8 Secrets on How to Survive Long Term Travel

Last updated on: 14 Comments

Surviving Long Term Travel

Making the decision to pack up your possessions, quit your job and take up a life of long term travel can be quite daunting.

For many people the thought of leaving their comfort zone indefinitely is the one of the most frightening experiences they can imagine.

No security, no concrete future, no surety of what the world will deliver in the coming years. We are brought up to value and cherish these things, so abandoning them seems crazy.

But almost without a doubt, everyone who does make that decision to travel the world with no time constraints is greeted with a sense of freedom that is impossible to comprehend when sitting behind a desk back in the ‘real world’.

Our Secrets to Surviving Long Term Travel

Unfortunately, as with all worthwhile adventures, there will be times when long-term travellers question whether the path we are on is the correct one.

Long term travel has the ability to take us to dizzying heights, and plummet us to unspeakable lows. Despite the Instagram photos, not every day is filled with palm trees, sunshine and cocktails.

The trick with long term travel is to find the ways to push through those moments when you begin to wonder if what you are doing is the right thing or not.

Luckily there are ways to survive these moments of doubt. Even after 11+ years on the road, we have to remind ourselves of these secret tips everyday.

Long term travel may just be the best lifestyle choices you can make – as long as you don’t let it get the better of you!

8 Secrets To Surviving Long Term Travel

1. Travel Slowly

Our absolute best travel tip for surviving long term travel is to travel slowly. Being on the road every other day is exhausting.

Bouncing from bus to bus, dealing with touts and taxi drivers, late night trains and long walks between hostels – these things burn you out.

If you only have a limited time in each country and you want to see as much as possible, this means you will be dealing with transport and stress every other day.

If you want to be on the road for years at a time, you have to travel slowly. Relax, take a week (or more) to really get to know each town and village you are in.

Have entire days where you just walk the streets, with no particular aim and goal. The longer you stay somewhere, the cheaper it will be too as you can negotiate for accommodation, find the best local eateries and cut down on your transport costs.

Surviving Long Term Travel

2. Find A Hobby

Whether it is learning to juggle, writing in your diary, training in martial arts, playing the guitar or simply taking photos, you need to find something to keep your mind active.

There is nothing wrong with laying in a hammock for a week if you are on a short holiday from work, but you can’t do this every single day for years at a time*.

Maybe you are even wondering how to start a travel blog so you are not only keeping active, but potentially able to stay on the road forever! Keep in mind though that this may take up a lot more time than you anticipate – Trust us (but it’s worth it)!

For us one of our favourite hobbies has been learning about travel photography, which has given us a new passion (and business) to take us through life.

* Then again, we have met loads of people who have made entire lives out of sitting in a hammock on a beach, smoking joints and digging their toes in the sand. Are they happy? Yes. Are they fulfilled? Perhaps. Are they living a wonderful life? Yes. Actually, maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all…

Surviving Long Term Travel

3. Have Fresh Eyes

This is probably our own biggest issue, and one of our famous “curses of long-term travel“. When you’ve travelled around the world, seen the great wonders, ticked off most of your bucket list and have had ten lifetime’s worth of fascinating experiences in a year, it is easy to become jaded with new places.

Remember that every destination has its merit. Just because you have seen something similar elsewhere doesn’t mean that the ‘number 1 attraction’ in your next destination isn’t worth visiting.

“Meh, it’s just another Chinese pagoda.”

“Bagan? No thanks, I’ve already seen Angkor Wat.

“Scuba diving in Belize? I didn’t bother because I’ve already dove the Great Barrier Reef.”

“If you’ve already been to Tikal, there’s no point seeing Palenque.”

Remember to see the value in each place you visit and don’t become jaded over time. It doesn’t just have to be the big-ticket items either – Sometimes city parks or small temples can provide a lot of merit.

Don’t forget, some people dream their entire lives of being able to see the Eiffel Tower or the Forbidden City. Don’t get there and be nonchalant just because you have seen a lot of other cool things.

Surviving Long Term Travel

4. Have One Day Off A Week

Everyone needs a day off to recharge the batteries. A morning to sleep in, an afternoon to sit in a park and read a book, catching the latest movie at the cinema – these things are essential to keep sane when on the road!

Not everyday needs to be filled with museums and sightseeing. People back home have weekends to unwind, and you will need the same. At least one day a week, take a break.

Surviving Long Term Travel

5. Stop Completely For A While

Even with your one day off of a week, being on the move all the time will grind you down. After two years crossing Asia we were completely burnt out, despite the incredible things we had done.

We wanted to form friendships with people that lasted longer than a couple of days.

We wanted to not feel lost all the time when we arrived in a new city. We wanted to unpack our backpacks once and not repack it again the next morning. We even found ourselves craving the thing that we most hate – ‘routine’.

One year into our current trip we settled down in Phong Nha, Vietnam for 2.5 months and took a vacation within a vacation. It did wonders for our soul!

By the end of our time there, we were refreshed and ready to tackle the next part of the adventure. Now we’ve slowed down a bit while we’re in Thailand and it has been excellent!

We spent 11 nights in one place in Koh Lanta – the longest we had been stationary in 14 months, and damn it felt good!

To survive long term travel, you really need to stop travelling now and then. Find a place you love with a good amount of things to keep you interested, rent a room in a house (or an entire bungalow), and return to a brief life of normality.

Surviving Long Term Travel

6. Get Back To Nature

If you are anything like us, you love being surrounded by nature. It soothes the soul. We love nothing more than going for a hike in a forest, climbing a mountain or sitting by a pristine river.

When the hustle and bustle of big cities grinds us down, we make a beeline for the nearest national park. Away from the noise and crowds, filling our lungs with fresh air helps put us back in a positive mindset.

To survive long term travel, spend as much time in nature as possible!

Surviving Long Term Travel

7. Get A Taste Of Something Different

You know what we ate a lot of during our 26 months in Asia? Rice and noodles. I mean A LOT of rice and noodles. You know what we get sick of? Rice and noodles.

Don’t get us wrong, we love Asian food, but every now and then we crave a pizza or a burger or some burritos or a pasta meal. These kind of foods aren’t usually cheap in Asia, but occasionally we just don’t care.

At some point the idea of eating another tortilla in Central America or one last donair kebab in Turkey is going to make you feel sick. Splash out sometimes and give in to whatever it is you are craving.

Surviving Long Term Travel

8. Keep Fit And Stay Healthy

When you are at home, with a set schedule and normal routine, it is easier to make time to exercise or be careful about what you eat. When you are on the road, this becomes more difficult.

You might quit your plan of going for an evening run and instead make a habit of catching happy hour every night! Trust us, we know the feeling!

Don’t forget to keep up your daily exercise. It can be as simple as walking instead of taking a bus or taxi every day, or doing some push ups and sit ups when you wake up.

Consider have a detox day every week where you only eat fruit and vegetables, or have a strict rule of only drinking a few nights a week. Try to get a solid night’s sleep and not stay up to late.

That was one reason we returned to Thailand – to detox and get healthy again. We just completed one month off alcohol, and have really changed our diet.

And while we admit we haven’t exercised as much as we could have, we still feel great! And most importantly, eating healthy has helped get us ready for our next big travels.

Over 7 years later, we’re still surviving long term travel…

Surviving Long Term Travel

What are your secrets for surviving long term travel? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author

Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award winning writers and photographers behind this blog, and we have been travelling the world together since 2008. Adventure travel is our passion, and through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Let's make your life an adventure!

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter filled with travel tips and adventures and we'll send you our ebook 'How To Travel Like A Pro' for FREE!

14 COMMENTS

  1. grasya

    i love long term travels.. when i go travel, it will take me 2 weeks to a year to come back home.. one secret to battle homesickness during this phase is to bring comfort familiar food… yep, i bring my favorite brand of chocolate and noodles with me.. and whenever i miss home, i eat these foods. ^_^

      Alesha and Jarryd

      Great tip. Definitely bringing your own comfort food can help with homesick but don’t forget to check the quarantine laws for the country you are travelling too. You can be left with a massive fine if the food is not allow and not declared.

    Debbie L

    Great post! We also figured out to travel slow after our first 18 months traveling in an RV in the southeast USA. We changed from a 28′ Xtra Lite 5th wheel to a 40′ motorhome and that forced us to slow down. Initially, we missed the fast pace and moving every 4 or 5 days. But then it happened! Our bodies caught up with our brains! We do have family reasons to stay in one place every few months (to be with our baby grandsons) but when we get back on the road, we’re anxious to see all we can! What a great lifestyle! You two are amazing!

    Charlotte Little

    Awesome post guys! I’ve never travelled slow before, always island/City hopping every other day in a quest to see as much as possible but I leave in a few weeks on a one way ticket for what I hope will be years of travel and these tips are amazing! I think every traveler is worried about getting ‘bored’ of what excites us most so having fresh eyes is a brilliant reminder to us all. X

    Matt

    Hey loving your work.

    Me and the Mrs are travelling around SEA hopefully setting of in about a month or so. Its great to see you guys have survived this long…..as travelling with a partner will obviously put a strain on any relationship and this has been a concern of mine.

    Great work

    Matt

    Ellie

    This is definitely reassuring – I’ve just set off on a trip of indeterminate length with plans to carry on long term and its good to hear that you guys are managing it fine! I think having a routine really helps, like having some workout schedule or blogging routine, so you can feel ‘normal’ even though your life as a long term traveller can be so much more than normal!

    Helen

    Really loved this post. After having to rush a bit recently due to flights, I am reminded how much I love slow travelling. Also important to have pizza once in a while…learnt that much in China after all the rice and noodles.

    Adam

    Love this post! I totally agree.

    I always intend to travel slowly, but then in an attempt to fit as much in as possible I end up on the move constantly and then burn out. I’m getting better though 🙂 Currently been in the same city for 3 weeks.

    I’ve had people in the past tell me that I’m “totally missing out” and “being lazy” because I decided not to go further into the Lao mountains to see another village. I was tired of moving after 6 months on the road and was loving just laying in my hammock with a book and a beer for a week.

    Christie

    Sooooo loved your point about getting back to nature! I find this is definitely on my list (if not at the top) for what’s most important for me personally as I travel. I often lose myself, and find myself again in nature. Do you ever have an experience like that?

    Nina – Where in the World is Nina?

    Jeez can I related to each and every one of these! This is spot on guys 🙂
    I think all of these things can be tied into #1, travel slow.
    You don’t’ get burnt out so easily, you can unpack for more than two nights, you can take a day or two off and it’s not the end of the world… I wouldn’t change it for anything.
    Oh, and after living in Asia for four years… I’m still slightly scarred for life with eating white rice. I get flashbacks…lol.

    Lynne Mennie

    Three months into our RTW trip, we’ve just now come to terms with slower travel after moving on every few days. Constantly being on the move is exhausting, and we hadn’t really anticipated that before we left!!
    For us, being able to cook something that approximates a favourite meal from home can be a big boost, even though it’s not exactly the same – it’s a little bit of familiarity on the road. Because we’re travelling with kids, that becomes especially important.
    And I totally agree about having a hobby – I’m currently teaching myself to crochet, and working on a blanket made out of squares I make in each country with wool bought on my travels. It gives me something to focus on (as well as a great “memory” piece!) I’ve also taken the opportunity of time on my hands to brush up on my programming skills – there are loads of great online courses on pretty much anything, and doing them while sat in the sunshine supping great coffee (other drinks are available) beats doing it from an office any day!! (But be careful not to do so much that you have no time left to see the place you’re in…)
    Great article!

    Vicki

    Awesome post guys, it really captures the long-term niggles of travel and how to conquer them. We often give in to foreign food if were ‘noodled’ out and occasionally hunt down a bottle of decent plonk even if it sets us back a days budget!
    I also agree with Jane, the first thing we do on arrival is unpack our wash bag, take out a few clothes (to reduce the creases), light some incense and get out our mini soeaker. Within minutes it feels more confortable and shows you can make literally a home anywhere.

    Jane M

    We make sure that as soon as we arrive anywhere, we dress it up to feel like “home”. We have a few little knick-knacks (a tiny yoga statue, a few pebbles from different beaches etc) that we place on a desk or a window sill. We pull out our travel pillows and put them on the bed and we unpack our clothes as much as we can.

    Doing this makes us feel settled and welcome, no matter where we are staying.

Leave a Reply to Matt Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.