You said goodbye to family and friends, passed customs and are now all alone: ready for your Big Adventure. After carefully putting down your 50L backpack, you sit down on one of the small plastic airport seats. Man, those seats are uncomfortable. Yet, you smile.
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. The moment you’ve been working three part-time jobs for. This is your ‘Theroux/Into The Wild/Indiana Jones moment’. The next months will be all about sun, adventure, making friends, cultural experiences, seeing epic places and beautiful, beautiful memories.
Hereby, I present six promises from me, Manouk, to you, my fellow ‘long-term travel enthusiast’ to get you in the mood for your upcoming trip.
1. You will get sick
Whether it’s the food, the climate or the attitude. You will get sick for at least one day during your trip.
2. You will get hurt
Walking on glass with bare feet, cutting your leg on sharp rocks while snorkeling, spray DEET (anti-mosquito repellent) in your eyes…
Ok, that was all me and I certainly hope you won’t experience the DEET incident. However, during your backpacking trip you will probably do more risky stuff than back home: such as cycling the Death Road, go crazy at a full moon party, climb an active volcano, rafting grade five rapids on the Nile etc. And risky stuff leads to, well, the risk of getting hurt.
3. You will get scammed
Even after carefully reading the scam section in your guidebooks (twice) and talking to numerous locals and fellow travelers, you will get scammed at some point. In some cases you may not even notice it, but it will happen.
4. You will have to say goodbye a thousand times
After saying your family and friends goodbye, many more goodbyes will follow. You will meet people, see amazing things together and will then have to say goodbye again. Eventually you will even become detached, indifferent to meeting people, because you know they will only be your friends for a day or two.
5. You will miss home
Even the most nomadic souls among us will miss things from home. From your family and friends to certain food products and their bed. Personally, I always miss Dutch bread and liquorice.
6. You will have a ‘travel burn-out’
This may be difficult to imagine…. I mean you’re a traveler. You LOVE to travel. Travel is all you can think about. But, as much as you love to travel you will eventually get bored of yet another temple or natural wonder. There is a big chance there will be days during your trip you will do nothing. Literally nothing. At the utmost a round of table tennis in the hostel garden, but most of the time nothing.
These were my six promises to you, the long-term traveler, but:
I have a surprise promise….
7. You will have THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE!
You will meet, explore, try, discover, party, feel, laugh, relax and marvel. You will understand the world better and will be able to place things in perspective. You will learn about yourself and how you deal with challenges. You will get out of your comfort zone. Meet adventure. You will make priceless memories all around the world.
This is my most important promise.
Did you experience any of the above-mentioned things during your long-term travels?
Recommended further reading
Best party places in Southeast Asia!
The ultimate guide to backpacker jargon
Best places to travel when solo and on a budget
6 Ethical travel dilemma’s I encountered as a traveler