I’ve been traveling for the last 5 years (ok admittedly staying in places and living like a normal person from time to time) and here are what I consider the stages of traveling:
This is when things are awesome. You’re having new experiences, meeting new people, learning, and enjoying life. You might wonder why the hell you weren’t doing this earlier, and wish you could do this for the rest of your life. If you have a job that requires you to return home you might even contemplate quitting it to get that remote income.
I’m currently in India, and for me arriving here was pretty euphoric because it was such a culture shock for me, which I personally love.
Note: Sometimes when you arrive somewhere you might actually experience the opposite – extreme disappointment.
For example when I first arrived to Puerto Escondido, Mexico, I initially hated it and immediately wanted to leave. I’d checked into a depressing private room in a hostel filled with depressed looking stoners and a rude receptionist. The surrounding area looked like crap. I walked to the beach and they wouldn’t let me enter because I didn’t have a mask on me. I questioned why I was there and almost considered booking a flight the next day, though the rational side of me stopped myself.
The next day I walked to another side of town La Punta and found the that area to be lively and cool, and really enjoyed the walk there through empty beaches and rural neighborhoods. I realized I was outside the cool area and in a boring part of town. I immediately booked a beautiful hotel in the new area that I’d walked by, and enjoyed the place enough to stay for 2 weeks.
Since then every time I arrive somewhere and am disappointed, I remember this and try to withhold judgement and not get overly consumed in any emotion.
Boredom – ok what the hell am I doing
At a certain point the high will fade and you’ll start to get used to things. Places will start looking the same, people and conversations might not be as fun as before, and you’ll start to feel bored and unfulfilled of constantly moving around. If you’re not working and not financially independent you might start to think about the fact that you’ll probably need to get a job at some point. If you’re financially independent you’ll start feeling unfulfilled and lacking in purpose. You’ll probably also start to miss having a sense of community and being around people you’ve known for more than a week.
This is all normal and healthy. Humans need a sense of purpose, and without it life will not feel satisfying. In the beginning of travel when it’s all new, travel itself can be stimulating enough to fulfill our curiosity to explore the world and alternative ways of life. That or the travel can just serve as a break from the usual – sort of like meditating. But ultimately travel in and of itself is not meaningful or fulfilling enough to serve as one’s sole and ultimate life purpose.
Your purpose doesn’t have to be so specific, it can be as vague as serving others and contributing to humanity in the best way you’re capable of.
Don’t get stuck in limbo
Some while traveling might tell themselves they’ll never go back to a normal job, but then feel like crap because they don’t have the discipline or means to create their own business or find another satisfyingly lucrative path. They might trap themselves in some weird limbo where they’re not pursuing jobs out of rebellion, not working towards a new path either, and not even enjoying the traveling as much anymore because they’re so used to it and know that it’s not sustainable forever.
Don’t be stuck in that limbo. Either create your own path, enjoy your life/travel to the fullest while still being mindful to the future, or get a job. There’s no shame in getting a job. Maybe it’s not your dream forever, but if you’re not already working towards something else – then at the least it will give you the discipline to start working towards your real dreams. And maybe you’ll find the work more fulfilling than you expected.
For example I was skeptical of my last job, but ended up really enjoying it way more than I ever expected. As cheesy as it sounds, it feels good to be needed, to serve others, and learn.
If you’re enjoying traveling, then by all means continue. But when you’re not, then start working towards your purpose again. And if you’re not going to do that and aren’t financially independent, then get a job – if only for the discipline.