I always get asked this: How do you manage to travel for so long? I am not a travel expert but I will share what I learned since I began traveling in 2013.
Get that ticket. Make the decision to buy it and actually buy it.
One of the hardest thing to do when you really want to fulfill your dream of travelling the world is to actually decide when and where to travel. If you can’t make a decision, make it easy and simple: don’t overthink. You really want to travel for a long time? Then go travel for a long time. You wanna go to South America? Go to South America. Buy that ticket! It was hard for me to decide to travel. I’ve always wanted to do long term travel but I was planning too much that I suddenly realized that I spent too much time planning without doing anything. So stop dreaming and planning. Go do it. Travel.
Use skyscanner (or something like that) and just surprise yourself and see which country/city can you start your ultimate backpacking adventure. Just type in your departure city. You don’t even have to fill the arrival city. Also don’t choose the exact date of departure, search the entire month. There should be an option there somewhere. That way, you can compare which dates are the cheapest to travel and where in the world can you travel for cheap.
Make it a one way ticket so you don’t have to feel the pressure of ending the travel. Anyway, you can’t book the return flight more than 12 months in advance. And in this case, you do want to travel more than 12 months, don’t you? 🙂
Don’t be afraid.
The skills and knowledge of backpacking, you will develop and improve that as you travel. Be open minded. Talk to people. People will help you. Make the people the most important part of your travel. After a few months and eventually after (if you can make it) a year of travelling, you will begin to realize that museums are almost the same everywhere. Even the buildings will begin to look the same and there are only so much pictures that you can take of buildings and sceneries. The people though will make your travel really memorable and fun! You will have friends from everywhere! Just open up, reach out and make friends with people!
Trust people. People are nice and friendly, in general. I complained about how Europeans are so unfriendly and individualist but I met great friends in Europe. Friends who I know I will see again in the future! Even in Paris where I complained that many people ignore each other, I met really good people! 🙂
Everyone likes a traveller. Well, a lot of people. Share your travel stories, be interested with each person that you meet.
Don’t just stay exclusively with other backpackers and travellers. Of course, I love to meet other backpackers. Fellow travellers are fun and full of awesome stories and tips but try to get to know the locals too. You didn’t get out of your country just to meet people from your country. Try couchsurfing. Or bewelcome. Or hospitalityclub. These things are great in meeting locals. Truly be curious about other people’s lives and culture. When you have a true curiousity of others, then every single person will be interesting and every encounter will be memorable and the connections will be stronger. And travelling will be more fun! And you won’t get homesick too much. 🙂
There are many ways that you can earn income while you travel if you are just a bit more flexible with the kind of job that you will do. Or you can try visiting some help and accommodation exchange sites like helpx.net, workaway.info, wwoofing, etc. Look, you are travelling not to become a millionaire. You are travelling to meet lots of people, see beautiful places, experience the exciting, adventurous life, yolo, blah blah blah. All that good stuff you dream about. 🙂
Having some savings will help of course. Well, you have to buy that plane ticket, no? You need some money for that. Also, try to have some money that can sustain you for a couple of months. But don’t use it all! Try to budget and quickly figure out something to sustain your travel. You can even figure that out as you travel. 🙂 You can make travelling inexpensive. It is not as expensive as people think it is. You don’t need millions to start traveling. You just need to be smart in handling your expenses. Couchsurfing will help in the accommodation part. You can hitch hike or do rideshares (carpooling) to go from one place to the other. You don’t need to fly all the time or take the 1st class train. Go 3rd class. You will probably meet more locals! They might even invite you to their places! 🙂
Travelling has given me a lot of great memories and enriched my life in ways that I cannot even begin to explain. I feel like I have learned so much about myself, about others and our world. It has given me many different perspectives on how we all live. And having these multiple lenses and perspectives gives me a better idea of what the world is about.
I have to say though that travelling is a huge privilege that not everyone is able to do. In many ways, I am privileged. I hold a Canadian passport. I have saved some money to be able to afford travelling. (I am not a millionaire! Not even close. But to be able to buy a ticket and not work for some months, you have to have a little money saved).
Unfortunately, the world is unequal and while travelling, I realized that even more and more. Not all the friends that I met in South America will be able to afford travelling to Europe or North America because of this global inequality. The unjust and unfair political systems we have around the world makes some people be able to practice the right to mobility while the others can’t. The unjust global economics makes some people be able to afford travel while the others can’t. So I also encourage people to travel with multiple lenses and perspective so that when we go home, we will know how much we contribute to this inequality and that perhaps, in our own local ways, we can better that.
But hey, if you really want to travel. Do it.