One thing I didn’t expect about long term travel was having so much time each day. I knew that I would have free time, but I figured there would still be little things to do, even if it was just lots of sightseeing. The great thing about having extra time to just be is that it ensures you will avoid travel burnout on your trip.
Will you have a fulfilling time long term travel?
photo credit: CarbonNYC
Long Term Travel
What to do on an extended trip
Now that I’ve had a few weeks to destress (it took about 3 weeks before I could finally relax) I can do whatever I want. Besides sightseeing, writing, and reading (things I expected to spend a lot of time on) I devote my time to other activities I didn’t consider before. Here are some things I do with my time and my reflections on them:
I used to sleep 8 hours a night and feel pretty well-rested on most days. Now my body wants to sleep 10 hours. When I think about it, 10 hours of sleep each night seems too much. Iisn’t this what society tells us? I’m trying to cut my sleep back to 9 hours a night. I might even set a travel alarm clock— who would have ever thought I’d say that?
Because of all the sleep and lack of stress (I presume) I dream a lot and wake up remembering most of my dreams. These vivid dreams are rarely about our travels. Rather, they incorporate people from my past — some people I haven’t thought about in ages. I know I should probably keep a dream journal and figure out what all these dreams mean, but part of me would rather not over-analyze them. Apparently it has to do with major changes in my life.
I don’t have a job or any real responsibilities so now I have lots of time to think. A huge amount of time to think. And not that much to think about. So my thoughts (like my dreams seem to do) go to my past; memories that I didn’t even realize I had. I think about the future and what it will look like. I try to take in every moment and “live in the present.” But still, I have more time to think than ever before, and I’m not sure I like it. Sitting in my hotel room, there is nothing to clean, nothing to fix, really no errands to run unless I wanted to wash my clothes or buy food, etc. Prepare yourself in advance for long term travel and the extra time you will have to think, and you will be more likely to enjoy it more than I did.
In Defense of Food (a great book) argues that we should take our time when eating and cooking. Here, enjoying Argentine cuisine, we definitely do that. The Argentinean culture is naturally slow. If dining out, it’s easy to take an hour at breakfast drinking a cup of coffee and eating medialunas (pastries). Lunch can take 1.5-2 hours; afternoon coffee and snack 1.5 hours; late dinner 2 hours. This is if we ate every meal out and took our time Argentinean style. Obviously we don’t spend 7 hours of our day eating, but it’s probably close to 4-6. Most of the time is spent sitting in the cafe or restaurant and talking or thinking. When we cook it’s probably the same amount of time, only most of the time is spent preparing food, cooking it, and cleaning up. The nice thing about experiencing long term travel is that we get to experience the customs without feeling like we have to rush through them.
Is it possible to have too much time during long term travel?
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure this lifestyle is totally for me. It is a true blessing to be able to experience long term travel. And I do love being able to cook and read and hike and sight-see and stay up late watching whatever I want on television without worrying about sleep deprivation. But I can’t get over the feeling that I’m not really contributing anything back to society. Next week we’ll be volunteering at Chacra Millalen so maybe then I’ll feel like I’m giving back. But right now I can’t help but wondering if all the time I spending sleeping and dreaming and thinking and eating is excessive. It does feel wasteful when you are abroad but it is often necessary to avoid travel burnout. Another tip is to take the time in advance of your trip to prepare for extended travel. Have you enjoyed long term travel? Did you feel guilty or enjoy the change?
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