The 7 Curses Of Long Term Travel

7 Curses Of Long Term Travel

If I look back at the last six or so years of us travelling around the world, there is not a minute that I regret making the decision to leave everything in the ‘real world’ behind and embark on this life of long term travel. Every waking moment we feel extremely lucky for the opportunities that have led us to create this lifestyle. Compared with the majority of the planet, we come from a privileged background that has offered us the freedom to jet off and explore the world indefinitely. Even though we have made some sacrifices to do this, and have worked very hard to save the money to travel long term (and continue to work on the road), the rewards have been more than worth the effort. Honestly, our lives are pretty awesome.

But there is a downside to everything. The longer we are on the road the more we discover what I like to call the “curses of long term travel” – The negative effects of being modern day nomads. Not every day is full of fun, adventure, spectacular sunsets and cocktails on the beach. Here are the 7 things we have struggled with life on the road.

1) It Gets Harder And Harder To Be Impressed

After years of exploring the world’s best temples, national parks, museums and attractions, it gets harder and harder to be impressed. This is the curse we are most affected by today, and we constantly find ourselves becoming nonchalant when visiting places that others wait their whole lives to see. “It’s just another temple” or “Meh, we’ve been to more authentic villages” are phrases we’ve heard each other saying on far too many occasions.

We need to remind ourselves to appreciate every wonder we encounter, no matter how small or how many times we think we’ve seen the same thing before. Not every attraction can be as mind blowing as Angkor Wat – that doesn’t mean once you’ve been to the temples of Angkor you never have to visit another historical site again.

Great Wall Of China Sunset Curses Of Long Term Travel
The sun sets over the Great Wall of China. We never saw a single other person the entire time we were there. How are we meant to beat that?

2) You Miss Out On Those Special (And Sad) Moments Back Home

Perhaps the hardest thing to deal with when you live a life constantly on the road is missing out on the special (and sad) moments back home. Weddings, birthdays and other celebrations pass you by and a lot of the time you are only reminded of them through photos posted on social media. Even more tragic is if a dear relative or friend passes while you are away, meaning you never got to say goodbye. And trust us, grieving on the road isn’t any easier than grieving with your family around you.

Luckily, through the wonders of the internet, we can now stay connected with everyone back home via apps like Skype. We also take solace knowing that our friends and family are usually happy for us that we are out travelling the world. It helps us get through the sad moments, even when we are questioning why we choose to be away for so long.

3) Friendships Are Measured In Days, Not Years

Take a look at your friendship group. How long have your mates been in your life? Years? Decades? Did you grow up together? Those friendships may stay with you forever, but when you are always on the road it is harder to form such close, lasting bonds with people. Being transient means that we usually only get to spend a few days (or sometimes even only a few hours) with people who we genuinely like and get along with. I’ve lost count of the number of guys and girls I’ve formed incredible friendships with, only for us to part ways and never see or hear from each other again. We share amazing experiences together and then vanish from each other’s lives. It’s a curse that never breaks unless we stop moving.

Friends Curses Of Long Term Travel
Hanging out with good friends on New Years Eve in Hoi An, Vietnam. Who knows if our paths will ever cross again.

4) You’ve Changed But Everything Else Is The Same

Returning home after an extended period of time always leaves me feeling like I’ve changed, but everything else is the same. My friends are still going to the same bars and eating at the same restaurants, my home town still looks exactly how I left it, even conversations go back to the same old topics we were discussing years ago. We end up questioning whether we really belong at home, or sometimes even rethink what “home” really means to us. I’m not saying I have changed for the better, but I have changed.

5) Experiencing The Traveller’s Burn Out

If you travel to a lot of countries or over long distances continuously it is easy to feel completely burnt out. After 10 months riding our motorbikes around South East Asia, checking into a different hotel every couple of days, packing and unpacking our backpacks and spending every hour of daylight exploring new sights, we were totally exhausted. We were getting frustrated way too easily and becoming more and more jaded with life in general. We needed to stop for a few months and recharge the batteries, or risk quitting travelling altogether. The only cure for this is to slow down.

7 Curses Of Long Term Travel
Becoming burnt out when travelling is a real issue.

6) Always Searching For The Next Adventure

Even though it is harder to become impressed, when we finally are “wowed”, it just makes us want to seek out more adventures. Camping for free on the beaches of Hong Kong isn’t enough – now you want to camp on the Great Wall of China or in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Visiting 100 countries doesn’t quite cut it when you know there are 193 countries to explore. It is a hunger you can never satisfy, and every jaw-dropping experience just forces you to want to discover another. It’s like chasing the dragon you can never catch….

7) The Idea Of Settling Down Scares The Hell Out Of You

“When are you going to stop travelling and settle down?” It is the dreaded question that us full time travellers get asked all the time. If you’ve made it past your gap year and never stopped moving, then you know that nothing is more frightening than the idea of getting a full time job, getting a mortgage and rejoining the rat race. Some people call it running away, but who says that is how we are meant to live our life? Why does a life of unwanted responsibility have to be adhered to? When I feel completely happy making a minimal income and living a basic life, why should I have to change that?

“Think about the future!” But why not think about the now?

Great Wall Of China Curse Of Long Term Travel
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Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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58 thoughts on “The 7 Curses Of Long Term Travel”

  1. Very good article, talking about things that I think every traveler has thinking about. For me- just create a balance. My home is my “base camp”. And my trips are in three parts. Part 1 is in my home- it is the time of preparing for a trip. Part 2 is far from home, the trip itself. And Part 3 is again in my home- it is the big sharing the trip with my relatives and friends. And when Part 3 finish, a new Part 1 begins- again in my home… 🙂

  2. After reading the blog post I am delighted to see many points that I was unaware of till now. You have included interesting information in the write-up. Nice.

    • Glad you liked the article. Thanks for your comment Leni. Happy travels

  3. I love how absolutely honest this is. We took our first long term trip to New Zealand a few years ago and were gone only around six months. We couldn’t believe how much we grew and how much changed for us, but how EVERYTHING at home was literally just as we had left it.

    • Thank you for sharing Venessa. It is amazing what long term travel does to you. Hope you had a great weekend. 🙂

  4. There are some negatives, sure. The biggest problem we have is resentment from friends and family back home, they just don’t like it one bit and aren’t affraid to say so. But generally there’s way more +ves than -ves or we wouldn’t keep on keeping on. 3.5 years now, 1 husband, 2 kids. I’ve got my besties with me, at least, and we catch up and visit special people around the world all the time ( but not the meanies!)

    • We know what you mean Alyson. Sorry about the very late reply. Thank you for sharing. It is great you still travel with your family. Thank you for sharing and happy travels for the future. 🙂

  5. Nail on the head, guys – particularly #4. Even after a relatively short 15 months we’ve returned to the UK – albeit temporarily – and it somehow no longer feels like home. We’ve definitely changed in those 15 months and the idea of settling down again does terrify us – and we’re in our mid-forties and mid-fifties! Suffice to say, we’re now working on our next adventure…

    • Settling again terrifies us too Ian. It’s crazy how a little time away can change you. We wish you all the best and hope to find your home soon.

  6. Every point is spot on guys. We’ve been away for over a year now and #1 is a tough point to deal with, you sort of have to make a special effort sometimes to appreciate a new place when perhaps it doesn’t match up to other locations. Also #3 about meeting and then losing friends really gets to us as we’d love to stay in touch with these amazing people for ever but just know we’re likely to never see them again. Can be depressing.

    We deal with all of these issues by slow travelling as much as possible with plenty of downtime and plenty of time spent living like locals. The odd dull boring day doing absolutely nothing can do wonders. It’s not all about racing around doing as much as possible all the time. Pick and choose and appreciate. That’s what our little JWalking trip is all about.

    Once again, great article.

  7. #1 is absolutely true. A year in, we are hard to impress. It doesn’t help that we come from a beautiful part of the US -Seattle-, so we are “meh” about a lot of mountain scenery that other people would kill to see. Our strategy is to only see and do the things that are truly unique and special at any destination. That helps keep up the “wow” factor.

  8. I just wrote about the truth of long-term travel, and much of what you wrote here resonated with me. I, too, dread going back home, but maybe I’ll be like you guys, after two years, burnout will set in and then it’s time for a change. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my slow and long term travel. Good read!

    • Hi Alesh, thank you for reading. We never thought we would feel burnout travelling because this is what we love to do. Maybe it is because we are getting old, not too sure. Slow travel is the way to go. We love stopping and enjoying a place for months. It is really nice for us and our business.

  9. Hey guys, I love reading your stuff! I’ve been on the road two and a half years now, travelling solo. I am smack bang in the middle of my South East Asia trip and I hate to use the word but I am bored. I am tired and jaded. I dont like to stay in a place for a few weeks because I get too attached. Any advice of things to do as a quick fix for a few weeks to cure this tiredness?? I feel so guilty when I spent days doing nothing.

  10. Awesome post, and so very true . I miss family and friends back home but mostly when there is something big happening in their lives, and as a lot of them are getting married/ buying houses/ starting families I do feel like I’m missing out. After spending 12months traveling I was more than ready to stop, yet when I did and got a job in New Zealand, I found it really tough, and I don’t mean getting out of bed to go to work. I found it tough connecting with my colleagues, because most of my conversations with people for the past year where with other travellers, and while they weren’t all about travel it was the prominent topic. I didn’t know what to talk about in the real world because eI hadn’t had that for so long! Now it’s all fine, but I find myself reading more and more travel blogs and my feet are getting itchier!

    • We know what you mean about conversations with people. We struggle sometimes with having a conversation with our closest friends or family. It has gotten easy over time and has become natural again and flows. Going down different paths and trying to relate in some way to one another’s world does take time. I am glad it is all great the conversation side with your work colleagues now. Thank you for reading Gemma. Good luck for your next travel.

  11. Well written 🙂 All of these I can relate to and all of them scare me! Especially the thought of missing important milestones, friends weddings etc. back home in the future. Despite trying to reassure myself that all my travelling will be out of my system by my late twenties… I know it’ll never really be cured.

    Got to love a good old burn out though. Lying in a hotel bed for 30 hours straight ordering room service and watching back to back episodes of Hell’s Kitchen never felt so well-earned!

    • Thanks Kim. We have a lot of friends who grew out of travel. For us, that never happened. Have to admit we’ve never laid in a hotel bed ordering room service, but that does sound awesome!

  12. I’m planning some longer-term travel for next year and these are all things which I do worry about a little – of course I’m excited, but it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of travelling and not consider the realities. I can’t wait to go though, I’m sure it will be worth it.

    • It will definitely be worth it 😉

  13. This is so true, especially #1 I so glad I’ve had the luck to return to South East Asia a couple of years ago, when I first passed through before that I definitely had burn out and became un-wowed by stuff, probably because India had been so incredible. The second time round I took time to revisit places and be impressed properly!
    I’ve realised over the years (god, I make myself sound ancient ;)) that often the stuff that really impresses can turn up in the most unexpected places: more travel, more awesome stuff! I’ve just spent 4 weeks in Shetland – pretty close to home and on a last minute decision – yet it was amazing, I was wowed on a daily basis!
    And sometimes, a change is as good as a rest!

    • A change is definitely as good as a rest! And nothing wrong with exploring your own neighbourhood. Last time we were in Aus we spent a few months living in Margaret River, only a few hours from where Lesh grew up. It made us fall in love with Australia again (but not enough to keep us there, haha). I hate feeling jaded on the road, but slowing down definitely helps. Thanks for reading, Rachel.

  14. I have wanted to do the long term traveling since long time ago but was stuck with family responsibilities. I want to travel one place after another after another to explore the world before I die. That nomadic spirit is in my blood. I can start doing it now but no idea how to continue it after starting without a load of money in my bank account. Another big constraint is my nationality. I am from Myanmar (Burma) and almost every time I traveled on job, the immigration made some troubles to me. It is because there are many people from my country migrating as refugees and they just can’t trust every one anymore. Except ASEAN countries, we are not allowed for any free entries/ or visa on arrival like Shangen/EU countries for example. Any thoughts or ideas or response you can share?

    • It must be tough having a Burmese passport. Sorry to hear that it restricts you so much. Unfortunately we can’t offer any thoughts or ideas, but maybe focus on the countries that are easier for you travel to. Best of luck, buddy.

  15. I thoroughly recommend you drop by Kyrgyzstan 🙂 The hiking and camping in summer are great and the skiing in winter is much cheaper than Europe 🙂 (We also have the best raspberries anywhere)

    • We’ll be in Kyrgyzstan in September. We can’t wait to check it out! Might see you there, Ellen 😀

  16. Travelers burnout is definitely real. It can get very exhausting to move from place to place every two days and even the most seasoned nomad needs a break from traveling once in a while.

    • We love slow travel, but sometimes that isn’t even enough. We need to find a base to hang out at for a month or two to really recharge the batteries. Cheers Ben.

  17. “We end up questioning whether we really belong at home, or sometimes even rethink what “home” really means to us. I’m not saying I have changed for the better, but I have changed.”

    This hit home for me.

    • We think that to ourselves all the time. Thanks for reading, Liezl 🙂

  18. One of the best articles I’ve read in awhile. I just hit my 1 year on the road mark, and have experienced all of these. I love how you explain #1 as well. It feels almost wrong to think it sometimes, like I’m spoiled when I say, “eh, it’s cool”…haha, but it’s true. After traveling for so long it happens!

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed the article, Dave. Number 1 is our biggest curse right now. Thanks for reading mate 😀

  19. Can totally relate to all 7 of these points mate. Especially #7 – settling down.

    It think the longer you’re on the road the more you appreciate the freedom afforded to be able to travel where ever you want and when ever too!

    • The longer we are on the road for, the less and less we ever want to return home. Thanks for reading Carlo!

  20. Hey Guys!
    I was lucky enough to meet you in Shanghai recently when you stopped briefly along the way.
    Talking with you really helped respark all of the incredible emotions I’ve felt throughout my travels, all the amazing things I’ve seen and done really came to light in my mind and for this I thank you! Sometimes it’s easy to forget your past experiences when you are constantly moving on to new, equally fantastic things. (As you have highlighted here, perfectly).
    Anyway, this post really hit home for me. As I have now returned to England to settle down for quite some time I shall be living vicariously through you both. I hope you both continue to be safe and well, and you carry on conquering all the challenges of your travel lifestyle, and in turn continue to reap all the rewards of living such a wonderful life.
    I will continue to enjoy following your adventures!

    Much Love, Jamie.

    • Hey dude! Thanks so much for the kind message. It was an absolute pleasure meeting you in Shanghai! I hope the journey back to England helps reaffirm what path you would like to be on. All the best with everything mate, and we will stay in touch! Much love brother.

  21. I know exactly what you mean, tomorrow it marks 3 years of constant travelling for us and moving from one place to the other. We are nomads and happy to but, as you said, there are always negative things. Being away from the people and the animals we have back home and we love it’s the hardest for me, especially when on the occasional visits I see them getting older and growing without me being around. Life goes on for everyone and we have to take the good and bad of the one we’ve chosen to live.

    • Wow, three years already? How awesome guys! I’m sure you two have figured out your own best ways to quash the troubles of long term travel. Any special tips?

  22. Very true. No. 1 resonated with me the most as we were just talking about this the other day. We’ve found traveling slower has helped with not becoming so jaded 😉

    • Glad that travelling slow has helped you not become so jaded. Despite our own advice, we need to work on this one ourselves. Thanks for reading Radhika.

  23. Wow! Number 2 and 3 really resonate with me. I have been outside out of my home country for almost 10 years and during those 10 years I’ve seen through pictures weddings, newborns, graduation parties, but also not being able to attend my chilhood’s best friend funerals. I’m about to start another long trip, but this time with my girlfriend. I would also add that from time to time there’re some lonely times.

    • It’s tough being away from friends and family for so long. Sorry to hear you missed your best friend’s funeral. There are definitely lonely times as well, but Lesh and I are lucky we have each other for those moments. Best of luck for the next travels Angel! Thanks for reading 🙂

  24. Thank you for a good article. We all have been through many things u mentioned. But what I feel is if there r seven curses of long time travel then thre r 7000 blessings too. We don’t get everything we want. We have to sacrifice in our lives to live the life we want. Now question is, wat life we select to live and what things we are ready to make sacrifices on?

    • You’re spot on Pankaj! There are 1000 blessings for every one curse. Despite the downfalls, we wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for anything.

  25. A sure-fire cure for burnout is to go back home for six months. After that, your itchy feet will return with a vengeance – trust me, I am experiencing that right this moment!

    • Haha, I can only imagine the itchy feet you must be feeling now Jane! How about jumping back in the saddle and riding to Tierra del Fuego? 😉

  26. Great article 🙂 We have only been on the road for 2 and a half months now, but we are quite confident that we both want to continue doing it for as long as possible!
    But we have already felt the freindship thing, meeting great people and then saying goodbye has been hard.. but then we try to remember we will always meet more great people 🙂

    • Once you get bit by the bug, you will never shake it! We’ll be following along on your adventures guys! Happy travels 😀

  27. There are so many things that are true in this article. I have never felt burned out by travel but I am very much always searching for my next adventure – and it never seems to be where I am.

    Actually, my father passed away when I was in the U.K. (I’m American) and it hurt me I wasn’t able to be with him during the final year of his life (But he did visit me shortly before his death. He was hit by a car).

    • So sorry to hear about the loss of your father, Rashaad. It must have been especially tough not being there with him during his final days. Our condolences, friend.

  28. The jaded traveler syndrome definitely sets in at some point. Nice list.

    • We suffer from it pretty hard. Thanks for reading dude.

  29. Wow, that is 100% correct. So much of this I can relate too from travelling the past 10 years too! I love thinking about the next adventure. Never stop exploring!

    • “Never stop exploring” should be our slogan! Thanks for reading Jen! Hope you’re doing well 😀

  30. Nice list! I totally agree with all, except for #6. Is searching for the next adventure *really* a curse? Isn’t that just…fun?

    Oh, and I think you missed #8: never having any damn money. Yeah, that retirement plan that everyone talks about? What is that anyway? 😛

    Keep traveling as long as you love it!

    • True, always searching for the next adventure really is fun. But when does it ever end? When will we finally just be content? Perhaps never (and we’re ok with that). And not having money definitely sucks, haha. Thanks for reading Heather 🙂

  31. #3 especially resonated with me. I’ve only been on the road for about 8 and half months now but already I’m starting to get more than a little frustrated with meeting awesome people only to part ways in a couple of days. It’s gotten to the point where, sometimes, I don’t even want to get to know anyone because the whole time I’m just thinking “what’s the point?” Perhaps the solution to this would be for me to try looking for a travel buddy (I’ve been traveling solo so far). At least this way when I part ways with other people I’ll at least have one person left to reminisce with about the great times we all had.

    Great site, by the way! You guys are always an inspiration. 🙂

    • It is a tough one for sure. We always try to think that everyone has something to offer so we try speaking to lots of different people, but there is definitely times when we just go “ah, can’t be bothered tonight”. And glad we can help inspire 🙂 Thanks for reading Katherine.

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