You may become disconnected from family and friends
Out of necessity, making the choice to travel long term is making the choice to (at least temporarily) sacrifice many of your personal relationships. While there are people in the world who can be very forgiving as far as the emotional demands of friendships and family go — the kind of people you can not speak to for a year and pick right back up again like it was yesterday — a lot of folks aren’t that way.
“When I first announced my plans to leave, very few of my friends understood. Many tried to be supportive, but I could tell they didn’t get it,” Aune recalled. “It was tough trying to keep in touch with people while traveling. After returning, I just found it hard to re-assimilate with many friends — some had gotten married or had kids while I was gone and our priorities were just different.”
You can fall off the career track
If you’re still in college and reading this, please understand: you have a small window of time to establish yourself on a career path before you’re behind the eight ball. Assuming, of course, you don’t plan to change paths along the way and/or go back to grad school to reset your career. If you miss that window, you can be fucked. Especially financially, since as every money guru worth their salt will tell you — there’s no more important time to save for retirement than in your 20s. You know, compounding interest! How detrimental full-time travel can be to your career really depends on how long you plan to be on the road.
“I finished university in 2009. It’s now 2016. I’ve basically spent seven years attempting to make a decision,” said Dan Baird of Anxious Travelers, who initially started traveling to escape a miserable dead-end job in England. “I’m 30, I don’t have a pension, don’t have any savings, don’t have a career. In a lot of ways, I am way behind other people of my age.”
In other cases, some time off might be exactly what you need; but it helps to already be established and continue working towards a career goal even during your absence. “For me there was no ground lost during my sabbatical; in fact, it helped me,” said Abby Tegnelia of Daydream Away, who took a year off to live in Costa Rica, where she started her own company travel blogging and doing social media work. “It ended up helping me in the future — I basically still live off of those skills. At the same time, I never worked past 2pm!”
But you still need to work to support yourself
Oh, so you’re going to go travel? Just like that? You’re just going to go travel, like, whatevs, no worries, I’m traveling? Cool story, bro. How are you going to afford it? And yes, while there are countless blog posts from professional travel bloggers with tips on how to live on the road for $500 a year or whatever… you really need to think about what it entails. How much of your savings are you willing to spend? How much time are you willing to work along the way?
Now, if you’ve got $50,000 stashed in your bank and are totally down with blowing it all, by all means fucking YOLO. Ditto if you’re a Trustafarian because life is just different for you. Everyone else: remember that if you’re not going to live off savings, then you’ll need to work. Most likely in a menial job. Maybe even in one like the job you just left. And while at least you’ll be working someplace new, and meeting new people, and experiencing a different culture, it’s something to keep in mind. You’ll still be working.
“I did temporary admin work while I was traveling,” said Baird. “Much of it was menial… and I wouldn’t want to go to work because I’d think, ‘This means nothing to me, I’m wasting my time!’ A lot of my time when traveling was spent doing these jobs so I could save up for further travels and further menial jobs. This is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy as you just end up qualified for jobs you hate.”