How’s it even possible? – Who even does that? – It’s not realistic or practical?
Well, actually it is possible, there are quite a few of us that do…ahem did do it Pre-Covid and will resume post-Covid and yes it can be realistic and practical.
But – There’s always a but – while anybody can attempt to do it, not everybody can cope, nor have the right mentality or burning desire to keep it going. It takes a special breed of person to continue it long term. For years not just months.
Pre-Covid long-term travel was my life for over a decade and will be again in the future. In this post we’re going to look into how important your mentality will be to maintaining long-term budget travel.
In a previous post we looked at the financial side, sustaining long term travel through the jobs you can do to continue life on the road. While finances are one of the most important factors, the other side is – YOU!
It’s all well and good earning the money to keep traveling but you need to have the desire, will and mentality to carry on maintaining long-term budget travel, especially during the tough times. It’s ultimately you who determines how long you keep going or decide it’s time go home.
Maintaining long-term budget travel requires
In this post we’re going to dive into the mentality side of maintaining long-term budget travel by looking into:
- Anybody can attempt it but not all can cope
- The education
- Learning to develop a mental toughness
- Having common sense
- Have an open mind
- Losing inhibitions
- Letting go of pride
- Being prepared to feel lonely at times
- Being adaptable and not fussy
- Knowing it will not always be smooth – take the rough with the smooth
- Mental fatigue
- Emotional states
- Being motivated to keep going
Many attempt it but not all can cope!
Before Covid grounded everything to a halt, millions traveled the world everyday, and will do once the pandemic gets under control. Everybody has their own reasons why they travel, I have mine, and you will have yours.
Everybody travels in their own way, over time develop their own traveling styles and there is no issues with that. However there are things to know beforehand:
You need to know:
- It’s not always going to be smooth
- there will be bumps in the road
- Things can go wrong
- Your plans can completely go awry
- There will be emotion, mental and physical fatigue
- Finances will be up and down
That’s where your mentality will come in. So many attempt it without realising or knowing this. They think it will be one long holiday, to be fair for a certain time it is. But once the reality hits and things start going wrong, they are not prepared. There will always those who run at the first sign of problem. That’s their prerogative to do they. It just means they were not cut out for long term budget travel.
The question is, will you be cut out for long term budget travel?
For every single one of us traveling no matter the style or length, traveling is an education. We are constantly learning, about traveling life, the mechanics behind it, about the things and places we discover, and about ourselves. Much of long term travel is about the internal discoveries much as the external.
The more we travel, the deeper into we get, the more we learn about ourselves. Not a single long term traveler is the same person they started off as and years down the road you will be the same.
Having or at learning to have a mental toughness
One of the greatest attributes to maintaining long-term travel is the need of mental toughness. There are going to be days, even weeks where things fall apart, things can go wrong, you will have emotional days and you need the mental toughness to get through it.
Many people drop off because they can’t cope, they don’t have the mental toughness. Not everybody has it initially but It’s key that you learn to grow thick skinned, grow that mental toughness to get through the tough times.
Having that mental toughness also develops your character.
The world is not perfect and although you can dream up long term solo traveling as a fantasy, It’s not going to be like that. When things become difficult, or any problems arise you are going to have to have the mental toughness to get through it.
Having common sense
You will be surprised at the amount of deluded and even ignorant people who start traveling that have zero common sense. These are the people most likely to get into trouble, have things go wrong and have no idea how it happened. They profess their innocence when it was their own doing.
Having common sense is another fey factor to maintaining long-term budget travel.
Ways to use your common sense:
- Keep your eyes open
- Don’t act like a typical tourist
- If you don’t know what you’re doing act like you do
- Have purpose in the way you walk don’t come across lost and scared
- Don’t flash your money around
- Be respectful of locals, their cultures and beliefs
- Do not instigate trouble
- Don’t act like you’re better than locals
- Don’t act like you know everything
- Pay attention to your surroundings
- Don’t be naïve to believe everything a stranger tells you
- If something doesn’t feel right then it probable isn’t
- Learn to use and listen to your instincts
- Learn to take your own initiative
- Don’t just blindly follow others around
Having or at least developing common sense will be so important in maintaining long-term budget travel. Quite simply, don’t be an idiot when traveling, use your common sense!
Having an open mind is another key to maintaining long-term budget travel
You would think everybody who sets out to travel long term would have an open mind or want to travel to open their minds but the reality is many minds close up when confronted by unfamiliarity and things they don’t agree with.
While traveling you are going to be in new places, experience things you’ve never before so It’s important to keep an open mind. Not everything is going to be like back home, some things will be completely different, there will be different beliefs. Just because you think one way is correct doesn’t mean it is for others.
Of course when you’re exposed to something completely new there will be elements of culture shock, and there will be times It’s hard to open your mind up but you have to at least try.
You will be exposed to:
- New cultures
- New sounds
- Different languages
- Different tastes and smells
- Different ways of thinking
- New perspectives
- Different opinions
- All kinds of different people – locals and travelers
- Different standards, and hygiene levels
If you choose to stay in hostels, you may come across all kinds of things going on within the walls and that can be a shock to the system if you’re not used to it. While things do happen, remember you do not have to participate in them if you don’t agree with it. But, you do not have the right to tell others to stop unless they’re encroaching on your personal space and privacy.
That being said, to maintain long term-budget travel It’s important to keep an open mind, be aware there will be things you are not used to or agree with. Learn to go with the flow, and don’t judge others.
This will depend on your personality, the way you’ve been bought up, and the society you come from but the longer you travel it helps to just start going with the flow, to lose inhibitions that may otherwise hold you down.
It could be something as simple as letting loose and having fun rather than sitting there thinking others will make fun of you. And that’s important to, learning not feel embarrassed to enjoy yourself.
Yes, there might be times other people comment on you but who cares. This is your journey and at the end of the day you only have to answer to yourself. If you want to do something that others may think are embarrassing or people will judge you – learn to let go.
Once you learn to let go, shred insecurities, let go of anxieties and stop caring what others think then you will find yourself embracing a hole new level of fun, freedom and enjoyment.
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Letting go of pride
This goes hand in hand with losing inhibitions
Pride can get in the way of so much, you can stop yourself from doing so much through pride and can even effect maintaining long term budget travel.
If there is too much pride, it may stop you from taking an unattractive job, one that may help you continue traveling but your pride stops it.
Pride can also get in the way of social interactions. Your pride may stop you from interacting with people from a different background, social standing, or even with locals.
Learn to swallow the pride, let go of it, lower your own expectations, and be humble to all around you .
Lower your expectations and be adaptable
This is a big one. Whatever society, background, social standing, enviroment you come from – forget about it while traveling.
Far too often people start traveling in different countries, different cultures and different cultures and start comparing things to back home or with things they have or can do back home.
That’s great, but you’re not back home, you are in a new country, in a new enviroment. Things are doing to be different and of a different standing.
Things to lower your expectations for:
- Hygiene – In some countries and cultures, It’s not going to be the same level as yours
- Prices – Things are going to cost different prices
- Standard of living – If you come from a developed country into a developing or 3rd world, its going to be lower
- Food and drinks – You cannot expect the same quality food as you do back home
- Safety – Safety levels are going to be different in different countries – get used to it
- Things you see and do – Many famous spots, monuments and places have turned into tourist traps and not what you expected
- What influencers tell you – Many things you see on the internet are brushed up to look appealing, but the reality is different
- Transport – There are going to be different levels of transport all over the world – some will be amazing others will be a nightmare
- Infrastructure – Different countries infrastructure is going to be different get used to it
- Social behaviours – People interact differently all over the world learn
- Quality of service – This is huge especially if staying in a hostel don’t expect hotel quality
This list can go on and on, but I’m sure you get the picture. Learn to lower your expectations, open your mind, and go with the flow.
Learn to take the rough with the smooth
We do not live in a perfect world, things are going to wrong, your plans will change, and you have to learn to take the rough with the smooth.
Anybody that says long term travel does not come with it’s problems is lying. Half the fun of traveling is having to figure things out on the spot. There are going to be times when for a better phrase – shit is going to hit the fan. And sometimes you need to crawl through the proverbial shit pipe to smell the roses.
Maintaining long-term budget travel is going to be challenging at times, It’s going to test you. It’s up to you to take it, fight it and come out the other end.
There will be things like:
- Poor infrastructure
- A tour not being what you thought
- Times you run out of money
- You go hungry for a while
- An accident
- You get mugged, scammed, conned
- You feel lost – or are physically lost
- Your accommodation is not right
- You don’t get along with people
- Emotional days
- Heartache – breakups
- Things not running smooth
- A place not being to your liking
- Times you cannot connect with the place you’re traveling through
- Times you’re over tired, frustrated, angry
- Weather not being how you expected
These things all happen, some will be minuscule, and others will be major but you learn to cope, manage and get through the other end.
Be prepared to feel lonely at times
You will not feel lonely just because you are solo traveling – However, yes of course there will be times you feel lonely. You’re human It’s natural to do so. The quicker you come to terms with it, the better prepared you are for when it does happen.
This post covers the different levels of loneliness you will feel, and how to deal and cope with loneliness when long term traveling.
Some people get it quicker than others, but it will hit you at some point. You will hit the wall and just want to stop.
You will be tired, mentally, physically, emotionally drained and want nothing more than to do nothing.
People who tend to go too hard and fast right from the get-go are likely to suffer mental fatigue quicker because of burn out. However those who travel slow, it will happen to you too.
On a personal note, it took 6 and a half years for it to really hit me. It hit so hard I could see no other choice than to go home. Turns out I just needed a rest and for my old reality to hit me a few times.
Mental fatigue while traveling though can play tricks on your mind, it can convince you that you’re done with it, that’s it you’ve had your fill and It’s time to go home. When you feel it, It’s important to take time out, rest up, recharge the batteries.
It doesn’t mean you have to go home. Wherever you are, just make a nest for yourself, relax, don’t do anything travel related, don’t go on excursions or tours do nothing at all. Find a place you can slip into a comfort zone, pamper yourself – We all deserve some R&R at times.
Once you feel mentally recharged, fresh and motivated grab your bags and continue.
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Through your whole traveling journey you are going to feel and be exposed to all types of emotional states from euphoria, ultimate highs to the scariest lows.
You’re human and you have emotions you are not going to feel the same all the time. There sometimes is a misconception that once you start traveling you will be happy and weightless every day. While the whole experience may be – you will have highs and lows emotionally.
As touched on before you are going to feel lonely at times. There will be times you meet a great group of people but have to leave – It will bring sadness and loneliness which may trigger home sickness.
You are going to feel unconfident at times, nervous, some anxiety. Fear may spread through you the first time you experience something.
There will be days when you’re just tired, emotionally drained without any explanation.
It’s good to have down days, It’s ok to have these emotional days. When you do have them, go ahead feel sorry for yourself a little but don’t let it take control. If you do that can be a downwards spiral.
When you’re feeling down, go ahead and pamper yourself, do something that makes you smile, it could be as simple as watching your favourite comedy show or finding a spot you like to visit.
Being motivated to keep going
The longer you travel the more challenges there will be, both internally and externally. Your funds will get dryer, you will have mental fatigue, things will go wrong and there will be days you just want to quit and give up.
Through your long term journey your character will grow, it will take shape in one way of the other, and the way it does will determine just what you can cope with and what you can’t.
When you get to those points where the motivation dwindles – It’s up to you if you want to carry on, can you get the motivation back to continue?
Your mentality is the key
And there you have it. As you can see from this maintaining long term travel posts there are going to be many factors, emotional states, mental battles that you have to cope with the longer you travel. It’s ultimately down to you and your desire how long you keep it going for.
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Shivam Singh · January 31, 2020 at 11:14 am
We often ask how much it costs to travel for a year. Obviously this isn’t an easy question to answer – it depends on where you go, what you do and what level of comfort you would like. Your advice is simple and clear and your honesty and transparency of information provided has certainly helped us in working out if we can and want to travel full-time. So thank you.
Deepika · November 16, 2018 at 7:27 am
Your articles are always based on your true experiences and lessons learned. Thanks for sharing these valuable things with us. These tips always help us to travel more freely.
prabhu · May 14, 2018 at 7:48 am
i agree with you, frankly said you are just awesome. Always read your blog post and found that you always says what you actually feel while traveling. I most inspired of you and your post. Thanks for sharing good trip experience.
Medha Verma · May 8, 2018 at 1:53 pm
I don’t kow about ‘Normal’ Amit, but long-term travelers like you are definitely another breed! To me, personally, there are more challenges than glamour to that lifestyle and that’s probably why I have never considered it. You’ve brought out some really good points – firstly, your visa matters. You’re lucky that your passport allows you to enter many countries and stay for a long duration, unfortunately many people I know from back home (India) struggle a lot with even getting a visa to visit certain countries, let alone spend a long time there. Also, it sounds really cool for someone who has the skills to become a digital nomad but not many people do and that means, they have to learn to be flexible and not fussy about taking up odd jobs here and there. I don’t know a lot of people who would like to do that so I really admire people who love the travelling/ exploring bit of it enough to do it. And of course, its very important to be open-minded, you’re in a foreign country, outside your comfort zone and you cannot afford to have a closed mind about cultures, people, food, everything. At the end of it, you do learn a lot, about the world and about yourselves, and you evolve with every new thing you learn. I am happy that you’ve brought out the good and the not-so-good, it’ll help people get perspective!
Sara · May 4, 2018 at 2:36 am
I’ve never really thought about the “how” behind long term travel. The “why” I can completely understand! I think it is amazing you’ve figured out a system that works for you. I personally don’t think it’s something I could do…though I do dream about packing it all up and hopping on the next flight south.