With remote online businesses taking off and the “lifestyle design” craze in full swing, long-term travelling is becoming a common choice. But, long-term travel is kind of like skydiving, there’s no way to know what it’s really like until you’ve already taken the plunge.
Even though so many people are doing it, there are still some major misconceptions out there about what long-term travel is like, and who can do it.
So what can you do to be prepared before you dive in? Well, first, stop believing these five misconceptions about long-term travel.
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Misconception 1. Long-Term Travel Is One Big Non-Stop Adventure
Heading off on a long-term trip is often seen as an antidote for the dullness of everyday life. And it is – just not all of the time.
Even for travellers who work hard to avoid the backpacker trail and the big tourist sites, not EVERY day on the road is an adventure. After a few months away, travelling becomes the routine, and that means that some days it can be as dull as a 9 to 5 job.
For every day of surfing in Indonesia or mountain biking in Vietnam, there is a day of trip planning, doing laundry, mending socks, and just plain recovering from the road.
Yes, long-term travel is an amazing adventure, but be warned: some days will be so uneventful, travellers start wondering why they ever left home.
Misconception 2. Long-Term Travel is Just One Horrible Discomfort After Another
“I could never do it,” they say, picturing themselves dirty, smelly, and hungry day after day.
While it’s true that adventure travel can involve a certain share of discomfort (which totally builds character, by the way), it can also include the kind of comforts you can only dream about at home.
Hot springs, massages, week-long stays on desert islands, fancy cocktails at $2 per glass, sleeping in as much as you want… these luxuries are far easier to come by on a long-term trip than they ever are at home.
Misconception 3. Long-Term Travel Is A Career Killer
The idea of hitting the road right after college or quitting a lucrative job to live a life of adventure is often seen as career suicide. After all, hopping off the career ladder is not a great way to climb higher, is it? Plus, potential employers will never want to hire some slacker who took two years off to travel the globe, will they?
In reality, long-term travel can be the perfect hook to get employers interested. Instead of lulling interviewers to sleep with the challenges they faced in their job as a mailroom clerk, long-term travellers get to talk about how they handled that time in Myanmar when they came face-to-face with a Burmese Python.
Not only that, but extended travel builds all kinds of marketable skills: goal setting, project management, time management, setting and maintaining budgets, and conflict resolution to name a few.
Long-term travellers also become star communicators and creative problem solvers.
Then again, that career ladder you’re so worried about right now might just seem ridiculous after a couple of years on the road.
Misconception 4. Long-Term Travel Is Only For The Young
The “trip of a lifetime” isn’t something you can only take in your 20s. Yes, we met a whole lot of bright young things during the course of our worldwide cycling trip and we sometimes felt positively old because we are in (gasp!) our 40s.
But we also met a lot of over-the-hill folks like us, many of whom were well into their retirement years. Not only had they figured out how to make long-term travel work for them, but they were having the time of their lives.
Long-term travel doesn’t start or end with any age group, skin colour, or gender. Passion, commitment, and a little creativity is all you need to get started.
Misconception 5. Long-Term Travel is Scary
If there’s one phrase we’ve heard on repeat ever since we decided to cycle the world, it is this:
“You’re so brave.”
In one way, this is true. It takes a certain kind of bravery to say “no” to the status quo, leave all your earthly belongings behind, and put yourself out into the world.
But that’s not what most people are thinking when they say long-term travellers are brave. Wherever you go, people see the outside world as an intimidating, frightening place full of people who want to rob you, cheat you, or murder you in your bed for absolutely no reason.
Long-term travellers know that the world, far from being scary, is an awe-inspiring place, full of people who want to speak to you, feed you, and invite you into their homes for absolutely no reason.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get travelling.