Picture it: You're reclining on a swinging hammock between two palms. Let's say you're in…Vietnam. The powdery sand of An Bang beach is sloping down into the South China Sea just meters from your discarded flipflops. The slosh of the water and the sway of the coconut trees echoes all around. The sun beams through the palm fronds and lights up your face. Someone, somewhere, is sizzling up fried rice. The smell drifts over and fuses with the salt spray to scent the beach with chilli and ginger and lemongrass. It's paradise.
Couldn't You Just Do This Forever?
Woe betide the day you have to return from that vacation. Other people might plan one- or two- or three-month-long travel trips but are still tied to that dreaded date when they know it will all end. In a way, traveling for a long period of time can be worse when it comes to an end. You get used to the rhythms of a life on the road, the ups and downs of a wanderlust-driven lifestyle, only to see it all come crashing down when the itinerary is exhausted.
It doesn't have to be that way.
The 21st century heralds an all-new way of living. It's got a whole medley of monikers: Digital nomadism, constant travel, perpetual travel, long-term travel. And while they all mean slightly different things, the upshot is the same: It is possible to travel nonstop; to hop around the globe without that forever overhanging specter of a date to return back to the Rat Race, face the nine-to-five, get back in the gym and keep doing what you were doing before.
So, if you're the sort who loves to smash routine, pining to shake things up a little in the coming year, be sure to read on for our guide to the long-term travel lifestyle. We run through what it means, how to do it and what are the pros and cons (clue: there are way more pros) of seeing your months/years unfold on the road. Enjoy…
What Does Long-term Travel Mean?
Put simply, long-term travel means any travel trip that takes precedence over a routine back at home. If you successfully replace your "roots" with "the road" then you've done it. Long-term travelers don't look back to what they had before and hope it's all still intact when they return home. They can't – long-term travel IS the new home. They don't hop out of the Rat Race for a spell – however long it may be – to catch a break on the Balinese waves or the Thai beaches. They do it because that's where they live now. That's the new pad, if you like.
Stories abound of people selling up and hitting the open road. There are "we quit our job to travel the world" tales 10 to the penny out there. People aren't making it up – it is actually quite common to abandon your worldly possessions for the sake of the world itself. Just pack in the rental contract, whack some listings on Ebay, and before you know it you'll be a self-proclaimed nomad.
Of course, we're not saying you have to destroy everything you have to prove you're a long-term traveler. We're just saying that the things you do have back at home should no longer be the center of your universe. A house, a car, a job, fancy designer clothes, the whole shebang. Travel comes first. The moment you don't even pine for those things is the moment you'll be set to discover a whole new fulfilling life hopping from place to place.
Plan To Travel Slow
Traveling isn't easy, you know. People might wax lyrical about all the wonderful churches and castles and sparkling beaches and tropical jungles they've seen, but there's also a flip side to perpetual adventure. It can get exhausting; all that moving around, all those check-ins, those long-haul flights, those packing of bags and sorting of documents. People with roots in one place don't need to think about where they've saved that next booking or hidden the passports. People on the road have those worries ALL the time, day in, day out.
And we're not asking for you to pull out the world's smallest violin here to lament the stresses of a life spent seeing amazing things. We're just pointing out that it ain't all rosy on the road. But it is possible to ease the tensions by making just a few changes to the way you travel…
Cue the concept of slow travel. Like slow food, it's all about savoring the flavor without rushing. If you're looking to go for long-term travel, it's certainly the path to choose. Instead of spending just a day or two in a place and rushing through its sights and attractions, why not consider doing a whole month there. Or even more. That way, you won't feel guilty if you spend hours chillaxing by the poolside or deep in a book. And you'll get a real feel for a place, more like a local. It will also let you spend some time working…
Earning On The Road
That leads us neatly to the elephant in the room: money. Money has got to be one of the main things that prevents people from opting for long-term travel. Worries about where that next pay-check will come from mean loads of would-be globetrotters stop themselves from…well, trotting the globe. But it doesn't have to be that way.
A new age of work is upon us in the 21st century. A new age of work that means the life of a digital nomad is not to be sniffed at. Co-working spaces – areas that fuse offices and living quarters – are all over the globe. LBW even has its own uber-swish pad just above the beaches of Nicaragua. There are more job opportunities online than ever before, and even traditional companies are opting to move away from the location-based model to go for location independence.
The upshot is that it's never been easier to move your earning online. Whether that just means a chat with the current boss to see if you can go digital with your job or a larger shift towards freelancing is up to you, but the prospect of getting out and about with the "office" strapped to your back in the form of a laptop is very, very real. The only hurdle left to make it to long-term travel then is perfecting the balance between work and play when Balinese beaches, gorgeous Andaman islands, Vietnamese marketplaces, Costa Rican volcanos, Nicaraguan bays and buzzing Brazilian cityscapes are waiting just outside the door.
Yeah, it might be a tad harder than you think!
Don't Listen To The Party Poopers
Long-term travel takes guts. We know it might not seem like it, but there's something truly admirable and boundary-breaking in leaving behind the world of reliable paychecks and routine for something totally different. It can be daunting, if exciting. It can be tiring, if fulfilling. What's more, there's bound to be countless naysayers along the way.
Our advice: Ignore them.
People will always sniff at a life that's lived in a way they might not agree with; especially if it's a life of adventure and excitement that they can only dream of. It rings even more true when you add enjoyment to the mix. Because traveling constantly is something you want to do, not something you have to suffer for a greater goal (like, say, buying a house), you're bound to catch some flak, usually from people who write you off as someone who's always on holiday. That's fine. Let them do it. Just ignore them. So long as you know it's about much more than that. It's about finding a balance between work, life and adventure; about repudiating the nine-to-five routine of society that you've been taught to cling to so hard; about forging something totally different out there in the big wide world.
It's sad but true that all those naysayers are usually saying their nays precisely because they wish they were doing the same. That is usually all it comes down to. So, stick to your guns, stay the course and plough on through – enough idioms for ya? You won't regret it.
Going Home Is Not A Crime
Home is where the heart it, so they say. We rarely meet someone who doesn't agree. No matter how boring, how lived-in, how stale your pad back in the "real world" might seem, there's always a rosy tint about it. And why not? It's where you grew up, where your mates are, where your pooch is waiting, and your family live, after all. You might have pined for adventure when you were there but there's nothing to say you can't pine to go back once you're on an adventure.
As a long-term traveler, it's important to recognize that there's no crime in going home for a spell. You can hop back to the ancestral pad however many times you like in a year, just to get that fix of comfort, of routine, of security. We're humans; we need that sort of thing now and again. There's always another adventure to be had, another road less-traveled beckoning. If anything, that nostalgia return should give you a chance to plan the next trip, wherever it may be.
If you're a budding long-term traveler, we might just have the perfect thing for you. Firstly, there's our whopping 76-day-long odyssey through Southeast Asia: Oriental Buffet. It ranges from the coral reefs of Koh Tao to the misty highlands of Vietnam, packing in Bali and the glistening Gili islands along the way. It's our longest jaunt and offers the perfect taster for someone looking to get on the road full time. Other uber-lengthy trips include Best of Central, which crosses from the sparkling Caribbean Sea of Costa Rica to the volcano-studded backcountry of Nicaragua. We'd love to have you on board.
"Rich is a traveler, writer and filmmaker who's always after somewhere new to go. He's been hopping around the globe since 2011, from Poland to Paris, Mumbai to Ho Chi Minh. He runs several travel sites of his own, from Ski Eastern to Live Krakow to Crabs Move Sideways. When he's not planning his next trip, he's usually listening to 50s jazz, surfing in Wales, skiing in the Alps, or just swigging (too much) great craft beer."
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