A Brief Reflection On Long Term Travel
After 11 months of fast travel, packing and unpacking our stinky and unpleasant backpacks around the globe from the polar night of Finland to the sanity-destroying humidity of Cambodia, it is time to rest and reflect.
I try to read and learn as much as possible on the road, and this includes absorbing Bill Bryson’s books. As anyone who appreciates both travelling and humour will know, this man is at the top of his literary game. Towards the end of the book about his haphazard adventures along the Appalachian Trail, he says “the art of successful walking is knowing when to stop”. Realisation dawned.
After covering so much ground, and seeing so many castles, rivers, mountains, frozen roadkill dogs with crows living inside them, and a myriad of other strange, hideous and beautiful things, I had started to question if I was just spending my day looking at stuff rather than getting any sort of deeper experience.
For anyone who hasn’t travelled much, this is a real thing. I had so many messages and comments from people envious of my journey, hearting my Instagram photos, and being in awe of my general travelling radness. Most of these comments came at times when I was doing 32 hour flights with 9 hour layovers in a god-knows-where airport with no comfortable seats and no wifi, where a limp hamburger costs 5 million zweebles, and where you have to take your shoes off to be allowed to urinate.
Moving around the planet constantly is hard work, especially at a budget level. While any person of elite means would book, say, a short flight from the local airstrip, we would scour the internets for hours and days trying to find the cheapest transport, which was always getting up in the dark to catch a bus of questionable safety driven by a man of questionable sobriety.
Travel blogging on the road
David and I decided to stop in Egypt mid-travel for a few weeks where we rested, got horribly and squirtily sick, and took the time to be kind to ourselves and work on our respective projects. I had intended to write frequently from the beginning of our journey, but even the mere thought of this was stressful, as I wanted to be in the moment instead of writing about the country I was in last week.
Also, I found it hard to get any level of creative thinking done while I was eating so many Pringles. They rank up the top of my favourite touring snacks, but I swear there is something in them that just makes you want to smile vacantly and stare at a wall. As a result of these cumulative things, I now have a tonne of notes and adventures that are begging to be typed up…somehow….
In case you’re wondering about the business of travel blogging, it is a huge industry that is luring thousands of people into its exciting thrall with over-edited images of wild landscapes and happy, healthy, smiling young people who earn enough from a single photo to continue on to their next exotic 5-star location. Some of these bloggers easily haul in a 6 figure annual income. I can only stand back and admire them, as I know how much effort goes into this lifestyle.
I personally have 26,586 images (and counting) on my laptop, none of which would earn me anything except a few laughs. Most times, I enter a country having had no sleep through either over-excitement or a hellish bus ride, and I endure the frustration of looking around and wondering why all the other travellers look so fresh and energised, when I always look like a ballsack. Share your secrets with me, oh shiny ones!
Continuing to live a minimal lifestyle
Having sold everything I own except for my car, motorbike, BMX and a few boxes of sentimental items and favourite shoes (it’s a girl thing, I know), I realise I don’t want to enter back to the world of buying into stuff and things.
Letting go of everything I had worked for over many years was emotional and time-consuming, and not something I want to do again anytime soon. I am on a mission to continue to live as minimally as possible. I love the freedom and liberation from the materialism of modern life, and I won’t hesitate to get into a long discussion with you on the benefits of this if you are curious. Just bear in mind that it will take several hours of your time, and you might need a few Pringles.