Now I don’t think I have to tell you how much I love traveling or what a big part of my life it is, or go through the laundry list of advantages to participating in travel. I would just be saying things we almost all already know. However, there is another part of travel I have never shared before, mostly because I wasn’t aware until experiencing it, and that is the cons of long term travel. Although mostly a fantastic experience there are things that arise when traveling for extended periods of time that aren’t an issue when just vacationing. For example the things you miss out on and I don’t just mean parties, (okay sometimes parties) but life events. Including births and birthdays, graduations, weddings or the more somber moments like loss of loved ones or just being there for the ones that you really care about when they are going through something difficult or having them there for you.
I remember wondering if my baby cousin that I had a good bond with would still remember me when I returned, and when a really good friend had a baby girl the day before I left that I never got to see, it seemed to be a reminder that life would be going on with or without me there. It took about two weeks after I left, to stop thinking about all that I left behind and gave up and really start enjoying the amazing experience that I was having. A moment that I remember clearly, but with that new found vigor and excitement came the stealthily creeping guilt. Why guilt? Well, then I felt guilty about all the wonderful things I was able to do and see and I wished sometimes my mom was there to experience some of it with me, it made me feel a bit selfish. I am an her only child, and although she was always encouraging and excited for me, always letting me know how she was living vicariously through me, there were many moments when I wished she didn’t have to. Despite all this though, I never felt homesick, I never missed home I missed people and instead of wishing I were home with them I usually wished they were there with me.
There are moments when you will want nothing but to be home though, whatever way you define home, like if you have the misfortune of getting sick while on the road which I did. Or if you get left in the middle of a country, early in the morning that you have never been to before with no one that speaks your language, like what happened to me in Berlin, or if you leave you back pack on a mini bus in Turkey. Nonetheless you forge ahead and keep going, because in a weird twisted way, you live for this stuff and you keep reminding yourself, as I did when trying for days to get home from Paris, that the bad moments will soon be nothing but a memory. Or you skype with your mom who stays up all hours of the night to accommodate for the time difference of you being so many hours ahead, and comfort finds you once again.
Oh and then there are the relationships, of all kinds. I made friends that I wished I could have spent more time with but the lifestyle just did not allow, usually one or both of us had to take off again. Naturally there were also the one or two guys that you find really interesting and have chemistry with and wished you could pursue something with further, but again the lifestyle made no room for, because as always the love of travel overrode all else. However I will say that it was this same lifestyle that afforded me the great pleasure of meeting those people, many of which I still keep in touch with and had such an instant connection with I wondered how we weren’t friends before. It was great meeting so many people that shared my same zest and philosophy about life and the way we chose to experience it, each other and literally the world. It was nice knowing that I wasn’t so crazy after all or that I at least was not alone in my insanity.
Now don’t think that this is to discourage you, because as I write this I am amidst planning my next and very soon long term departure. Also these are just some of the experiences and emotions I had while traveling long term some of which may or may not apply to others. Plus amidst all this is the silver lining, when I did return it made me spend time and appreciate my friends and family in a very different way. And judging by the high pitched laughing scream emitted by my little cousin as he ran circles around me when I saw him, I wasn’t forgotten at all. I did also see my friend’s baby girl albeit six months later, but it sure did mean a lot to me. So you will miss out on things, but for me I would have missed out on my own life had I not gone. Also the trip really strengthened the relationship between my mom and I and reminded me just how much of a support system she is for me. To answer a question I get asked all the time, no I never felt alone or got really lonely. When I look at how much I have done between now and When I first took off, I am amazed and quite frankly couldn’t imagine my life any other way.