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Long-term vs. Vacation Travel

Long-term vs. Vacation Travel

It’s pretty fair for people to ask us “Why quit your job, get rid of all of your things, and life savings to travel for a year?” The assumption is that we could just take more vacations, right? We completely understand where people are coming from and to be honest we don’t know that we have a good response. I think we’d say it’s because we want more than a vacation. Our motivations for this trip are many. They range from our desire to learn and explore, to simply looking for a new place to live. Obviously this can be done through vacations, but we believe we need to immerse ourselves more deeply in an experience and that can’t be accomplished in the standard two week vacation.

So how is long-term travel different?

First let me start off by debunking a myth. Long-term travel is not adventure travel. There is a common misconception that if you are traveling for an extended period of time, you must be climbing Kilimanjaro or hiking the Inca trail. That’s not to say you can’t do those things or that those types of activities aren’t part of it, but that doesn’t have to be your entire trip. It certainly won’t be ours.

Now, I haven’t even left my job yet so its hard to say with any certainty, what life will be like once we set off. In regards to preparing for long term travel, this is the big difference: exponentially more of everything (money, complexity, stress, time, excitement, and freedom).

Money

Yeah this one is pretty obvious. One year of traveling is more expensive than two weeks. However, what isn’t totally obvious is that you don’t spend like you would on a typical vacation; it wouldn’t be sustainable. You can’t expect to go out for fancy meals every night or even stay at 5 star accommodations all the time. You learn in the planning and prep stages when and where to splurge and when and where to be stingy. We’ll see how well this works on the road.

Complexity

Same as with budgeting, going to ten destinations is more complex to plan than going to one. And just like budgeting, there is a caveat. Although you are going to more destinations, you don’t want to treat it like a vacation. You will want to pace yourself. If you pack every day full of activities, you will get burnt out immediately. Now I can’t say from first-hand experience, but this seems to be the consensus of everyone we’ve talked to. This is also how we’ve learned to travel on shorter trips.

Stress

Let me preface this by saying, “it’s so fucking worth it.” The reason this process is so stressful is because of all the reasons people ask why we want to do this. You quit your job, you get rid of all of your possessions, and you spend all of your money. Oh, and you don’t know whats going to happen when the trip is over. This is just what has stressed us out before leaving. So as I mentioned a before, “Its so fucking worth it,” and I feel confident saying that having not left yet. This leads us to…

Time

The slightly negative side: we have been researching and thinking about this trip for well over 3 years with over a year of extensive planning and execution. Our most complex vacations have required no more than a month of consideration. Believe it or not, this was a lot of fun. The much more positive side: we will have much more time to enjoy experiencing everything travel has to offer.

Excitement

We’re pretty certain that we are going to have an amazing and unforgettable time (something that has been confirmed by everyone we know of that have done this). We’ve never been so excited for something. This makes everything worth it.

Freedom

There is a certain sense of freedom that comes from quitting your job and getting rid of all of your possessions so you can explore the world. We won’t have an apartment to worry about or looming deadlines at work.

We are taking this trip because all of the benefits clearly out-weigh any negatives, but thats for each person to determine on their own. We will make sure to follow up on this post once we are on the road and our perspectives change.

If you have traveled for more than a month, why did you decide to do it? Let us know in the comments.

Additional Resources

Why Do You Travel? (Boots-n-All)
Should You Travel Long-Term? (Boots-n-All)
The Downside to Long-Term Travel (Nomadic Matt)
How You Can Take the Leap and Travel Long-Term (Indie Traveller)

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