Why Long-Term Travel Ain’t All That Great

“To the Clouds” by Claudio Vaccaro

Blogger Tina Su longed to escape the dull routine of daily life and thus, like so many of others who read about ‘mini-retirements’ in The 4-Hour Workweek, she put her job on hold and went on an extended tour through India.  A few weeks into her trip however, she realized that the image she’d had of a mini-retirement being a glorious escape filled with ‘spiritual growth’ and ‘creative stimulation’ was an idealistic and romanticized one.  Though she’d eliminated one routine (her job) she’d replaced it with another (sight-seeing) and soon grew bored and wanted to go home.

“After six weeks of traveling,” she wrote in the blog post ‘The Mini-Retirement Misconception‘, “I was starting to get bored. Sightseeing got old really fast, and I didn’t want to visit another fort or palace again. After eight weeks of floating around without real responsibilities, I was anxious to come home and be productive again.”

I could definitely relate. I spent four months in India and four months in Central America and discovered that four months was about a month too long. I learned that while I love living in a foreign country, wandering aimlessly through one? Not so much. I need the structure of a job or else I grow antsy and anxious.

A lot of travel writers and bloggers try to sell the idea of the vagabond lifestyle as this exciting, Huck-Finn-type adventure (and it can be) but what they often leave out is that it’s also exhausting, lonely and even boring, as well.

Or as Tina put it:

“While traveling can enrich your life experience and enhance your understandings of other cultures, it will not make you happier and cannot be the solution to your discontentment at home. I’ve learned that, at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what I’m doing, as long as I am being productive and contributing towards a greater cause other than myself. Regardless of what I’m doing, true happiness can only be found right now.”

 

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Comments ( 2 )

  1. Bill

    I lost my appetite for travel for its own sake when I was in my mid 20s. I'm more a believer in living abroad, getting to know a place, working there, learning the language. Sightseeing is good for weekends and holidays. I think it is an unusual person who will enjoy traveling more than that and not feel like he is wasting his time and missing out on the joys of having his own place and an established social life.

  2. Aryn

    I find when travelling alone that I actually have to work and make a conscious effort to be alone. I stay in hostels most of the time and there are always people to meet and talk to and do things with. Traveling for me isn't all about sightseeing. I enjoy hiking and lounging around on beaches and wandering through the streets of foreign cities just to sit in coffee shops and people watch. I also keep myself busy and productive by catching up on my (non-trashy novels) reading list, writing, reading academic works that interest me and relate to my field of study and blogging when I don't feel like going out and doing anything.