This blog post is about to get real. It's time to address the most common misconceptions about long-term travel. We are going to debunk the statements below and hopefully clear up what it means to be a full-time traveler.
Here's a little secret.
Long-term travel can be physically exhausting. It can be mentally fatiguing. It can (and will be) sweaty and stinky. But, we can assure you that it's always worth it.
That a plan is always in place.
When most people head out on vacation, they either have a day-by-day itinerary or a list of activities they'd like to participate in. However, traveling long-term is quite the opposite. First of all, planning is exhausting and can easily consume 75% of every day. No one wants to miss out on the sights in front of them because they're planning for the future. Second, new opportunities present themselves when you least expect them. This could mean meeting new friends and opting to travel with them instead of sticking to your original plans. This could mean meeting a local and being invited to stay at their house. Third, we are humans and often make decisions that are a complete 180 from what we planned.
Remember that time last summer when we almost bought a house in Fort Collins and then decided a few months later to move to Mexico instead? Or that time in Da Nang, Vietnam where we committed to teaching at an international school for 15 months and backed out at the last minute? Or the time we planned to travel Taiwan and Japan and instead found ourselves jet-lagged and freezing cold in Argentina? Yeah, us too. We don't always have a plan. In fact, we've learned to kind of love the spontaneity and uncertainty of what the future holds.
That we don't get tired or bored.
Travel fatigue is a real thing. If anyone says otherwise, they're either trying to maintain their Instagram image or they haven't traveled for a long enough period of time. Some days on the road, we don't feel like blogging, researching our next destination, posting on Instagram, or getting excited about the fact that we're headed to Bali the next day. Some days we just need to do nothing and recognize that we're struggling with burnout. We've traveled to less-than-exciting destinations in the past that have been a bit boring and mundane. For us, the best remedy for burnout or boredom is booking a place for at least two weeks. Giving ourselves enough time to breathe, unpack our backpacks, and do what makes us happy. In all honesty, we've had brief moments of feeling this way every 2-3 months on the road.
Eventually, our love for travel comes back. When it does, Balinese culture seems mind-blowing and the rice terraces are like something we never expected to see in our lifetime.
That we're unable to make long-term commitments in life.
Since returning to Colorado, moving to Denver, and job searching, we've realized something: people think that we're getting jobs solely to save up money in order to "leave" again. Employers have a lot of questions about our lives. These are the exact words of some potential employers:
Your blog says that you plan to live in Mexico -- how is that going to work with a job?
We are concerned that you only want this job because you need a job. You came home during coronavirus and need a job because you can't travel right now. Once borders open back up, are you immediately going to leave?
This isn't to any fault of company owners. We get it. Our blog tells our story about leaving our 9 to 5's to live a life on the road. However, things change and as stated above, we don't always have a plan. We're seeking a permanent long-term residence in Colorado. In the future, when we have the time and money, we'd like to continue to travel but always return to our home base in Colorado. Just because we've made exploring the world a priority in our lives doesn't mean we are flaky or unable to make long-term commitments.
That every day on the road is adventurous and scenic.
This should go without saying, but many days on the road are spent in hotel rooms catching up on TV shows, or on buses in the middle of nowhere, or in cities that are downright uninspiring. Just because we highlight the most adventurous and scenic days on or blog and social media channels doesn't mean this is the reality of day-to-day life.
That we're the same people we were before long-term traveling.
We've all heard the cliche quotes like, "Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and, sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself." When we first set off on our world travels, people assumed that we were either running away from our normal lives or traveling to find ourselves.
Neither was true. We were traveling to open our eyes and become better versions of ourselves. During our travels, we (almost) learned a new language. We developed a global mindset that many Americans have a difficult time relating to. We shared meals with people from all over the world. We saw things that startled us. We traveled in more dingy buses than we care to count. Our minds expanded daily.
The hardest part about coming home is realizing that while you've been changing daily and experiencing other cultures, things at home have remained largely the same. Most people don't want to hear about that time we sandboarded in Chile or that time we rode camels in India. Most people ask us what our favorite country was and move on.
That we have copious amounts of money.
As you may or may not realize, we lived on an average of $43 USD per day in Asia. And that was for both of us combined. In India, we lived comfortably on $27 USD per day. Our budget was always at the forefront of our decisions. We skipped entire countries (we're looking at you, Bolivia) due to budget restraints. Sure, we could've visited Bolivia, Brazil, and Japan, but we would've blown through our savings pretty quickly.
We aren't trust fund babies, funded by our parents, or wealthy by any means. One time at a job interview, I was indirectly called "spoiled" for traveling the world. People create some pretty interesting assumptions in their heads. We saved our money ahead of time, budgeted daily, and made smart choices. Sometimes it would take us 16 hours by bus to get to our destination instead of 2 hours by plane because it saved us hundreds of dollars.
While it's nice and necessary every once in a while to splurge on a semi-fancy hotel, we don't want to live in luxury during our travels. We prefer to stay humble and have authentic experiences. Things that money can't buy, you know?
That we always look the way we appear in photos.
True story: some of our family members started referring to us as "the beautiful people" during our 15 months on the road. Yes, this rubbed us the wrong way and yes, we let them know how pissed off we were.
The truth is, we are usually walking around with sweat dripping from our bodies, no makeup, carrying giant backpacks, and wearing clothes that desperately need washing. It's far from glamorous. Sure, we try to look decent in photos and get a bit dressed up -- as that's human nature. Have you ever noticed that most of the photos of us are taken at a bit of a distance? There is definitely some strategy behind this.
That we don't feel pressure from having to produce content constantly.
Content creation isn't a walk in the park -- and this is probably the biggest misconception that we've received. Our lives could easily be consumed by technology. Between taking photos, editing photos, taking videos, editing videos, posting on Instagram, posting on Facebook, writing a weekly blog, sending out newsletters, FaceTiming our loved ones, working on our website, and producing content for businesses....it's a LOT of work. Often, people see the beautiful photos that we post and assume we're living carefree and spending every day adventuring.
At the beginning of our travels in 2017, we were told from multiple long-term travelers that we needed to post a photo every single day and spend 3-4 hours each day engaging with others online. This seemed absolutely absurd to us, but we did spend a couple of hours each morning posting and working to build our following.
Thankfully, we've grown a lot in this aspect. Through the years, we've learned a lot, had some success, and been able to step back and reevaluate. Most of our focus goes into our blog posts now. However, we do still feel a small amount of pressure to produce high-quality content weekly. It's a good thing that we love blogging!
That we don't work.
While traveling, we built our own successful brand. We worked as marketers and professional photographers for companies around the world. We taught English online. We freelanced and worked part-time for companies within our industries. There wasn't a single day that went by where we weren't working in some aspect.
That we never get sick.
I'll admit that we've been very blessed or lucky for our health while long-term traveling. After traveling India for two months, I never once experienced the infamous Delhi belly. Neither one of us have had to visit a hospital, doctor, or dentist in a foreign country. However, we've had our fair share of colds, lingering coughs, and days on end spent vomiting. Sometimes, it only takes one piece of bad lettuce to ruin your plans for the next few days.
Speaking of food, our diet on the road isn't able to remain the same as our diet at home. I've been a pescatarian since 2012 and Daniel is mostly a pescatarian as well. We'd prefer to not eat lard-filled refried beans or chicken broth soup, but sometimes, it's inevitable. Language barriers are a real struggle and it can be extremely difficult to convey dietary preferences. Sometimes, these slip-ups have resulted in upset stomachs and bowel movements we'd prefer not to talk about.
That we don't ever get scammed or cheated by locals.
Every country on earth has its fair share of good and evil.
The reality of being white Americans is that many people assume we're wealthy and a bit oblivious. Because of this, a very small percentage of locals might try to take advantage of us, have no interest in helping us, or refuse to show us any form of kindness or understanding. We're very aware of this and have luckily avoided any serious incidents. See our recent post about travel safety