(Last Updated On: April 20, 2021)

Longterm travel life: Losing sight with reality is Episode 9 of the Traveling Realisms series

forever roaming the worlds post - longterm backpackers losing sight with reality, feature pic

Imagine being so far detached from your old reality you can’t remember it. How does that happen longterm traveling? – Quite easily actually.

It might sound ridiculous right now to you, but by the end of this longterm travel life post you will understand how it’s possible and how it could even happen to you.

In this longterm travel life post we’re going to cover being away from your old enviroment, not paying attention to it, losing contact with people can lead to floating away from the old reality. We look into what happens when it does, the downfall of getting too far detached and how to get back to it.

Everybody has a different outlook on life, we have different mentalities and for some of us we just can’t do normal.

What is normal anyway? 

For many It’s grinding through life, doing the same routine – eat, sleep, work – repeat. – Get an education, get a job, a career, a house, get married, have kids, bay bills, swim in dept – Of course there are variants, we ‘mix it up’ a little but fundamentally that’s normal life. People are boxed into their corner of society and while most are happy with following the norm – some of us just can’t do it.

We crave an escape from the norm, we want to live life on our own terms, we know there is more out there than just paying bills and going to through the everyday riggers of life. We see life differently, and in most cases when questioning the mundane way of life are labelled the disruptive ones.

Those of us that feel this way want to break free of life’s shackles, be free of the norm and discover the world and ourselves. So we pack our bags, we set off on adventures, in hope of finding what we want – but in most cases we don’t know what we want. Some get their fill and return home after a certain time while others get a taste and want more.

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The travel bug becomes an addiction

You’ve all heard of the travel bug, well for some of us It’s not a bug, it becomes an addiction. We fiend for more, and we don’t return home. Longterm traveling life slowly becomes not just reality but our normal life.

Once we get a taste of the freedom, the new enviroment, the feeling of escapism all of a sudden you’re living life on your own terms. The rules of the old reality are thrown out the window and don’t apply anymore. You don’t have to set your life around time, time now is on your side. Those little niggling worries you had disappear, those everyday stresses are gone. Your body and mind feel lighter as a result.

Everything around you is new:

  • The enviroment
  • The people
  • New exposures
  • New sounds, smells, tastes
  • The scenery is different
  • The ambience, and energy
  • Your brain is awake and stimulated trying to process it all  
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Longterm travel life is like being in a different reality

In this post we are going to cover and dive into how you can lose sight of reality, what happens when it does and the full cycle:

  1. The process of how it happens without you even realising
  2. Being completely detached from your old reality
  3. Living in own pain of existence but It’s not always rosy
  4. The new reality becomes normal life
  5. Feeling lost
  6. Searching for the old reality
  7. Internal conflicts
  8. Returning to the old reality
  9. Feeling like you don’t belong to either reality
  10. The grass in not greener on either side but you know which one you prefer

The process of detachment starts with long term travelers losing sight

Have you ever been away from home, gone on holiday, or traveled before and felt that escapism? You’ve left the stresses of everyday life behind and it feels like you’re in your own bubble right? Well imagine that lasting longer while you long term travel.

The longer you’re away for the thicker that bubble gets, the more comfortable you feel, fully adapted to long term travel life, you sink in further. You feel much more at home in this traveling bubble than you ever did back home.

As time goes on, you may notice some changes, the way you act, the way you speak, your opinions, views, and perspective all start to change. All the new exposures around you are allowing your mind to expand.

You may or may not even realise as you drift further into this longterm traveling reality you’re getting further away from the old one by:

  • Having less contact with people in that old one – friends and family
  • Paying less attention to things going on in the old one
  • Have less care for it
  • Stop listening to news, or what’s going on it
  • Your mind and body are only concerned about what is in front of your eyes
  • You start only caring about what’s in arm’s length
  • You care more about the country you’re in right now that the one you left
  • The people around you are all that matter
  • Time distorts while longterm traveling and people you’ve only know for a few days become as close as family
  • You stop missing things from your old reality
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Your new long term travel reality

The day you stop missing the little things from your old reality is the day you become fully detached from it. There is no time frame to it. For some longterm travelers it will happen quicker than others. It could be months, for some of you it could be years.

Once you are become fully detached there is no thought of the old reality anymore. You are fully submerged in the new one and in long term travel life. You only care for what’s around you and the people in your immediate life.

That old reality may remain a memory but over time the door is locked, and the key thrown away. You’re having too much fun in your new longterm travel reality to even give it any consideration. This is what you wanted all your life. The freedom to live life on your own terms, to how you see it and to discover.

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Living in your own pain of existence

Ever heard the expression ‘stay in your lane?’- It’s often used when people tell another not to get out of line, to know their place in society and where they belong. The thing is, sometimes you’re in the wrong lane to begin with. In this reality, you find and slip into your lane. You are able to enjoy the ride. 

You start creating your world, after all you are the architect of your own travel life design. You do as you want, on your own terms to your own schedule.

As you’re longterm travel life takes form, all the wander, the adventures, the discovery, the people you meet and make friends with can be beyond your own imagination. You can feel like your riding such a high rush. It will not feel real to begin with, like a dream. But it’s not a dream, this is your new longterm travel life and your new reality; one you’ve craved for your entire life.

And you will more than likely live it to the fullest and ride the wave for as long as you can. 

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Longterm travel life not always rosy

However, as with everything no matter what reality, there will be bumps in the road that you have to navigate. Your new longterm travel life isn’t always going to be a smooth ride. The stresses and problems that occur may be different from the old reality but there will be some.

The road in this reality can get a little bumpy when you realise you have to deal with issues when things go wrong. There is no safety net like you may have had in the old one. You will endure a range of emotions – Happy, sad, lonely, frustrated – It’s part of the deal.

If you have personal issues and demons, they will follow you into this reality too. However in this reality, this is your playing field. You have the space, time and enviroment to turn and face them on your terms.

While this new longterm travel life will make you feel like you’re floating through existence most of the time, when there are bumps in the road or things go wrong you will need to have or at least acquire a mental toughness or it can derail you and knock you off sync.

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Longterm travel life turns into normal life

The longer you’re away, years into your longterm travel life the novelty will run out after a while. Those new exposures, the adventures, the discover all start to become part of your everyday longterm travel life and it becomes normal.

Things like:

  • Moving from A to B
  • Packing, unpacking, packing again
  • Figuring out timetables
  • The cycle of hellos and goodbyes
  • The dynamics new travelers try and figure out
  • The mechanics of travel life
  • Seeing the same types of monuments, buildings, landmarks, sights

The excitement dwindles when you arrive in a new place. Whereas once you were full of adrenaline or nerves ready to explore you arrive finding you have your own routine. This new reality has over time become a normal reality.

And for those that can’t do normal, what happens when things become normal? – They get bored of it. Things start to get mundane and at that point things can start to go sour.

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Too much of a good thing is bad right? – Too much overindulgence is not good for you – You’ve filled yourself to the point it makes you sick. This can all happen in your new reality.

You can become desensitised and in turn stop enjoying it, and you can become miserable. You can arrive in a new place, knowing exactly what to expect, knowing it will be the same as the last. You start knowing the layout of a city or town before you even realise.

You know:

  • Where the tourist traps are
  • You recognise authentic to non-authentic
  • exactly where you will prefer to eat and drink
  • the people you want to interact with and not
  • where you prefer to stay
  • See behind the façade and shine
  • What will slightly excite you and not

The shine of longterm traveling life is gone. New first time travelers around you are not at that stage yet, they are full of excitement and can’t fathom how you see it in a different way. Now because you’ve been a long term traveler for so long there is a new generation of travelers who you can’t relate to.

Longterm travel life: 9 stages of Losing sight from reality 1

You feel lost longterm traveling

You start see and feel the cracks in your now normal reality, things are not feeling right; you’ve lost the enjoyment. You start questioning yourself

  • Is it you?
  • Are you the one with a problem?
  • Why can’t you enjoy it anymore?
  • Do you want to carry on?
  • Why do you keep carrying on?
  • Is longterm travel life over for you?

You wander why you feel like this, you’re not quite sure what to do at this point. You’ve lost sight of that old reality you were so desperate to leave but now you feel out of place in this new one. You start to feel lost.

As the days pass, you feel like your sinking, this wasn’t how it was meant to be. There comes a point where you find yourself detaching from this reality into an empty void.

The only attachment comes when you find other long term travelers in the same position, floating in an empty void. The other people you come across there is a detachment to them now too. You find it hard to relate to them. Most are just starting their journeys, passing through your reality into their own and you start to feel lonely traveling long term.

When you meet locals, you are entering their stable lives, before you eventually float away again. That’s when the loneliness really starts to hit you.

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Searching for the old reality

With the new reality being normal life, a door unlocks and opens. Memories, thoughts, old smells, and sights start flooding your mind – it’s the old reality, your old life.

Something inconceivable happens, the more memories that return, it sparks you. Like a favourite smell hitting your nostrils you start searching for it, trying to find your way back to the familiar smell for a taste.

Your mind starts building pictures, thoughts, some distorted ones, but an excitement grows. You miss home. You want to go back; you’ve had your fill of this new reality and want the old one back.

There is no thought of why you were so desperate to leave it in the first place, how you felt growing up, wanting to break free of that mundane life. That’s what you want – Stability, security, routine – You need to have it back in your life. So you do what you need to find a way back to it.

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Longterm travel life: 9 stages of Losing sight from reality 2

But wait is this what you really want?

The closer that old reality gets, the more you get to the edge of the new reality ready to leave it – the defences start. There is a battlefield in your mind – Is this really what you want?

Those thoughts of why you left in the first place come charging back. The debate rages on as you’re about to enter the old reality once more.

Your mind has been painting pretty pictures of your old life because you miss it, but your conscious tries to remind you of the reality. It tries to be the voice of reason but right now you don’t care. The pretty pictures and thoughts your mind has projected of going home are too enticing.

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Finally back in the old reality

It can feel like bliss being back in the old reality, back in your old home, everything feels new but It’s all the same as you remember when you left all those years ago. Nostalgia sets in as you re-acquaint yourself with the surroundings.

It all comes back the smells, the sights, and the tastes and people you’ve missed it. You feel happy again, the misery is gone. You’re home. The novelty feels great and you soak it all in.

You’re happy being back in familiar surroundings, back with old friends and family. You’re enjoying being in their company once more – excited to tell them about the new reality you experienced and to share stories. But there is a problem.

While you were in your new longterm travel reality where time was distorted, it slowed down to your pace, you grew in a different way, you experienced a completely alien life to those in this reality.

While you were off on adventures, they slipped into their lane, into the cycle you were so desperate to escape. You last memories of them were from your last interactions, while their lives moved on.

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That didn’t last long!

The novelty of being back in this old reality starts to wear thin. You feel un-relatable to your old friends and family – You have nothing in common with them. While what was everyday life to you; the adventures and discovery, is alien to them. They’re lives revolve around this reality – careers, mortgages, family, kids, bills, dept. The words that come out their mouth are alien just as the words of adventures that come out of yours.

You feel detached again, like you don’t belong here.

After that initial period, the novelty runs out. The pictures your mind conjured up were false, just as your conscious tried to warn you about. It was right there was a reason you wanted to leave in the first place. There were reasons you couldn’t live the normality of this reality.

There is a realisation – You never did, and still don’t belong in this reality. However there is a problem. This old reality has a grip of you. It’s got a baseball bat ready to beat you up for daring to leave in the first place.

And that’s exactly what it does, it beats you up. It torments and tortures you to the point you become desperate to leave again.

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Purgatory

As this old reality continues to punish you the thoughts of your new reality return but with knowing what is waiting on that side, It’s not as appealing. You know once the novelty runs out you will feel the same as before.

Again you feel lost. But this time there is no reality to entice you enough, you feel like you’re in purgatory, belonging in neither this reality or that one.

You become distant to your old friends because their lives are completely different, the friends you’ve made traveling have either gone back to their old realities or continued with their journeys. Nothing at home excites you and nor does traveling life

  • You feel sick at the thought of living out of a bag again but also being in your own bedroom
  • You feel like a stranger in your own home as much as you do out in the world
  • Your friends have moved on with life but there will be a new generation of travelers who may be unrelatable
  • You start questioning it again. There must be more to this than that? You don’t belong here or there.

Now you feel more lost than ever before.

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The grass is not greener but It’s where you belong

When you get that lost externally with the surroundings there is only one place to go. You have to get your diving gear ready, fill up and take a deep plunge into yourself. Who knows how long it can take but the answers are in there you just have to keep searching until you do.

Eventually you find it, when you do, although it might not be the full answer there can be a centring. Instead of floating around lost an anchor needs to be dropped.

A realisation comes from it – You don’t belong in this reality but you need to keep in touch with it so you don’t sink too far into the one as you did before. The grass is not greener on the other side but you belong on that side more than this one. However you need to keep jumping back over the fence every so often to check up on it.

When you find the happy balance of both times, you can start enjoying both realities again rather than choosing one or the other.

If ever you find yourself drifting too far away, dip your toe back into the other, centre yourself and fully recharge before you head out again.

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My personal experience

And, that’s how longterm travelers can lose sight of reality, feel like they don’t belong in any reality and find a happy medium for themselves.

I wrote this post from personal experiences of many long term travelers I know and my own experience of it happening.

It happened to me after 6 and half years of longterm traveling and living all over the world. I’ve always been that person who was seen against the grain, called disruptive because I couldn’t conform to the the norm. When I started traveling it was bliss. I loved my new reality but the longer I traveled and lived around the world the further detached from the old one I got until I was completely detached.

For me it was unconceivable to go home but when I got to the point of feeling so lost it seemed like the best thing to do. The novelty did run out. I did take a prolonged break from traveling, to really miss it and fully recharge.

Once I started longterm traveling again, I found a balance, not to get too far detached from the old one. I have the best of both realities and honestly as an experienced traveler I have never been happier floating between the two.

Final note

Is this longterm traveling life post one that you would like me to turn into a book in the future. The book would go into far greater detail. Pinpoint exact moments and triggers when you start losing sight of reality and how better to find the balance of long term travel without completely detaching from reality

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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It sounds weird, but while we’re longterm backpacking we can start to lose with reality the longer we stay away from our old lives. This post shows you how it could happen #solotravel #budgettravel #backpacker #longtermbackpacker #longtermtravel #travelblog #backpackerlife #longtermtravellife
It sounds weird, but while we’re longterm backpacking we can start to lose with reality the longer we stay away from our old lives. This post shows you how it could happen #solotravel #budgettravel #backpacker #longtermbackpacker #longtermtravel #travelblog #backpackerlife #longtermtravellife
It sounds weird, but while we’re longterm backpacking we can start to lose with reality the longer we stay away from our old lives. This post shows you how it could happen #solotravel #budgettravel #backpacker #longtermbackpacker #longtermtravel #travelblog #backpackerlife #longtermtravellife
It sounds weird, but while we’re longterm backpacking we can start to lose with reality the longer we stay away from our old lives. This post shows you how it could happen #solotravel #budgettravel #backpacker #longtermbackpacker #longtermtravel #travelblog #backpackerlife #longtermtravellife
It sounds weird, but while we’re longterm backpacking we can start to lose with reality the longer we stay away from our old lives. This post shows you how it could happen #solotravel #budgettravel #backpacker #longtermbackpacker #longtermtravel #travelblog #backpackerlife #longtermtravellife
It sounds weird, but while we’re longterm backpacking we can start to lose with reality the longer we stay away from our old lives. This post shows you how it could happen #solotravel #budgettravel #backpacker #longtermbackpacker #longtermtravel #travelblog #backpackerlife #longtermtravellife
Longterm travel life: 9 stages of Losing sight from reality 4
It sounds weird, but while we’re longterm backpacking we can start to lose with reality the longer we stay away from our old lives. This post shows you how it could happen #solotravel #budgettravel #backpacker #longtermbackpacker #longtermtravel #travelblog #backpackerlife #longtermtravellife
Longterm travel life: 9 stages of Losing sight from reality 5

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1 Comment

Joe · April 7, 2020 at 11:06 am

Cool insights! Although I don’t have the same life style as you, I can relate on your mindset!

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