You probably think you can go traveling then take back your life right where you left it. But if you live in the moment, enjoy every minute of it and actually happen to like this temporary nomad lifestyle... Traveling will change everything. Your perspectives of life. The way you think. The way you are.
One day, like most travelers, you'll think it's time to come back -because 'you have to', at some point. So you'll pack all your memories in your backpack, then take a one way ticket to that place you call home. On the plane, you'll picture the reunion with your kinfolks in slow motion. You could not be more excited. Until you realize what it means. The trip is over. OVER. Back to real life. I remember myself 4 years ago, being in Singapore airport, about to board on my flight to Paris after six months solo across New Zealand. I was thrilled to surprise my family. Until I heard that French guy talking in the queue. In French!
At that point, my whole world crashed: I realized my awesome adventure was over.
Leaving everything behind to go travel the world was the best decision I ever made. Getting out of my comfort zone wasn't easy -but it wasn't the hardest part. The most difficult is to come back in what used to be your comfort zone to realize how traveling ruined your life. Because nothing has changed. Nothing, except you.
10 downsides of long term travel
1. You'll get used to a very different routine -and it will be hard to reverse
On the road, your routine implies sunrise photo shootings, picnics in nature and commutes on the most beautiful landscapes. The most stressful situation in your day is when your fav' beach bar is out of green coconuts. And if you get bored with your awesome routine, you can just pack and go. Anywhere. You're constantly on the move. How can you possibly imagine being back on the peak-rush-hour-metro routine anymore?
2. Adventure and challenges will be the only things that will make you feel alive
You've caught the travel bug. And you will forever be tormented. By the feeling of freedom, driving your motorcycle along the beach. The smell of spices mingling together at the local market. The sensation when you reach the peak of a mountain right before the sun rises. You wanted to see the world. Through your travels, you've realized how big and amazing the planet is -and how tiny you are. You realized the world is too big to stay rooted in one place. As much as you love your friends from home, you’ll miss the excitement of meeting new people every day. You can't imagine being back in 9 to 5 life. You're back with big dreams. Anything that involves adventure and a bit of challenge.
3. SOME WON'T UNDERSTAND YOUR NEW DREAMS
Your relatives will keep asking you questions such as : When are you going to settle down? Or -I like it even more- : Do you think this is the real life? While they whip you with all their (stupid) questions, you just won’t know what to say. The truth is that you can’t predict the future. You don't know where you'll be tomorrow -and you don't want to know. However, you know where you'd love to be. Probably somewhere in Asia, exploring new places or living on a island. Breeding sheep in New Zealand. Or surfing in Hawaii. You don't want plans. You want DREAMS. You want to go with the flow. Without having to prove that your dreams are actually a large collection of ambitions...
4. You will never think of money in the same way again
Your material life is history. You're craving experiences. You excel in the art of appreciating small pleasures of life. You are addicted to novelty. Obsessed with the world, in love with life. You can't spend hundreds of dollars in designer clothes without guilt feeling anymore. Because you've learned to collect moments, not things. Therefore, you count every penny for your travel jar.
5. The Settle Down Life will scare the hell out of you
A settled down life? Why? To have kids? Who said you need to settle down to have kids? And who said you have to have kids? And to own lots of useless crap. Work in a big company. Stay there for five to fifteen years, time to get some seniority and evolve -you have to be reasonable, after all. Why should you? To be like people are expecting you to be? Again, WHY?
6. You will redefine 'normal'
Admit it, when you left for your big trip, you felt like a real adventurer, someone bold, who knows how to live his dreams. Or at least, your family thought so, right? Then on the road, you meet the real daring people. Like that guy who biked from Oregon to Patagonia. Or that family traveling the world with 9 kids. That photographer who lives incredible experiences in order to get the perfect shot. The real heroes. These people will make you feel smaller and dream bigger. And rethink your definition of normal.
7. You'll come back with the awful habit to take photos of your plate every meal
Eating is SO exciting when traveling -always discovering, sometimes even trying to guess what's on your plate, tasting new flavors... And comes the traditional Instagram-traveler-addiction: the photo of your plate. Believe me, you have to lose this habit before getting back home. Otherwise you could lose friends doing that -just kidding. Or not. It depend... if you're friend with some uptight Parisians. A scandal might occur.
8. No one will really be able to understand the experiences you've just lived -and that will get frustrating
No matter how much you try to explain it, if they haven't lived the same kind of experiences, they won't be able to understand you. They just can't relate to you. How can they, when you can't stop talking about this huge tropical spider in your tent in Australia, your karaoke parties in Korea or that day you met tribes in Indonesia? You've turned into that annoying person who starts all his sentences with "When I was traveling in..." You'll soon realize you have to keep these memories for yourself and no, not everyone want to hear about your amazing adventures.
9. You will have to travel in differents corners of the world in order to see your new friends
I know, having to travel, that's a shame. I told you traveling will ruin your life! Now you've met amazing people, you have little pieces of your heart scattered across the globe, each piece held by the ones that have come into your life. You will have to travel the world to see them again. After 4 years traveling, we've got friends expecting us to visit them in New Zealand, Australia, England, US, Germany and Canada. Life gets sooo complicated sometimes.
10. You will never feel at home again.
You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place (Miriam Adeney). As soon as you set your foot in the door to your home, you will soon realize that everything feels different. That comfort might even seem a bit strange. Despite a certain gratitude about being home, you will constantly have one side of you burning to see new places in the world, experience new cultures and make new friends. You won't have one home anymore -instead... you'll have many.