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. I personally think that the value of long-term travel is that you get to step back from distractions and things that cloud your focus and instead connect with yourself more clearly. Finding out what is or isn’t for you is the whole point of long-term travel, in my opinion. I’ve had the same experience so I know exactly how you feel…I’m just so glad we didn’t sell our house in order to do our RTW. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Such a good point, Krista. But yeah, probably good you didn’t sell your house first!!

    Amanda — I love what you are doing and love that you care enough about yourself to be honest and do what you know is right, rather than conform to pressures put on you. I understand exactly how you feel. Traveling non-stop wasn’t for me, either. I did it for almost 7 months, and it was incredibly emotionally taxing. By the end of it, I would have done better for myself to have gone home and then headed back out later, when I was refreshed. I am excited for your travels, your lifestyle and look forward to seeing you in Thailand when you make it over here. <3

      Thanks for the great comment, Diana, and for the support! It’s really tough to give up on something when you really want to love it. But, in this case, I just knew I had to. I’m still going to travel tons! Just not for as long at one time.

      Can’t wait to catch up with you in Thailand!

    This is not failure. This is living the dream – the new dream with less nightmare tinges.

    I think human beings need time to reflect/process to extract all the good juice from our experiences.

    Enjoy the journey & the rest breaks ๐Ÿ™‚

      Well, it’s living MY dream. Which is the most important part. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Love it and I can relate 100% as you already know haha. I was always impressed that you kept publishing even on the road this summer, it took me so long to get up something when I was on the road. Absolutely exhausting. It’s great that you’ve realized this about yourself and you are making changes to feel better and happier. So glad we got to hang out and talk more in September ๐Ÿ™‚

      We really are twinsies, Liz! It was super hard to keep writing while on the road – especially writing posts that I felt good about publishing. Which is why I was only posting once or twice a week as opposed to 3-5 times like I do when I’m at home.

      Hope we get to hang out again sometime!

    You’re totally right, the only way to travel is by what works for you personally. I think most people don’t truly want to be a full-time nomad. The idea sounds great when you’re in a position that stops you from traveling but after traveling for a long period of time you begin to crave some home comforts. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I think it’s all about finding the right personal balance and it’s great that you seem to have found this. Personally, I’m craving long-term travel right now, but once that’s out of my system I’m sure I’ll adjust my travel approach to shorter trips throughout the year.

      Yes, as with everything in life, it’s really all about balance. I have trouble finding it sometimes, but it’s so so important.

    Just like you, I want to make people see that you can combine travel with a normal life. I love my dance classes, our apartment and being able to see my parents whenever I feel like it. I know I’d like to do some longer travel in the future and definitely some more slow travel, but I don’t aim to become a digital nomad.
    I get the feeling that I should want to become one,though, as I read the blogs of so many perpetual travelers out there. But as you day, we should all find out which way of traveling is right for us. There’s no wrong way. There are only different ways.

      I think bloggers like us are just as important as those digital nomads – people travel differently, and find inspiration in different places.

    I too often use the phrase rainbows and unicorns to describe long term travel – it isn’t always the case. I too am out on the road for 8 weeks, and am realizing 4 to 5 is now my max. We just changed our flight back to Bali to be home about 10 days early because I am just tired and don’t want to plan, don’t want to find some place to stay, or how to get around. I must be the worst travel blogger ever. I am wondering whether I “quit” too early on this trip, but you are right about listening. I am listening to my body and my heart, which both want to be back in Bali, our home base. We will start to think about travel in 2014, but for now that flight to Bali will be fabulous – mostly because we have nothing else scheduled after that…

      You most certainly are not a bad travel blogger!! Listening to your gut and sticking to the travel style that works for you is so important. Otherwise, I feel like your readers can totally tell that your heart just isn’t in it.

      Plus… getting to “go home” to Bali??? Yes, please!

    There’s nothing wrong with that. You made an excellent decision and as long as you’re happy, it’s all good. =)

    Definitely don’t look at it as a failure!!! You followed your heart! I couldn’t do longterm travel either.

      Don’t worry, I don’t feel like I failed at all! I’m really happy with my decision to take a break!

    Great post โ€“ and good on you for being true to yourself and the travel style that suits you. Long-term travel is so often held up as the ideal but there are so many different ways to travel. I’m similar in that mixing travel and time away makes me appreciate both so much more.

      I that’s exactly it, Lucy – traveling and then taking time off from it makes me appreciate both my travels AND my time at home a lot more. When you’re constantly just doing one of those things – either always traveling, or always staying at home, that’s when it can become stale, or when you start to take it for granted.

    This is such an important post – and clearly a lot of other people think so too! Travelling long term *isn’t* for everyone, and quite frankly most people actually prefer to just take shorter trips. Good on you for listening to yourself, and I’m sure your readers will feel they’re benefitting too!

      I’m amazed at how many people have responded so positively to this! Thanks for reading.

    That wavy fluffy stuff shot came out very nicely ๐Ÿ™‚ reminds me I must edit mine. Great post too of course ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Haha, thanks! I’ve been waiting to use that wavy fluffy photo… I love it!

    This is absolutely not a failure – this is a success! Well done for listening to what you were feeling and not being afraid to adjust around that, rather than just powering through and not enjoying yourself anymore. I think it takes more to admit that what you’re doing isn’t right for you and change accordingly, than to simply keep going. In a way, I wish I had done what you did on my current South America trip with my partner, but it worked out well in the end. Anyway, enjoy the comfort of being at home and look forward to Asia!

      You’re right – it IS much more difficult to admit something just isn’t working and to change it than to just keep going, complaining about it.

    Amazing. I’m so glad you figured out what works for you instead of just powering through and doing it anyway. I’m glad you listened and knew that it was time for a break. I don’t know if long-term travel is for me as I’ve never done it before but I’m eager to find out.

      You’ll definitely have to try it out for yourself!

    I applaud your honesty. While the dream is long term travel the reality is somewhat different. To enjoy travel you have to do what makes you happy.

      So so true! Things don’t always work out the way you expect them to.

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