(Last Updated On: June 17, 2018)

Getting Stuck whilst traveling: It can happen to you! Is Part 2 of the Traveling Realisms series

Backpackers can end up getting stuck whilst traveling and it could happen to you - There are a number of reasons why and this post will show

You don’t think it will happen to you until it does!

Oh I know, you’re shaking your head saying: “Nope, not me. I have a plan, I will not be getting stuck whilst traveling“. Well you might be right, it might not happen to you – But in all likeliness, it will at some point.

Take it from a long-term budget traveler, you might just wake up one day and realize that you have not left!

Before I embarked on my first adventure back in 2010, a traveling friend had warned me about it and I laughed it off. I was adamant it wouldn’t happen to me, I had a full proof, iron-clad plan what could go wrong?

…Well, guess what…It happened straight away, and it wasn’t the only time!

The longer you travel, you’ll see it happens to backpackers all the time. It’s just part of long-term traveling and backpacking life.

Plans change, circumstances and situations occur!

It’s funny because you can read all the posts like this you want but It’s only after you start your journey, you’ll see how the sturdiest of full proof plans can just crumble. You’ll find out once you’re on the road things are not as simple or straightforward as you thought they would be.

There will be different factors that come into play, different doors open, your priorities can change, your own mindset can change. This post will show you some reasons why getting stuck traveling is a distinct possibility.

Bear in mind this post is for people traveling long-term, on backpacking trips, or those of you who have bought a one-way ticket to embark on a nomadic life. This post is not relevant for people on short breaks or people on strict timescales.

Why you may end up getting stuck whilst traveling

Comfort zones:

It doesn’t matter who we are, that moment we step foot in a new country, we are out of our comfort zone. Everything is new, the surroundings are new, the people are new, and some cultures are polar opposites. So it’s human nature to look for and grasp onto things that we find familiar, something we can relate too like other backpackers or hostels.

We make friends, we get used to the surroundings, things start to feel more comfortable and they start to become normal. We settle in our new environment and that’s when we start to form a bubble. Once we’ve found this comfort zone the last thing we want is to leave it, so we stay. As days pass things become more comfortable, we make things more homelike and settle. The irony is, we travel to get out of our comfort zone but sometimes that’s the first thing we try and find or create.

Making friends/ meeting a great bunch of people.

Traveling is as much about the people you meet and the experiences you have with them as much as the sites and destinations you travel to.

Here’s the thing about traveling, especially as a backpacker or long-term traveler you just don’t know who you will meet or what significance they may have on your life. Lifelong friends can be formed, you may meet people who become closer than family, your soulmate, or people who change your life.

People can come into your life at any point, it could be on your first day or months into your trip. Once you come across them you may end up having so much fun with them that you even forget you were there to travel. I know that sounds ridiculous but it happens and priorities change, you end up staying longer than you expected and sometimes it can the case of days turning into weeks and even into months.

There have been so many occasions over the years where I’ve arrived at a new destination with no intention of staying more than a few days but met amazing people and ended up staying longer than planned.

Partying too much.

One of the most common reasons backpackers and long-term travelers end up getting stuck is because we party too much and lose sight of why we’re actually there.

Yes, of course, this is completely our own fault! We put our-self in this position but it’s so easy to lose sight; especially if we’re having the time of our lives and just caught up in the moment.

When you’re not in this situation, it’s easy to tell yourself that you’re not going to be so stupid to just waste your money or time on partying and drinking. However, when you’re in this environment, it’s a different story. You can get sucked in and partying just one night, can turn into two, three, a week or longer. Before you know it you’re partying all the time and forget you’re even there to travel.

Backpackers can end up getting stuck whilst traveling and it could happen to you - There are a number of reasons why and this post will show

I’m sure there will be some split and judgemental opinions as you’re reading this. Some of you will be nodding your head saying “Yup this will be me – I live for the sesh!”, while some of you will be shaking your heads saying “No, I will not be wasting my money on partying If I wanted to get drunk and party I can do that at home.”

It’s fine either way but the truth is partying is a big part of backpacking culture, especially for first-time or young gap year backpackers. Traveling life – backpacks and booze shows how prominent it is and why getting stuck whilst traveling is a big possibility because of it.

Running out of money.

Before you say you have enough of a budget, that you have backup funds if you run out of your primary budget – That’s fine, we all start off with some sort of budget.

However, if you’re going to book a one-way ticket, planning on traveling long-term with no idea of when you’re going to go home there will come a point when the funds start to run dry. And, that’s fine too, it happens to most of us at one point or another or even multiple times.

Backpackers can end up getting stuck whilst traveling and it could happen to you - There are a number of reasons why and this post will show
Gluing shoes back together in Vietnam

There will come a time when you reach that dreaded ‘0‘, there is no more emergency fund, and there are no more Western Union money transfers from the family.

However, there is no need to panic, like I said it happens and the good news is there are ways around it and ways to replenish your funds. There have been times over the years where one week I’ve had nothing but the next I’m fine again.

If you find yourself in this situation, just stop, make a nest for yourself and find some work, do volunteering or exchange work for rent and food – easier said than done right? This post explains how you can continue your nomadic or long-term traveling life when the funds run dry.  Or find out the different types of jobs you can do traveling to keep your funds replenished.

Not your fault.

There will be times you get stuck traveling and it’s just out of your hands, these situations can be an inconvenience, frustrating and sometimes can feel like a punch in the face.

You can plan and prepare as much as you want but there are some things you just can’t prepare for. In-fact a tip I give to all new travelers is be prepared for the unexpected!

Nobody ever wants to think about things going wrong but when you travel shit can hit the fan big time. You might have an accident, an injury doing an activity, medical expenses, get robbed, your luggage goes missing, transport issues, breakdowns, delays, cancelations, visa issues, tax issues, natural disasters …the list goes on.

Backpackers can end up getting stuck whilst traveling and it could happen to you - There are a number of reasons why and this post will show

Touch wood nothing bad happens to you but if it does and you’re stuck in one place, you just have to sit tight and ride it out until the issue is resolved.

Falling in love with your destination.

Getting stuck traveling isn’t always a bad thing. Somewhere along your journey, there will be a place that just captivates you. This place will take over you, make you feel like it was made for you, that you belong there and nowhere else matters anymore.

If or more likely when you find a place that takes over you, every other thought you have will just evaporate and moving on? Forget about it! Days and weeks will pass in a blur, you’ll find yourself becoming a local, you will no longer be a tourist passing through.

Backpackers can end up getting stuck whilst traveling and it could happen to you - There are a number of reasons why and this post will show

That intention of spending a few days, or weeks there evaporates, the days and weeks pass in a blur. You’ll come to realize you’re no longer just traveling through, you’ve set up camp, you’ve made this place home, got to know the locals with no intention of leaving any time soon.

Over the years I’ve met so many travelers who arrived at a destination for an initial few days but remain years later because they just fell in love with it.

Imagine it

Close your eyes and picture it for yourself. Imagine arriving at your dream destination – Can you see it, feel it hear the sounds? Now, can you really see yourself moving on for no good reason expect because your itinerary says so?

Just needing a break.

Sometimes we just need a break. You might laugh, you might not realize it but traveling can be hard and tiring. There is a difference in going on a ‘holiday’ or traveling short term to backpacking or traveling long-term. Backpacking or traveling can take it out of you, it can be mentally and physically draining, especially if you’re always on the move.

Backpackers can end up getting stuck whilst traveling and it could happen to you - There are a number of reasons why and this post will show

When you’re on the road moving from place to place, our brains are taking in so much. All the information, our surroundings, activities, learning, meeting new people and like everything it needs a rest. And, there are physical excursions, dealing with different weather climates and wear and tear on the body.

Burn out/ hitting the wall.

The longer you travel for, the more you want to travel slower and plans will be as loose as they possibly can get.

There will come a time when packing and unpacking every other day, taking yet another overnight bus, repeating the same conversations just takes its toll. You’ll want to find a place, empty your backpack and leave it unpacked for as long as you can and do nothing but relax.

If you get to this point traveling can turn for you, you run the risk of burn out, you’ll stop enjoying it, you’ll start getting irritated by the smallest of things and your dream trip can turn into a nightmare.

The first time I got real burn out was after 6 years of continuously being on the road but over the years I’ve met travelers who have got it after just weeks or a couple of months because they’ve tried to do too much too quickly. Remember long-term traveling is a marathon, not a sprint, you don’t have to cram everything in too quickly.

Getting stuck whilst traveling realism

As you can see from this post there different reasons and situations why you may end up getting stuck whilst traveling, sometimes for the better and sometimes for worse. However, remember whichever situation it might be and as bad as may seem out the time it’s all part of your learning curve. Traveling, especially long-term traveling will teach you, help you evolve and build your character. It will show you what you are made off, so no matter how bad it seems at the time, there is a solution, other travelers before have been through it and one day you’ll look back and laugh at those situations – Trust me, I do!

***

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  1. Yes. Hitting the wall is truth. After my first long- term solo trip I was surprised by how taxing having to pay attention to my surroundings had been. It definitely forces you to be present in the moment, but I think most people take for granted how much of their day is spent on autopilot. Before starting this last trip I warned my partner it would be like this, and I’m glad I did. Our car broke down ten days into a 9 week trip (there went our budget) and there was some pretty intense drama. We’re taking a rest month in Ecuador now, but while we certainly learned some lessons, we both agree we wouldn’t have skipped out on these experiences for anything. Thanks for the real post. Safe travels.

  2. Although I have never been backpacking, the situation of getting stuck while travelling is not novel in my case. I was stuck in Darjeeling once due to heavy rainfall and hence had to miss my flight. There have been times when I really loved a place so much and wanted to stay longer there but sadly could not due to my professional commitments.

  3. I wish I was able to say I’d been in this kind of situation, but unfortunately I’ve never travelled for an extended period like you. I do agree with the whole “making friends and not wanting to leave” part, as I’ve experienced that even on short breaks. A week in the Dominican Republic recently and I met some of the nicest people, it was actually emotional saying good bye! x

  4. Very nice article. My husband and I traveled around Europe for 3 months and we had an incredible time of ups and down throughout our travels. Luckily we never had anything serious happen to us that caused a big change in out itinerary. We hit a wall at the very end of our trip where it really felt right to go home and be done with traveling. Just like you said, you travel and pack and take it all in every single day and eventually it is exhausting and you can’t do it anymore.
    Christina recently posted…Vegas Strong – A City Still Shining BrightMy Profile

  5. I guess I’d say you were lucky you could do that. I would be worried about losing my job back home so no matter how much I feel I’m in love with a country while I am (like I did in New Zealand), I’d have to return because I wouldn’t want to lose my job back home! To be able to extend your stay, in a country you fell in love with, is something only a few lucky people can do and it’s really good that you could. I can also understand you going through that phase where you did not want to travel anymore, just wanted to stop. I guess it is bound to happen at some stage to long-term travellers!
    Medha Verma recently posted…7 seriously cool places to hang out in DubaiMy Profile

  6. The closest situation where we got stuck was when we were stranded in Roxas City, which was our jump-off point to climb a mountain called G2 in another island. Being stranded, even for a day, is no fun at all. We were only lucky because there were good Samaritans who were sympathetic to our situation.

    We do have friends who are long-term travelers. They usually stay too long in one place because they grew to love it there, or they found a special someone there.

  7. You’ve really learned a lot from your travels, and I admire you for going on so long, and solo too. After a while, I need to replenish from travel and spend time at home. But you’re right about falling in love with a destination, you won’t want to leave!

  8. This is such a helpful and real post – I’ve never been a backpacker, but I think most of these could be applied to get in stuck in life too – it’s so easy to get stuck and in that rut!

  9. Great post! I feel like if I would went backpacking one day that would totally be me … meeting many people, partying and not want to leave. I live in London for 3 years, its my 4th country where I lived and the only reason whats holding me here is friends … I just cant image now move to new place and have not the same people around me !

    • It’s so easy to fall into the ‘trap’ as some like to call it, you meet amazing people and you just don’t want to leave …The hard part sometimes is the leaving, even though you went there to see the country. Where else have you lived? I’m a very slow traveler, I like to spend as much time as possible in one country (as long as the visa allows me to stay haha)

  10. Very interesting read. It’s a totally different traveling culture (I’ve never backpacked) and so interesting to see the different attitudes and motivations. Thanks!

    • Thank you very much 😀 There are so many variations that come into play that you’re not aware of before you set out backpacking and there does seem to be a lack of information on how your mentality can shift once you start backpacking. What kind of traveling do you do?

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