Cruising from one foreign city to another with nothing but a backpack and a guidebook is exciting. Hanging out on tropical beaches, exploring crumbling temples and trying new foods: these are some of many benefits and exciting things about long-term travel. To have the funds and the time to do an extended around-the-world trip seems like a dream for many, and it’s true: an extended travel is guaranteed to be life-changing in more ways than one.
Of course, along with the good also comes some down sides. I’ve been considering the cons of long-term travel a lot lately because I am about to embark on a one year trip to Kathmandu, Nepal where I’m moving for a job. I’ve also been on several long-term trips in the past three years. The first for ten months, the second for three months. After these trips, and in anticipation of the next one, I’ve begun to consider both the pros and cons of long-term travel. Just what are you trading to travel/live/work abroad for an extended period of time? What are the trade-offs?
I think the major trade-offs of long term travel are the small things, things that you wouldn’t normally even notice during everyday life back at home. You miss the everyday occurrences and events in the lives of your friends and family. You miss stories about encounters at work, updates about someone’s mood on a particular day. You miss random phone calls from friends who just want to chat and see what’s going on.
In the age of social media and hyper-connectivity, it is easier to stay connected than ever before. The internet can be accessed from most places in the world and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter make it easy to send friends and family quick updates. Skype is available for phone and video chatting and we have blogs to share all the abroad experiences with our loved ones. But, even with the technological avenues, we still miss the mundane-ness of everyday life. It is is sharing these run-of-the-mill details that create strong friendships and relationships.
Although extended travel is an incredible opportunity, there are inevitable trade-offs. The trade-offs are the small things in life, which sometimes make it easy to stay in one place, near home. Traveling is an incredible opportunity, but there are drawbacks too. It is necessary to find a balance between maintaining connections at home and being connected to your abroad experience.
How do you stay connected with friends and family while traveling or living abroad? Do you think there are other trade-offs of long-term travel or other things you miss when away from home?