Everyone dreams once in a while for a year-long vacation, to relax on tropical beaches or visit stunning exotic places. But, in reality, long term travel is far from this idilic image. Actually, long term travel is awesome, but it is not an actual vacation, especially when you have a young kid with you.
People rarely talk about this but, despite the fact that you are “just traveling on a long holiday”, being month after month on the move with your family has its downside too:
It’s difficult to maintain a healthy life-style
We used to have a pretty organised schedule back home, going to the gym 2-3 times a week, cooking at home and eating on a regular schedule. But when you travel for a long time, it is hard to maintain such habits and your tidy schedule is disrupted by travel time. You can’t always prepare your meals due to logistics and sometimes you can’t even find proper food. I used to say I’ll never take my son to a McDonalds… until we were in an airport at 10 PM, spending the night in a “sleep & fly” hotel.
You need some private space
Back home you probably have space and privacy when you need it. But traveling long term with your family means you never have a room of your own. You are constantly sharing your existence with your partner and your kid, very often in a very confined space. No matter how much you love them and how good you feel together, at some point you get tired.
After a while, you just need a break
Airport, taxi, hotel checkin, go eat in a restaurant, visit the area… and start it all over the next day. You can’t go on like this for very long. You need to adapt your style to a “slow travel” approach or even to set a base to just live in one place for a while, leaving aside the “touristic” part.
You need to maintain a minimalist living
You know those large trollers you fill with stuff when you go on a holiday, saying “what if I need this too?”. There’s no such thing when you travel for a long time! You need to maintain a simple packing routine, to save time and money with less luggage and you need you hands to help the kid too. So you need to live out of a backpack and deal with whatever fits in there.
You always have to be prepared for everything
Delays, accidents, diseases, thefts… everything can happen when you travel. We experienced them all and we had to face them while being on the move. Traveling full time you need to have a plan for (almost) anything or to quickly figure out what to do. There is no time for second thoughts and there’s no one to advise you.
You skip important moments in your family & friends lives
Kids grow, people change… after one year you realise you missed not just important moments, but also tiny details that make a memorable living. People envy your Instagram-perfect pictures, but you see your friends’ photos on social media and feel nostalgic yourself. Not to mention holidays! It is hard to spend Christmas in a tropical setup if you haven’t seen your dear ones for months.
You miss living and sleeping in a familiar location
After switching hotels for weeks and weeks in a row, it’s hard to remember what room you stay in or at what floor. Waking up at night, you never know where the switch light is and you constantly have bruises due to knocking on the new furniture setup. At some point, you wake up not knowing exactly where you are, which is rarely the start of a good morning.
New places don’t impress you as much as they normally would
It is hard to be impressed by archeological sites after you see both Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat in less than half a year. No beach is perfect after you live for 3 months in the Caribbean. No sky scrappers leave you breathless after you climb Burj Khalifa and Petronas Towers within two months range. At some point you just have the feeling you see “just another temple” and can’t feel excited about it.
Despite all these, long term travel is an amazing experience. It is something we highly recommend to anyone; you just need good planning and to set the right expectations.