Changing my travel style…

One of the things I love about travel is that there are so many different styles to choose from. Some even over lap, and many are much more specific than just the loosely termed backpacker or luxury traveller. You have long term travellers, business travellers, digital nomads, flashpackers, budget backpackers, WWOOFers, volunteers, eco-travellers, country & continent specific travellers… The list goes on! There are also those who don’t like to be labelled (which I can understand), and those who like to travel in a different style depending on the occasion or how the mood strikes. Everybody is different, and usually a combination of many styles, not just one. Sometimes your style is simply defined by your budget.

For me, I’ve always very much been a long term budget backpacker. Even back when I was a student, when I may not have had the money to go away as often as I would have liked… Every trip I planned was long term, aimed at making my money last as long as possible. It didn’t matter necessarily how much money there was in the pot. It could be 100 dollars or a million dollars… I’d still be staying in backpacker hostels and looking for ways to make the money last as long a time as possible. If it lasted a week then that was because it was all I could afford. It it lasted a year then it was under the same principle.

The style that I describe above is not going to change much for me in the future. I will still be staying predominantly in budget backpacker hostels, and still making long term plans. This is how I like travelling. However, a lot of my trips of late, despite lasting several months in total, they often revolve around going to a lot of destinations within a reasonably short period of time. This means that although I’m a long term traveller in terms of the physical months of travel under my belt, I’ve actually not staying a very long time in each destination. This is something I want to change.

I visited 17 countries last year in 10 months. 16 of those countries were squashed into 6 months of travel, while the other 4 months I spent in Spain just hanging out, eating tapas, and trying to learn some Spanish. I went to some incredibly unique and inspiring destinations in that 6 months out of Spain such as Bucharest and Belgrade to name a few… but you know what? The best times I had were actually in Spain.

It was all to do with the people I met. I had an instant connection with these people, but more importantly, I actually stayed there long enough to strike up real friendships with them. That may sounds silly to some people, but I’ve been missing something in my life since I started travelling long-term and that is a base. A real base, with a home, and a network of friends who will miss me when I’m gone. People who really know me, and who when I come back months later it feels like only yesterday.

I began to think about all the places I’ve been to on my travels, and the ones which I always looked back on most fondly. They were all destinations I’d stayed in for at least one month, sometimes much longer than that. All the 2 day or 1 week destinations were almost forgotten. In fact, for a while I’d forgotten I’d been to Luxembourg. A beautiful city/country, and a place I enjoyed, but I was only there 2 days. How can you get to know a place and people in 2 days? The answer is quite simply – you can’t.

So I’m changing my travel style to revolve around a base. I may change bases every couple months, or have one place I base myself permanently while I hop around… I don’t know yet. That base may even be home in Scotland or in another city around the world. All I know is this constant chopping and changing every few days and weeks is not how I want to travel anymore. I don’t think it was ever how I wanted to travel, it’s just something I ended up doing.

Slow travel is the way for me…

6 Responses to “Changing my travel style…”

  1. Candace says:

    This is such a great post, Jane–one that I really identify with. Last autumn, I travelled around India for a few months, and it was my first time really being on the go for that long. Normally, I like to “set up shop” in a new country, get a job, make friends, etc, and get a sense of how life is lived there. Being constantly on the go can be exciting, but like you, I discovered in India that I prefer a slower way of travel 🙂 Good luck finding your next base!

  2. At the ripe old age of 23 or 24, you are entering a nesting phase. Even if you’re no where near yearning to change diapers (nappies), you are mentally and physiologically nesting—nesting for less than a year in foreign lands, but nesting nonetheless. You can consider it a “base”, but it’s really a nest. Teenagers go through an anti-nesting phase, when their minds and bodies are screaming, “Get me outta’ here!”, even if they love their parents. This is all good.
    I’ve entered my empty nesting phase—‘cept for my husband and the dog. Now, I’m wanting to hit the proverbial road and like you, I’d like to be able to stay places longer. (In addition to the US, my home country,so far, I’ve lived in Mexico (one year), England (one year) and Colombia (five months).) I don’t feel indispensible anymore. If my plane crashes or boat sinks, people I love will be sad, but having successfully detached themselves from the nest, they’ll cope and move on. (This is not to say that I foresee bungee jumping or throwing caution to the wind). I’m not alone, check out http://www.gypsynester.com
    Best wishes for your travels — and your nests.

  3. jane says:

    OMG you’re right… I am nesting!!!!!

  4. I like how I wanted to chime in on this one, BUT MY MOM BEAT ME TO IT!!!! (Just One Boomer).

    I too have decided to “nest” and my current home base is Miami Beach. I actually just bought a condo (loan from the boomer) and it’s nice to have a place where you have your own bed, a network of friends and a familiar landscape. I hope to rent my place out for extended periods of time for me to hit the road, but the sun and easy access to the world via plane has made South Florida (and a lot of other travel bloggers) as well.

    The perpetual nomadic lifestyle might be alluring to some, but human beings desire connection, and that takes time. Suerte!

  5. So it turns out slow travel is the way to go if you want to be successful in the whole blogsphere thing. Like you, I spent a long time changing city every 3 days, and every month a new country. It was fun! I have so many new friends, photos and stories to tell.. but the problem is, I haven’t told many of them. I look forward to making changes to my own travel style to facilitate telling more stories, having adventures at a slower pace, and taking it easy.

    Spains great right? I spent 3 months living in Madrid, and another 2 months travelling around. Love the place!

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