Getting stuck whilst traveling is part of my Traveling realism’s series.
Oh, I know your shaking your head right now saying “Nope, this will not happen to 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 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 but I laughed it off. I was adamant it wouldn’t happen to me, I had a full proof, iron clad plan…
…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 traveling life.
Different reasons you might end up getting stuck whilst traveling.
Something you will learn very quickly on your travels is how things can change in a whim, there will be times when the sturdiest of full proof plans will just crumble. You can plan and have backup plans all you want but it’s only once you’re actually traveling, that you realize the different factors that come into play.
Below are some of the common reasons why you might end up getting stuck whilst traveling.
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, in some countries the cultures are completely opposite to what we’re used to. 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 a bit 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. Yes we came out to travel in the first place but once we’re in a comfort zone, it’s hard to want to leave.
Making friends/ meeting a great bunch of people.
Sometimes the friends we make will make you want to stay longer than you intended to. This could be on your very first day in your new hostel, or it could be months into your trip, you might be traveling solo and start getting lonely. It could be a chance meeting, or even meet a great bunch of locals and just stay.
Remember traveling is as much about the people you meet and the experiences you have as the sights you see.
There have been times during my years where I’ve arrived in a new place with no intention of staying that long but I’ve ended up meeting people, whether that’s other backpackers or locals, felt so comfortable with them that I ended up staying.
Partying too much.
One of the most common reasons backpackers 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.
I’m sure there will be some split opinions out there about this but partying is a big part of the backpacking culture, especially for first time or young gap year travelers. (Check out Backpacks and booze)
Sure if you’re more of a mature traveler or an experienced traveler you might want a different type of trip. You can separate yourself from that environment but if it’s your first trip it’s so easy to get sucked into party life.
Let me paint you a picture…
In 2010, I arrived in Sydney from England, armed with an iron clad plan. I intended to stay in Sydney for my allocated two weeks and plough on through with my travels. However in my very first hostel funkhouse backpackers that plan went crashing out the window.
I was a fresh-faced solo backpacker, in a brand new country on the other side of the world, full excitement, wonder and hope. I arrived not knowing a single soul, so I was eager to make friends as quick as I could. And I did…
I met an amazing group of people who I instantly gelled with, they all happened to be long-termers (backpackers that had stopped traveling for one reason or another and lived in the hostel.) These new-found friends quickly became like family, and in the intense whirlwind hostel environment I quickly forgot about the outside world.
Days turned into weeks, my allocated 2 weeks had disappeared, weeks quickly turned into months. This was a non-stop party hostel, soon enough I was having so much fun I didn’t even care about traveling anymore. (Yes you may be judging me right now but this happens to so many backpackers.) Before I knew it funds started to run dry, I went from being the ‘newbie’ to a long-termer, I started work, I was stuck in Sydney but I was having the time of my life.
Now I’m not saying this is what is going to happen to you or as long as it happened to me but just be mindful it’s an easy and slippery path.
Falling in love with your destination.
Somewhere along your journey, there will be a place that just captivates you, take over you, make you feel like you belong there and nowhere else matters anymore.
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.
And that’s one of the beauties of traveling, the freedom it gives you to do what you want, when you want. Especially if you’re traveling long-term, you don’t need any specific schedules or strict itineraries. So when you do find a place you fall in love with there’s no reason to rip yourself away from it; you can just stay.
I’ve met so many backpackers over the years that just fell in love with a place and not left.
Running out of money.
If you’re traveling for just a set amount of time and stick to your budget you should be fine with this one.
This is more likely to occur and effect you if you’re traveling long-term, with no end-date, no return ticket home (Or if you’re just rubbish with your budget). All of us long-term travelers have got to that point on more than one occasion where we’ve reached or reaching that dreaded ‘Zero’ in our bank account. There is no emergency fund anymore, no more Western Union money transfers from the family so we need to stop. We need to make a nest, find work to replenish our funds so we can move on again.
As a new backpacker there will be times you’ll be in a hostel and hear other backpackers around you saying how they have little or no money. You’ll see them eating instant noodles, rice, living off scraps. Don’t judge them because you don’t know how long they’ve been traveling for or the circumstances why they have no money left.
Of course we all start of with a budget and work out how much we’re going to need for our trip no matter how long it is but traveling is never that simple or smooth. (And I don’t mean just spending all our money on partying too much.)
Out of your hands.
Things can happen, situations out of the blue just punch you in the face. A great traveling tip for anybody is always be ready for the unexpected to happen.
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 go missing, transport issues, visa issues, tax issues, natural disasters …the list goes on.
I know you don’t really want to hear this, or you’re saying “No, I’m well prepared for every eventuality, I have insurance to cover me”…However any unforeseeable issue can arise. I’m sorry to say but you can never prepared for every eventuality. Sometimes when traveling you have to take the rough with the smooth.
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.
Just needing a break.
Anybody who hasn’t traveled before will laugh at this but traveling is hard work. It takes out of you, and at times, can be mentally and physically draining; especially long-term travel (I mean years not months.)
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 with everything it needs a rest. And there’s physical excursions, dealing with different weather climates and wear and tear on the body.
The longer you travel for, the more you want to travel slower. There will come a time when packing and unpacking every other day, taking yet another overnight bus, repeating the same conversations just takes it toll. You’ll want to find a place, empty your backpack and leave it unpacked for as long as you can.
As a long-term traveler I like and need to just stop sometimes. If you like a mini holiday within my travels. This was the case when I got to Bogotá in Colombia in 2015, I had just traveled through Central America and I needed to rest up.
I found a nice homey small hostel and I just stopped traveling. For about a month, I didn’t do any activities or sight-seeing. I spent most my days in my hostel bumming around, binge watching TV series and generally not doing anything remotely challenging. It was bliss. A few other backpackers who had just started their travels couldn’t understand how I could be in a foreign country and not travel but they hadn’t hit that wall yet.
Hitting the wall.
I remember a fellow long-term traveler saying sometimes we just need a R&R holiday from our traveling and she was so right. In that month I re-fueled, re-energized and off I went to travel the rest of Colombia.
So if this ever happens to you, if you feel like you’ve hit a wall, don’t force yourself to continue. Take a break, do nothing, relax, recharge and go again. This doesn’t mean you have to go home, just find a place you like and stop for a while.
Not wanting travel anymore.
This might not ever happen to you, I hope it doesn’t but this happened to me in South America. After I got over hitting the brick wall and went on to travel around Colombia something hit me, something that I never thought would happen; I wanted to stop, not just for a while but I didn’t want to travel anymore but I didn’t want to go home.
This was a result of constantly being on the road traveling and living country to country without going home for a 6 years.
This is only likely to happen to you if you are an extremely long-term traveler like me, someone who hasn’t been home between trips but let me tell you it’s a kick in the balls when you feel like you don’t want to travel anymore.
I was so over traveling, I actually went home for the first time in 6 years. (However being home made me realize I belong out there in the world traveling.)
There are many other reasons to why you might end up getting stuck but as you can see it can happen for a number of reasons.
One thing you should have in mind with traveling, no matter what reason you might end up getting stuck whilst traveling don’t look at it as a negative. Embrace it, adapt to it and enjoy it – After all traveling isn’t just about the sights you see but the experience you have.
I hope you found this post useful, please leave a comment below sharing your thoughts or if there’s anything you would like me to add to the traveling realism’s series?