It’s a dream life for many travellers to spend years on end, backpacking their way around the globe. The idea of being on a permanent trip to see the world is no doubt an appealing one, however, unless one has found a way of generating income non-stop remotely (my long term aim) or has a nest-egg that runs into the thousands, there will come a time when the bank balance is looking a bit scary and it’s time to bring the trip to an end.
This is a common issue for many backpackers and wanderers, especially when the journey has been a bit longer than you expected. In my experience, a certain element of ‘craving normality’ starts to kick in which helps make the return to your homeland that bit easier.
So once you are back in your home country, with a full SD card from all your travels and some fabulous memories, the next challenge is staving off wanderlust until the next trip. For me, I usually spend a few months finding a place to live, finding a job, settling into and enjoying routine again, joining a gym…basically, establishing a ‘base’ as it were.
These first few months can often be quite frugal, as, unless you are a spectacular planner, you will more than likely have a bit of money to pay off. This for me tends to increase that ‘travel blues’ feeling. Not only are your adventures over for now, but you are also having to go easy on the wine and save money by doing nothing on the weekends apart from watching boxsets on Netflix.
Over the years, I have coped better and better with this issue, and now have a far better grip on things. The technique I have developed is to pace myself between trips. This has varied slightly over time, but roughly speaking, immediately following a long trip, I spend 6 months setting up base again, 12 months of doing fun stuff in my homeland and generally, just enjoying life, then another 6 months spent in a period of fairly extreme frugality in order to save for the next long term trip.
The point I’m (eventually) getting to, is about that period in the middle where, you are plodding along in your job, everything is going rather dandily, and suddenly, that strong urge to travel and see more of the world takes hold. It can come in the middle of the night, or while loading up sending out random tweets on your average Monday. The ‘need’ to be on a plane or in a grubby hostel means that you end up flicking over the travel blogs more than usual, and without even realising, you’ve been subliminally pricing up round the world tickets.
Of course, none of this is a bad thing. I truly don’t know when my wanderlust will stop; perhaps it never will. But the challenge is passing the time until that next flight departs. For me, once the germ of a thought has sparked (i.e. ‘maybe I could start in Sri Lanka then work my way all the way up to Kashmir’), it’s all about continuing to enjoy my life in the UK and not just ‘wish away’ the time until I leave.
One of the best things I started recently was a new found hobby of doing muddy runs; It’s a great way of saving money by cancelling the gym membership and using the outdoors as my gym (yes, I know, I am THAT person) but also, it has given me focus for those weeks when I might have started to feel a touch frustrated.
I also made a list of all the places I hadn’t been to in my country (which happens to be the UK) and decided to find ways to visit them on a fairly tight budget. Airbnb, Couchsurfing, super cheap advance coach tickets, Groupon coupons….they are all incredibly useful tools in making my money go further when I have a trip on the horizon, but not quite yet.
The crux is trying to enjoy my home country for all its wonderful variety whilst not cutting too much into my long term saving goals. For me, a little weekend by the sea, a trip to the theatre, or even a new fitness hobby or learning a language, has helped keep my spirits up in between long term travels.
This year I want to do longer muddy runs, improve my Spanish, go hunting for killer whales in Scotland and be fit enough to dress as Oberon at Halloween – but all of these things will be done on the cheap so that next year I can go on a spectacular adventure starting in the Indian Ocean, but until then, I’m going to make the most of what I have here on my doorstep.
How to do you stave off wanderlust or if you’re lucky enough not to suffer it, the general boredom of everyday life? Why not comment below or find me on Twitter and say hello?