For many folks, traveling long-term is The Dream. For some, the ideal scenario involves getting paid to travel while others are perfectly content working odd jobs at their destination in order to continue wandering. I myself spent four years working remotely, in two different positions – as a Managing Editor and then as a freelance writer/blogger.
What I initially thought was a dream come true became the opposite. I found myself depressed and feeling like my life had little purpose – not at all what you envision when you unshackle yourself from a day job.
Always on the Move
When most people envision quitting their jobs to travel long-term, their excitement stems from the perception that they are no longer beholden to The Man. No more working 9-5, worrying about office drama, annual evaluations and whether you’re going to score a small raise every year in exchange for your personal freedom. Traveling full time means freedom from that monotony and stress. Except, the novelty wears off eventually.
Travel can be exhausting, even if you’re staying at luxury hotels and flying first class all the time. Constantly going from one strange place to another can also feel unsettling.
Lack of Benefits
Another problem is the lack of benefits when you’re not employed full time. This may sound way too practical, but if you have the misfortune of spraining or breaking something, you’re looking at a huge emergency room bill for basic services. Unless you’re abroad when it happens, in which case your travel insurance has you covered. But even basic health services (i.e. health checkups) can become expensive. Aside from this, you’re losing out on retirement benefits that could really come in handy when you’re older and no longer able to travel as freely.
The biggest negative to long-term travel? While you’re certainly learning (languages, history, and about other cultures), you’re not always going to improve your marketable skills. When I returned to the workforce after four years of being a freelance writer, I suddenly had to relearn a lot of things: Windows, how to navigate different personalities at work, and various technological changes that I missed out on because I wasn’t using them in my remote job.
It was quite a challenge to adjust to working with others and having to answer to others. Which brings me to my most important point: Traveling long-term can get lonely, no matter how many great people you meet along the way. There’s something to be said for being in one place for the majority of your time. You build and strengthen relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. Those routines you dreaded can actually be comforting and grounding.
I don’t want to knock The Dream, but traveling full time can have negative consequences. I look at travel like dessert. It’s great after a meal (i.e. work), but if you have it all the time it becomes mundane and loses its novelty.
But I want to hear from you all. Is traveling full time your dream? If you’ve done it before, I’d love your feedback about what you liked/disliked about it.
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