Things on the internet are getting out of hand, especially when it comes to travel. Pinterest is flooded with catchy photo-collages telling you to quit your job and buy a one-way ticket to Chiang Mai. There are countless YouTube channels by full-time travelers that you can subscribe to. Even worse, now there are online courses that you can buy. They’ll give you the false hope that with a few modules on SEO and filmmaking, you’ll be a digital nomad in no time, bouncing your way from place to place and making money while you do so.
There are so many different ways to travel. Some people only get a few weeks of vacation a year, while others quit everything and hit the road. This divided mindset is flawed, as there are many more balanced ways to enjoy a lifestyle full of travel.
1. You probably won’t make any money. You’ll be lucky to break even.
I cannot help but roll my eyes at people who start a blog with the primary goal of making money. If that is your motivation, you will fail. People who make money off of their blogs and online content started producing it because it was something that they loved. It needs to be something they felt passionate about and would do anyway, regardless if it was lucrative or not. This is the key
I have been very fortunate to earn some money and other benefits such as free trips from my blog. I’ve been running it for over four years and I’ve seen small returns. However, it has nowhere near earned me financial freedom and stability. Sure, some of that is my fault. I could’ve put in more effort to make connections with brands and do more sponsored content, but even that isn’t a guaranteed road to riches. Even professional, full-time bloggers struggle a lot to make ends meet each month.
The reality is, a lot of long-term travel arrangements can become rather uncomfortable. Take this couple who quit their jobs in advertising and now scrub toilets around the world. While they are still having incredible experiences, their story is a reminder that it isn’t all beaches and beautiful views. It’s a lot of hard work and uncomfortable situations to stick on a budget and get by.
2. It’s completely unbalanced
This past December, I caught myself groaning at the thought of going back to the airport to fly to Berlin just two days after returning from London. Travel had become a chore, and I had to snap myself out of it so that I could enjoy some German Christmas Markets. Sometimes, we all want to relax and spend quality time in one place, and that is a GREAT thing.
Society can’t afford for everyone to be full-time travelers. That would be insanity. What we need is to demand more balance in our work lives. Two weeks of paid vacation a year is not enough. That gets devoured by holiday travel or family obligations. This is important to note for recent graduates who will soon enter the workforce and have to negotiate their salary for the first time. If you can’t get more money out of your future employer, fight for getting more time. Benefits can be even more important than money.
Travel can fit into any lifestyle or work schedule. This is something I want to emphasize. When I commit to a full-time job sometime in the future, I know that it isn’t the end of traveling. It’s the start of traveling in a different way. Looking for flights for short weekend trips, exploring places that are a reasonable car ride away, or rearranging work responsibilities to fit in extra adventures is something that we can all work on.
3.”Too much of a good thing” is very possible. Even when it is spaghetti carbonara.
There comes a point where you’ve had enough. Enough pasta while galavanting around Italy, too many tapas in Spain, too much of any one type of cuisine. Eating out at restaurants gets old, FAST. No matter how much you love the food of a certain place, you get sick of it. Even if you are moving from place to place and the food changes, going out to eat becomes a chore. You overeat, consume way too much sodium, and throw your body out of whack. Being able to cook for yourself is a beautiful thing. Especially when you’re cooking in an equipped kitchen.
This point applies to non-eating activities too. One too many museum tours and you may get so sick of them that you skip some must-sees. One too many cathedral or mosque tours and you’ll never want to enter a house of God again. Balance is key, and if you’re constantly traveling, it can be hard to find. Many people gain a lot of weight (hello, supermarket bread & cheese diet) and find themselves trapped in an unsustainable lifestyle they don’t enjoy.
You know that feeling of excitement when you step off a plane and into a new country? The sensation of experiencing different foods and cultures that open your eyes? Those feelings are one of the best parts of traveling, but when you do it all the time, they start to disappear.
If you are on the road seeing new places but don’t have any money to spend in them, what is the point? If you can make it to Paris but cannot afford entry to the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre and only eat from the grocery store, why bother? Balance is everything. There will come a point where walking around and looking at things isn’t fun or enough anymore.
4. Your own bed is the best bed
Checking in and out of hotels, hostels and Airbnb’s loses its appeal quickly. Problems always arise; minor events feel more stressful because don’t have a home base.
For people looking to travel for extended periods of time – look into longer-term opportunities in a new place. Teaching English in Spain for 2 years has allowed me to visit 15 new countries (soon to be many more!) while earning a steady income and having a home. There are other ways to do it too – working holiday visas is another option for people who don’t want to teach English.
5. One year is never enough.
This reason blends with #2 in terms of finding a balance but also contradicts the rest of them. Even if you take the plunge, quit your job, sell all your worldly possessions and set off for a year (or two, or three) that is still a short time frame, and it will eventually end. And it wont be enough. There is no cure for the travel bug; once you’ve been bitten, you’re infected for the rest of your life. It’s better to find a way to incorporate travel into a more normal lifestyle that you can maintain over your lifetime than to take long-term extreme trips that require you to make a huge lifestyle change.
Should you travel? Yes, yes, 100% yes. Should you value experiences over things? I’d say that they’re more important, yes. But should you quit your job, sell your house and car, and set off to become the next traveling YouTube sensation or blogging extraordinaire? Only you can answer that question. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not the only way to travel and see all the beauty and wonder that our world has to offer.