A trip around the world can’t be compared to a simple 2 week holiday. Some points that make it so different and also so unique. I suppose you have atleast a few months for your travels, otherwise most of those won’t apply.
Due to our modern society we never really get to know the feeling of freedom. Starting in kindergarten, you have to show up at a certain time and need to obey the kindergartener, else you get abandoned into the corner. Next is school. Be quiet, pay attention to the teacher, study to get good grades! Once you get towards the end of school relatives start to ask annoying questions. “What are you going to do after school?” “What do you want to become?” “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” After you are finished and adequately educated to fit into society, you are released into adulthood. Finally you are free to do whatever you want. Really? Actually the bills are waiting. Your boss had a bad day and just gave you a new deadline to finish your project. That important meeting is scheduled for tomorrow. Oh, and you have an appointment with your mother in 2 hours. She said she wants you to pick up your remaining stuff. Sometimes you might feel like all you do is functioning.
Basically you are occupied with whatever day in, day out. The only escapes are short holidays. Some people can’t even get into the “I don’t care about work and all my liabilities right now” mood in their holidays. Now a trip around the world is a period of time where you are freed from all of this. The only appointments existing are with yourself. You can dump them and nothing bad will happen because of it. Imagine that for a moment. 1 year without liabilities. Mesmerizing but at the same time somehow scary, isn’t it? Most of us never even tried to just follow the “flow of things”. We decide in advance what to do in our freetime, and then usually stick to our plan. If another idea pops up in our mind we kill it instantly. “What if my friends have the greatest night of their life, while I’m at home reading my book? I also promised that I would come. No, I can’t stay at home tonight!”
The feeling of freedom becomes the greatest when you learn to listen to your inner voice again. When you learn to do whatever feels right in the present moment. No matter what you planed before. But it’s a long way until you get to that point. It comes slowly but surely if you are conscious and reaching towards it. The first weeks don’t really feel free. So if you don’t set your mind on it you end up being caught in everyday life again, before you are even aware of that feeling. The second you entered “the flow” you will know what I’m talking about. You might feel like being really alive for the first time in your life. Time will fly quickly. One day you’ll wake up and wonder how another month passed already.
Since you will have way more time as if you were just on a short holiday, you will get deeper insights in the countries you travel. You can meet real locals and not just tourism employees. Also, everything that is easy and cheap to reach will be run over by mass tourism sooner or later. The unspoilt places will get harder and harder to reach. If you dont have enough time it’s not worth to go there. Also who wants to spend his holiday getting into nowhere, when there is a 5 star resort nearby? You have the most important requirement to get off the beaten track.
During your travels you will face a lot of routine work travellers usually don’t talk about too much, since it’s one of the not so glorious things about travelling. Those activities will take up to 1 day per week:
- Fixing/renewing equipment: Bus drivers have a talent to find the weakest spot for grabbing your backpack, causing torn cords. If you dont want to buy a new one everytime it gets damaged you have to fix it yourself. If you break your camera´s lens you will have to find a shop where you can buy a new one.
- Laundry: Usually not worth to take care of it yourself. On average laundry makes you stuck for a whole day. You bring it in the morning and collect it in the evening/the next morning.
- Purchases (Food, gasoline etc.): Relevant for those that want to be self-sufficent.
- Going to the barber/doctor: A really nice experience, if the barber cutting your hair doesn’t seem to fully understand what you are talking about.
- Bookings/Reservations: The time you spend for that will decrease over time. While you might book every single accomodation in advance at the beginning of your trip, you start to just walk around and check them out once you get more confident. Booking bus/train/airplane tickets takes some of your time aswell.
- Application/Extension of Visas: Something I never liked. Getting photos, doing all that paperwork and then waiting for hours.
- Communication: Catch up on your emails, send postcards, call your friends/family via skype…
- Packing/Unpacking your backpack: Something that gets seriously underestimated. Especially towards the end of your trip, when your backpack is filled with souveniers, it can make you exasperate.
- Money business
Sometimes I really enjoyed my routine-activities-days. Since you travel almost every day it’s nice to have those little breaks. Not moving for few days, just strolling trough the city wihout any particular aim, spending an afternoon in your hammock… Makes you excited for the next day´s sights.
It’s not a really big deal if you spent more money than calculated on a short holiday. On a longer trip you need to be more aware of your usually tight budget. That makes you think about money a lot. During your trip you might see some sad examples of “I fucked my budget up”. If you realize your budget is to tight you should cut out time in expensive countries . Unfortunately some backpackers practice a worse solution. They start to fight about every single cent. I even saw people complaining about a 5 cent toilet fee. Just embarassing…
Nobody can free her/himself from thinking about money completly. Those with big amounts on their bank accounts are even the worst sometimes. That leads to a whole new importance of the word “cheap”. To some extent that’s good, but don’t become a “I fucked up my budget”. Our reputation in some countries is bad enough already. If you think about not going to that museum/temple/whatever because it would exceed your day´s budget by 3 dollars, you will lose a lot of fun aswell.
The positive thing is it somehow forces you to act like the locals . Take the same bus, eat at the restaurant, buy at local markts… It gets you out of that save “tourism bubble”.
Amount of planning
While someone going to his 2 week holiday might just choose a hotel and buy a carefree package for everything else, you will have to do a whole lot more. Some plan a little bit more, some a little bit less, in the end it will take you about 30-50 whole days. Start should be atleast 6 months before departure. Otherwise you are likely to get into a big big hurry towards your last days.
“Oh my good 30-50 whole days?” Don’t worry, planning your trip is not boring. Atleast with the right attitude. If you think of all the nice things you will experience it’s fun. The real hard thing is to choose between the thousands of possibilities you have.
As always you are very welcome to leave additions/suggestions/opinions in the comments!
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