Long term travel question
My wife and I are planning a multi year RTW trip, lift off in about 18 months :clap:
In our planning and thoughts about the trip there's one question that keeps cropping up: on a day to day basis what purpose does life have?
Now I'm not sure if I'm articulating this correctly but at the moment we both work, that has a purpose, we do stuff around the house and garden, go places and see friends/family. You could argue what's the purpose behind all of that.
We want to get out of the rat race, go great places, meet lots of people and really spend quality time together and have fun and an ADVENTURE. We've done extended 5 week trips but they're just long holidays. It's hard to imagine that every day will be an adventure, I'm sure it won't be, so what is long term travel REALLY like.
Hope I'm making sense and I'd love to hear views from those who have travelled for extended periods.
We set off on a six month trip to Cape Town. Day 1 in Nevers I was thinking 'can I cope with this for 6 months' but in thr end we spent a year on the road and had the best time of our lives.
Just let it happen
Your question makes sense, at least to me anyway and I hope that my answer helps. When you are on the road everyday life moves at a slower pace and you adapt to suit it, normal actvities like doing the washing by hand as you no longer have a machine or buying food on a daily basis due to the lack of storage space takes a lot longer.
When you are on the road the thought of getting to your destination and the events that will take place before you get there will, or should excite you. There is a lot of time to think and reflect on how your day/week/year/life is going and what you will do tomorrow, next week or for the rest of your life, you will be surprised how travel can change your outlook.
I find myself spending a lot of time talking to both locals and other travellers, exchanging views and information, arranging visas, accommodation and maintaining your bike.
Life still has purpose but priorities and everyday activiites change to suit your situation. I have found that a year of this is enough for me but others keep going for much longer, this is more often the case than regretting having started the journey, which is something I have never come across.
Enjoy your trip.
I can only speak for myself. Day to day travel is exciting and new for the first few weeks. After a couple months it becomes a rythym of finding interesting new places to go, then looking for a safe place to park the bike, someplace decent to eat. My limit seems to be about 9 months before I start feeling like a hobo, get the itch to do something creative and useful with my life again and head back home.
If you need creative things to occupy your time on the road, I suggest keeping up a blog of your travels and updating it regularly. They are fun to read years later and will bring a smile to your face when you get old and cranky like me. Material wealth comes and goes but travel memories never leave.
Also answering esoteric questions from fellow travelers here on HU can be an excellent use of your downtime on long trips as you gain enough knowledge to be of help to your fellow Hubbers.
I imagine travel is different for everyone. People with high expectations that their life will change dramatically seem to be the most prone to disappointment. If you're a positive thinker at home you will be on the road as well. If you're in a hurry to get nowhere at home, you will be restless on the road as well.
I can think of worse problems to have.
I suggest you go out and try traveling for a month first. It's a long enough time to get to grips with this lifestyle. Then you will have a better idea about the whole thing. If you have doubts, it's better to test your plan first, no?
Personally, I prefer doing some paid and volunteer work while traveling and only leaving home for a few months at a time. I always start to feel like a useless idler after two weeks but it's just me.
When I'd had some breakfast, packed up my tent/checked out my room, loaded up the bike, turned the key and looked at the road up ahead, my first thoughts would often be 'I wonder what's going to happen today' / 'who will I meet today' / 'where will I end up tonight' etc.
After travelling for a long time, you can get jaded (but mainly about touristic sights that you don't really feel the need to keep checking out daily) but the unknown of what each day would bring had a lot of appeal to me. Especially now that I'm back in the rat race.
Travel makes you realize that the only "point" to human existance is procreation. Anything else is window dressing, whether you travel the globe or sit in front of the t.v for forty years it will not make the slightest difference to anything. Get used to the idea.
[QUOTE=stevedo;390066]My wife and I are planning a multi year RTW trip, lift off in about 18 months :clap:
We want to get out of the rat race, go great places, meet lots of people and really spend quality time together and have fun and an ADVENTURE.
This quote says it all for me,thats exactly how I felt before we did our first big trip. Just go and enjoy it all, the worst that can happen is at some point you might think, lets go home. Then you go home
Great question !......Got me thinking :)
Great question. I've written a series of posts on my blog about how I have adjusted to a life on the road. Lots of rambling in those posts, so here are a few direct thoughts:
For the first 4-6 months almost everyone (me included) seems happy just seeing the new and amazing sights each day. What happens beyond that varies a lot from person to person. Your reason for traveling will probably change or else you will stop traveling. If you do settle on a new reason for travel (your purpose), accomplishing that long-term goal is what drives your day to day life.
Not every day brings a new adventure or a new amazing sight and that is a good thing. You will realize eventually that it is simply impossible to cope with something new and amazing every day of your life. Instead, you need to take breaks. Sit around and relax for a couple of days a week. Read a book, play a computer game, or sit on the beach. Sometimes take an entire week away from travel to do something different. Those down periods refresh you and keep the travel exciting. This should sound familiar, it is more or less the same pattern as your job.
Traveling for a few months is very different than traveling for a few years and I'm still finding out all the differences and how to make travel sustainable as I hope to be on the road a few more years. Just as in your life now, you will need to find ways to keep yourself sane and happy. It is a very different lifestyle and settling into it for the long-term takes work.
For more in-depth thoughts you'll have to scour my blog posts. It has been awhile since I've put up a "Life On The Road" post, but I'm far from done with the series so you might check back later to see what else I've learned (I'm working on another in the series now, as it happens).
Extremely good to see this question posed as it has been running through my head almost every day now for the past week.
Unfortunately I can't add much new to whats already been said by a number of replies here. Maybe elaborating though and explaining what I'm thinking will be of use?
You certainly need to realise that you're still living your life and if you've left things behind at home that you love/enjoy, they don't disappear. At this point in our trip (just on four months in) 'homesickness' may be the cause. Although I'm not sure if you can count missing your workshop as 'homesickness'...
Sure all the treasures of the world are amazing and just beg for a visit but you figure out pretty quickly what you want out of your trip. Clarissa and I both love the ocean and scuba diving. This was never in the budget but in Malaysia/Thailand has consumed vast amounts of it. Alas we love it. We're here and why not see some of the best diving while passing through. My adrenaline meter is a bit rusty with my lack of skydiving so I decided to take up a new hobby of freediving to get a new rush. Even though I'm still recovering from an inner ear infection its been on my mind since my first dive down to 20 meters.
Clarissa loves TV and aircon - this is a bit of a drain on the budget but makes for a much happier girlfriend. This brings both our moods up and we both remain much more relaxed as we ride and explore. My passion and dreams of following the Dakar, riding the Ho chi minh trail, bam road, road of bones and any other gnarly route will probably not eventuate. Clarissa is improving with her handling of her big airhead every ride but may cause her to chop me up and burry me if I put her through that hell too soon.
Without rambling too much I guess that we are living our same life back home (minus work) but in another country. We have certainly already both changed and adapted. I guess that the change and adaption have to keep having more value over our plans/goals of life in Australia.
If the time comes that we long and wish for the next chapter of our professional careers/life back home we may end the trip early and go and see the Kangaroos again. Although already Clarissa is thinking of new career paths from ideas in the short time we have been travelling. Myself included but I don't think any of them would pay the rent!
Even though my budget puts us with about 2.5 years to ride our planned route (SEA, Japan, Russia, EU, Canada,US,South America) we will continue our trend of finding a nice place/nice food/nice people and exploring it at our lazy pace.
You have to enjoy what your doing and give it purpose. If that purpose to somebody else is false/lazy/incorrect/debatable then maybe its time to find another person to talk too. Its your trip and you can do it any way you like!
Take care and ride safe!
ps. feeding rambutan too the wonderfully friendly langurs today in Ranong, Thailand heals the soul!
And would add, for me, it's a journey of self-discovery. That is, being the observer of yourself and watching how you react to all the new and strange situations you encounter. And then learning from it. I think what you learn is only limited by yourself, how much you enter into local cultures and how acutely you observe and accept your own reactions to things along the way.
So I suppose I'd say that the 'purpose of life' on a long journey is to be acutely aware of your own reactions to everything that befalls you on the journey. And learn from from those reactions.
Putting it into words is a different thing of course.
A couple of examples, fairly insignificant really, but lend themselves to being put on paper:
Early on in a 1-year journey I spent a month or so in SE Asia. I came to like the attitude of the street-sellers of trinkets and fake stuff. They were always interested in where you were from and where you were going. At every bus station and railway station there were dozens of them all chasing the foreign visitors, but always polite and easy-going. Whether you bought something or not. All asking if you wanted a taxi, hotel, another bus, jewellery, etc etc.
Then I flew straight from Indonesia to Auckland New Zealand. Leaving the customs hall and reaching the airport exit was one of the loneliest times of my life. Absolutely no one came up to me to ask if I needed a taxi or hotel or directions or a Rolex. It was a strange feeling. Until that moment I wasn't aware of how much I'd come to accept all those street-sellers, and their entertaining company. I hadn't observed how I'd come to expect them always to be there with a neat line of chat.
During a long-ish time in Central America I saw how water is used in '3rd-world' countries. I think I learnt from it, which was reinforced in Africa. I summed it up to myself as being, in these countries, that water is hardly ever used once only.
Back home I had a water meter fitted (instead of the British 'fixed annual payment' system) and my usage plummeted.
On the long journeys a 'purpose of life' can be to collect experiences and lessons 'outside your comfort zone', and accept and make use of them. That way you start to learn, in a practical sense, that our western lives can be much improved by adopting something of the cultures that we travel through.
I read somewhere once that a good way of making yourself open to a local culture is to get a haircut in a small village, where hopefully the barber won't speak your language at all. I've done that quite a few times and it definitely works! Try it when you've been travelling along for months and have started to wonder "what's the purpose of it?" (It was even quite an eye-opener once in a rural town in southern Arizona!)
But then eventually you return home.
After a year in Africa, arriving back at Heathrow, I found myself almost shaking the hand of the first policeman I saw.
Whoa!!!! You can't do that!!
They all look so fierce!
And you ask "How do I live as though I'm in an African village, now I'm back in London?" I've been over a year wrestling with that and still trying to make sense of it.
Slightly off at a tangent but I always think that an extended trip has three phases:
1. Getting going, in our case putting the house on the market and selling it within the week. If this hadn't happened we may well have bottled out.
2. The trip itself: We had absolutely no idea, we had a big pile of stuff so built some panniers etc. to carry it all, arranged a carnet, some insurance bought a map and went. It was a bit like starting a new business - there was so much good stuff to do every day it was hard to find time for the harder boring bits like getting money, organising visas, finding ferries etc. We stayed for extended periods in the big cities on our route sorting things out and treated each stage as it's own adventure or sometimes made several trips out and back. From Nairobi, for example, we did trips to Uganda, Mt. Kenya, Mombasa and Ongorogoro.
3. Returning home: After a year we'd had enough, my wife more than me but you both need to be enthusiastic if it's going to be enjoyable. Fitting back into the normal house dwelling, working every day western world is not that easy but finding you're pregnant soon sorts it out!
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