When it comes to living a life on the road there is one element that can be more challenging than the cultural acceptance, and that is the pitfalls associated with being on the road full-time. Whether it’s missing your loved ones back home, wishing you had a permanent base of operations to stash your goods and come back to periodically, or missing having your own vehicle to drive as opposed to renting one on a daily basis, everyone at some point comes up against something that takes away from the adventure.
Perhaps the most difficult for the vast majority of people is not having a permanent base of operations. This is especially true if you are one of the backpacker types who tend to stick to hostels or CouchSurfing, because you never really have a place to call your own. Instead, you are constantly moving from place to place, living out of a backpack and never really having the privacy of your own abode.
You can reduce this aspect of full-time travel by taking the immersion travel option, which is how we roll. Since you are often staying in places for 3 to 6 months at a time, it allows you the opportunity to have a home base of operations, even if it is only for a few months. House-sitting is another opportunity that falls into this category, since many of the house-sitting gigs allow you to stay for several months of time.
One of the challenges for me, personally, is that I am not a big fan of working on a laptop, even after all these years. I much prefer having a 24 to 30 inch monitor, a nice comfortable office chair and an official desk, but it’s a minimal pitfall to me, one that I easily mitigate with the adventures that I’ve been blessed enough to partake in over the past six plus years since I first started this lifestyle.
Something I often come up against when talking to other travelers is the distance from relatives and loved ones, because many people have close family ties that keep them in continual contact. And while Skype and Google+ Hangouts are one way to stay in touch with your friends and family, it’s not the same thing as getting together on holidays or for dinners or going out to the movies.
Healthcare is another issue for people who are traveling full-time, because if you have health issues it makes it more challenging given the fact that you need to be close to a base of operations that has the quality and type of medical care that you need. This is especially true for people who have diabetes, or those who suffer from conditions where regular clinical visits are a necessity.
The full-time aspects of travel can also be stressful. Dealing with public transportation that may or may not be late, may or may not be air-conditioned, may or may not break down in the middle of the jungle. Living in a country where the Internet access is not up to Western standards and trying to upload a 500 MB YouTube video that takes a week as opposed to 10 or 15 minutes. Flight cancellations, extra baggage fees, food poisoning, bad beds, noisy neighbors in the hostel who keep you awake at night… all of these can contribute to the stress factor, and while it’s one thing handling it as a solo traveler, for those who travel is a couple it adds another layer of trickiness to the equation.
Then there is the loneliness aspect of solo travel. This is something I personally haven’t had to deal with but I know some of my friends have. If you are continually on the go and never really staying in one place more than a few weeks at a time, it’s very difficult to build relationships and friendships with people. Sure, you can stay in touch via Facebook, but what happens if you meet someone you are attracted to?
At the end of the day, a life of travel isn’t for everyone. There are a million benefits (many of which I’ve been talking about in the series), but there are also the downsides, and I wouldn’t feel honest if I didn’t list a few of the pitfalls. As a general rule the positives far outweigh the negatives, but you do need to realize it’s not all toes-in-the-sand-while-sipping-mojitos.
T.W. Anderson has been traveling the world full-time since January of 2008. He is the author of books which detail how to build a blog, brand and income and travel the world without a budget. His website is Marginal Boundaries.com
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