No One Can Travel For Ever – But You Don’t have to Give Up Travel

I read a rather sad post the other day over at Nomadic Matt’s – This is Where the Journey Ends  Matt has been travelling, pretty much continuously, for as he puts it 68 months. Now he’s quiting – or so he thinks. Actually I salute his stamina – I’ve never travelled continuously for more than 6 or 7 months. I just get tired about that point.

But no, I don’t believe that Matt’s journey is ending. You see I’ve quit travelling lots of time – the first time was when I got to Singapore- after 6 months on the road from India, tired and broke, I dropped the plan to island hop all through Indonesia to Darwin – I picked up a flight which gave me a few days in Bali on the way to Perth – and I was back in New Zealand within weeks.

I thought that one big RTW trip would sort out my wanderlust out for once and for all! Yeah right – it worked as well as the alcoholic having one last bing just to get over the booze! Travelling feeds the travel bug. Sure sometimes all you want is to be home, sleep in a comfortable bed, have some sort of routine. But I really do believe that those of who are seriously addicted to travel are without hope – without hope of not ever travelling again!

Me, near the start of the Everest Trek, Nepal, March 1990

I quit after 6 months backpacking  South America because my mother was ill, then she died, then I inherited a house and a dog, and I was shell-shocked – so I got a job … figured my travelling days were behind me.

Then I met my partner – he actually had only gone on one major trip in his life, and had accumulated leave!  Well lets face it  I had a moral duty to de-accummulate his leave didn’t I?

One thing that has changed for most of the world in the 30 years I’ve been travelling is that “going home” has got a lot cheaper. Thanks to de-regulation and low-cost airlines, its very easy to go home for a few months and then return. That just wasn’t an option back in the 80’s Flights were very expensive  – my old diaries show me paying the same in dollars as flights cost today – after 30 years of inflation!

But still those taking their first long trip seem determined to see the whole world in one year, they seem to think then they will be able to concentrate on “real life”. For some it will work – but really, for many of us who grew up dreaming about travel, it won’t. Because once you start travelling you stop being the odd one out – and become the norm. And then you start meeting other people. The photo above of me is taken near the start of the walk into Everest Base Camp – I ended up walking for about 4 weeks –  it is, to this day, the longest I’ve ever walked, and by the end it was probably the fittest I’ve ever been.  And I met a bunch of people, a couple of whom had been hiking in northern Pakistan, which sounded even cooler… I haven’t actually got to Northern Pakistan yet – but its still on the “on hold until the politics get sorted” list!

I’d got to Nepal via northern India-  and I remember the day I fought my way onto the bus to Nepal in Varanasi, thinking I am so over India, I must leave before I really, really lose it with someone, but I will also have to come back (which I did). Even as I left Nepal I figured I was too trekked out to do the Anapura Circuit – but I would one day. In 1990 I didn’t get to Burma – it was hard and expensive to get into and there were only 7-day visas. Now its easy to get to, still expensive, but I have more resources, and you can easily over-stay a 28-day visa.

Yes I cross countries off my “bucket list” – but its a rare trip which doesn’t come back with more additions to the list either because of conversations with others I’ve met on the road, or because I just want to see more of where I’ve just been.

Travel is an addiction, which I have no intention of receiving treatment for! Instead the trick is to learn how to integrate travel into the rest of your life –  but that’s a whole other post!


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  1. Kirsten on April 3, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    So true. I can tell you it’s a lot harder with three children than it was when I was child-free and single, but it still has to happen – albeit it shorter trips for the moment. Every country you go to just makes you want to go back for more (well, most anyway), and then there are all the ones you haven’t… Mind you, after our whirlwind 2 month “round-the-world” trip last year (in the sense that we flew all the way around, only stopped in three countries though), I’m not sure how we’ll ever afford to leave Canberra again…

    • Elisabeth on April 4, 2012 at 7:16 am

      Yes it would certainly make it lot more expensive flying with an extra 3 people! I agree – I’ve bad at ticking countries off my “todo” list LOL!

  2. Kirsten on April 4, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Mind you, having said that, I suspect air travel is going to get a whole lot more expensive by the end of this decade (if not quite a bit before), when we suddenly realise – on a global scale – that actually, we have to stop burning so many fossil fuels, and quickly!

    • Elisabeth on April 4, 2012 at 7:18 am

      Maybe, I’m not convinced myself. I think what will happen is that we use high quality fuel for things that need it like planes, and not waste it on cars – which can run on lots of other fuels.

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