Find out what full time travel couples have to say…
“Sell it all and travel the world!”
We hear about it more and more. The siren song of freedom lures seemingly ordinary families, young and old professionals, and respectable retirees from traditional life to go all willy-nilly into the world’s wilds.
“Out there,” you may find danger and excitement. You might be uncomfortable, challenged in your body and mind, and tempted to view life and the people in it with unabashed joy. This is unchartered territory, fraught with alternate journeys and unconventional thinking.
You know, the ingredients for adventure, freedom, and a life worth living.
The Urge to Travel Starts as a Whisper
It starts as a little voice nagging you from the inside, whispering, “Is this all there is?” or “What happened to all the dreams you had…before?” or “I’m sooo bored and uninspired. Is there something else I should be / could be doing?”
Then that nagging gets a little louder until you can’t ignore it any longer. At that point, you start asking new questions like, “What if this can really happen? Sure, we/I may fail, but what if it actually works? What’s possible?”
Some of us will go years researching and living vicariously through others who boldly take the road less traveled. Others will design their versions of freedom, perhaps keeping a home base in a familiar location and then taking time for extended travel. Others will never go full-time, happy to watch and cheer on other people while exploring their own backyard with a new sense of wonder.
And then there are the brave, foolish, courageous, happy souls who will take the leap and build their wings on the way down. If you’re standing on the edge, here are some full-time travel tips from those who have already made the jump to the road less traveled:
Tips for Slow Travel and Full Time Travel
Traveling full-time or for extended periods will show you what you really need. When we are in a fixed location for a long time, we tend to collect “stuff.” During the collecting, that stuff seems important. The thought of getting rid of it is unbearable. However, once you remove yourself from the trappings of that location and new experiences take over your senses, the stuff occupies a smaller portion of your reality. Suddenly, you don’t “need” six pairs of boots or 50 boxes of holiday decorations. You may still love and appreciate those things. It’s just that your attachment to them is less. It’s a freeing experience.
Self-care becomes critical. During life “before,” it’s easy to delay taking care of yourself. Essential rest, pampering, preventative habits, exercise, and listening to what your body tells you are put off until someday when you have more time. Out in the world, your health and well-being take on a whole new meaning. If you get sick, you may find yourself navigating an unfamiliar medical system. This can cause stress even when you have great options.
Then there is FOMO. If you are down with tummy troubles, a nasty sunburn, or are overtired, you could miss out on a new experience. You’ll quickly realize that simple preventative measures go a long way to keep you in the best shape to travel. Eating well, moving more, stretching, resting, taking nutritional supplements, applying sunscreen, practicing daily oral hygiene, staying hydrated, and keeping a first aid kit helps you stay healthy to maximize travel enjoyment.
Know your budget. When you’re on vacation, it’s easy to splurge because, after all, it’s a “once in a lifetime” trip. When you’re traveling slowly or full-time, being aware of how and where you spend your money is just as important as if you are planning for retirement or long-term goals in a fixed location.
On the positive side, long-term travel allows you to experience an area more like a local than a tourist, which means spending less. Lodging can be cheaper per-diem. You have time to explore markets and activities beyond the “tourist zones.” You can meet residents who will share their recommendations for what to do in their neighborhood. And, you can stay within your budget, so your traveling days are not unexpectedly cut short.
Budgeting doesn’t mean deprivation. The idea is to have a plan and then stick with that plan whether you’re spending $1000/month or $10,000/month. When you find a must-have that will put you out of budget, then be sure to make an adjustment the next month or have a plan to replace the additional expense.
Be prepared to be transformed. If you’ve ever come home from a vacation with a different mindset than when you left, you have an idea about how travel opens your mind. With longer-term travel, that feeling is exponential and often longer-lasting because you don’t fall back into “the grind”…there is no grind to fall back into! You start to view the world through a different lens. It’s energizing.
You’ll want to bottle up your newly found perspective and sprinkle it on everyone you know. Remember that all those folks back home are not on the same journey. They may not fully appreciate or understand your new perspective. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you or are not secretly or outwardly jealous of your courage. It just means they haven’t experienced what you have.
Be kind. When you make those calls home, remember to ask them what THEY are up to, even when you are excited to tell them what you are doing. Find a way to share little moments with them; today’s technology makes that simple. You can quickly snap a photo and text it to someone you love. Not just the highlights you post on Instagram, but the everyday moments too. Just think how happy your mom would be to see a picture of your grocery haul from the local market and tell her what you’re making for breakfast.
The last thing you want to do is alienate people who are important to you by inadvertently giving the impression that “my life is awesome, and yours sucks.” Approach sharing your transformation like a coach. You can show, share, and encourage, then allow them to grow at their own pace.
Consider Travel Insurance. Like at home, this is something you hope you’ll never use; however, you will be thankful to have it if an accident happens while you’re on the road.
Go Local. For a special treat, take advantage of walking tours and the services of local guides. I know, this sounds like a “touristy” thing to do. However, the benefit, especially when you take a tour when you arrive at a destination, is that you cut the learning curve. Rather than stumble around for a few weeks, you can immediately get the lay of the land. You can learn about what you see to appreciate all those historical markers fully. Not to mention you meet a local, support the local economy, and have an opportunity to ask questions and get answers you won’t find online.
Make a difference. Watch a documentary or read an article on over-tourism, and you’ll quickly become sensitive to the impact tourists make. How you impact the areas you visit is up to you. It can be positive for you, the locals, and the environment. Or it can be negative.
Simple things like being courteous and mindfully supporting the local economy and cultures are easy to do and cost very little. You can volunteer, help raise money for a local project, or contribute to something that resonates with you. Be open to new points of view and ways of doing things. It is possible to hold two opposing ideas in your mind simultaneously, and even when you don’t agree with something, you can appreciate that someone else does.
We are each responsible for the experiences we have and the impact we make. Make it matter!
Have a plan and be flexible. Wait, aren’t those two different things? Sort of. But more importantly, it’s a strategy for making the most of where you are. Just like organizing a project or getting your life sorted with a day planner, planning allows you to be spontaneous. It opens up space! You spend less time wondering what you’re going to do next because you have a plan that is always subject to change if something interesting comes up. Put another way, you have a framework for what you want to do, see, and eat; however, if you stumble upon something else you were unaware of before, you can easily take a detour.
Make and update your bucket list often. Travel will teach you that you don’t know what you don’t know. We all have a mental or actual bucket list. As you travel, you’ll discover experiences you weren’t even aware existed. So feel free to add to your list! This could be the most satisfying “to-do” list you ever create.
It’s OK to be still. It’s been said that if you don’t have much time, sit on a meditation cushion; when you have more time, sit on a beach. Studies show that 15-minutes of meditation gives you similar benefits to a vacation day. How lucky are you to be on a lifetime vacation!
While there is a lot of planning, hustling, new experiences, and motion during slow or full-time travel, remember to take a breath and take it all in. After the photo opp, put the camera down. When you finally find the restaurant and get seated, look around and appreciate the space and whoever you share it with. Wake up early. Go outside or find a quiet spot where you can refresh and rejuvenate your mind and soul before the rest of the world wakes up. Who knows? You may find a kindred spirit seeking that same solitude in the most surprising places.
Smile. Be still. This is helpful whether traveling to the far-flung corners of the earth or your own backyard.
Travel Lifestyle: Building Your Life (and Home) One Adventure at a Time
Home is not where we were born but instead where we build our life. It can be one place or many because, just like the changes we experience with each trip around the sun, our travel experiences build upon each other.
And as Marilyn Gardner is credited with saying, “Our homes are not defined by geography or one particular location, but by memories, events, people, and places that span the globe.”
Travel is a privilege. Our life is an adventure. How lucky are we to be alive in such a time as this?
Tell us in the comments…where would you go first when you decide to full time travel?