I’ve been backpacking around for quite a while now and lately I’ve started to get the feeling that I’m not appreciating everything as much as  I should be.

It’s only been a few month back on the road after Morocco so I’m not suffering from backpacker burn out yet…so it’s got me thinking – have I simply travelled too much?!

 

Comparing and Setting The Bar High

comparing backpacking travel experiences inca trail

The Inca Trail – Hard To Beat!

One of the first things that pops into my mind when I’m thinking about whether I’ve travelled too much is how unimpressed I can be at amazing sights and experiences at the moment.

I’m not ungrateful for the amazing stuff my nomadic lifestyle presents – but I’ve seen so many epic things along the way that it’s hard not to compare them and feel underwhelmed.

One of the prime examples for me about this is snorkelling. I love snorkelling – it’s a great way to spend a day in the ocean with the sun on your back and I’ve always travelled with a snorkel kit in my backpack.

But then I went to the Galapagos Islands and it all got ruined!

Within 5mins of being in the water there I was surrounded by no less than 5 fully grown sea turtles, a handful of black tip reef sharks, a school of bat nose rays and even a playful sea lion.

Now that’s put the benchmark so damn high I can’t help but be disappointed every time I slide into the water now!

Everything seems to be slightly dwarfed by a past experience.

I know I must almost sound like a spoilt brat thinking that way but that’s how it is in my head right now.

No temple will beat Angkor Wat, no walk will beat the Inca Trail, no dive will beat that one with the whale shark….

It’s a vicious circle to be stuck in!

 

Too Many Options, Too Much Time

My second biggest annoyance at the moment is actually something I never thought would be an issue – I simply have too many options and too much time!

This year I could literally go anywhere I wanted. I had enough dollar to support the whole year of travel and have little to no commitments.

Yet I opted to spend this year indulging in surf and for some reason or another I’ve pretty much found myself going over countries I’ve already travelled too (bar Malaysia, New Zealand and some extra parts of Indonesia).

I’ve got a whole heap of places I want to visit (I posted about the top 10 countries I want to travel last week) yet the lazy travel bum side of me opted to take a relatively easy flight route and kick back spending some more time in places I already love.

I guess that way I know what I’m getting, know I’ll enjoy it and won’t have wasted my time or money somewhere rubbish and with no surf!

 

Experiencing Something Totally New

kuta surf bali indonesia

Surfing vs Exploring…Surf Always Wins!

Which leads me to realise that perhaps I’ve slipped from being the adventurous traveller I was last year into being a different type of backpacker. I’m no longer concerned about exploring so much and I’m more inclined to

 

  1. take the easy route
  2. opt for surf
  3. kick back and relax in one place for a prolonged period of time

 

Does that make me a rubbish backpacker? I don’t think so actually. What it does demonstrate for me though is how long term travel has slowly changed the way I approach life on the road.

I no longer want to bounce around all over the place and cram in heaps simply for the sake of it. I simply know what I want and have the means to make it happen.

What I need to remember to do though is to force myself to experience something new every so often, not just for the sake of being able to blog about it but also to keep the travel bug alive and remind myself of why I hit the road in the first place!

 

Take A Break To Appreciate It All

I guess I’m using this year as a way to take a slight break from the crazy world of the full on backpacker bubble…don’t get me wrong I’m far from returning to the UK, giving up my epic lifestyle and becoming a boring suit in an office.

backpacker relaxing island travel

This Year Involves More of This!

I’m just traveling more for me this year. I set out to surf as much as I could and that’s what I’m currently doing! It might not make the best reading for you but it’s going to be the bulk of the adventure!

…and it also saves me a whole heap of money!

Money which I shall be saving away for amazing epic adventures and projects that are already in the pipeline for next year (yup I have already started throwing ideas around for next year!) in which I shall be back to the old sense of adventure, striving for new places, new things and new experiences.

That way memories of old travels will be slightly faded and not taint what lands in front of me along the way.

A refreshed backpacker and fresh perspective on the world of travel.

I don’t think it’s possible to travel too much.

I do however believe that you need to accept that your perception and goals whilst travelling change when you start doing it long term. It’s not a bad thing – I think like everything travel matures over time, it evolves and it changes along with the person who’s doing the travelling.

 

And that at the moment sounds like an amazing adventure….

 

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13 Responses

  1. Macca Sherifi

    Hi Chris,

    I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’ve always said that the perfect length for a round the world trip is three to six months in one area. That gives you a month to get into the swing of things and the rest of the time to really enjoy it without any constraints such as a super tight budget.

    On my round the world trip, around the 10 month mark I experienced what I call ‘traveller’s guilt’. That’s where I didn’t have the energy to do anything, wake up late and all of a sudden feel guilty that I was wasting a once in a lifetime opportunity, rush around seeing everything I could in 1/2 a day, burn out, only to repeat the process again the next day. It was strange to experience and I just needed to take a step back from backpacking.

    I’d say just chill for a bit. Sometimes it’s best basing yourself somewhere to get your energy levels back. Once they are, that’s when you’ll really start to love backpacking again!

    Macca
    Macca Sherifi recently posted..Just Say YesMy Profile

    Reply
    • Chris

      totally agree with your thinking Macca – I’m guilty of being stuck on the travellers guilt mode heaps!

      Definitely enjoying some downtime taking the world at my own pace currently, have spent the whole year surfing so can’t really complain and the rest of the year is going to pan out at a good pace ready for some more chaos in the not so distant future!

      Reply
    • Chris

      Totally Angela – no idea why I set out trying to cram heaps into each month of travel, need to take a step back and make sure I appreciate everything on my own terms…which no doubt will be from the ocean!hahaha!

      Reply
  2. Hillary Fox

    I get where you’re coming from, Chris! It’s one of the reasons I’ve consciously put off seeing some of the bigger sights until I’m older, i.e. the pyramids in Egypt. I’m trying to save some of the best experiences for “last” to avoid feeling jaded.

    It’s long been one of my biggest travel fears that I would one day see the whole world and nothing would be left to discover or explore. This is why I travel slowly, not just for the sake of pacing myself but so that my experiences are richer, deeper.

    Our sense of awe and wonder changes over time as we see more and more. It’s something all perpetual travelers have to deal with. Consider your purpose of traveling the world: Are you an experience junkie? Or are you looking to expand your mind, introspect, and explore other people and cultures as well, beyond the superficial sights and adventures?

    In my early visits to Holland, I remember being completely awestruck with the old historical buildings of Amsterdam. It was a whole different world. Now that I’ve lived there the past year, the landscape has become commonplace, and it’s time to move on. The irony is that, like you, I’m returning to South Africa instead of going someplace entirely new. Hah!

    I think it’s perfectly alright that you’re spending the year in familiar places. Consider it some healthy sensory downtime, a chance to recharge and refresh your expectations, and maybe delve deeper into some of your favorite places.

    Or just come to South Africa. Problem solved. ;)
    Hillary Fox recently posted..The Upside To Getting Stranded: Alone In the Desert And Locked Out of My CarMy Profile

    Reply
    • Chris

      oh i do love you essays of wise words Hilary!
      Travelling slowly seems to be the way forward now I think – soak up everything along the way, not worry about “wasting time” taking a day or two out simply to do nothing and generally appreciate everything I get to encounter along the way.
      It’s weird how such an ‘alternative’ lifestyle can quickly become the norm…but I wouldn’t change it for the world (no pun intended!)
      Hopefully this double over of countries will allow me to find some new things amongst them that I past over last year and fingers crossed it leaves me even more stoked for travel than before!

      Reply
  3. Arianwen

    I’m starting to feel that way. It’s getting harder to appreciate great things when you’ve seen even greater things before somewhere else in the world. I keep reminding myself how lucky I am every day I’m on the road. Out of curiosity, was the photo you used on the link to this post taken on the Transalpine train? I have one almost identical to it that I posted on Facebook just last week! :)
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    Reply
    • Chris

      Glad it’s not just me that gets that feeling Ariawen!
      Ummmm not sure if it was the trans alpine actually – think it was taken on the way back from the Callier Factory in Switzerland :P

      Reply
  4. Andrew Davison

    In exactly the same position mate. I did the whole 3 month s in SE Asia thing this year thinking it would get all the travel stuff out of my system. Expect when I got back to London nothing about my old life fit anymore… 6 week later and I was packing my bags again and on a flight to Barcelona… this time I don’t intend to come back!

    I think the nomadic life suits me, I’m grateful to have enough money not to worry to much for at least 6 months… but I don’t want to just drift about… I’ve seen enough museums, been on enough pub crawls and i don’t have quite enough cash to pursue all the adventure sports.

    Right now I’ve set myself the vague goal of getting from Barcelona to Bangkok by land… going to have to get a little creative in places but at least it’s going to take me through some interesting places. :-)

    Reply
  5. Dave

    I agree. Sometimes you have to order dessert just to look at it and tell yourself this is the one that got away. I did the Europe thing a long time ago and hit almost every major city and would have gotten depressed right after. One thing I did right was that I never went to Paris. I went everywhere else but never saw the Eiffel Tower, or saw the Louvre. I have had it in my back pocket for 25 years, and every now and then I imagine what it would be like. It keeps me going when I feel like I’ve seen everything. You need to choose early what you are not going to see until you get your grey hairs and it should be something really big. Then you get older, you have kids, you realize that everything you’ve seen is bullshit compared to your children. THEN you can go to Paris without worrying.

    Reply
    • Chris

      an interesting perspective there Dave! Glad you had an epic trip to Europe and I definitely agree that you should leave things as a drive to keep going and explore. I’ve missed out plenty simply as an excuse to go back!
      Hope you get round to hitting up Paris soon and it doesn’t disappoint!

      Reply
  6. Jana

    I found your blog by searching “is a year too long to travel?” I’m on month seven of twelve. I’m currently in the Czech Republic after having seen New Zealand, Australia, Nepal, India, Cambodia and Vietnam. I should be counting my lucky stars every single day for this experience. Every single day. I’m excited for the rest of the year and what I have planned, but it’s not the same excitement I had earlier in the trip. I don’t literally and figuratively pinch myself all day long to make sure it’s real anymore. I know I’m taking for granted all of the amazing things around me, but I can’t seem to get myself out of this bubble I’m in. I feel ungrateful and it’s hard to admit it to others, even to myself. And then, you do an internet search and realize you’re not alone. Funny how I’ve seen so many places and people and realize how similar we all are and still think I’m the only one with this problem. Thank God for the inter web :) Anyways, long winded way to say thank you for putting it all in perspective. Hope the UK is treating you well!

    Reply
    • Chris

      No worries Jana – seems a lot of us are in the same boat. I guess even travel can begin to feel like a ‘normal’ routine over a long enough period hey? Anyway I’m glad you’re still enjoying it, might be worth taking some time to set up a base for a couple of weeks and then getting back in there feeling refreshed?

      Reply

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