Most people who hear about someone going on a year-long round-the-world trip or any sort of extended travel think, “I wish I could do that.” And most of the time, they reasonably could if they wanted to. It’s all about making travel a priority in your life.
I don’t think there’s a certain age or gender more likely to enjoy a round-the-world trip. But not everyone is cut out for long-term travel. This doesn’t mean you aren’t tough or smart or capable, but that you might be more comfortable either going slow or staying closer to home. There’s nothing wrong with either of these answers, but here are a few ways to find out if you have what it takes to travel long term.
1. Do you give up easily?
One thing I can say with certainty is that long-term travel is tough. While most of the time it’s fun, there are some moments when you want to pack up and jump on the first flight home. There were times when I was traveling in Australia that I was homesick and just wanted to be around what I knew. But I knew I would regret giving up, so I stayed for a year.
2. Are you high maintenance?
If not being able to plug in your hair straightener in the Amazon is your biggest worry, you might be better off at home. Being a long term traveler is all about rolling with the punches and adapting to unforeseen circumstances. Buses run late, hostels become overbooked and items are lost, but it’s all about how you react to these curveballs.
3. Do you have constant FOMO?
FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” is an affliction that strikes us all sooner or later, but if you’re more concerned about what you’re missing back home, like nights out, weddings, graduations and engagements, you won’t get the most out of your travel experience. Be present and in the moment.
4. Are you able to keep a budget?
Splurging on a nice meal every now and then make sense, but you have to be able to see the big picture. Staying at a cheap guesthouse in Paris today means that you can go sailing in Croatia tomorrow. Set a daily budget for yourself to try and keep your money for as long as possible (perhaps try the TripRider App).
5. Are you an overpacker?
You can’t pack for indefinite travels like you would for a week at the beach. Think about all the activities you might be doing and pack items that are versatile. Also be prepared to ditch some items along the way. Take advantage of our packing lists and the wisdom from your fellow travelers.
6. Do you constantly need to be around other people?
There is definitely some alone time when it comes to long term travel. You need to be okay eating alone at restaurants or sitting on trains. Use this time to think about what you want from your great adventure and to plan where you’re headed next.
7. Are you open to delayed gratification?
Long term travel isn’t something that just happens. It requires time and planning. Are you willing to save up for a year, working a job you might not like, to pay for your trip? You should be able to use your trip to keep you motivated at work and in saving.
So if long term travel isn’t for you, if constant movement stresses you out, that’s okay. There are alternatives, like working holidays or studying abroad. You can also take it slow, spending three months in one place before moving on.