I’ve been traveling for about a year and half now. And to the curious, aspiring travelers out there, yes it is liberating. Waking up everyday and setting out on a new adventure sounds so glorious- on paper. Traveling solo, backpacking across the world, everything sounds so dreamy. But the truth is that traveling is much more than that. It’s not as dreamy as the instagram pictures.
It's a shame that nobody talks about the tough parts about being a traveler because it isn’t all roses. Nobody talks about how after a point of time you just want to quit traveling and stay put in one place.
Let me tell you, staying in one place is difficult too. It’s hard for a serial-traveller to get attached. And by hard, I mean scary. Terrifying in some cases. The idea of staying in a place and leading a mundane life is much scarier than moving to new places every month. Money is always tight. All the savings go for essentials like shelter and food. But I make ends meet by freelancing. Commitment is the most serious issue we deal with.
Trekking to mountaintops and sleeping under the stars and watching sunrise is so intensely gratifying. But after a certain point, you start comparing, the sunrise there seemed much prettier than this. And soon, you get desensitised to nature’s beauty. I know I sound like a total A-hole here. But that’s how it feels after a point. The loneliness gets to you. Forming meaningful relationships become more and more difficult.
For the most part, the difficulty is because you know you won’t see them for more than a month. It’s all spontaneous. You meet them, you have fun and move on, until you cross paths again. There’s not enough time to develop deep, meaningful relationships. Traveling is like splitting your soul and leaving them as horcruxes. As you travel more and more, there’s less and even lesser of you to give away. The feeling of gratification keeps swivelling downwards.
When I tell people about what I do, they look at me all starry-eyed. In their head, they’re picturing scenic views and a beautiful instagram feed. I don't correct them, why should I?
So, to all the aspiring travelers who are contemplating to quit and travel, this is for you. If you want to meet new people, develop new and meaningful relationships, quitting to travel is a total rookie move. Backpacking every quarter and coming back home is probably the best option.
If yours is a creativity-based job like mine, then be a nomad. Go to a new place. Stay there. At least for 2 months. Absorb the place, culture and people and then when you’re satisfied, move again. Nomadic lifestyle is way more gratifying than being a traveler. Because for a nomad, you find a home everywhere you go. Loneliness, desensitisation can be problems for nomads too. But that doesn’t mean you need to settle down permanently. Find your own pace. Stick to it. When you find the place, stay or come back to it. Being a nomad means freedom. Traveling sounds fancy. But it isn’t. Not if you keep travelling for a long time.
There is a stark difference between being a nomad and being a backpacker.
Yes, there are highs and lows to everything. But somehow, in the end, it all boils down to one simple question: Does it make you happy?
If the answer is yes, go do it. Quitting your job to be a nomad sounds exciting, which it is but, it comes with its own repercussions like every other action.