Travelling is an amazing adventure. Everyone, who steps out of their comfort zone and decides to leave everything behind and go travelling, is greeted with a sense of freedom impossible to understand when sitting behind a desk back in the ‘real life’. But living on the road for the extended periods of time can become exhausting. We put together 9 tips that not only helped us to travel long term and don’t get crazy, but turned it into one of the best experiences of our lives.
1. Travel light
Before leaving, we were wondering if we should really fit our lives into 40 liter backpacks. But the longer we traveled the more we appreciated our lightweight bags and the freedom of mobility that came along. Just imagine carrying an oversized backpack in a 40 degree heat. Believe us, this is the last thing you want to do. The decision to travel long term is the perfect time to start living simply. We have left with 15 kg each plus the guitar and have never regretted that we took too little.
2. Find your travel-life balance
Travelling is about experiencing the most of what each country has to offer. But if you have, like us, limited amount of time in each country, you will try to overfill the days with the activities. While it is fine to do so during the 2 week vacation, it’s impossible when you travel long term. Learning about the new country, its culture and history is essential, but it doesn’t mean that you should spend your whole time only in museums. Additionally being on the road every day will burn you out. Therefore you need to find the balance and take a break once in a while. If you like the place where you are, just stay there a bit longer than initially planned. Maybe you want to explore the town, check out some local eateries, meet the people or simply read the book in the hammock at your bungalow? The options are never-ending. Your friends back home have their weekend to recharge the batteries so why you shouldn’t have one?
3. Keep your hobbies or find new ones
Although it might sound strange, once you travel long term you need to have something that keeps your mind active apart from planning your next days or weeks. Keep writing the diary, learning new language, reading books or playing the guitar. It will be also a perfect way to kill the time during the long journey on the bus or another motorcycle repair at the workshop.
4. Make each place feel like home
The constant change, that is unavoidable when you travel long term, can make you feel a bit unsettled or even lost. Each time when you get familiar with some place, it’s time to leave. So it’s good to stay somewhere, where you feel like home even for a short time. Think what is important for you. For us, the access to the natural light and the relative cleanliness were the basic accommodation requirements in Asia. After experiencing a few centrally located but windowless rooms with the walls covered with mold, we started searching for spots a little bit further from the center. Just a few kilometers away, for exactly the same price, we could get a room with much better standard including a breakfast and the bicycle rental. Another thing that helped us to feel more like home was finding a favorite eatery. To see the smile of the local person when you show up at their place 2nd day in row, it’s priceless.
5. Get back to nature
The hustle and bustle of big cities can be overwhelming at some point. Our solution was to pack the stuff and escape to the nature. Some of our best memories are actually those spent outside the cities; like hiking in National Park in Australia, climbing a volcano in Indonesia, horse riding in Mongolia or chilling by Mekong River and many more. Being away from the noise and crowds each time gave us lots of positive energy, that’s needed to travel long term.
6. Try to keep fit (when you can)
All those who travel long term will admit that keeping up with daily exercises is challenging and many times simply not realistic. So you skipped an evening run and ended up catching a happy hour followed by delicious deep fried street food? Instead of feeling guilty, get more flexible and open for new things. Travel is a fantastic opportunity to indulge in a new sport. When it comes to the street food and alcohol, just try to swap it from time to time with a large choice of fruits and vegetables (that you will miss for sure one day when you’re back home) and you will definitely feel the difference.
7. Find a different travel purpose
When you travel long term, it is easy to fall into the trap of the daily travel routine. The culture, the history, the people, the food, it is all exciting until you get to the point that you are missing out. This is when you start looking for a purpose other than ‘just traveling’. While being in Myanmar, we decided to join Mahasi Meditation Center in Yangon. We spent 10 days living with Buddhist monks and nuns, separated from the outer world and also from each other. It was a mental and physical battle with ourselves. But after that unique and very memorable experience, we started looking at our life and travel from a very different perspective. Additionally, that refers to the tip no 6: if all else fails this will be your best detox. Highly recommended!
8. Technology makes life easier
If you need to see your parents’ faces or talk to a friend back home, technology will help you. Some people travel to detach themselves from their gadgets, but if you travel long term you will be really happy to have your laptop with you. We took also a camera, a pair of e-book readers, our smartphones and a portable mini speaker (super useful!). We didn’t buy SIM cards in each country as we didn’t find it necessary and just connected with the world through the WiFi available at the hostels and restaurants. Sometimes after the whole day spent on the motorcycle, we just kept watching TV series to relax. It really worked! Additionally we used several apps, helping us in our everyday life like Maps.Me – offline maps for travelers, AndroMoney – finance tool to keep track on our expenses and different translation apps to communicate with locals.
9. Don’t be afraid to splurge occasionally
There’s no fun in always counting the money and making the choices based purely on the budget, especially when you travel long term. Sooner or later it will start bugging you. For example, we love Asian food, but sometimes when we got sick of noodles and rice, we went for pizza or burgers. This kind of food usually isn’t that cheap, but occasionally you can splash out on it like on a drink in the rooftop bar, the air-conditioned room or a tour without killing your budget. Otherwise, what’s the point of doing this all?
We hope that you find these tips useful and you will have a great travel experience. Let us know in comments what are your tips on how to travel long term. Happy travels!