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. Great article. I love to travel, but I also love gardening, so I have chosen to garden during the summer months, and then travel during the winter months.

    I can’t relate to not enjoying long-term travel, but I can totally understand your decision to travel how YOU want. Is there really any other way?
    So many Aussies move to London for a two-year working visa and quite a few I’ve met have wanted to come back early but stuck it out because they thought they had to, which is such a ridiculous idea. Instead of enjoying it, they’ve been homesick and miserable.
    At the end of the day, the only person you have to answer to is YOU!

      I’ve never understood that – sticking with something that makes you miserable just because you feel like you have to. It’s so silly! Whether it’s traveling, a job, a relationship, etc., if it makes you unhappy, do something to change it!

    I think it is perfectly fine and at least you gave it a try, and came to realise that long term travelling is not for you and have the courage to admit so.
    Not every one style suits everybody.
    Ultimately, it is about being happy and comfortable with who you really are. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Exactly! There are so many different travel styles because there are so many different types of people! And what works for one most certainly won’t work for all.

    I really appreciate this post, Amanda! I had a job as a tour-guide a couple of years and it was through that that I realized I really do not like packing up and leaving a place every few days! It was so exhausting and I had a moment quite like this that you shared on the blog… I just wish I would have been as “forgiving” about the situation as you are (I put that in quotes because there’s really nothing wrong to forgive or anything). We figure out who we are by trying things — you went and tried it and now you know yourself better! All I know is that your blog has inspired me ever since that time and has given me something to shoot for — a life with the comforts I love and want and a sense of home, but also one filled with semi-long-term travel. I’m excited to see what this will mean for you in the future and your trips! Thanks for sharing all of this with us! ๐Ÿ™‚

      And I really appreciate the comment, Erika! Hopefully I can continue to inspire you! Still plenty of stories left to tell. ๐Ÿ™‚

    In no way at all are you a failure!

    Life is way too short to do things that do not make you happy. There is no reason for anyone to trek around the world if it does not make them happy. Yes, you planned it for a very long time. Yes, you gave it a shot. YES there are so many people who envy that you got out there.

    But if it doesn’t make YOU happy, there is no reason to continue just because other people dream about what you chose to gave up.

    Life is yours, live it for you.

      Thanks for the great comment! You are so right. Life is too short to do things that make you unhappy!

    In no way was this a failure… If anything, you would have been failing yourself if you carried on when you didn’t want to. There’s so much pressure these days to ‘live the perfect life’ as posed by bloggers and influential thinkers that we sometimes forget to do what actually makes us happy.

    In the end, the decision is only going to affect you and I’m glad you made the right one ๐Ÿ™‚ I lose count of how many times I say that different people travel in different ways. There is no right or wrong way – only what makes you happy!

      Exactly, Lizzie! You have to make yourself happy first – then worry about everyone else!

    I think there’s something about Europe that discourages you from traveling long-term. I was in Europe for three months before I headed down to South Africa. If I could do it all over again, I would have skipped the Italian leg of my European journey which drained the most of my $$$. But I definitely don’t regret living in Spain for two months and learning Spanish. It was cheaper than the rest of Western Europe, but at the end of the day, the currency is still stronger than ours and it eventually caught up to me. Long-term travel is not for everyone and I wouldn’t even dare recommend it to just anybody. Some people have it in them, others don’t and that’s totally fine. Besides, where else can make perfect smores, put up the beautiful christmas tree, or creamy hot chocolate full of marshmallows while wearing cozy socks – all in the comforts of home!

      Europe IS a tough place to travel long-term, mostly because it’s not cheap! Also, I always end up struggling with wanting to see too much at once. Even though Europe isn’t huge, there’s SO MUCH to see there.

    Good on you for deciding to go home. Long term travel is definitely not for everyone. I did it in chunks – lived for around 2 years at a time in a few different places – and found that more doable, except that every time I left a place and left all my new friends it was devastating! Now I’m based back home in Australia and have a son and wouldn’t want to be constantly travelling with him – lots of travel, yes, but still that “normal” life in between. I totally get it!

      Yes, keeping that “normal” life – or at least some semblance of it – is important to me!

    You’ve just spent months wizzing around Europe, spending the holidays with the people you know best and then heading out to Asia. That doesn’t sound like a failure to me ๐Ÿ™‚

      Haha when you put it that way, no it doesn’t! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I can totally relate to this in so many ways. My RTW was such a struggle, and it was only 5 months, of which my last month was back in the US visiting friends and family. Solo travel is great, and I will continue to encourage people to try it because it can be such a confidence boost. But it can also be really tough. I love traveling with Andy now, and being away from him while I was on my RTW was so hard that I flew back to Germany for 2 weeks in the middle to see him. I think a lot of it has to do with speed too. Most long term travelers don’t travel quickly because it’s just not sustainable. You went really fast through Europe, and that’s bound to wear down anyone. Andy and I just did 7 weeks through Europe in May and June with no more than a week or so (sometimes less) in anyone place, and it was exhausting. I think you’d have a different perspective if you were going slower, but that still doesn’t mean you’d change your mind. Andy and I are purposely setting up our lives to be home in Freiburg part of the year and traveling or temporarily living elsewhere part of the year. I like having a home, I like knowing my comfortable bed is waiting for me back there. But I also like seeing the world for long chunks of time. Especially if we can escape part of the harsh German winters! Good for you for listening to your heart and taking the time to go home for awhile before going to SE Asia. It will refresh you and give you the energy to travel for a little longer over there, but certainly there are a million ways to set up your life to fit what makes you happy.

      I envy travelers like you who have a significant other who can travel the same way as you! I would love to do that, too – have a home base, but then travel part of the year. But, right now, it’s just not feasible for me. Hopefully someday, though!

    It’s never a failure because you tried and succeeded to find what you really want. We can’t expect to have the same path like the others, otherwise we wont really find ourselves. We follow other paths for a guide but then its always up to us to know what’s best for ourselves. Kudos, for finding it your way! Be safe always! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for the support, Lyndsay, and thanks for reading!

    I just recently got back from a month-long trip home after being away for 1.5 years and it really did me good! I love traveling but there is also a wonderful feeling to go home. I’m not sure how long I would last traveling constantly. My solution to that has been to move to a location and take trips from there in the area. I lived in Berlin, Germany and from there traveled all around Europe, coming home after each trip. Now I live in Chiang Mai, Thailand and take trips to destinations in Southeast Asia. I like the idea of have a surrogate home while I’m away from my real home. I’d love to meet you when you come through northern Thailand. Over here your money will last a lot longer as well – a nice side benefit of traveling to SEA.

      Eventually that’s how I would like to travel – find a home base somewhere abroad, and take short trips from there. That sounds so much less overwhelming!!

    Thanks for your honesty. I can’t say I’m a long term traveller as I’ve ended up working in places for at least 6 months which gives you a chance to put down roots but it has been 3 years since I’ve lived in Ireland. And I do miss it, more so at the moment.

    A lot of people see going home as a failure, guilty of it myself, but I think your gut instinct is something that shouldn’t be ignored. It’s also SO much harder to be away from home at the holidays.

    Enjoy your break before your next adventure!

      Your gut instinct is usually never wrong, no matter what the decision is you’re trying to make!

    definitely Not a failure. this is success! you saw what was right for you. and how would you know what is right without trying what is out there? I myself lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle in my early 20’s (not intentionally ), and that made me realise it is not for me. I am all for the sustainable kind of travel- having a job/base and then travelling a LOT. work smart, travel harder. i start yearning for my home routine after the 6 week mark. I need to recharge (energy and money) from travelling by settling, and then recharge from daily life by travelling. all the best with your travel plans and i look forward to seeing your next adventures!

      “I need to recharge (energy and money) from travelling by settling, and then recharge from daily life by travelling.” – YES! Totally agree with this, as I’m the same way.

    I think we had that conversation when we met and you still were trying to figure out what to do. Even if a lot of people enjoy long term travel and especially there’s this trend in the travel blogging community that it’s the only right way to travel I believe that everyone has to find their own way to discover the world. People are different, not only in the terms of travels, so if something works for one person it doesn’t have to work for you and the sooner you understand it the better for you! I’m with you in that decision as I figure out a while ago that I love taking few trips than just one big as I love my life back at home, it’s good, it’s steady. Besides I love the excitement of looking forward to going for another adventure. Anyway, you did a really good thing as there was no point of pushing yourself towards somethings you didn’t fully enjoy!

      Yes, we did chat about this before I made up my mind!

      I like your approach to traveling – lots of smaller, shorter trips. It definitely gives you more to look forward to, and less to stress out over all at once!

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