Long term budget traveling realism’s.

long term budget traveling realism's

Long term budget traveling realism’s is what people don’t tell you about!

(The long term budget traveling realism’s series will contain posts about the things we don’t really hear or know about before we embark on our journeys. This series is mainly aimed towards solo and budget backpackers/travelers looking to travel long-term (9 months+). Long term budget traveling realism’s are the other side of the backpacking coin, the not so fluffy side.)

Long term budget traveling realism's

Let’s be honest here, before most of us start traveling, we imagine and picture what it’s going to be like. We build a picture in our heads from the planning and researching we do. We read blogs and watch videos about all the amazing things we want to do and to see, the new countries and cultures we are going to experience. Most of us will fantasize and dream up how the trip will play out, thinking of the kind of people we’ll meet, the food we’ll taste and the adventures that will captivate us.

We wrap ourselves up in the planning and paint pictures in our heads of how our days are going to be filled with amazing adventures from one day to the next. Most of us forget to even think about the days where there will be no adventure, the times when our funds run dry, or the times we might let our feelings get the best of us. And why would we? These are negative thoughts, we don’t want to dampen our spirits. Sure we might prepare for some eventualities, safety aspects and have a back up plan if certain things go wrong but how deep do we really think about it?

The harsh truth.

In truth, it’s not just that we don’t want to think about it, some of these things we’re not even aware will happen. There’s not much out there in terms of information to help prepare us. I know from a personal stand point, I did an enormous amount of researching and planning before my first ever trip. However none of my research had prepared me for what day-to-day life as a long-term budget backpacker was going to be like. Sure I pretty much knew about everything I wanted to see and do. I knew of locations, landmarks, certain events, where to eat but every day backpacking life and things going wrong? Well, I had to learn about that for myself and I’ll be honest – I was not prepared for certain things that happened.

Long-term budget traveling realism's

As I’m sure you’re well aware, backpacking isn’t all roses all the time. There will be major bumps in the road, things will go wrong no matter how well you’ve planned your trip.

This isn’t me trying to put you off or deter you from your backpacking trip. I’m not trying to tell you traveling is shit and you shouldn’t do it. The complete opposite actually! In my eyes traveling/backpacking is the most amazing, eye-opening and fulfilling experience anybody can have. For me, it’s the best decision I ever made, long-term backpacking and becoming a nomad changed my life for the better. However the point of this series is to make you aware of things to expect; I’m just being real with you.

long-term budget travel is different!

This might ruffle a few feathers but Long-term solo and budget backpacking is not like normal traveling, it’s not like taking a short trip and going back to the comfort of your home, it’s definitely not a luxurious travel trip . Now just to clarify, I’m not knocking anybody for how they choose to travel. I am a stern believer and always say there is no right or wrong way to travel, you should travel the way you feel best suits you and nobody should ever dictate to you how to travel.

next budget backpacking destination

However in saying that long-term solo and budget traveling is testing, it will throw you so far out of your comfort zone and will test you both mentally and physically. You will either adapt to it or it can turn into a nightmare, some people can’t handle it, it’s just too much. This might sound very harsh but I’m talking from experience of meeting people who couldn’t cope with it and went home. And, that’s not a knock on them, it just wasn’t for them.

The other side of the coin.

When you’re long-term solo or budget traveling, there are things you experience that you usually wouldn’t on a shorter trip. For one, we don’t have a fixed address, we’re away from home for a prolonged amount of time, we will miss certain things from back home. We miss family and friends birthdays or significant events, some people may be close to their family and really start missing them. Homesickness kicks in, loneliness, times we feel vulnerable, down in the dumps and even anxiety might creep in. Then there are times we have to struggle through days, when everything goes wrong, those times we run dangerously low on funds; which is one of the biggest thing we have to overcome and learn from.

Long term budget traveling realism's

You might be shaking your head saying, “Nah that wont happen to me, I’ve got enough funds, I’m a positive person and nothing can get me down.”

Unfortunately these things can happen to any of us –  One of the first things a traveler learns is how quickly things can turn on its head. And, no amount of planning can prepare you for when shit goes horribly tits up!…

Not trying to put you off long-term backpacking.

I wish I was aware of and been told about these things before hand. Not to stop me from traveling but just to help prepare me for what to expect. And, that is the point of this traveling realism’s series. I know it sounds like I’m portraying a negative picture about long-term traveling but I really don’t want to put anybody off it. Like I said above it’s the best decision I have ever made. I’ve learnt so much about myself, the world seen amazing places, done things I had previously only dreamt of doing, had the best experiences of my life and met the most incredible people.

The tests and tough times I’ve had to endure taught me so much, they have helped shape my character and I’m a better person and traveler for it. I would go as far as saying it’s helped me become the savvy backpacker I am today.

Long term budget traveling realism’s posts:

So, with that being said, below are posts from the Long term budget traveling realism’s series – I hope they come in handy for you, and help the adventures in front of you a little smoother.


Part 1 – Getting used to hostels

Part 3 – Running out of money

Part 5 – Backpacks and booze

traveling life - backpacks and booze

Part 7 – times it get lonely

long-term solo traveling: feeling lonely


Part 2 – Getting stuck in one place

Part 4 – Language problems

Part 6 – Everyday backpacking life

Long-term budget backpacking life

Future traveling realism’s series posts:

  •  Backpacking through multiple countries.
  • Transport problems/ Traveling being the worst part of traveling.
  • Those days you just don’t want to do yet another activity.
  • Not having a fixed address
  • Backpacking not being the most glamorous form of traveling – But one of the most enriching.
  • Being a local and not a tourist – How locals treat you differently to passing travelers.
  • Becoming homesick.
  • Traveling long-term is hard and tiring – It will test you.
  • Taking the rough with the smooth.
  • Long-term backpacking changes you.
  • How long-term traveling can detach you from reality and traveling becomes normal life.
  • Countries you wont get along with.

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  1. This was an superbly written post and I could tell it came from your heart. We have always been a step or two removed from long term budget travel. I love how simple life becomes and how freeing that can be. For us, we want to see the world on our terms. We are actively looking for ways to facilitate just that. It turns out, the hardest part of that equation is clearly defining what our terms actually are.
    Jenn and Ed Coleman recently posted…Secrets of Sigiriya Rock: Holy Temple or Pleasure Palace?My Profile

  2. I believe there are right and wrong ways to travel. While these may be more cultural and personal, to travel based on someone else’s itinerary even if it doesn’t suit us is probably a wrong way to travel. I say “probably” because it may feel uncomfortable in the beginning but it may also turn out to be an experience we will forever cherish. But if we travel in a way that is not congruent with who we are, and if such lifestyle burns us out and makes our travels feel purposeless, is that not a wrong way to travel? So, I say, there are right and wrong ways to travel, but it’s our responsibility as travelers to find out what’s right/wrong for us.

  3. That’s a very good overview of Long term planning on budget. Not many people are familiar from this side of the story and they all think it’s a piece of cake and very easy thing to do. When planning to live overseas on a small budget you have to overlook so many facilities and desires which seem quiet easy to get at your home place. It’s good post for people who are planning it will give them a good idea how to plan it.

  4. That was a very truthful outlook on solo backpacking. As you have said, it has its pros and cons. It is not for everyone and your post can help someone go into it with their eyes open, not with a rosy glass of glamor. Great post, pinning it for future reference too.

  5. When the full-time travel bloggers have started to become a thing, I was one of those who wanted to follow in their footsteps. I too wanted to travel long-term. After all, traveling is the only thing that truly makes me happy. But when I got out of job and I didn’t have enough saving, I realized that I couldn’t do it. Sure there are many people like you who could do this for real, but I realized that it’s not for me, and that’s okay. I can still travel whenever I can.

    And it’s good that you are painting a realistic picture for people who may want to do this. At least they know it’s not all about being pretty on Instagram the way some influencers make it out to be. It’s important to follow your dreams, but it’s also important to at least be prepared for it.

  6. Was good you laid out the things one could expect in a long term backpacking travel. Some real experience you acquired could help other travelers. Also encountering somethings you never expected makes it a beautiful learn!

  7. This is a very candid post that busts many myths about long term backpacking. More often than not, only the glamourous part of the experiences are shared creating a rosy picture minus warts. But your post places the facts in bare truth. The pros and cons are there for all to see and make their choice.

    • Thank you very much, throughout my hole blog even with my country guides I give a candid and honest opinion the good and the bad …ive meet so many travelers over the year who have this picture of roses but when things go wrong they don’t know what to do because they wernt aware of it….i want to show the glamour but also make people aware of the realities too

  8. Thanks a ton for pointing the cons of long term budget traveling. I always had doubts whether i love traveling or i like to travel. I think that your post has clarified that I cant travel for a long time. It has to be short trips and back home. Thanks once again!

    • It’s interesting that you’re seeing them as cons, the point of the posts are not to put anybody off traveling, more just make aware that it’s not always going to rosy. But at the end of the day long-term traveling isn’t for everybody.

  9. Yeah dude, I know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s an interesting read, to share the less glamorous side of it all.

    A couple other difficulties that can arise – loosing your bank card / getting your account frozen. If you are travelling solo you are pretty screwed as you don’t have close, trusted friends around you who you could borrow money off. Loosing or renewing your passport it also a bit of a shitter.

    Good read man, thanks!

  10. I really wished for a long term travel… but responsibilities and budget won’t allow me to.. so I went for 3 months that became 5 months… even for a short-term, the discomforts are real as you mentioned above… but still, the joy and fun still win ?

  11. The series really sounds interesting. Yes, we always fancy very nice things when we plan our travel but at times the unexpected and unforeseen happen and then they upset our whole budget. It’s important to learn how to provision for them and still be able to travel long term on a budget
    neha recently posted…Using the Paris Metro as a localMy Profile

  12. Well done! Myself, I was always dreaming of traveling long-term,
    At the moment, my work makes me travel a lot., a good third of my time I am somewhere else. It has its benefits, the company pays for your flights, but you can stay in a location longer by yourself.
    On one side it is good, but unlike a long-term traveler, I don’t get to stay in locations I love for as long as I want. And during most of the trip, I hardly get to know local cultures, more communicating with expats like me.

  13. You have laid out an excellent post here. For months even I was battling the fear of long-term travel and living without an address. I knew my money wouldn’t last. Although I’m a huge fan of a nomad life I did weight the pros and cons like you did. I thought hey, I could have a small space as a base and move around travel weekend, maybe a few weeks and then come back, rest, recooperate. That works out for me as of now. Travel has truly shaped a lot about me in the past few years and has been a catalyst for change. Thank you for sharing your realism with us. ? Looking forward to the series.

  14. I’m no full-time or long-term traveler but I can completely imagine that it is often daunting and is not always as glamorous as it looks. Good for you for showing another side to it!

  15. Yep! That pretty much sums it up. Wish I read this before I left for two months backpacking through Scandinavia 8 years ago. It was my first ever trip outside the country, I was 21, had 300 euro budget for the entire duration of my trip, and every now and there I had a trip partner, but the best time I had, was traveling solo.

    It sounds super glamorous but it is an experience that is going to change your mindset. And yes, if you can’t adapt, it can easily transform into a nightmare. In some cases it will have you in survival mode (sleeping at -20 on a bench in a train station in Sweden waiting for a connection), camping in snow outside Oslo, hitching a ride with truck drivers, getting picked up by German policy outside Berlin.

    It is difficult, but it is also INSANELY awesome!

  16. This is very insightful and very true! Behind our very nice travel photos and travel stories and looking free from all the worries is the fact that we have a lot of things to face when we travel long term.
    Having said, this type of traveling is very fulfilling in that you’ll learn so many things along the way. Also good for sustainable traveling as we don’t get to flights as often.
    Jen recently posted…A Travel Guide to Apo Island Marine Sanctuary, NegrosMy Profile

  17. Thank you for showing the “real life” side of backpacking! People think it’s just “grab a bag and go” but to make the most of your budget you do indeed need to do your research…

  18. You have touched a chord ! Travelling long term & budget go hand in hand. Just returned from our 4 months trip to Europe and I can very well empathize with you. Public transport, street food, looking for a decent toilet… all part of the game. ?

  19. I love this no-BS post – we so often see the Yay-Wow-Hooray posts with gorgeous instagrammable pictures and how everything was so delightful and fluffy, that we make travel plans on the notion that everything will be brochure ready! With the realisms that come with traveling, there’s always a bigger emotional aspect to dealing with it and I like how you’ve been honest about it. I have a mission to prove people wrong so at some point I’m definitely solo backpacking and will refer to your “realisms” posts!

  20. There are so many challenges in long term travel even slow travel for that matter and budgets need to be worked upon creatively! You have put it out so well, especially the part where it is distinctly different from luxury short term travel. No permanent address , loneliness… People find traveling all the time toooo glamorous, well this is an eye opener to the flip side!
    Divyakshi Gupta recently posted…The Art of Doing Nothing at Mystic Mountain, NagarkotMy Profile

  21. Love, love, love this and the way you have written it. We are 10 months into a 12 month trip and whilst we are not really backpacking (we have suitcases and don’t stay in hostels but apartments) and we are travelling as a couple, there are certainly challenges that we face pretty regularly and it is not for everyone. I could do it for ever, my other half not so much he is ready for the comforts of home. Having said that we would never give back our experiences. Great post, there needs to be more honesty in travel blogging and you have set the bar high with this one. Thanks

  22. Nah, no arguments from me. I don’t know if I’d do long-term travel even if it were more possible for me to do. I know it’s a whole different kettle of fish from even a sabbatical. >2 weeks already has a different rhythm to anything shorter than that. I can imagine multi-month would require an even bigger shift of how you live.
    Teja recently posted…2 Days in Tacloban: Beyond YolandaMy Profile

    • You’re right the linger u travel the challenges change …from a week to two week ..to a month …for ling term traveling 3 months seems to be when people hit the brick wall or find a new lease of life and want to continue …for me anything under 6 months is a short trip haha ….although I came home for short holidays I was out there roaming living and working for 6 years before I really needed to come home and have a break from traveling …..now having been back home nearly a year I’m ready to jump back innthe horse haha

  23. You are so right. Long term travel has its own restrictions. Budget is really a great constraint especially when I am so cleanliness freak. I had this problem even in my regular travels.

  24. I am not interested in backpacking, but I follow some blogs of families, like mine, that do a Round the World Trip and I bet that is amazing and you see so much, but I know I would miss my friends, family, you miss holidays and events. I think my kids would go nuts without other kids to play with. I would miss nights out with
    the girls!
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  25. I am past the stage in my life where I would do long term solo adventures, however the idea of it intrigues me, as I know I would probably go everywhere imaginable. I love traveling, but I also love family life. Today my family and I travel the world together and amazingly have seen a good part of the world as a family – over 20 countries! Great info for the solo traveler though!

  26. Long-term traveling looks so cool, and maybe if I had known about it when I was younger, I might have given it a shot. When I would have been able to do this, the Internet was in its infancy. Now I am 42 with a college kid and an eight-year-old! I do love exploring with my family, though, and we do as much as we can as time and money allow. This is a great post for those who are considering long-term travel. It’s great that you can share your experiences!

  27. I love that you wrote about this! A lot of people only see the good things because it sounds pretty romantic to travel all the time. I have to admit that I am not a solo traveler at all – it’s kinda on my list just that I get to have this experience but I don’t really feel comfortable about it. Maybe it’ll change my mind but not sure haha.
    I love your blog posts as they are always super informative and honest. Thanks for sharing all of your experiences!

    • Thanks for your comment Kate ? one 9f the reasons I actually started the blog was because I meet so many people traveling who are painted this picture of it always being glamorous but then in utter shock when it’s not, I have to say it was the same for me when I started to travel …my main aim of the blog is to give an honest account …the awsome times (which as you know are plenty) but also the not so good …glad you enjoy my posts ??

  28. I love travelling but going on solo trips is something that I am not completely comfortable with. It is probably to do with the deeply ingrained safety paranoia haha! However, I do live vicariously through people’s stories. People like you! Thanks for the info! My favourite bit was the expectations vs reality of hotels. It rings a true sound in such backpacker countries like Cambodia.

  29. I love travelling but I know (and reading your post confirms it) that it’s not something I want to do as a long term thing, not only because budget can run dry and that can be very discomforting but also because I do quite like the feeling of coming back home at the end of a trip, it gives a certain feeling of comfort and belonging which I really like. I don’t mind being on the road very often but I do need a place I can call Home and be at every few weeks ? This is very insightful Amit, like all your posts x
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  30. Love this post! I’ve only done one big backpacking trip in my life and it was 7 weeks in Europe with two of my college friends. I definitely had the rose-colored glasses on when we started out, but never anticipated how hard it would be. The hostels and overnight train rides were not always glamorous, I was exhausted most of the time, and we definitely had to pinch pennies in most cities. When we could crash with friends or family, it was so nice. This series is a great way to give people a reality check about backpacking, and traveling in general.

  31. I can relate to this post. The freedom and adventure of long term budget travel is super rewarding, but it’s not always roses and sunshine. Long hours in a crappy bus, smelly dorms in the hostels with people that are not always very clean or respectful, missing friends and family. It’s good to prepare for that before you leave. I like to, once in a while, get myself a nice hotel room for one night just so that i can catch up on sleep and feel more comfortable!
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    • Your dead right, I do the same in certain countries, if I can afford it, get a hotel room and just unwind more than anything. Don’t get me wrong I love budget traveling, and like you said it is rewarding but for me, there was a lack of information on what it was going to be like, so I’d like to give first time long-term budget travelers some advice from my experiences to help ease them into it.

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