Would You Ever Travel Long-Term?

The November winds are gusting, the fiery orange and red leaves are falling to the ground and fading to brown, and the temperatures are dropping. Winter is fast approaching, and I’m starting to give in to my hermit-like tendencies. When the cold weather hits, I wrap myself in sweaters and blankets and settle in to wait for spring. Because as much as I try to not let the weather affect me, the reality is that it’s really hard for me to motivate myself to brave the elements. And when you don’t even want to leave your couch, it gets difficult to explore and travel.

One way I try to beat the winter cooped-up blues is to plan trips for the next year. Planning can involve anything from casual research on new places that float onto my radar, to booking flights and sketching out itineraries. Many times, research starts with reading my (million) bookmarked adventure blogs and seeing what my favorite travelers are up to. But as much as I love living vicariously through them, I can’t help but feel a little bit wistful when I look away from the computer screen and out onto the snowy landscape beyond my window.

Lately, as I’ve been reading my favorite blogs, I’ve been thinking more about the idea of long-term travel. For a while now, my travels have been limited to long weekends away or, at most, a week once a year. I know I’m lucky to be able to travel at all, but I do find myself wishing for the time to really go and explore. Reading about Liz (from the blog Young Adventuress) and her adventures in New Zealand for a year makes me daydream about what it would be like to pack up and head off around the world.

I’ve done the long-term travel thing before, in different ways. I studied abroad in London, which was definitely long-term (4 months), but it was more living abroad than carefree traveling. The second time was after college graduation; I worked all summer in a department store downtown and saved every penny for an epic one-month backpacking trip around Europe. My friend and I hit a new city every few days, packing in a ton of sightseeing but moving on just as we started to become comfortable in a place. I got glimpses of the countries we visited, but my experiences were postcards and I wanted to read the books.

When I think of long-term travel now, I’m thinking of something in between my two previous experiences. I’d like to combine the best of each; I want to know places as intimately as I got to experience London. I want to be a regular at neighborhood restaurants and get to know the secret spots in a city, the places that can only be discovered with time. But I’d also like to see as much of the world as possible.

I know long-term travel can be done; there are entire websites devoted to how to plan for and take a career break. It’s just like everything else in life; if you want to do it badly enough, you’ll figure out a way to make it happen (even if it takes 20 years and countless starts and stops). Long-term travel is a daunting prospect, but it’s also a thrilling one. And the thrill makes it worth considering.

What do you guys think, would you ever travel long-term?

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