What Long Term Travel Feels Like
I always imagined that life during long-term travel would be a bit stressful in itself. It would be only natural if it were so, as traveling anywhere for any amount of time brings with it an entirely new spectrum of daily issues (including but not limited to: budgeting, itineraries, strange illnesses, homesickness, and the like). I am happy to report that in my case, so far, this is mostly untrue.
Here is what my life here in Ireland has been like the past couple of months: I work in a small, family-owned hostel for room and board. Thus, I live rent-free (hooray!), and I have no need to worry about my own food (woo!). I stay in a hostel, which means I am constantly meeting amazing people from around the globe. Kurt and I have thrown our heart into this place, so we are also getting a bit of extra money each week as a stipend (without doing anything extra). Where do you get that in normal, everyday life? Okay, I suppose plenty of situations could give you that, but not my last living situation in Seattle! I get up as early or late as I would like, I spend an hour or two making sure all rooms are sparkling clean, then the day is mine. I try to hang around the hostel for whenever bookings are due to arrive, but other than that... freedom.
I am rediscovering what it is like to have free time. Loads of free time. Almost too much, if you ask me. What have I done with this time? I have read 9 books (am in the middle of 3 more), and rediscovered my love for fiction. I have seen some legendary Celtic music. I have learned to cook Indian food, and homemade fries because, well, we ARE in Ireland. I have hiked along cliffs and oceansides. I have spent an obscene amount of time on Facebook and Skype, if you must know. I have discovered my favorite local coffee house, where they allow me to play their guitars on display. I have attended the Dingle Acoustic Music Club and shared some of my songs and listened to others. I know many familiar faces around this small town, and see many on a daily basis.
Long-term travel is awesome. It's my cup o' tea. I'm telling you, everyone should try it (even if they hate it, which I don't think they will). It doesn't cost nearly what you think it should, and it's much more vacay-like (yes, I just combined those two words) than anything else I've ever done. I have time to enjoy the culture I am in, and just breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Smile.
To clarify - I believe long-term doesn't just apply to hardcore individuals who spend years abroad and have been to every imaginable country. For goodness' sake we all can't live that lifestyle. By 'long-term' traveling, I mean longer than just a few weeks hopping from city to city before heading home to normal life. Longer than a 'typical vacation.' It could be a summer. It could be a year. It could be whatever you would like, really, in so few or as many countries as you wish.
Most of my assumptions about how this trip would go have been thrown out the window. Did we go back to England in May as was planned? No. Did we head to Portugal for the summer? No. Are we on schedule, even a little? No. Do those things bother me? Absolutely not.
So what next?
It's up to us. The beauty of it is that when you travel on one-way tickets, the next destination can always change. You can linger in a place you love as long as you wish. That being said, we have just purchased our flights from Dublin - Amsterdam! We will spend a few weeks living in Voorburg working at our new Helpx position (and getting room and board!), then possibly head down through Germany on our way to Italy an then to Slovenia and Croatia.
How is this all possible?
Check out my upcoming guide to Volunteer Work Exchanges, as well as my overview of Hospitality Exchanges. It will rock your world. I also have an upcoming guide about how to utilize hitchhiking safely and in the right places, which eliminates that pesky EuroRail pass (or any other pass, for that matter).
The best thing I have learned so far is bittersweet - I wasted three years yearning desperately to travel. I have found that all it really takes is the initiative to take that first scary leap (buying the plane tickets, for instance), then the creativity to keep funds coming in along the way. You live some, you learn some. My hope is that I will be able to inspire some similar wanderlusting dreamers into action.