The Ebbs & Flows of Long-Term Travel

It’s nearly 2 am, and I can’t sleep.  My mind is preoccupied as I reflect on what is now the last eight weeks or so of my trip.  Have I really been gone ten months already?  It feels like just yesterday I left Minneapolis.  In fact, I remember it so distinctly.  Then again, I guess that’s what happens when you have either really scary or exhilarating moments.  Every second is embedded in your memory.  Either way, time sure knows how to fly.

I remember there’d be days where I’d book a trip, plan a dinner at a new restaurant or buy tickets to a concert just to have something to look forward to.  It’s funny how we find ourselves planning things to look forward to instead of just doing.  Did I need to plan things because my life was that borning? I didn’t think of myself as a borning person, but the need to find things to occupy my life signaled otherwise. 

I never really thought about it much until this trip because I looked forward to almost every day.  The first four months of this trip, I was enchanted by all things Asia, where everything was foreign, exotic and severely different from any of the other places I’d been.  I left Minneapolis in the freezing ass cold of winter, mental middle fingers flying and thinking “stay warm bitches” as I walked towards my gate and a 110-degree difference in temperature.  Between lying on the beaches of Thailand, going to Full Moon parties, almost getting robbed, stealing tuk-tuks and setting world records for most bowls of Pho eaten in a month, I never really needed to seek out excitement.

Chiang Mai elephants thailand

Europe had it’s ups and downs and was what I considered to be the lull leg of the trip.  There wasn’t enough newness to bring the same adrenaline rush that Asia did, and I didn’t find myself doing as many crazy things.  Somehow, I think that made me a little depressed, so I needed to seek bigger thrills, like Africa, which we all know was not my favorite trip, yet offered some quality breakthrough moments.  All and all, Europe was….tame, and I didn’t find a ton of inspiration to write about what I was experiencing.  (I know a few of you had asked.)

Now, I’m in South America, the last leg of my trip.  So, how’s it going?  Well, Buenos Aires KICKED ASS, and I was doing something really cool nearly all the time. The city was hard to top, and I miss it, especially since Cordoba is, well….super dull by my standards, but maybe that’s just me?!  I bet you never thought you’d hear me say this, but I’m looking forward to booking my ticket back to Minneapolis.  (It only took me ten months and two weeks to get to that point.)

People seemed to think that, at some point, I’d miss home.  I didn’t.  Not really at all.  I’m kinda okay flying solo.  When things got rough out here (because there were many, many of those moments), I knew the same situation would be easier to handle at home by a long shot, but I never really found myself saying, “I want to come home.”  When I do come back though, my life will have a much different blueprint, from schedules to commitments to pace.  I’ve found my boundaries, and I plan to honor them.

carin park pairs well with business

Photo Credit: Jay Harrison

It’s tough to describe Remote Year to anyone who hasn’t done it.  People think they get it, but they don’t, probably never will – and that’s fine.  They get tiny glimpses and create a story in their head around how my adventure is.  Statistically speaking, there’s really only about 1,000 of us in the world who have gone through this same experience.  Sure, maybe not the same city agenda, and of course each group has its unique composition, but even if you are or have been a world traveler, I’m sure as shit you haven’t bounced around town sixty peeps deep.

My sister, who was visiting last week, asked me if the novelty of travel has worn off.  I think her words were, “Are you over all the traveling?”  I had to think for a moment because in some regards, yes.  Yes, I am.  But most days, it doesn’t really feel like traveling.  I feel like I’m in any other city, just away from my peeps.  What I am over is the packing, unpacking, repacking, purging, overhauling, packing and repacking.  (Keep in mind….ten moves, ten months.)

How I have traveled has changed, too.  Work and vacation don’t have finite boundaries, and I’m okay with that. I enjoy working split days most days, or some combination of work and play hours. Vacations no longer look like vacations because, as a business owner or freelancer, sometimes, you need to keep things moving -because it’s only you.  I think about my office days, and I never liked the feeling of prepping for a vacation (while I’m out docs, anyone?) and then spending my newfound vacation vibes days deep digging out of thousands of emails, which is why I really don’t mind the blended nature of it all.  Half the time, that’s when I find some of my best ideas and inspiration.  (Dear All Hiring Managers & Potential Clients, physical proof below that I can truly work from anywhere: pool, tuk tuk…or any random street corner.)

working computer pool thailand

Productivity at an all-time high….poolside

tuk tuk cambodia

Client chats in Cambodia via tuk-tuk

cambodia computer

Creative brainstorming on the corner….with coffee

A little over a month ago, I thought I wanted more time on the road. Then, the realization kicked in that all more time will do is stall me on making some big moves I’m ready and excited to make, none of which I’m prepared to share. I do have a few game plans in place, and we’ll continue to see how things play out, but the good news is that each path leads to happiness.  Last time I shared, people couldn’t understand the decisions I was making, and it brought on too many questions from people, giving me significant anxiety when I wasn’t even anxious in the first place. It wasn’t healthy for my mental well-being, and I’m not making that same mistake twice.

The only thing I’m entirely sure of is that I’m going to keep working on my self, being a badass and enjoying the thrills of living abroad for the next eight weeks.  At some point, I’ll slow down a little more and dive into each day again, probably once I get to Chile.  I’m going to soak up all the Vitamin D I can, spend Christmas on the beaches of Santiago and then climb some damn mountain range called Machu Picchu in Peru.  But until then, I’m okay not planning anything and being boring in Cordoba. Machu Pichu, peru

 

7 Responses to “The Ebbs & Flows of Long-Term Travel”

  1. Joshua Palmer

    I love that you’ve found a way to make it work long-term, even though it’s hard! As someone who toured and traveled for a while, I know how difficult it can be! You’ll miss it when you come back, but I hope you can make the best out of the time you have left. 🙂

    Reply
    • pairswellwith@gmail.com

      You’re right, I will miss it, and I do worry about that, but at least I’ll have taken some really great learning with me.

      Reply
  2. Anung

    Yes, this is why I started my own business. So I can travel when and where I want. And I don’t need a vacation from my life. I studied abroad for a year and did so much traveling. Though it was different because I had a home base I didn’t miss Minnesota. And I did most of my traveling by myself. Everyone needs to travel by themselves at least once.

    Reply
    • pairswellwith@gmail.com

      Wow! So many great things here. What field is your business in? I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but you said it spot on: “I don’t need a vacation from my life.” I also agree that everyone should do a solo trip, regardless of how long, because you learn so, so much about yourself.

      Reply
  3. Jon

    Love seeing your name and blog posts pop-up in my email – always makes me smile! Enjoy your time away, it is 15 degrees here in Minneapolis. Miss your face and your soul. Excited to have you back soon! xoxo

    Reply
    • pairswellwith@gmail.com

      I love that you still follow, so thank you! I don’t miss the 15 degrees. I’ll keep my 85 degrees, thank you very much! I look forward to seeing you sooner than you might realize! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Diane Staba

    You have ‘rocked’ your remote year ! With 8 weeks left I’m sure you will exult in your homecoming and anticipate the Best is yet to come ! Put your sunglasses on Minneapolis ,
    because it’s going to be much brighter in 2018 ⭐️

    Reply

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