RTW Diaries: A Confession, A Change of Plans

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Have you ever dreamed about doing something for a really long time, only to finally try it and find out that you don't love it nearly as much as you expected to?

We've all been there, I think. Maybe it was that cooking class you finally signed up for, a dream job you landed that turned out to be a letdown, or maybe even that time you convinced yourself that you could run a marathon.

For me, it's turned out to be long-term travel.

Cliffs of Moher

When I set out on my round-the-world trip in July, I was excited. I was planning to be gone for about 6 months, and assumed that by the end I would only want to keep going. I was ready to fall in love with long-term travel like many of my traveling friends.

But it just never happened.

Right from the beginning, there were challenges. It took me a few weeks to settle in to my travel groove — a few weeks to adjust to traveling on my own once again. In the months leading up to my big trip, I had only traveled in short stints. And only with other people: in small groups, with a friend or two, with the guy I was dating. This was really the first time in a year that I would be traveling completely on my own.

It wasn't all smiles, though.

I had forgotten how lonely solo travel can be. How stressful it can get to only have yourself to rely on. How much it can suck to be seeing new places and experiencing new things without someone to share it with.

I eventually did settle back into traveling on my own, thankfully, and even ended up making some friends while zipping around Europe with Busabout.

But by the end of Month Two, something still just felt… off.

Green Park, London

Re-evaluating my plans

As I began my third month of constant travel — and I mean constant: frequent movement and more beds than I care to count — the idea of home was becoming more and more appealing. I was missing familiar places and faces; I was missing sleeping in my own bed and driving my own car; I was even craving lazy evenings at home catching up on my favorite TV shows. I was exhausted and ready for a break.

I won't say I wasn't enjoying traveling anymore, because I was. I just wasn't enjoying ALL of it anymore.

I was no longer enjoying the stress of finding a place to stay each night or figuring out transportation. I was no longer enjoying unpacking and re-packing my bulging bag every few days. I was no longer enjoying the lonely evenings and dinners-for-one. And let's not even mention the money situation…

Don't let the smile fool you – I was nearly flat broke at this point, waiting on freelancing payments.

Someone once told me that it's around the 10-12 week mark that homesickness really starts to set in for long-term travelers. I thought that perhaps I was hitting that wall, too. After all, traveling — and traveling solo especially — isn't always rainbows and unicorns. I hoped I would snap out of it.

But, by the end of September, I was running low. On money, on energy, on enthusiasm. It was time to re-evaluate my plans.

I saw two options:

I could either continue on with my RTW plans and head to Asia as soon as TBEX Dublin was over, find a cheap apartment somewhere for a few months, and just buckle down and get some work done in order to afford to explore Asia (and eventually fly home).

OR, I could shift my plans a bit and go home for a few months instead, postponing Asia until after the New Year.

In the end, I decided to change my plans.


I'm now writing to you from my cozy living room in Ohio, where I intend to mostly stay until mid-January. Now that the decision is made, I know it was the right one for me.

Am I giving up?

Some might call changing my plans and coming home early “giving up.” I prefer to call it simply listening. Listening to my gut and doing what I knew was right for me and my travel style.

After 2 months of travel last year, I thought I would never be ready to stop. But after 3 months of travel this year, I've come to the conclusion that long-term travel isn't for me after all.

I finally figured it out!

I've built my blog around the idea that you can live a “normal” life — you know, one where you have a job and friends and a permanent address — and still fit travel into your lifestyle. Traveling nonstop for months on end kind of goes completely against that, however. And perhaps that's one of the reasons that it just didn't work out for me.

The truly nomadic lifestyle will probably never be for me. And you know what? That's okay.

I feel like a lot of travelers and bloggers and “digital nomads” out there make this lifestyle of perpetual travel sound like the coolest, most awesome thing ever. But the reality, of course, is that it isn't always. And it isn't meant for everyone. In the end, I had to listen to my gut and allow myself to take a break.

It was the best decision I could have made for myself.

And now that I know that the nomadic lifestyle isn't for me, I can focus on travel styles that ARE for me.


My plans from here

My travel sweet spot seems to be about 6-8 weeks. Enough time to explore, yet not so long that it gets exhausting. I'm still going to Asia — but probably for 2 months, tops. I fly back to London on January 15, and will head to Thailand or Vietnam from there.

Now that the decision is made, I feel good about it. This way, I will get to spend the holidays at home with people I love. I will have a chance to recover from Europe (both mentally and financially). And then I can go to Southeast Asia refreshed and ready for a new adventure.

Santorini Sunset

This also gives me time to plan a bit for Southeast Asia; to make sure I make the most of the time I'll spend there. I will go back to my more “normal” style of travel — where I have to plan in order to fit in the things I really want to. You know, like most people out there who are planning trips and looking for inspiration (i.e. the readers of this blog!).

I don't look at this as a failure, even though I'm sure others might. Instead, I look at it as one more step toward figuring myself out. Life, after all, is nothing more than a giant learning experience. And the lesson I learned from the past 3 months is that, while I definitely love traveling, long-term travel and I just don't fit together like I once thought we might.

But that's the beauty about traveling — there's no right or wrong way to do it. Only the way that works for YOU.

Amphitheater on Ios


So what do you think? Is long-term travel for you? What would YOU have done in my situation?

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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213 Comments on “RTW Diaries: A Confession, A Change of Plans

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  1. No one can ever judge you for listening to your gut. They are you plans and your travels and you know what is best for you!

    “After all, traveling — and traveling solo especially — isn’t always rainbows and unicorns.”- Haha so true. It can be hard, and a headache.

      Yup, it’s definitely not always nice or easy! Especially for those of us who can’t just make a horde of new friends with a panda hat. 😉

    I think it’s good that you at least gave it a try and now know how you feel about it. It’s better than just dreaming about it and regretting that you never gave it a go.

    I know that my family could never make the jump to becoming RTW nomads. Instead, we moved from Texas to Malaysia where we live a “normal” life for the most part. Hubby has a steady desk job with limited vacation days, and the kids are enrolled in a regular school. But simply living in a place so vastly different from home makes me feel like I’m a traveler even when I’m not going on a trip. Plus, Malaysia is a good base for travel, so we head off for a long weekend every 6 weeks and then do 3 long trips a year. I feel like I’m getting in my world adventure while maintaining a sense of normalcy and routine

      That sounds like a really good compromise! I would like to try expat living one of these days – it would give me a home base, but would still be very different and offer up new travel opportunities!

    This is a great post! I have tried living abroad and settling into another culture a few times now and I’ve decided that if the next time is just as hard, I am going to admit it isn’t for me. It’s not a failure! It’s success to listen to your own heart and happiness. Good for you! Best wishes in all your future travels.

      Thanks! And good luck figuring out your travel style, too.

    Only you can make the right choice for yourself. I see no failure here. In fact you’ve learned much from this experience. Having never tried constant travel I don’t know if I’d like it or not. Going on my longest trip for three months in South Africa starting mid-January. Enjoy your time, at home, or wherever your heart leads.

      Thanks, Gaelyn. I definitely did learn a lot, and had a great few months, too.

    I’ve done both and while I don’t enjoy zipping around to a new place every few days, I do enjoy long term travel with a home base. It’s like having the comforts of home on the road.
    I currently have a “real” job and have to fight like hell to travel the way I like…that being said I am looking forward to traveling in COLOMBIa during December .

      Traveling with a home base is definitely my ideal, too! Enjoy Colombia!!

    WOW! This is so not a failure, Amanda! This is a truly amazing post. I admire your honesty & strength, and I can totally relate with your feelings. You wrote what many of us think deep down inside, so a huge hat tip to you for listening to your gut and being able to admit that in the end, this is simply not the way you like to travel. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I know I’ll be coming back to this post often; you’ve written a beautiful personal piece her. Thanks for always being an inspiration!

      Thanks so much for the kind comment, Catherine! I’m glad you connected with this post, too.

    I have always been interested in long term travel but the more I read about it the more nervous I feel about it. I travel in small bursts throughout the year – nothing over 10 days and have never really had that feeling of wanting to get home until this year. I thought it was due to the weather as it had rained pretty much every day while I was traveling but it also crossed my mind that it could be that I had reached my maximum of days I wanted to be away from home. Which was disappointing because 10 days really isn’t that long!

      Well hey, if 10 days is your limit, there’s nothing wrong with that! Don’t push yourself to do something that truly makes you uncomfortable. Yes, it’s good to challenge yourself sometimes. But don’t push yourself so far that you don’t enjoy it anymore just because you feel like you’re supposed to!

    Welcome home! Enjoy your time there, where you can look back and absorb your most recent travels and plan your next trip. There IS a lot of pressure to “follow your dream and travel long-term,” but that isn’t for everyone. It isn’t for me! I like to do a month (two might be nice), but then I need to go home and process. It’s too hard to make sense of everything when you are bombarded by new experience. And, as I’ve gotten older, I like to travel slower and with a little more luxury (I have a thing for hot water showers). As you grow older your travel preferences may change and maybe someday you’ll be at a point where a 6 months or a year on the road is exactly what you need. For now though, your decision to rethink your plans show that you are wise and self-aware. Good for you.

    Looking forward to your travel stories whenever and wherever they occur. . .

      Thanks for the great comment, Cindy! I’m with you – I need that downtime after a trip to process everything that I’ve seen/done. And it’s almost impossible to do when you’re going someplace new every few days (or even every few weeks!). It’s the reason my blog suffered a bit on this trip – I simply didn’t have time to reflect and write!

      Like you said, though, one day down the line maybe my opinion will change and I’ll want to give a longer trip a go again. We shall see!

    I’ve been doing long term travel since January, but this time it has been very different from my other travel experiences, first it is long term, second I’ve been doing volunteer service for most of the time: 3 months India, 2 months Israel and 1 month Perú. Truth is, as a volunteer you do have responsibilities the same way as having a job sans a salary, so, it’s not for everyone and in addition you still have to pay for most if not all of your expenses. The good thing is that you get immersed in the country where you are providing the service, you learn about the country and its people, meet people from around the world which, by the way, will be your brothers and sisters for the time being and of course you are doing something relevant to help this World that we love to explore. I did save for many years to afford this and to recover from every volunteer experience, I traveled to a neighbor country then back home for a month. So far, this has been a life changing experience and more than I was expecting. Im glad that you are discovering what you really want so, go for it!

      Volunteering and traveling – or voluntourism, as it’s being called these days – is definitely an option worth considering. I’m sure it’s very rewarding!

    Love love love this post! You definitely did the right thing. I often think I should’ve thrown in the towel on my RTW trip early too but I was too stubborn to. Good for you for listening to your heart!

      Thanks, Katie! I remember actually thinking of you when I was making my decision to take a break. I remember what a tough first few months you had, but how you powered through. I guess, in the end, I just couldn’t bring myself to be that stubborn! 😉

    It’s been said above but I’ll say it again, that the honesty in this post is refreshing. I think a LOT of people feel the same way, but they haven’t come out and said it.

    I know at least for me, I haven’t given long term travel a go yet, sticking more with expat life and side trips. I’ll have a little taste of it this upcoming year, though, so we’ll see where it takes me.

    So glad you followed your gut, that’s really what it’s all about. Learning from, listening to, and understanding yourself make the rest of your life a whole lot easier.

      So glad you liked the post, Sally. I never expected it to do this well, but I suppose you can never go wrong with honesty!

      Good luck with your own long-term adventure!

    I think being listening to your heart is BOLD and full of courage! There is no one thing that is good for everyone – obviously! And traveling solo is hard. Just trying to figure out how to go to the bathroom – I mean, what do you do with your bags?!

    Right on — excited to hear about your upcoming adventures!

    Long term travel is definitely not for everyone – I know for sure that Pete and I (and the other nomadic types) are the weirdos in this world. 🙂 Good on you for just doing what is right for you. That is what travel is all about!

      Haha, yes, you weirdo, you! 😛

      Nah, I don’t think you’re weird. Long-term travel just works for you guys in a way that it doesn’t for me! Nothing wrong (or weird) with that.

    “We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

    I am with you. I like to think that I could do long term travel but I know it would be exhausting. It is nice to be able to have a place to come home to after a trip.

      Definitely. Having a home is not something I’m willing to give up in order to travel!

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