Compiling from my personal travel experiences, here are few best tips on how to mentally prepare for long term travel.
In last seven months, I’ve done two long term road trips. Both of them, being totally different from each. Yet, equally challenging!
Other than from my personal experiences, I’ve also compiled similar experiences from my favourite travellers.
Before we begin with the tips and experiences, I think long term travel term should be defined first.
In my opinion, any travel plan which goes beyond two weeks should be considered as a long one. A continuous travelling demands proper discipline and a lot of planning. Otherwise, things will start going haywire and it may turn into a really bad experience.
Mentally Prepare for Long Term Travel?
Let’s start with the preparation part. I’m considering that you’re already sitting with a long term travel plan, or, at least, have penned down a few list of places to visit.
#1 Long Term Travel Checklist
Depending on the country you’re visiting, and the type of transportation mode, you can prepare a travel checklist, which definitely helps.
Of course, creating a checklist doesn’t fall straight under the ‘mental preparation’ criteria, but, it definitely helps once you’re out in the field.
I would definitely write about the things I keep in check before leaving home, but, not today. Let me know what all you list before leaving home for a long term travel plan in the comment section below.
#2 Planned or Unplanned
I’m yet to meet a traveller, or even a tourist, who don’t like “awaaraa hoon” song. But, singing it along and considering yourself an awaaraa (Nomad) isn’t going to help in real time.
Unless you’ve left home (for sure) and ditched from all human connections, this attitude is not going to help.
My first long term travel (50 days) was totally unplanned. The only plan I had, was to follow the Sun. While the second one was totally planned, as the group involved a number of people and responsibilities.
So, considering the fact that I’ve experienced both sides of the coin, there is no global formula.
Also read: Tips for Long Motorcycle Rides
If you’re good at making sudden plans and improvising as per the situation, go without any plans. It will add one of the best travelling experience to your life.
Keep in Mind – It is very important to know how good you are at improvising and your body’s stamina well before moving out unplanned!
If you’re not that confident and prefer avoiding as many surprises as possible, then pen down a proper plan. A plan can involve, which road to take, food items to avoid, trains or buses involved, must see things in a particular city you’ll be crossing or staying, etc.
Important – In the case of travelling to a foreign country, it is very important to read about culture, rules and regulations, and everything related to the travelling.
#3 Travel Slow
While making a plan, or even in the case of going out unplanned, one should never hurry. Yes, you should travel slow, as it’s a long term travel we are talking about.
What does slow travelling actually mean?
For a newbie, this is an important question to have an answer of. Slow Travel means, not rushing through a list of places to visit or things to do. Instead, taking one place at a time, or completing one thing at a time.
I’ve noticed people carrying a list of things to do in a particular city, then running after it to make it all happen, asap. At the end of the day (or week), they end up having no energy, at all.
You need to ditch any such plan and keep time for proper rest!
Even if I have a single day or two in a city, I would never go running after a list. That’s how I keep myself ready for anything surprising.
Travelling slow not only saves energy but can also save a lot of money. Of course, it depends on the case!
#4 Don’t Pack the ‘Criticism Nature’
Thanks to the overuse of social media platforms, we all are aware of trending topics around the world, which may or may not be directly related to us.
I’m not aware of any survey, but most of the times, we all are talking about negative things happening around.
All these online activities push us to become a critic, and forces to have an opinion.
Why I’m talking about these things, is because, the same nature of criticising everything, continues in real life too. The moment travelling starts, you start noticing that real life is very different from what being portrayed online.
Now, you can either continue criticising, which will continue ruining your valuable time, or opt for focusing on the other things. Sometimes, it’s important to have No Opinions at all and move with the flow.
For example, while visiting Kashmir, you can miss a lot of its beauty as you were busy discussing about issues around and impose opinions.
I’m aware of the fact that leaving your job as a ‘keyboard politician/expert’ is not that easy, and it’s certainly not going to happen in a single day. But, once you’ve seen and experience the other side of the coin, life will be better, relax, and full of things you should actually care about.
Personal Tip: If you’re stuck in a place where options are limited, looking for available options and considering them is still a better plan than focusing and criticising the unavailable ones.
#5 Family Support
Any extended or long-term travel plan can be made possible, only if it is supported by family. Without their support and blessings, any such plan cannot be possible.
In most of the cases, the chances are close to zero!
So, it’s a better idea (and always will) to get your family onboard during the planning and make sure they are aware of all important things.
The exact plan to get the family on board will vary from person to person, or should I say, family to family. In my case, my parents would have never allowed me for the All India Solo Bike Tour, and then the recently concluded AIDSM tour.
During my first trip, I kept on asking for permission from my parents for 3-4 months. Later they realised that my bike tour wasn’t just an idea. It was something I really care for, and then one day, they allowed me to go for it.
In a nutshell, it’s important to get the family on board on any long-term travel plan. Because, their support will help you stay strong, emotionally.
#6 Avoid Overthinking
After going through all aforementioned points, you must have started overthinking. I would suggest you to avoid it. I know it’s easy to say than doing!
Give yourself a break, and then start thinking about each points, one at a time.
Within a week, a complete plan will be ready, that will mentally prepare you for the upcoming long term trip.
#7 Long Term Travel Insurance
In the case of visiting a foreign country, you should consider opting for a travel insurance, as it can take care of the expenses and help you keep overall expenses under the budget.
I’m not the best person to advise on a travel insurance plan. So, here is a Reddit thread I believe that can help you make a better decision. Or, at least, help you know everything about it.
Personal Experience and Tips from other Travellers
Take some self-care time to reflect on the reasons for your trip. Surround yourself with people who are supportive. Seek out communities of other travellers for support if you need it. Chances are they’ve been there, too. For us, we are leaving everything behind. We don’t even know whether we’ll return to Seattle, where we are currently living. It really feels like we are saying goodbye to everything. – Ashish Srivastava
Traveller mind is designed for short/long all kind of travel. They just need to prepare Socially by not allowed them to interfere with their plan. – Divya Shree
With all due respect to “gut feeling” and “let’s go” attitude, long-term planning can get the best out of long term travel. Like it is said, “If you have failed to prepare, you have prepared to fail.” There is never any harm in thinking out all possibilities, including the pitfalls you may face in your travels and thus planning for contingencies. However, I don’t think one should think too much on the mental front. Experiences derived from personal contact are best enjoyed, and indeed remembered, if unexpected. – Vrat Baghel
Keep calm. Plan your travel carefully. Make a list of what could happen and how you would handle it. What things you could need and whom to approach. Get all the necessary apps installed, emergency food, stay help options ready. – Shruti Chaurasia
I’ve been travelling for about 2 weeks now and these are some of the things that I’ve noticed/gone through. Even though I packed my backpack carefully I realised there were things that I can travel without. Didn’t realise I was running out of cash in hand and ended up in a place with no ATMs. Was too excited and ended up on an island at night and there was no public transport towards the mainland after 10, I had to take a taxi for an insane amount. Didn’t have offline maps, it was difficult when I ended up in places where there was no wifi and mobile data wasn’t available. Had to catch an overnight bus – didn’t carry any snacks or protein bars and was hungry the whole night on the bus. ~ Rohit Jacob
If you were looking for a quick answer to this question, how to mentally prepare for long term travel, then here is the best one from my side.
Training is nothing. The Will is everything. Will to Act!
Yes, I’m a Batman fan!
But, I still don’t go in the deep water, as I don’t know swimming. Like I said, knowing yourself first, is really important. So, conditions are applied!
Also read: Lessons I’ve learned while Traveling India
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