“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Be Prepared For Justifying Long Term Travel to Fellow Travelers
When I had the chance to travel around the world in 2011, I expected to have some travel burnout-related challenges, such as loneliness and culture shock. However, I was surprised by how much time I spent justifying my lifestyle to fellow travelers. (Interestingly, I did not have to do this much to locals).
People on the road often have adverse reactions (particularly if they do not have a home) to your long-term travel lifestyle. I suspect that the root of these comments is either:
- Jealousy. Many people assume that Long Term Travelers must have a lot of money. (Throughout this website, you will find this does not have to be the case. Several Fifty Plus Nomads, like Vicki Skinner, live the lifestyle partly to save money). Others would like our lifestyle but have many reasons why they can’t or shouldn’t follow our example. Some excuses are legitimate; however, more often than not, in my experience, these excuses are based on fear.
- Simply not knowing how to relate to long-term travelers. People want to put each other in a box. For many people, you will be the first long-term traveler they have encountered. Some people you meet have never even considered that such a lifestyle existed until you walked into their life! Some of these people will respond to you with curiosity. (I like these people!). Others will either try to change the subject or ignore you because they do not know what to say.
- A suspicion that you are abandoning your home country or hiding or escaping from something. Some of your countryfolks will conclude that you are not patriotic and dislike your home country. (I have met people who have become long-term travelers because they dislike their home country. However, in my experience, the best reason to become a long-term traveler is that you are attracted to the lifestyle and seek personal growth).
Tips for Successful Justifying Long-Term Travel
- If you are lucky enough to become a long-term traveler like me before retirement age, be prepared to deal with the often-unstated question in most people’s minds: How did he or she get the money to be a long-term traveler? t would be best if you decide beforehand how you want to answer this question. I usually waited before I discussed this with others to avoid revealing that I got the money from an inheritance. First, it brings up sad emotions. (Though I am incredibly grateful to my parents for the gift of the means to be a long-term traveler, I still miss them every day). Besides, I often worry that the person may respect me less because I did not “earn” the right to live as a long-term traveler. Also, sometimes, I fear that they may decide to take advantage of me if I reveal this information. (In fact, I have had people in many countries recommend that I keep this information to myself to avoid problems)
- Realize that you are fortunate. Most people can’t do what you’re doing. Only in the last fifty years has a long-term travel lifestyle been within reach of many people. Acknowledge your good fortune. If you spend less money on the road than you would have staying at home, sharing this with everyone will be a great way to break the ice. If not, you can always say that you always wanted to travel the world and were grateful when the chance came your way and leave it at that. (I often remind fellow Americans that travel can be very cheap because most locals have to travel very modestly and that travel can be incredibly inexpensive if you hang out where local travelers go).
Tips for Justifying Long-Term Travel to Family, Friends, and Employers
I did not have to justify my existence to family much, and they knew me well enough so that my Fifty-Plus Nomad lifestyle did not come as much of a surprise. However, I know this is a problem for many others. Here is a good post with beneficial suggestions to talk to friends and family.