The Limits of Long-Term Travel: It Doesn’t Fix Everything

Categories Long-Term Travel, Personal Musings

“Took a deep breath and made my way to the train station at dawn. Though the ticket-lady immediately looked at me like I had just grown a 2nd head, I stood my ground for the next available train “somewhere far”. Looks like my first solo experience will be to Annecy; I hope it goes well.”

- From my travel journal, September 29, 2001

On my to-do list after returning from Asia: going through my belongings in North America and starting to purge. The boxes of suits and jackets, the briefcases, the remnants of a lawyerly existence that I no longer live. In doing so, I stumbled upon the journals, photos and memories of all sorts of prior adventures. My year working in South America (in 2002), and my time studying in France (in 2001), the quote above being part of the latter. Spoiler alert: I ended up having a lovely time in Annecy, and the wondrous experience of traveling so freely catapulted me into a new state of being. I could go where I wanted, when I wanted.

Prison in Annecy, France
The prison in Annecy, France. Photo taken from that very weekend in 2001.

People often ask me what compels me to continue traveling. It took me two full years to write a post about why I quit my job to travel around the world and on the cusp of yet another big move, this time back to Asia, there’s another important topic that merits discussion: the things that travel won’t fix. Inherent in any conversation about quitting work to explore the world is a vague accusation that one is running away from something by doing so. I think my ‘why I quit’ post dispels a good amount of any such finger pointing; working long hours for 6 years to save for travel is a pretty resolute way to refute running. Unless I’m just a really slow runner?  That said, I would be lying if I claimed that I had no hopes of being fixed by my adventures. I dreamed of being completely fearless, of never worrying about anything again. I longed for a calmer brain.

But some things are hard-wired in you. Some qualities, no matter how much you work at changing them, will lessen but they won’t go away. And in the spirit of disclosure and admission, here are the limitations of long-term travel, the things that many months of wandering didn’t fix.

I am, and will remain, an arachnophobe. When I was 2, my father took me to see Raiders of the Lost Ark, despite my mother’s concerns that I would be scarred for life. “She won’t remember – she’s 2!” was the gist of his response. Unfortunately she was right: I woke up screaming about spiders for 2 years running; I became irrationally afraid of arachnids. In 2003, when I lived in a tiny town called La Barra de Maldonado in Uruguay, my house was carpeted in a terrifying tapestry of wasps and poisonous spiders. After a week of insomnia, I finally came to grips with my predicament. Stubborn to a fault, I decided that going home wasn’t an option. But making a deal with the spiders was, and I lulled myself into a jagged, superficial sleep at night by pinpointing where the spiders were in the room and telling them to stay there. Whatever works, right? When I returned, I thought my arachnophobia was gone. I was wrong. Cue trying to kill poisonous spiders on the Perhentian Islands, all the while trying not to throw up in my own mouth.

Perhentian Islands in Malaysia: Beautiful views, less beautiful spiders.
Perhentian Islands in Malaysia. Not shown: the bright green poisonous spider.

After 6 years of learning to fight about and sweat the small stuff (it was, after all, what I was paid to do), it is a difficult skill to unlearn. In balancing one’s fears and dreams, it helps to remember that the small things in life are not necessarily those worth throwing a temper tantrum about. After several years on the road, I’ve learned to prioritize what really does matter in life, but sometimes I slip back into lawyer-mode and lose perspective.

I dread packing  just as much as I did when I started my travels. I hate packing. I agonize over packing. I worry that I will bring the wrong things, that immediately upon setting foot in a new place I will be bowled over by a long list of absolutely necessary items that I just cannot live without. This is both untrue and relatively stupid, but knowing as much on an intellectual level does not stem the tide of worry. I am unclear as to why packing remains so cumbersome to me, but after so many months of travel, I think it’s high time I accept the dread and move on.


The contents of my pack at the very beginning of my trip, in Patagonia.

I find it hard to compartmentalize. Perhaps this is a corollary to the “sweating the small stuff” statement above, but when I’m preoccupied, I’m preoccupied. I can maintain a veil of placidity and reassurance in an online setting (as in, I don’t tweet about it), but those who’ve met up with me know that if there’s a family issue at home or a cause I feel passionate about? I’m going to be distracted by it. The upside to this realization is the fact that it has made me less of a procrastinator; I’ve learned that addressing my worries head-on is the best and most effective way to get past them.

No matter how much Asian food I eat, I remain hopelessly wide-eyed and enthusiastic about eating more of it. I’ve always enjoyed food, especially Asian food. My post about cheap eats in New York City notably emphasizes anything that resembles a dumpling. But even I expected to go to Asia and eventually tire of the food, perhaps conjuring up a long-lost meal of pizza and pasta in my sleep. This never happened. Minus a serious aching for extra sharp cheddar cheese and poutine, I didn’t miss any Western food. In fact, when I came back to North America this summer and people asked what I missed when I was overseas, I got misty-eyed and waxed poetic about pad pongali gai and the soups in Burma.

Pad-Siew in Bangkok's Victory Monument Area
Pad si ew in Bangkok, from my favourite street stall.

I still agonize about every blog post. One would think, after writing for so many months, that writing would get easier. While I now tend to handwrite notes in buses or planes, I still spend far too much time hemming and hawing over how a post will be received or what I ought to say. While this means that I don’t regret anything I’ve posted on Legal Nomads, it also means that I could be writing more (and more impulsively) if I just relaxed and posted as my ideas came to me. Perhaps this is still something I can work on in 2011? Only time will tell.

Working in El Nido, Palawan
Working in El Nido, Palawan (on The Alternative Hotel’s computer).

I still don’t have a clear path for the coming years. Daniel Baylis, about to head out on his own round-the-world trip in just a few days, posted a great photo on his Facebook page (below) and I wholeheartedly agree with its sentiment. I am fortunate to have met an incredible cross-section of people and experienced a wide variety of adventures. Do I have a plan? (This is everyone’s favourite question “Jodi, do you have a plan?” or “Ok, so you’re going to continue traveling. But what is your plan?” or, from my family “But don’t you want to stay and play in the snow? THAT’s a good plan!”) No, I do not have a plan. I thought I would upon temporarily returning from my travels, but it’s just not the case.

It is important to note that I don’t beat myself up for these things. Echoing back from each of them is a list of counterpoints, of strengths I never knew I had and things I never thought I could do. I am a lot braver than I knew; I stay put even when things have gone awry. I am no longer the girl who won ‘most easily embarrassed’ in high school – instead of painful, I find it easy to talk to people I don’t know. I enjoy sitting on top of buses more than inside of them. I’ve learned (and I truly believe) that everyone has a story to tell, and if you listen properly it will help you with your own trajectory too. I learned how to listen, to really listen. I realized that you really can do what you set your mind to, if only you are brave enough to try. I accept that I need to know and want to share as much as possible about the history of a new place, or else I feel that I did not do it justice. Crazy things happen to me on planes. Birds love the top of my head (but might actually have a vendetta against me). I will climb mountains even though I’ve got a bruised rib and bronchitis or have lost several of my toenails. I crave the sensory overload of a bustling food market in a new country.

So many stories, so much travel and yet still so much to look forward to. I’m heading back to Asia in January to eat more of the food I love, to reunite with friends in Thailand and to keep exploring and learning as much as possible. That travel is itself an instruction is undeniable, but the depth of learning is contingent upon how much a traveler wants to soak in. I still see travel as one of the most intense, effective ways to educate myself; I accentuate this by reading up on the history of a place before I hit its shores and by doing my utmost to understand the culture, people and food when I arrive. I feel very fortunate to have crafted a life where I can pursue the dreams that invigorate me, and part of what makes that pursuit so fulfilling is sharing the resulting stories, photos and thoughts with the readers on my blog.

So: to 2011! I have no idea what the year will hold, but I’m excited to find out.

- Jodi

77 comments to The Limits of Long-Term Travel: It Doesn’t Fix Everything

  1. Great post. You got through it without quoting all the people who have been quoted before, so I’ll do it:

    “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference” Robert Frost

    “No matter where you go, there you are.” Buckaroo Bonzai

    “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.” Helen Keller

    ““When one pays a visit it is for the purpose of wasting other people’s time, not one’s own.” Oscar Wilde

    Cheers, and interesting travels in 2011. ;-)

  2. Great topic Jodi. I too agree that wandering aimlessly hasn’t necessarily fixed things that I wanted to fix. But it certainly has really understand myself and my abilities and fears better.
    Are you heading back to Bangkok again? Or somewhere else in Asia for a while?

    • Thanks Sherry. I know you and I discussed this briefly, and as a fellow long term traveler I am sure you struggle with a similar search for balance. At the moment, I’m heading straight to Chiang Mai but will be spending some time in Bangkok later in January or Feb. I’m hoping to get to Sri Lanka and India in 2011 as well. Perhaps we can meet up on the road?

  3. It sounds like it’s been a busy year for you! I think I’m a bit like you and I agonize over packing a little too much. It takes me a long time to pack because I want to be sure I’m not forgetting anything. But as soon as I leave, I don’t think about it anymore, which is good.

    I can’t believe you stayed at a place with poisonous spiders in your room in Uruguay! That would drive me nuts! Spiders are my biggest fear. You are very brave to have continued sleeping there!!

    • It was certainly a very busy year! The spiders…oh it was terrible. But as is often the case, we are more adaptable and can tolerate more fear than we think. It’s part of the magic of being human, I suppose! I shudder to think about it now, but somehow I managed for months in that house of horrors. Every so often, I torture myself by looking at pictures of spiders, hoping I will be further desensitized. It’s not working. :)

  4. This was great. As an expat, I feel like I can relate to some of what you’re saying, especially the packing – I’ve been on countless trips, yet my husband knows to just ignore me for the couple hours before a flight because I am a ball of stress convinced that this time I will actually forget my passport. I also had the experience when I first lived in Chile of taking crazy trips and thinking maybe it would become my new style, and guess what: nope. I’m still a Type A control freak who likes to plan, the hitch-hiking was a blip rather than the start of a new era.

    • It definitely sounds like we’re on the same page! There’s no question that changing the factors you can control (in my case, not living in a high-stressed, fast-paced place like NY) helps in letting you focus on what you CAN fix, but some things are just not going to change. I remember when I first got to the beaches of Thailand I said to my friends “ok, so what’s the point of this? Are we going to do something or just sit here?” and they looked at me like I was nuts. Several years out, I actually looking forward to nothing…..for about 5 days. And then I still get stir-crazy.

  5. A lovely read as I prepare myself for the great transition.

    I look forward to comparing notes someday soon over tea or beer, and most definitely a steamy plate of dumplings.

    xo

    • Thanks Daniel. It is perfectly apt that two Montrealers with incurable wanderlust should cross paths for the first time in Asia. Bon voyage to you, and I look forward to reading about your adventures.

  6. I don’t have much to say other than I enjoyed the post and the sentiment reflected in it, including the quote (from the photo). Looking forward to hearing more about your travels in 2011.

  7. Good post.

    As a fellow legal nomad, I’ve experienced some parallels. I’ve cut my possessions down to what will fit in my Honda CRV and a 5×5 storage unit with old business records. I look forward to the 7 years running so I can get rid of most of what is in storage. I no longer own a suit although I’ve acquired some wool dress pants here in Denver.

    I am not nearly as arachnophobic as I used to be. I actually took a photo of a tarantula in Arizona a few weeks ago.

    I too love my cast and wonder about the plot which is easier to see in retrospect. Luckily, my journey began after I had quite a series of life adventures and my kids were already grown.

    My biggest question is whether I will ever have a home again. Being location independent is quite addictive.

    • Thanks for the comment, Kim. I’ve been trying to train myself to cringe less at spiders but pictures are different than having them near you. And there was that one time in Mexico where I woke up to a tarantula on my stomach – that set me way back in my spider training lessons. Great to hear from another former lawyer who decided to live life a little differently.

  8. I’m excited to see what it holds for you as well!!! Loved this post. I’m scared of spiders too btw. :)

    • I’ve been getting emails saying the same – “how did you live with those SPIDERS”. So it’s more prevalent than I realized! Good luck w/ wedding details & congrats again!

  9. Beautiful post, Jodi. No need to stress over your writing; it’s spot on! :)

    Enjoy your travels in the new year!

  10. On December 14, 2010 at 9:46 pm soultravelers3 said:

    Lovely post, Jodi! I can so relate.

    I am always amazed when people think traveling will solve all problems, it’s just another way to live, that more & more people are choosing as a lifestyle, but life certainly goes on, perhaps more than any other style. Good for you for choosing freedom!

    We’ve been traveling the world as a family non-stop now for 5 years & love it. We do it luxuriously on 23 dollars a day per person, so it saves us a bundle & allows us to actually save more money as we roam the world slowly.

    I have vertigo, claustrophobia & agraphobia, so can relate to your spiders, as I’m not fond of those either. ;) We’ve survived hospitalizations & surgeries, car wreck, paralysis & deaths in foreign lands, plus more & I find it a real strengthener & an existence that helps one live in the “now”.

    We pack so little now that I find it easy, 38 countries on 1 tiny carry on each. I was once a heavy packer. Full time travel makes one a minimalist & personally I think that is grand for my daughter. Less is more & flexibility are lessons especially important for this generation.

    Happy travels! Hope we can meet when you are in Asia as we are here for the winter to immerse in Chinese, before heading to India, then back to Europe.

    • Hi Jeanne. I don’t think of it as choosing freedom, but rather as being fortunate enough to explore the world on my own terms. That’s not to say working a desk job isn’t freedom – for some people it’s the life they want, and I don’t think they are deluding themselves by believing that. But personally it wasn’t what made me happy, and thus far travel has – so onward I go!

      I’ll be in and around Asia as well for most of the winter/spring, including a stop in Beijing to visit friends. Safe travels to you and your family.

  11. As someone who is constantly picking up and moving every time I got bored/burnt out/frustrated/depressed, it was a hard lesson for me to learn that travel (or selling all your belongings to live in the Amazon for a year) doesn’t solve all my problems. Yeah, it can help me get rid of the bad job or ditch the annoying roommate, but it won’t help solve my chronic depression or my anal retentiveness or my fear of open water. But it has fixed a few small things about myself — I’m much more conscious of my purchases (even if I’m still horrible at budgets), I’m more patient and, sometimes, I’ll even venture into open water (although I can’t say I enjoy it much). So, yeah, travel won’t fix everything… but it mends a few of the small things.
    And I’m a blog-post-agonizer, too. If anything, I’ve gotten worse since I started traveling & more people started reading my blog. It used to take me 2-3 hours to write a post… now it takes me 2-3 days, countless drafts and a million word changes. There are weeks when I just can’t even write a post because I don’t have the time or brain power to deal with it. Definitely a good resolution for a 2011 — become less of a blog worrywart!

    • Is it wrong that your comment makes me feel better? I had no idea you were also a blog worrywart as well. We’ll have a No Bloggy Worries 2011 summit when we meet in Chiang Mai.

      Agreed that travel has helped me work on the smaller things – it provides a sandbox to play in that’s different from every day life and thus allows time and perspective that my prior existence did not.

  12. Lovely post. Just the extra motivation I need to continue on travelling next year, even though i have NO PLAN!!! Thanks Jodi

  13. It is fascinating how in some fundamental ways we never change. I used to almost vomit at the thought of eating runny egg yolks, but when I lived in Paris, my Belgian host cooked me soft boiled eggs every morning. Eventually I was able to swallow without gagging every time, and after so many months, I thought I had been converted. But when I got back home, I realized that I still disliked the slimy texture of runny egg yolks.

    I really like the point you make about how even though travel can’t fundamentally change certain things about you, it can still help you discover strengths you never knew you had. I tend to freak out about all the little things, but when there’s a crisis (like when a flight connection is missed or a suitcase lost), I am (experience has shown) very good at being calm and thinking of creative solutions.

    Thanks for this great blog post, and I’m looking forward to reading your stories from Thailand!

    Your fellow arachnophobe,

    Anis S.

    • Hi Anis, thanks for the comment (and your retweet). Context is certainly important, and we can tolerate far more than we think when life requires us to. Ultimately I know I still go back to my spider-fearing ways when I’m back in the comforts of home, but at least I can suck it up when I have no spider-free options. Keeping calm and thinking creatively are great qualities to have when travel doesn’t go as planned, and I’m glad you feel that travel has highlighted strengths you were not aware of.

  14. So glad I’m not alone in the spider thing. One of my biggest fears about potentially moving to Oz, actually.

    Wanna share a place in Bangkok? It’d be wicked awesome.

  15. This post brings some great realities to the romance of long term travel. Thanks for spelling it all out. Your blog and tweets are an inspiration to those who are at home and long for travel.

  16. Jodi!
    Can’t agree with you from my heart more than your paragraph about Asian food. I’m a bit of an extreme case, to be honest, the thought of western food has not even so much as crossed my mind since moving to Thailand 1.5 years ago! Eating is the ultimate pleasure, and not a single meal goes by in Bangkok without the “every meal excitement and jitters!” Got some new eateries and freshly discovered dishes to show you when you get back!

    • Ah yes, I thought of you as I wrote that paragraph. I’m looking forward to eating at Pumpkin Lady and trying your newly discovered treats. Even the desserts in Thailand make me far happier than in North America…still dreaming of pumpkin treats and coconut cream on a bed of sticky rice. Yum! See you in Jan!

  17. “I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I am going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalita de Castro

    Plans are overrated. Just keep moving forward and you’ll find that you end up somewhere interesting!

  18. Packing cubes, get them, they´ll change your life.
    I still hate packing but it now takes half the time.

    • I’m a compression bag kinda girl. I have no problem packing once I pack the first time, though. When I’m traveling it doesn’t bother me one bit. It’s that initial packing from home that I’m referring to, as though I temporarily forget that one CAN buy t-shirts everywhere on earth. :)

  19. When you come to a fork in the road, take it. Yogi Berra

  20. Terrific post. I share your fear of spiders and anxiety about blog posts. No wonder we get along. ;-) Seriously, though, you don’t need fixing. You are who you are because of your phobias and anxieties and worries and love for food and so many more things. I don’t think travel takes away anything that we are, it just adds to it.

  21. Even more than packing, I despite travel PLANNING, researching, and booking. There are simply way too many options available to the discerning traveler without a firm agenda, and I’m always afraid that as soon as I click “buy”, I’ll discover a way cheaper or more enjoyable way to get from A to B.

    As for spiders, I had a big hairy huntsman living in my car (underneath the driver’s side dash – somewhere) in Oz. We had a good pact, the spider and I: he could live in the car, as long as he didn’t move when I was in the car myself. The pact worked out just fine until I made the mistake of turning on the heat one day – which I guess drove him out of hiding…and onto the steering wheel, then eventually my lap – while I was driving at 100km/hour.
    Boy, that was fun.

    • Nora, I totally agree. I tend to put it off as a result and then really don’t get the best fares. As to the spider, you’re nuts – I’d never be able to live with a huntsman in my car. But kudos to you for being able to do so; you’re a braver woman than I!

  22. Great post.

    I’m 3 years deep and still have no idea what will be doing. I assume something will eventually land on my lap and I will do that until it bores me. Then I will move onto the next thing that keeps me happy.

    Travelling long haul educates you on you need, and what don’t, to live.

    I also think making an effort in understanding a places food, is the best way to understand it’s culture and bond with it’s people.

    • Thank you Jordan. I think many long-term travellers struggle with what they ought to do next and, like J Kim Wright Above, whether they will return to a more conventional lifestyle at some point in the future. Safe travels!

  23. Jodi, thanks for sharing this. Whether it’s a quick vacation or a trip halfway around the world, one of the benefits of traveling is what it can each us about ourselves. Sometimes the reflection of ourselves that we see isn’t pretty. Sometimes it’s funny. And like any reflection, there are things we like and don’t like. What I like about this post is that you speak about those things in the reflection that we can’t change.

    I definitely can relate to your issue about compartmentalizing. I try to hide stuff when I am bothered or frustrated but I don’t do it very well. Like you, I really need to learn to deal with things rather than pretend everything is OK. On the humorous side, I have learned that I am horrible with directions. Don’t ever tell me to go east or north because I have no clue what direction that is – at any time or any place. These are things that are just me.

    When traveling, these things make us unique. When we are at home, these things make us unique. You make a great point here – we are all unique. Whether it’s phobias or the way we relate to others, it makes us who we are. And in the big picture, it makes all the people we encounter a wonderful melting pot of personalities.

    • Thanks for the comment, Jeremy. It’s true that the context of our worries or interests is very relevant to how we handle them, and each of us does so differently. I’m directionally disabled too, so I sympathize.

  24. Great post as usual, Jodi. I’m glad you wrote about this, especially about not having a plan. I hoped my year-long trip would make my path a bit clearer, but I found it hard to think about a career direction while I was on a secluded beach in Brazil. Two years after my return, I’m still trying to figure out my path. You don’t beat yourself about your lack of a clear path, so I’ll try to emulate. :)

    • Thanks Julie. I think the lesson is that even if you do have a plan, that plan can change as you move along the trajectory of your life. I used to think I had to stick to what plan I made no matter what, but I’ve learned that the fluid nature of what I’m doing means that I can modify things as I go, and make them even more rewarding.

  25. I always say this when this topic comes up, but my friends and I believe in what we like to call “geographical solutions to personal problems.” Hate your job? Quit it and then move? Sad about something? Go to another country! Yeah, doesn’t really work that well, actually.

    • It’s true that travel isn’t a band-aid for all your problems, especially for a general malaise. But it does certainly take you out of your comfort zone and as a result allows you to reframe how you feel about some of those problems, which can sometimes provide solutions you’d have otherwise missed. Thanks for your comment & for reading!

  26. Awesome and inspiring post. I think you hit the right tone perfectly. I look forward to continue following your adventures in 2011!

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  27. Really great post, Jodi. And don’t worry about 2011 – it’s going to be the best year yet :)

  28. Awesome that you get to go back to Asia in January :) I feel you on the compartmentalizing issue, which is still something I’m working on. When I was living in Kyrgyzstan, there were issues at home that actually resulted in me flying back for a month! Ugh

  29. Andrew, Abbie & Brooke: thanks for the comments & support. Safe travels to each of you :)

  30. It’s too true that travel doesn’t help the issues don’t go away, but at least for me it’s helped me face them much more. Maybe it’s because it was one of my life goals, but I just wanted to let go more and worry less and all that, and I’ve found it’s worked a bit.

    The thing I find with travel is that when you move from place to place and between all different people, the only common factor is you. It’s easier to adapt yourself and isolate the “thing” to face it better.

    Spiders don’t bother me so much, but I can related that I’m afraid of the dark. And I’m sort of afraid of toilets, I too saw a scary movie.

    • I agree that travel has helped me face more of the issues, though I’ve found that when I return home for fits and spurts, I do tend to revert back to my worrying ways :) Interesting point, too, that you remain the common factor with all that movement. You’re right, it is certainly a driving force in pushing you to adapt faster (and more effectively) than were you staying put.

      Looking forward to seeing you soon!

  31. Jodi,
    I have enjoyed reading your blog while I have been planning & saving for my own long term travel adventure. January 4th 2011 I will land in BKK and begin 14 months of solo travel through SEA & India. If you are interested I would love to meet up in Thailand for a bowl of noodles or some other street food delight: I too am obsessed with asian food. I will spend january in Bangkok & Chiang Mai.
    Cheers- suzanne
    PS I am absolutely TERRIFIED of cockroaches & rats. Hmmm, wonder how that phobia is going to work out for me in SEA???

    • Hi Suzanne! Thanks for reading. I popped over to your blog and you’ve got a great packing breakdown.

      I’ll be in Chiang Mai (arriving in Bangkok Jan4 as well, but will be flying straight up to Chiang Mai to meet friends) for a good part of January. Definitely let me know when you come to town and we’ll go on a khao soi binge.

      I’m not going to lie – there are a lot of cockroaches and rats in SEA, often wandering around the streets just like you. I’ve got no problem with either, so if we meet up you’re in charge of the spiders and I’ll handle the rest :)

  32. What a fun post. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who sweats the small stuff or compartmentalizes things :) I haven’t done extended travel, so I can’t really compare, but it’s interesting to hear what hasn’t changed. I think some habits and patterns are just innate, and nothing can really alter that (though I believe there are so many things that CAN be changed). It’s interesting to hear that you don’t have a plan and are just enjoying life. I admire that about you! Happy New Year!

    • Hi Emily! Don’t get me wrong, not having a plan can certainly be panic inducing sometimes. :) Some habits are definitely so engrained that they cannot be altered, but I still think we owe it to ourselves to think about what is within our control and how to make ourselves better people. Thanks for including me in your Gen Y carnival and all the best for 2011.

  33. Jodi, what a well written post. Thank you for sharing this. I think not having a plan is the way to go, some people get it, some don’t. My fam does not get it, they always want to know what’s next? where are you going? Are you coming back home soon? A friend recently asked, “are you on another extended vacation?” They just don’t realize that a vacation now for us is going back to the place where we once lived. This is our life, and uncertainty of *next* is part of it. I don’t know what I am doing tomorrow never-mind where the next place is and what we’ll be doing. The unknown can scare, but mostly gives us a thrill. We find that opportunities have been finding us rather than us looking for them.

    Oh yeah! I totally am on your page with Asian food. No matter how much I eat, I always want to eat more. So good!!!

    I look forward to reading about your adventures in 2011!! Safe travels, and all the best.

  34. On February 6, 2011 at 10:38 am Sharon H Miro said:

    Someone once told me that you can change the furniture but the room remains the same. I have found that in my life this is one true statement. Nothing fixes our hearts except us.

    Be proud that you tackled a senstive subject, with thoughtful insight. Travel or any other long -term adventure will teach you mnay things about yourself, but it is up to you to make the changes that last a lifetime.

    • Thank you for your comment Sharon. It’s true that certain things are going to stay as is, no matter how hard we try to change them. But also uplifting to realize just how much we can change and the positive directions we can travel toward if only we remain cognizant of who we are and who we want to be. Safe travels to you as well!

  35. On February 6, 2011 at 10:40 am Sharon H Miro said:

    And one more thing, no matter how many trips I make OR take with http://www.wired2theworld.com , both of us still pack, repack, pack and repack. At some point, I look at a credit card, and say “it’s up to you now.”

  36. On February 7, 2011 at 11:56 pm sheryl shuchat said:

    Hi! Just to let you know I am thinking of you. I always enjoy your adventures and advice!
    xxSheryl

  37. Jodi,

    I just found your blog, read a couple of posts and was very excited about some of your thoughts concerning the “why” we do travel. I so much agree with your great explanation! Half a year ago I finished my third (year long) round the world trip, this time I travelled together with my girlfriend (now wife), which made the trip for me even better. We where posting lots of our experiments all over the globe on our website, to keep friends and family updated and to “store” the memories (writing a post for me was a bit like writing a journal). When we came back and we were about to leave Buenos Aires back to Germany I was writing about our feeling of “coming home”. And while I was writing this final post I remembered the question that friends had asked me, before we had gone: WHY are you travelling again? The third time, are you running away from something? I had no answers when I had left for the trip, but when I sat there in Buenos Aires I just had my simple answer right in front of my eyes: Because I love it!

    Well…now, 9 month later and inbetween one great 6 week summer tour through western Canada and the Oregon coast I am excited to start off again soon. Even if it is “just” for 5 weeks, I am very excited to be going to Maynmar (via BKK) in 2 weeks. I can´t wait to repack my backpack that is wating up there in my storage room and to get to the airport.

    If you are somewhere near BKK or in Myanmar in March we should meet for a drink and chat about travelling (-:

    Happy travels!

    Thommy

    • Thanks for the lengthily comment Thommy. I’m glad you enjoy the site and that you understand what drove me to write this post. Of course, there is great comfort in stability too and that’s part of why I’ve got a place in Chiang Mai for a few months. But that push to keep discovering, to keep educating myself by living and seeing and doing, it never dissipates. Best of luck in Myanmar – I also have a ‘crash course’ on this site about it, and found it to be one of the more rewarding countries I’ve visited. Be sure to read The River of Lost Footsteps too before you go. It’s an excellent historical overview of the country. I’ll be in Chiang Mai in March, but please do let me know if you’re heading North! Would be great to meet up with you two and chat about travel. Safe trip.

      • I read the Myanmar crash course already, thanks, very good help!

        Chiang Mai: Wow, I have great memories…thats one of the placed we found that it is absolutely a place we could stay for a couple of months or even a year or two. We just stayed for a week, just enough time to see the city, ride the scooter to hills and villages around, enjoying a daily massage by the blind people and finding great food every day (we love food as well!) Lovely place! If you haven´t been to the so far, you should try the very nice places in the Yunnan province in China and of course Ubud in Bali. They are as well places worth staying for a longer while, touching ground and recharching for further travels!

  38. It’s crazy and absolutely awesome that you don’t have a ‘plan.’ I think that you’re one of the bravest ones I know. I agree that listening to other people’s stories give us a wider perspective for our own personal threads of the plot, and often when we listen deeply to another we can hear ourselves echoing in their words. I find the times when I really want to get away from my nine to five is when it becomes too loud with worry that I can’t hear myself. I go away to declutter the head and start listening again. Remember our little conversation when you were still home heading out to BKK that you had some things to deal with back home. I was thinking about you in Bali then, thinking how the Balinese are so talented at balance, and how that was something you needed, and something I craved. So here you are again, ready for more surprises. I hope the basket stays on the head, even when you’re dancing.

    • Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Aloha. Balance is certainly something I strive toward – something many of us strive toward – and it’s a complicated dance indeed. Ultimately we can only take each day with what it offers to us and then decide to make it a day of change…or not. Hoping you are happy and healthy in Bangkok.

Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention The Limits of Long-Term Travel: It Doesn't Fix Everything | Legal Nomads -- Topsy.com
  2. Photography Doesn’t Fix Everything | imagine that
  3. How Travel Helps us Keep Life in Perspective | Legal Nomads
  4. Some links to indicate the direction of my thoughts lately: « CzechingIt
  5. On Taking Risks, Long-Term Travel and Finding your Path in Life | Legal Nomads
  6. On Homesickness and Long-Term Travel | Legal Nomads
  7. Practical Tips from Four Years of Worldwide Travel | Legal Nomads
  8. World Domination Summit (WDS) 2012 - Lessons Learned | Legal Nomads
  9. Pre-Trip Reading & Travel Plans for India | Legal Nomads