How to Solve Three Common Fears About Long Term Travel

Have you considered long term travel: either travelling for a few months, or even years, but stopped yourself before really exploring it? Long term travel has always been a logical choice to me, which is why I ended up taking 3 long-term trips, spaced out each 4-5 years. What I’ve noticed is that there are recurring questions when I consider leaving home for 8-12 months at a time! Here’s how to solve three common fears about long-term travel.

Long Term Travel Fear #1: What if I don’t plan enough?

Oftentimes, travellers who are going long term are under less time constraints, so less planning works well. For example, when we went to China, we started in Hong Kong, and had bookings for the first 2 weeks out of 3 months. However, we had not yet finalized our Mandarin classes in Kunming until after we got there, since it was a big investment and we wanted to check out the school and see what our accommodations were like.

Another benefit of ‘underplanning’ is that you have the opportunity to go to less mainstream locations with little expectations. If you pick out a home base for the first few weeks of a long trip, it buys you time to get oriented and a sense of what else you’d like to do on your trip, oftentimes pulling from the advice of locals or other travellers.

Long Term Travel Fear #2: What if this is the wrong time in my career for me to go away?

The career landscape is changing: Many employers seek candidates who have travelled, and it’s possible to gain skills related to your career (or take a career break) to gain more clarity and creative space.  There are even organizations who help location independent workers to travel while working full time, like Remote Year, or work abroad visas via International Experience Canada (18-35 year olds).

“The key is multicultural engagement, immersion, and adaptation. Someone who lives abroad and doesn’t engage with the local culture will likely get less of a creative boost than someone who travels abroad and really engages in the local environment”

-Adam Galinsky

Related Post: Gap Year Ideas to Boost Your Career

Long Term Travel Fear #3: What if I don’t have enough money?

Limitations can set you free! Most of my trips have been on a lower-end budget, and without financial limits, I wouldn’t have ended up housesitting, working on a rice patty with a Japanese family, hiking in the Himalayas, couchsurfing… the list goes on!

Limitations can lead where you didn’t expect, for example:

    • You can easily say ‘no thanks’ to a tourist excursion you weren’t sure about anyway,
    • It could land you on an overnight train where you get a way better sense of local travel, or
    • You’ll visit places in shoulder season rather than high season: allowing for more unique experiences, and less decision overwhelm.

Keep in mind, though, showing up in another country absolutely broke is unfair to local communities- use a site like numbeo to get a sense of local costs, the exchange rate, and from there, determine how you can visit without burdening the social supports in place for locals.

Whether your ‘what if’ falls into one of these three questions, or a whole other subject area, remember: it still might not be a reason to stay home. There could be a benefit that you’re not seeing, or, at the very least, an option worth exploring before dismissing long term travel completely.

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