Why are you going? How can you afford it? What about your house and job? Just a few of the questions Andy and I fielded when we announced our plan to travel long-term.
For us this isn’t designed to be a never-ending holiday, it’s to be a new way of life. Despite what many think it’s most definitely not all going to be ‘plain sailing’ or ‘a bed of roses’. It has the potential to be an incredible adventure, with amazing experiences, sights and interesting people to meet. Having said that we’re under no illusion that at times it will also be a challenge, frustrating and there will be difficulties to deal with.
It’s not a decision we took lightly. We asked ourselves a whole raft of questions when making the final decision to go. I thought I’d share these to help explain our decision and to hopefully help anyone considering something similar.
Questions We Asked Ourselves
#1 Can I leave my family and friends?
This is tricky, as it’s unlikely you’ll want to leave your family, friends, and pets behind. Unless of course, you’re actually not that fond of them, a degree of homesickness is inevitable at some point. This could be brought on by missing people, pets, places, or simply your home comforts and routine.
Let’s be completely realistic now though, how often do you actually manage to catch-up with people and vice versa. Everyone is busy and living their own lives.
Just because you no longer live in the same town, city or even country doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch. Nowadays it’s easy to keep in touch via social media, skype, email, or a good old-fashioned postcard, letter, or telephone call. There’s also nothing to say you can’t visit or take a holiday home or they may come and pay you a visit.
#2 Can I leave my home?
This may vary depending on if you live with parents or friends, rent a house or have a mortgage. The former two makes things that easier, the latter a whole lot harder, which I can definitely vouch for.
If you own your house there are two main options; rent it out whilst you’re away, or sell it and stash the money
for your return. Both will give some security and piece of mind that if it doesn’t go to plan you have something to come back to.
There is, of course, a third option of selling your house and using that money to travel. We decided against this as we didn’t want to put all our eggs in one basket and risk having nothing to come back to.
#3 What about my career?
It sounds easy to just say I’m going to quit my job and go travelling. I think it can be…if you don’t like your job, career prospects OR boss! In those circumstances what have you really got to lose?
If, like us you’re happy(ish) with your jobs, which you’ve studied and worked hard to achieve; it can be a more difficult call to make. If this is the case, it’s always worth broaching with your manager the subject of taking an unpaid career break. It may not be possible (and wasn’t for us) but it’s always worth an ask.
We decided to take the risk and leave our jobs. Andy’s ready for a complete change and wants to try being a TEFL teacher. I’d like to keep my hand in with my fields of work, Data and Campaign Planning and Analytics, and Marketing. I’m hoping to support myself with freelance/ remote work or some work with a local company in whichever country we’re in.
There’s also the another view we both hold – you don’t know what opportunities will open up to you. In a year you could find yourself doing something completely different that would never have crossed your mind before.
#4 Can I afford it?
This is subjective. It depends on several factors including if you have savings, rental income, or do you plan to work whilst away.
Travel style will also have an impact. Luxury all-inclusive resorts and expensive restaurants and bars cost much more than budget backpacking hostels or guesthouses, and street food or local restaurants. These can still be great though.
Both Andy and I feel a bit too old for bunking down with ten or more others in a dorm. Having said that we’re still going to have to keep an eye on our spending. Funds are limited until we find work in Cambodia and any other country we choose to live in in the future.
Having said that I’m sure there’ll be a few splurges along the way. Such as when Andy is craving a bath and we have to find a slightly nicer hotel, or there’s an activity I’ve got my heart set on. Safari in Nagarahole National Park and a houseboat stay in Alleppey, in India, and a hot-air balloon ride over Bagan in Myanmar may well be ‘splurge activities’.
I’m of the firm belief there’s always a way to afford it if you really want to do it. You might just have to adapt what you do and how you do it to make it achievable or think outside the box for ways to finance it.
#5 Have I got too much clutter in my life?
I’d expect to hear a loud ‘yes’ from many people – unless you’re already living a minimalistic lifestyle.
Until we’d really begun to think about leaving I didn’t realise how much junk we’d accumulated over our eight years of living together. Despite neither of us being particularly materialistic (we prefer to spend money on experiences rather than things) we’ve still somehow managed to end up with a house full of crap. Much of this has barely (if ever) been used; it’s just all sitting there gathering dust, looking a mess and generally agitating the hell out of both of us.
If you can relate to that, it could be a sign it’s time to downsize all that clutter, maybe even make some cash by selling it like we are.
#6 Do I mind missing out on things at home?
If you’re away for any length of time you’re going to miss out on some celebrations. It could be birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Christmas, new babies, christenings etc. Not to mention the concerts, gigs, festivals, camping trips that you may have otherwise attended.
The internet is a fabulous thing though and whilst not quite the same, you can still join in some of these things remotely. Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, Facebook chat and Google hangouts are great. I’ve already got plans for some skype wine nights with the girls and family catch-ups, especially on birthdays and Christmas.
#7 Do I feel in need of a change?
Probably the first question that presented itself to us and we already knew the answer. We were both bored with doing the same thing day in, day out. Even though we don’t dislike our jobs or lives it had become quite mundane. I have a four hour round trip commute each day, and Andy is tired of working from home or driving for hours to sites.
By the time we both finish with work in the evenings, have a quick trip to the gym or climbing wall; have eaten and showered, it’s time to fall into bed – knackered. We felt stuck in a rut! It had gotten to the point we felt we hardly saw each other and definitely didn’t have or make the time for each other, let alone to do all the things we enjoy and want to be doing.
#8 What about children?
Now, this is the one we’ve been asked the most, or at least I have. In fact, some people can be downright intrusive with their questioning on this one!
Being a woman many people assume that surely I should just pick one or the other, children or travel. I don’t agree, at some point, there may well be kids on the cards; whether we happen to be on the road or not doesn’t change that.
In my personal opinion (many will disagree, but that’s fine it’s a personal choice); they have kids in other countries and manage fine. Therefore why would I let that stop us travelling and following our dreams?
#9 Am I okay with all my belongings on
In theory, I love this idea, but as you can see from my current packing pile, I’m kidding myself. I still have a way to go with this one. There’s some significant whittling down still to do I feel. Andy on the other-hand is positively embracing it. He’s nailed it and is ready to go, travelling light.
Once I’ve knocked my packing down by half though I think it will be quite an enlightening experience (quite literally). It will definitely save some time deciding what to wear each day.
Not everyone will feel this way though and it could definitely be a deciding factor on if to travel and what your travel style is. For example lugging a massive bag across India on trains and buses could make for a pretty miserable experience. If you’ll be mainly flying and taking taxis though, you won’t have far to walk and could easily manage with more luggage. These are all things that should be considered.
#10 Does my country’s climate suit me?
A most definite no from us! Forgetting the few hot summer days we get in the UK each year, the rest are pretty unpredictable and often grey and miserable.
That’s not for us; we’d both prefer to be somewhere sunny, hot with warm rain OR on occasion the complete opposite, very cold and snowy! If we still feel that way after six months in Cambodia with a tropical climate of very hot and dry, or not quite so hot and wet, remains to be seen.
This could be a deciding factor on if and where to travel though. It’s not going to be particularly enjoyable if you take yourself somewhere with a climate you hate for a long period of time!
11# Do I want to broaden my horizons?
An easy one this; if you don’t want to learn about and experience new places, cultures, and people, then long-term travel probably won’t suit you. If it’s a resounding ‘YES’, then all of the other things you can manage to overcome!
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As you ask yourself these questions you’ll find there are pros and cons for each and every one of them. However considering these pros and cons; like we did is part of the decision making process. For us, the pros have far outweighed the cons, which is why we’re doing this.
I’m not saying long-term travel is the right decision for us either, although I truly hope it is. However as one per one of my favourite sayings…
“Better to regret something you’ve done than something you haven’t”
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Has this helped explain why we’re going to travel long-term? Have we missed any key questions? If so please let us know by commenting below.
P.S. Read our checklist for long-term travel or moving overseas via the following link: