Nine Things I Learned While Travelling – Part 3

Back in Part 1 I discussed The Cost of Travelling, Is Travelling Dangerous? and It’s Not Always Paradise
and in Part 2 I discussed Travelling Alone, Tourist vs Traveller and Travelling Speed

Here are more things I learned while travelling…

7) Travelling Leads To Travel Burnout

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When going overseas on vacation for a week or two, most people try to do as much as possible as to not waste any of their precious time off. But on getting back they often complain about needing another holiday… They are suffering from short-term travel burnout. Imagine doing that for a year? You’d die from exhaustion.

To avoid this type of burnout, long-term travellers tend to travel more slowly, following something called the ‘three night rule’. This means stopping at destinations for a minimum of three nights. Three nights gives adequate time to explore the new location, go on a tour, sample the food, talk to the locals, buy supplies, talk to other travellers, rest, relax, go out for drinks, have a hangover and still have a day to yourself.

But even long-term travellers can suffer from burnout and this usually occurs somewhere between the third and ninth month. The major causes of long-term travel burnout are overstimulation constant change.

If you follow the 3 night rule, on average after 3 months of travelling you’ve been to 30 places, stayed in 30 different hostels, slept in 30 different beds (or more depending on what type of person you are), showered in 30 different showers, walked through 29 different markets selling mostly the same items, been harassed by 706 different locals either begging or trying to sell you something, seen 16 volcanos, climbed 8 of them, seen 4 different crater lakes, snorkelled 7 times, and… well I think you get the point.

After a while you start dreaming of sleeping in the same bed and seeing the same people for a while. It’s recommended to take a week or two off every three months or so. Large cities are good for this although you can stop anywhere. There are plenty of things to do during a break such as: take a language course, get in touch with a group that shares an interest with you, teach a language or just sit on the beach for a couple of weeks reading books. Then, after a year, go home, get a job, save some more money and begin planning your next trip.

8) Travelling is Addictive

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When you begin travelling you quickly discover just how large the world is. Then after a year exploring a continent you go back to work and straight away begin dreaming of your next travel destination. You can’t help it, there are just so many places in the world you haven’t seen. And watching travel shows just make it all worse, you start to get the itch to get back on the road again. It’s then that you realise your addicted.

When you discover the nuances of the different countries and cultures on just one continent, you can’t help but see more. Some people like to think there is a cure for this addiction, citing something called ‘a mortgage’, pregnancy or lack of money. And while this has worked for some, the cures are not always effective as most addicts have found a way around them.

You can tell you’re addicted when you get a rush arriving at a new destination and can’t wait to go exploring. No matter how you’ve administered travel, whether by bus, boat, train or plane, or how long the trip since taking the last dose, be it 2 hours or a year, the rush is still there. Every place you will visit is different and there is always a gem to be found, sometimes you just have to look hard but it’ll be there. Most of us have accepted that once a travel addict, always a travel addict.

9) Travelling Changes You

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When you begin travelling you start to learn things about the society you live in, the rest of the world and most importantly, yourself. If you can travel for months or even years with only the possessions in your backpack, you start to learn how frivolous the western world is and how there is far more to life than buying a larger house, getting the latest car, the coolest gadget or that name brand handbag. Life changes from being about consumption to simply living.

More importantly, travelling can teach you how to be happy. Not the happy we learn going to work at that average job, to pay off those massive debts we’ve accumulated because of that house, car, gadget or accessory. We’re happy because we are doing something we love, be it the travelling itself or something the freedom of travelling allows us to do. For me, this is writing.

Travelling also teaches you how to overcome adversity and to be more relaxed, as travelling is not as easy as it would appear. Every day there are challenges to overcome, and while many revolve around communication difficulties (especially in countries that speak different languages), but can include differences in food, thieves, beggars, lack of facilities, sickness, dodgy tour operators and many more.

Most often it will make you a stronger, more relaxed person and capable person, more ready to take on the world than to submit to a life of unhappiness.

Until next time,

Keyman

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