6 Hard Lessons Learned From a Year of Traveling - Love the Search
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07 May 6 Hard Lessons Learned From a Year of Traveling

Your new found freedom comes with consequences, and ultimately you will experience the repercussions in the long run. What is the real cost of uprooting your whole life — leaving family, friends and your job behind to immerse yourself in the unknown? It might first bring you joy and help you find your real passions, but behold — there are long-term effects. If there is one valuable thing everyone gains from being away for so long, it’s perspective.
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Here are some of the hardest lessons I’ve learned from over a year of traveling:

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#1   There’s no right or wrong way to travel
There’s a big stigma about being a tourist versus being a traveler. When I started backpacking long-term, I’d secretly make fun of those people on 5-day holidays. They’d take hundreds of selfies, only visit popular tourist attractions with a tour group and stay in expensive hotels.
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I, on the other hand, tried to stick to the average $20 per day backpacker budget. I ate local food, took cheap local buses, volunteered or worked whenever I could. But not everyone’s ready to quit their jobs nor have the time to roam the world like a nomad.  Not everyone wants the same lifestyle and that’s perfectly okay.
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#2   You will pay the price
I used to think that vagabonding was the ultimate dream, that I would never get bored hopping from one country to another. That I could be happy without a homebase, living off of my backpack and just traveling forever. After being on the road continuously for a year and a half, I realised, not only will this sort of lifestyle drain you physically, mentally — it could possibly deplete your hard-earned funds as well.
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Having wanderlust is considered an addiction and a lot of people can’t stop until they’re flat broke. To minimize the negative consequences, learn to downgrade to a simpler lifestyle so that your nomadic job can fully support your jet-setting ways.
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#3  You’ll get tired of it
The financial loss is one thing, how we feel inside is another. When I backpacked Southeast Asia for 6 months, I came back home only to find myself with insatiable wanderlust. I stayed home shortly just to see family and friends, and spontaneously flew to Latin America for another year.
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But after seven months on the other side of the world, I felt drained. The holidays were fast approaching, I was homesick and tired. I took a vacation from backpacking and stayed at a friend’s house in Bogota for three weeks just watching Netflix everyday. After that, I was ready to conquer the rest of South America. It happened again towards the end of my trip. Another free walking city tour, another waterfall, another beach, another goddamn archeological site.
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I couldn’t even be bothered to see new things and preferred to stay in the hostel Instagramming or writing. I couldn’t stand another “Where are you from? Where are you going? Where have you been?” conversation. I became an introvert.
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Tip: Start with 3, 6 or 9 months of travel before you sell everything you own and leave your life behind.
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#4  You will lose relationships
You can’t ask people to be happy for you. You can’t demand them to wait. You can’t expect them to understand your strange whims. So you lose ties with family, the comfort you used to find in your best friends. You lose people you love, whether you like it or not. There are no guarantees they will be the same if and when you come back. There’s no security they will even be there.
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Be warned, saying goodbye to satisfy your wanderlust is one of the biggest irreversible risks you’ll ever take. When you come home one day and everyone sees you as a stranger instead of a daughter or sister, you’ll have to live with the consequences of your decisions.
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So before you pack your bags and walk away, ask yourself, will you ever forgive yourself for letting those you love slip away? Make an effort to keep in touch with family and close friends. And never, ever stop trying to forge genuine connections with new people even though you are always on the go.
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#5  Time (nor travel) heals nothing, it just replaces memories
Some people travel to see new things, some people travel to run away from the past. There is no sure fire recipe for healing emotional conflict or trauma. You can physically remove yourself from negative situations, you can unfriend people on Facebook.
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You can dabble in healing practices like meditation or Reiki, but no amount of yoga can patch up a f*cked up family, I’ll tell you that. You just really have to stand on your own two feet and recreate a life that you love and fight for it.
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#6  You can’t escape love
I’ve never been the kind of girl who needed to be in a relationship. I had no plans to fall in love at all. But after just being in Latin America for a month, I met a guy in Costa Rica who even planned to come back home to Asia with me the following year. I didn’t exactly have concrete plans, but I wanted to see as much countries I could in the span of one year so I refused his invitation to stay at his house longer.
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My feet were itching for more solo adventures. I left, and we were never the same. I planned to visit him before my big trip back home, with the hope of reigniting the flames. I booked my flights from Peru to Costa Rica, only to realize he’d been dating around when he “forgot” to reply to me for several weeks. Just when I was ready to settle down for a bit and work on a real relationship, I learned, you can’t escape pain either.
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Do I regret leaving because of all these consequences? Not for one second. I’m ready to do it all over again.
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