow Travel
If you move too fast and try exploring new places every day, exhaustion and uneasiness will eventually take over and outweigh the pleasure of traveling. I remember I did the same mistake during my first ever indefinite solo travel journey (to Bhutan) which happened to be my first backpacking trip after I quit my job to travel.
For a period of almost 20 days, I moved at a frantic pace, hopping from one city to the other, trying to explore as much of the country as possible in minimum time. Naturally, uneasiness took a toll and I had almost decided to quit traveling. Then as I exited Bhutan and entered India to explore the Northeast region, I met a couple from France who had been backpacking in India for the previous 3 months. They had not seen anything beyond Goa and a few places in Northeast India and yet seemed in no hurry. They had almost made traveling their lifestyle. They would wake up in the morning, do yoga, take their time to enjoy the breakfast and spend the day with no agenda. And their life seemed perfect.
Slow travel isn’t not only comforting to the body but is also more mind invigorating. By traveling slow, you learn and appreciate about local life and culture in a way you that otherwise don’t.
And while it is possible to travel at a frantic pace for a month or so, it is not sustainable in the long term, making long-term travel is only possible if you’re a slow traveler. Taking time aside for relaxing and just taking it easy is the only way to go.
Make Friends Or Find A Hobby
The only downside of long-term traveling is that it can be boring. Whether you’re traveling solo or with a partner, if you’re traveling slow and staying put at one place for weeks, you will eventually need something to keep yourself busy. Some people keep themselves busy by going out and making new friends every day, while others do it by finding an interest: photography, reading a book or something else. For me, for example, it was blogging.
I remember when I initially started traveling (and I started as a solo traveler) loneliness took over a few times so intensely that I had almost decided to return home to my normal life in New Delhi. Being an introvert, making new friends every day was never an option. But as I started blogging, I found it easier to keep myself engaged.
Though blogging, for me, has now become a way to sustain my travel goals, initially it was to only keep myself busy. And if it were not for this new hobby, I would have quit traveling a long time ago!
Related Read: How To Make Friends While Traveling Solo & Not Feel Lonely
Understand Why You’re Traveling
Just like before you start something new you know why you want to do it, for traveling too, it’s important to understand why. If you’re jumping into the rollercoaster ride of long-term travel, ponder over why you’ve decided to take this new path. What’s your travel goal? What are you hoping our of this experience? Because once you start, you will have hard times on the road and it is then you will have to remind yourself why you are doing it in the first place.
For example, when I quit my previous lifestyle behind and decided to travel indefinitely, I did it because I wasn’t happy with the corporate lifestyle. At that time I didn’t know that I’ll make travel blogging my lifestyle career but I knew that I want to travel for a year or two at least and find out about my passion. The entire agenda was to explore how different communities around me live, meet people and introspect. And this idea helped me keep going despite many lows during my initial days of traveling.
Don’t Plan Too Far Ahead
To be honest, in long-term traveling, planning doesn’t work, because there will be times when you will end up in places where you won’t feel very comfortable while there will be others where you’ll think you belong and want to stay forever. It has happened to me so many times that I visited a place with so many expectations, and once I arrived there, I just wanted to leave.
So I decided “why do I keep planning if I am in no hurry?” Now whenever I feel like leaving, I leave. And if I feel I belong to a place, I stay put for as long as I feel right. Going with the flow is the best way to deal with long-term planning!
For example, when I volunteered in Australia, I originally planned to stay for only a week, but I ended up staying for over two weeks (despite having only 1 month in the country in total) because I loved the place.
So yea, just do not worry too much. Leave it to your feet to take you wherever you are meant to go, and enjoy the journey!