I once found myself in London sitting on the floor of a friend’s flat, debating my next move. I had been travelling for a couple months and couldn’t decide whether I wanted to visit Morocco or Istanbul next. I had never been to either and both were well out of my normal comfort zone, a combination of criteria that should have insured a feeling of excitement no matter which route I chose.
Instead, both options felt boring to me. I knew, cultural differences and random unexpected experiences aside, what to expect from my next destination, wherever it was. No matter which location I decided on I would end up in a routine similar to the one I had been on while travelling the past couple of months. No matter how odd the destination I arrived at I knew I’d be able to find my way and do just fine for myself.
I realized I couldn’t choose between the two options because I quite frankly didn’t care to go to either of them. The growth I experienced on this trip seemed to be at a plateau and no amount of culture shock seemed like it would jolt me back onto the fast track of enhanced personal revelation.
Debunking the Myth of Eternally Vagabonding
After a couple months on the road I was tired of travelling and just wanted to go home. Though “going home” presented its own problems as I didn’t have a home to return to. I left with the aim of travelling indefinitely, yet even when I had been back in the States I moved often, leaving one location for another every couple months, sometimes within the same city, sometimes across the country.
Now, sitting in London, totally ungrateful for the opportunities at my fingertips, I wanted a real home. I thought endless traveling would be right for me but I was wrong, and it became clear the notion of vagabonding indefinitely wasn’t right for everyone. In fact, in all my travels I’ve realized the notion of constant, consistent, endless travel isn’t right for just about anyone. For most of us, travel is a special experience and not the way of life we desire for our day-to-day existence.
A Quick Caveat
If most of us weren’t made to travel indefinitely, than how often should we travel, and for how long should we leave home?
The answer to this question will always be intensely personal and depends on individual factors that are both ephemeral (personal disposition, relationships back home) and entirely tangible (money, work, mortgages and leases). For the rest of this article I’m assuming you’re in the fortunate position of being able to travel whenever you want, for as long as you want.