Chad, Z, and I have been living and traveling outside our home country of America for over two years now. The first year all we did was travel from place to place with no home base. During that time I learned some ways that I could make our travels stressful. It’s a special gift that I have, so I decided to share them with you!
Planning Too Little
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin
When I first started traveling long-term, I was a planner, but over time I got lazy. In fact I was so lackadaisical that I never planned anything besides the basics. I would know what airport we were flying out of, but out of which terminal? Pfft… who needs to waste time on silly things like that.
Sometimes the little things are necessary to know and plan. If you are looking for stress, some of the things that you may not want plan are which airport terminals you are flying out of, how you are getting from the airport to the place you are staying, what the weather is like at your destination (winter clothes in Phuket… that will totally add to your stress!), and other things like that.
For more stress, ignore the whole paragraph above and just hope that you get to your destination and a room. There is not much that is more stressful than trying to find a place to sleep when you are exhausted. Stress accomplished!
Planning Too Much
“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
― Alexander Pope
When we first started traveling I would research a city or country and make mental notes of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see. Sometimes I even made lists! And then I would mentally make those desires into expectations. Expectations are a one-way ticket to Stress-ville. If even one thing goes wrong in the plan, then it is all ruined and the effect on you and the people around you will be…yep, you got it… STRESS! If stress was the goal, then you can consider it achieved.
I have learned that for travels (of any length of time really) to be less stressful, you must plan some necessary things (see Planning Too Little above), and by all means, research and have a list of the places you want to see. Make a conscious effort to find interesting and memorable things to do there. BUT DO NOT EXPECT THEM TO GO COMPLETELY AS PLANNED! Flexibility is key while traveling… it is as important as your passport, keep it with you at all times.
Not Taking a Day To Rest
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
― John Lubbock, The Use Of Life
One of the most difficult parts of long-term travel for me, was getting used to the fact that we HAD TIME. My fellow Americans know (and I am sure many other countries are similar) that it is rarely heard of getting more than your allotted 2 week yearly vacation to travel the world. In order to get your moneys worth on such a short holiday, you pack it all up with things to do and places to go. There is a common saying in the States, “I need a vacation after my vacation,” and it’s usually true.
It took me a while, but we figured out that if we just took a day every week to not do anything, it was a much more enjoyable time overall. It took me a while to get over the guilt of being in an amazing place like Greece, and staying in our room watching movies, but I couldn’t keep up causing stress the WHOLE time we were traveling. Even I am not that good, maybe you will be though…
During long-term travel, the best way to cause stress is to jam it full, every single day, with no breaks. You will be mentally, physically, and emotionally drained… heck, you may even get sick with the flu, and that my friends is the ultimate way to make travel stressful.