Is Long-Term Travel Right for You?

Quitting your job to travel sounds dream-worthy to a lot of people, but having been through it myself (read this post for the full story) I’ve got a little tough love for some of y’all. It’s not for everybody! Now look, this is a judgment-free zone and there is zero shame in traveling whatever way is best for you. But how do you know if long-term travel is right for you? Do you really want to quit your job and travel or are you being influenced? Here are a few questions for you to reflect on that might help you figure out whether this is a fun dream or a serious goal you have for your life. (And remember: there’s no wrong answer and you’re not a better person for landing on one side versus the other!)

solo female traveler hiking in South Africa

Table of Contents

What is Long-Term Travel?

I want to first take a beat here and get us on the same page, vocab-wise. WorldSmith (this here blog you’re reading right now!) is a girl’s guide to long-term travel, because I like what a good umbrella this term is for many types of travel. Long-term travel is anything that goes beyond a one-to-two-week vacation. This could include working remotely as a digital nomad, going on a round-the-world trip, teaching English abroad, getting a working holiday visa, taking a 3-month jaunt around Europe, or anything else that has you living out of a backpack for a longer stretch of time. If it keeps you on the road for months or even years, that’s long-term travel.

solo female traveler watching hot air balloons at sunrise

Is Long-Term Travel Right for You?: Questions to Ask Yourself

Why do you want to quit your job and travel?

What’s driving you? What’s inspiring you to be here asking any of these questions? Don’t be afraid to dig deep here. Channel your inner five-year-old and play the but-why game allllll the way down to your most vital, this-is-what-makes-me-ME motivations. As you examine your answers here, consider how much you want an escape versus how much you’re chasing things like exploration, excitement, novelty, variety, meeting people, learning new things, or immersing yourself in different cultures.

What has your past travel experience been like?

How much of that experience do you have? Are you a frequent traveler looking to level up? Have you traveled a lot in one part of the world but want to expand your horizons (literally)? Did you study abroad in college? Did you recently have an eye-opening travel experience that made you go “Wow, this is what I want out of life!”? What parts of your past travel have you enjoyed and what parts have you found frustrating or too hard to handle? These are all great things to think on while you consider whether long-term travel is right for you.

solo female traveler in Paris near the Eiffel Tower

What do you picture your long-term travel experience being like?

I want you to tap into your hippiest dippiest self here and really visualize your future travels as much as possible. Like actually close your eyes and paint yourself a mind picture. Got it all queued up? Ok, now you know those Instagram vs. reality clips? How much of what you’re picturing looks like the Instagram part and how much looks like the reality part? Are you prepared to have a balance?

How do you handle challenges?

Piggybacking on that whole reality thing, all travel comes with a little risk. You’ve probably encountered this on past vacations, so I want you to throw back to that feeling. How do you handle things that don’t go to plan? Does it ruin everything? Do you want a travel agent on call to navigate challenges so you can just enjoy your trip? If so, that’s totally valid and you should absolutely keep traveling that way with no apologies. But that does mean that long-term travel might not be as good a fit for you. On the other hand, if you would like to develop your travel skills and learn how to navigate challenging situations yourself… if you find it easy to roll with the punches or at least want to become more adaptable… or if you even kind of like the crazy stories that come from things going awry (see my experience pointedly not seeing the Taj Mahal)… those are all great signs that long-term travel is a good choice for you.

solo female traveler riding a bus

How important is your comfort zone?

Similar to challenges, your comfort zone plays a big role in long-term travel, especially if you don’t have a lot of money to travel with. My total budget for my round-the-world trip was about $20,000. I spent a little more than that (closer to $22k) and traveled for just shy of a year, so I averaged about $66 per day. My travel style is like budget backpacking-plus. I will gladly sleep on the airport floor and eat a banana for breakfast if it means I can afford visiting an elephant sanctuary or going all out at the oldest cabaret in Paris. You do not have to go to extremes or travel the exact same way that I do. But I do want you to think about how much comfort you might be willing to give up in the name of the experiences that matter most to you. The farther out of your comfort zone you’re capable of swinging, the better you will feel about long-term travel.

What practical concerns are holding you back?

Sometimes we have reasons not to travel long-term and sometimes we have excuses. (Actually, scratch that — we can always find excuses!) Take a minute and actually list out some of the things that are holding you back. “I could never quit my job to travel because…” Fill in the blank. Consider each item on this list. Is it a commitment that truly prevents you from traveling, like you’re responsible for an aging relative’s care? Is it a real concern, but one that I like to call “figure-out-able” like your budget? Is it something rooted in a feeling that you could work through with the right support, like feeling afraid to take the risk or go alone? The more of these issues you sort through, the clearer your place on the dream-to-goal spectrum will be.

solo female traveler sitting on a bench with her suitcase looking bored or discontent

Are you trying to outrun unhappiness?

Here’s a real tough one we need to confront. Many of us feel drawn to travel when we’re not happy with life at home. I can totally relate to looking at friends or family who are perfectly content sitting in the living room and watching the same TV show every night and thinking “Huh, is that it? You do you, but that is not the life for me!” And long-term travel CAN give you a very valuable break away from things that make you unhappy. Some of us simply don’t thrive in traditional, 9-to-5-job lifestyles. Maybe part of what’s driving you is a soul-deadening job you want to leave in the dust, or a crappy breakup that makes you wish you didn’t have to run into your ex at the farmers market. But I want to caution you that sometimes part of what’s making you unhappy is something you’re carrying with you and travel isn’t going to fix that by itself. This is not a substitute for proper mental health care. So please friend, follow your dreams, but take good care of yourself while you do.

happy solo female traveler wearing a hijab and carrying a backpack

Some Stuff You Don’t Have to Worry About Yet

If any of the below topics are coming up for you a lot, take a chill pill babe. They’re important questions and valid concerns, but they fall under what I consider “figure-out-able.” You don’t have to have all the answers before saying that long-term travel is something you want to pursue. We are just asking that one question right now: do you really want to do this? Is it right for you? So table this stuff for the time being:

  • Where will the money come from?
  • What happens to your career?
  • What if you have to end your trip early and come home?
  • How will you stay connected to friends and family?
  • What happens after your travels?
  • What do I do about taxes/insurance/laundry/phone bills?

This is all stuff we can figure out down the road.

What’s the Verdict? Is Long-Term Travel Right for You?

The only person who can answer this question is you. But I hope the above prompts are helping you winnow out the answer. If you’re landing on nope, it’s the vacation life for me, then that’s cool and I hope you have lots of amazing ones in your future. If you’re ready to go all-in on a long-term travel goal, here’s your next steps! Go figure out which type of long-term travel is best for you. I’ve got a free quiz with your name on it!

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