“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.

Here are a few other posts justifying long-term travel to yourself from Worldpackers, Nomadic Matt, and Mapping Megan.

Fifty Plus Nomad offers personalized workshops and courses in Spanish, English, Living and Traveling in Mexico, and Long-Term Travel Book a Two-hour Free Sample Introductory Session

Other Posts About Long-Term Travel from Fifty Plus Nomad

Paul Heller has been a lifelong avid traveler and language learner and teacher, Even as a child, he told Santa Claus that he wanted to visit all the children worldwide. At seven years old, Paul wanted to retire to Mexico. At eight, he memorized the name, capital, location, and some facts about every country worldwide. At twelve, he found a book "Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" and started developing his own itinerary for a future round-the-world trip. He remained obsessed with travel; after getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and working as an administrator, He spent his vacations going to different countries around the globe studying language, touring, and volunteering. In 1994, he quit his job and lived in Russia as a volunteer English instructor. He discovered that he loved teaching languages. In 2004, he decided to make a living out of his travels and founded a community of people who love to travel just like him. He developed 5 three-hour classes about living and traveling long-term worldwide which he taught in over 50 adult education programs throughout the US. After his parents passed, he realized his dream of traveling around the world; cruising and touring some of the most remote places like the North Atlantic, Patagonia, and Oceania; and learning new languages (he knows Spanish, Italian, French, and Russian). Paul encourages everyone to learn foreign languages. He knows that it can be frustrating and slow but that anyone can learn a language if they put in the work and, most importantly, learning a language is well worth the time and effort because it opens up a whole new set of people, ideas, and cultures. He is currently spending the next chapter of his life in Mérida, México. He is excited about using this blog and his classes and workshops to inspire and equip fellow Fifty Plus Nomads with the language, cultural, and psychological skills necessary to be successful and happy long-term travelers and expats over 50.

Write A Comment