When people find out I’ve been backpacking for over 2 years there’s two questions I usually get asked;
The first is “when are you going home” – which is a question that even I don’t know the answer to!
The second is “do you ever get sick of travelling”?
My usual response to a backpacker is a simple no.
However when my cousin Dean asked me over xmas I stumbled a bit on it, he pushed me for an honest answer and it got me thinking a bit.
Even more so when my girlfriend jumped in and said “yes of course he does”.
Now these are two people I’m pretty open with – my girlfriend because, well she’s my girlfriend and Dean because he’s travelled a lot and done the long term thing too, so he can understand the mindset.
I was puzzled for a bit – do I ever get sick of backpacking?
For me that’s an incredibly broad question and actually not as simple to answer as I first thought.
Of course my girlfriend inevitably gets the negative side of my feelings voiced to her a lot because she’s always the first to enquire when I’m in a bad mood!
Long term travel is a complex thing and given the time I’ve spent on the road there’s inevitably going to be points where I’m not enjoying it as much as I should be.
But on any long term time line the probability of something like that cropping up is pretty high.
Break It Down
The more I thought about the question the more I realised it was the angle I was looking at it that was puzzling me and clouding the answer – so I broke it down…
Do I ever get homesick?
Yes – but it’s only happened once in the last 2 years and within a few days I was fine again, I made the conscious decision not to let thought of home get me down because at the end of the day if things really got that bad I could simply jump on a plane and that would be that.
Do I regret travelling?
Nope – I can honestly say it was the best decision I’ve ever made!
Do I feel like I’m missing out?
Again no! I spend my days doing what I want when I want, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything!
Do I feel the need to settle down?
At the moment I have no real thought of buying a house or getting married or anything like that. I’m content with how my life is going. What I can say is that if I ever settle down I very much doubt it’ll ever be in the UK.
The Big Question
The big question for me though came when I asked myself if I ever got sick of moving about.
Without hesitation I can easily say that yes – when it comes to moving about constantly I have got sick of travelling quite a lot, but with good reason.
When most people first start backpacking it’s a sprint. You’re the new guy on the block and you want to tick off as many countries, experience and travel miles as you possibly can. I guess it’s a status thing – so you can get involved in those incredibly egocentric hostel conversations where everyone is simply trying to brag or one up each other.
But long term a sprint isn’t sustainable, long term turns it into a marathon – and a marathon is very much about pace.
And that’s where I’m jogging along now – in the marathon stage. I’m not sure where my journey ends either so it’s even more important to pace myself!
A Slower Pace
These days I’m more content to find a place I like, sit tight and enjoy myself. It’s no longer about filling my passport full of stamps (although I still love visiting new countries) and doing something crazy each day to fill my Facebook status’s with.
It’s about embracing a lifestyle – one where a lazy day in a hammock by the pool doesn’t result in me feeling like I’ve wasted a day. Where I’ll take my time getting under the skin of a specific place or country and stay at least a month or maybe more.
It’s also about the backpacking culture of goodbyes and hellos too, less bouncing usually means I get to know people for longer periods of time rather than the standard 5 min greeting conversation between backpackers swiftly followed by hollow goodbyes. As well as less packing and unpacking too!
Sure there are still places and periods of time where I do bounce a lot – but they’re peppered amongst longer, more relaxed stints.
Take last year for example – this is what my itinerary panned out like;
- Jan – March = Morocco
- April = New Zealand
- May – June = Australia
- July = Indonesia
- August – Mid September = Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia
- End of September = Switzerland
- October = UK
- November = Thailand
- December = Indonesia and UK
…and then I’ve kicked off this year with 3 months in Ecuador.
I’ve explored all those countries pretty well and indulged in things I really wanted to be doing – not just for the sake of a new place or things to tick off the bucket list. I’ve by no means exhausted what those places have to offer but I feel like I did them well, and in many cases that involved revisiting places I passed through last time around.
Settling Into A Lifestyle
So going back to the original question – no I can’t say I don’t get sick of travelling.
My travelling has simply evolved as my mindset changes and I embrace what is ultimately becoming a long term lifestyle choice.
If I do ever get sick of travelling the UK is a mere flight away and I always make sure my bank balance has enough spare case as a get out of jail free measure. Perhaps that what has allowed me to simply go with no prospect of an end date – the fact I’ve accepted at any given moment I can bail out and head back to Devon.
Whatever the reason travel is by far the best thing that I’ve ever embraced. How could you ever get sick of a lifestyle where you can literally do anything you wanted at any given moment?
Slow is the way forward though – something you should all keep in mind if you’re planning you’re own adventure!
Any of you guys feel like you ever get sick of travelling? How do you feel about the fast pace/slow paced debate of exploring the world?