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 think my sweet spot is about 2-3 months, personally. I didn’t really have too many issues myself on our 6 month trip, I knew it wasn’t forever and was keen to make the most of it, but it was tough for my partner. About halfway it got really bad and I was seriously wondering if I might have to carry on without him. I would happily do extended travel again but for a shorter time and go lsower.

      Yeah I just find myself not enjoying it as much the longer I’m gone. But hey, everybody’s different!

    What an excellent post and well done you! I like your honesty, your style, and your blog, and so apparently, do other readers LOL! You came. You saw. And you Made It in you own unique way!

    I’ve done a combination of everything. I lived as an expat in the Czech Republic and Slovakia for 2 years, then I did a 6 months trip around Asia which I enjoyed very much. After that, I moved to Berlin, again as an expat and never went back “home.” Over the years I utilized my time by taking 1 month to Vietnam here, 1 month to India there, and made it work as I’m now married and have a child. Thankfully, my young son is as mad as me and as long as there is WIFI and lots of food (he’s 12), he’s good to go.
    My husband has been very supportive so I sometimes do solo travel too with the knowledge that I have a loving family to come back to. 🙂

      Sounds like you’ve discovered the travel style that works for you, too, Victoria! And it’s great that your family is supportive and up for adventure!

    Lots of people have talked about going slower, but it’s still exhausting. We have been doing 2-3 months in each place and still it’s hard. We don’t think of ourselves as travellers though – we see ourselves as just ‘living’ somewhere different. These places become out new home for a while – we take time to find apartments that are the right fit etc. I find just sorting out where to get basic things can be tiring, especially art supplies!!! It takes us about 3 weeks to really settle in each new city. Really like your blog.

      Yes, I can imagine that even moving every couple of months could get tiring after a while. Just as soon as you settle in and get used to living “like a local,” it’s time to move on again.

    I just stumbled upon your blog and this post caught mi attention. Just like you I also read a lot of blogs by long term travelers, and I really considered doing the same thing. But first, I moved from Belgium to Mexico and this experience made me realize that I really want to have one fixed place to call home. I love traveling and being on the road, but in between trips I want to have my own spot with my own stuff and my long time friends around.
    I’m very happy I found your blog and I enjoy reading about this kind of travel. Keep up the good work!

      Thanks, Fanny! It’s definitely possible to travel but still have a home base for in between trips. In fact, I can’t imagine doing it any other way!

    Loved this blog post! I am an author of the blog, Ready, Set, Roam and re-blogged this post! The other authors and I are college students and therefore, focus a lot of Ready, Set, Roam’s posts on studying abroad. This post was great for our viewers who may be interested in traveling, but not interested in studying abroad or other long-term travel! Check out my re-blog and the rest of our website at: http://www.readysetroam.com/world-blog/

      Thanks! I’m really glad you found some inspiration in this post!

    Thanks for sharing such a personal challenge! In my plans for next year, I fear too that I won’t “like” long-term solo travel. I’m definitely going to be listening to my gut to make sure I’m doing what’s best for me. If it’s time to go home – it’s time to go.

      That’s all you can do, Emily. Give it a go, and listen to your gut. If it works out, great. If not, there’s no shame in trying something else!

    Love this article. I feel like everyone thinks that if you really want to travel, you have to take these long stints and completely halt your life. I always knew long-term travel was never in the cards for me because as important as travel was for me, so is my family and watching my niece and nephew grow up during these crucial years. SO, it was adjusting to having the best of both worlds – it’s still possible to travel and have a a full-time job, and live your life as you normally do while doing extraordinary things. And overall, I think we are more grateful for home when we get short stints of travel, making our time back at home more meaningful and not filled with distractions and meaningless stuff. I love reading about people following their dreams in the way that it works for them! Bravo.

      I totally agree, Liz! You really CAN have the best of both worlds if you work at it!

    Ok. Ticket back to America has been booked. I feel a huge sense of relief and loss at the same time.

      In the end, I don’t think you’ll regret it. It sounds like you have ceased enjoying your trip. You don’t want to have bad travel memories just because you were too stubborn to allow yourself to take a break!

        Exactly. If I had continued, it would have been just out stubborness. I’m thinking I have options now, if after a couple months, back in America, I can still hit the road again. Thanks for your article…it helped!

    I know what you mean. I’ve been going for four months now. I’ve been in indecision hell for 3 days deciding to continue in SE Asia or fly back in 3 days to NY. I started getting burnout 6 weeks in. I traveled fast, same style as yourself. I want to go back to America, but feel I should keep going, but I really have zero desire to continue. It’s bittersweet, but, I think I’ll book my ticket now back to the states. Makes me happy and depressed at the same time.

      It sounds like you could definitely use a break. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all!! If you have “zero desire to continue,” well, then that pretty much sums it up right there! Go home for a bit, rest, recharge, and then hit the road again if that’s what you want to do!

    Thanks so much about for this blog! I am currently on month 2 of a 5 month round the world trip and am realizing as much as i like to travel it is way too long alone. I have learned so much about my travel style but my heart isnt in it anymore. I want to go home but am afraid I will miss it.

      Well there’s always the old “grass is always greener” syndrome to worry about. You may indeed go home and miss traveling. But if you’re not enjoying traveling after 2 months, do you really think you want to just “put up with it” for another 3? There’s nothing wrong with taking a little break! I’m so glad I did.

    I love the honesty of this post. It is so refreshing to read a true account of the challenges of long-term travel and not just another story about how everything is peachy and glorious as a solo traveler. It is challenging and sometimes very lonely.
    Best always to follow your own gut and do what feel right to you. Glad you followed your instincts.

      Thanks, Laura. I don’t write negative things very often – but mostly just because I’m a fairly positive person. But I’m definitely not opposed to telling it like it is when I DO have something to say.

    Not everyone can enjoy the nomadic lifestyle. You find something that works for you and go with it. So good for you for changing plans. I haven’t done the long-term travel thing yet; debating it but not sure it’s for me either. And there is nothing wrong with that! I can’t wait to read about your Asian travels!

      I know it was definitely the right decision for me. After being back home for a few weeks now, I’m feeling refreshed, inspired, and really excited about planning the next part of my trip.

    You’ll be visiting Asia during the best possible time! Do think about stopping by HK as Chinese New Year will be going on the first week of Feb– it’s def a celebration not to be missed!

      Ooo I didn’t even think about Chinese New Year! HK could definitely be a possibility as a short stop-over…

    Congrats on your discovery! We all have to see what’s under each rock in life. You gave it a shot. Many fantasize about long-term travel, but never do. Cheers to your success!

      Thanks, Mig! No regrets here. I’m glad I tried it, even if it didn’t turn out how I’d hoped.

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