The More You Travel the Harder It Gets

Updated January 25, 2016
The More You Travel The Harder It Gets

 

Looking back at my early travelling self is like looking fondly back at a child starting out in life, how innocent that version of myself was. So many dreams, oh the places I would go! I packed a bag and took off with an amount of money that my current self balks at, how did I think that was enough?!

Like many new travellers I made mistakes. Planning too much, planning too little, getting scammed and having all sorts of transport woes which upset me more then than they would now. I listened wide-eyed to the tales of other travellers I met along the way, wanting to be like them and keep seeing more and more. I read countless blogs and stories about places I knew of and wanted to see, and stumbled across new places constantly that quickly joined “the list”. It seemed the more I travelled the more I learned about the world and all the amazing places there are to explore.

And that’s the first problem.

To begin with it’s thrilling, finding out about all of these new places. Adding more and more to the list of things to do and see. It all seems possible and limitless. There’s so much time and I could work, save, travel and see what I pleased. Backpack through several places, move abroad and dream of round the world trips. I was like a kid in a candy store, I just wanted to take the world and shove it all in my pockets.

Until there came a time when I experienced a slight twinge of panic. There is no way I’ll ever reach the end of this ever-growing travel list. I thought in moving to the UK I would see everything I wanted to in Europe, but two years travelling around work and I wasn’t even close, I just found more and more to see. My travel style also changed and I started to prefer to see different, smaller places, plus still all the main cities too.

The problem is that we can’t see everything. In reality there are places we just won’t get to, even places on our immediate travel list. Writing that scares me, because I want to see so much and I’m a firm believer in making things happen, but I also know I need to come to terms with the idea that there is a finite time to see and do the things we want to. I could try and tick off all the countries in the world, but I wouldn’t be travelling in a way I enjoy and I never want travelling to become a chore, or I could try and narrow the list down, but every time I’ve tried it  seems impossible.

In a way, coming to the realisation I will never see everything and accepting is probably a good thing. It means less pressure about where the next destination might be and how it’ll happen, because travel should be about enjoying the present and not worrying about the future and fitting it all in.  It’s one thing to know this though, and another to accept it! Part of me still dreams about fitting the entire world in…

And that’s the second problem.

I like moving, I like exploring new places and I love living abroad, but it can also be tiring. Tiring to set myself up in a country, only to leave again. Tiring to make connections and fall in love with a place, only to have to leave. Of course I have friends I’ve kept in touch with, and multiple places that feel like home when I visit, but it’s not the same. I’ve become used to always missing someone, having spread myself too thin across the world to ever have everyone I love in one place.

The twinge of panic this time is the desire to stop somewhere. Never stop travelling, but maybe stop moving. I’ve moved country 5 times in 5 years, maybe it’s time to start looking for somewhere to stay for awhile, be a more permanent expat instead of a constantly new one. To put down some light roots at least, instead of living on the surface, always having a looming deadline to my life.

Our time is not finite and we have to deal with our competing desires. I want to travel, and I want a home. We often talk about travelling forever and leaving our jobs and lives behind to do so. But is it sustainable? I’m still waiting to see. I know travel can teach us to choose the adventure in normal life, we don’t always need to be constantly on the road. Some of my favourite travel bloggers who I started following back in those early innocent travel days that have been on the road for a long time are changing from being nomadic to finding more of a home base to travel from. Do we all get to this point? I don’t know, but I know that a time will come when I want to be able to call a place home without knowing the day it will cease to be.

The more you travel the harder it gets. Harder because you find there are more and more places to be seen and the reality is there just isn’t time to see them all. Harder because even if you could try and see them all you might reach the point where you want to stop skimming the surface of so many different lives and this might limit your ability to get to the end of that ever growing wanderlist.

The more you travel the harder it gets, but that doesn’t mean I would tell my younger self to never start on this life of travel. I feel more privileged than I can say to have been able to travel and live abroad like I have. And then, there are never any regrets to be had from trying.

Sonja x

Do you think travel gets harder, am I giving up too early on trying to see everything? If you’re a traveller, do you think you’ll ever settle? I want to know!

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The More You Travel The Harder It Gets

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37 Comments

  • Reply Shelly January 25, 2016 at 6:15 am

    I completely agree with the being tired. We have been abroad for 18 months now (we house sit and move around a lot with that) and it can be hard to get into a routine and while we have made amazing friends during our journey, sometimes I think it would be nice to be in one place longer term again and travel for a few weeks at a time instead.

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 25, 2016 at 6:30 am

      It’s the setting myself up over and over again! I love the finding myself in a new place and making a life for myself part, but I hate the end. It gets emotionally draining after awhile making a new life and then leaving it again. It makes me feel guilty considering I’m essentially complaining about something I’m privileged and do genuinely love to do, but it’s not always amazing I guess :).

  • Reply Nicole January 25, 2016 at 6:22 am

    I think it does get harder. The more I travel the more I want to visit difficult places. But I am glad that I have managed to always keep my home base and travel out from there. So I feel like I live somewhere and I have my friends and family here and I can always come back, but on longer travels it does get hard knowing that you’re away during big important life events sometimes. That isn’t a reason for why I’ve never done the expat thing though, I just happen to really like and enjoy where my home is, and sometimes traveling makes me appreciate it even more.

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 25, 2016 at 6:34 am

      I definitely agree travelling can make you appreciate home a lot more! I really felt that way when I went back to live in New Zealand the couple of times I did. I am loving being an expat for now though, but being a Kiwi trying to stay around Europe isn’t the easiest visa wise so I’m constantly moving! It’s really great you feel so strongly about your home to want to keep returning :). Sometimes I fear I’ve lived abroad so much I’m not sure what really feels like home!

  • Reply Roamy January 25, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Hello there
    l have loved travelling since forever, the excitement, the unknown, the adventure.Just like you, l planned too much in the earlier days but now l let destination take care of little details, i find that it make travelling more easy and more fun.

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 26, 2016 at 6:14 am

      Me too! Sometimes when you plan so much you take away the fun of being spontaneous and being able to enjoy whatever happens, because you’re stressing over a schedule! Now I look at the things I actually WANT to do but don’t try to cram everything in. So much better!

  • Reply Skye Class January 25, 2016 at 8:03 am

    I absolutely love this post. It’s true for me on simply every level as a permanent international traveler. Last year I went through 35 countries. By the end I certainly wanted to slow down. But a part of me (the bigger part) knew that would never happen. I have no home base for my travels currently, although I plan to set on up in Edinburgh this year as soon as I get my British citizenship. Regardless of having a home base, I have the travel bug, and once caught, it’s permanent. Sure, someday I might find the perfect someone and have a kid, but that will still be done on the road, the kid getting a true international education. The truth is (which I’ll write soon in a blog post) is the bucket list only gets longer. The more one travels, the more they need to travel.

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 26, 2016 at 6:16 am

      Thank you so much! 35 in one year!!! That’s about how many I’ve been to ever. You must have really been on the move :). So jealous of setting up in Edinburgh, it’s my favourite and a great choice! It’s definitely true the bucket list only gets longer, for me I think I will need to come to terms with the fact it’s unlikely I’ll ever get to the end and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Instead it means constant adventures!

  • Reply Adrenaline Romance January 25, 2016 at 9:51 am

    I agree with you. We have been traveling for 3 years around the Philippines, and we still haven’t seen the entire country.

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 26, 2016 at 6:19 am

      Exactly! You can spend years in a place and still never really see everything, so how do you ever see everything in the whole world you want to!? I think maybe the answer is you don’t and make that somehow a good thing rather than a bad thing, and just try to concentrate on what you can see and enjoy it :).

  • Reply Alex January 25, 2016 at 11:25 am

    I know what you mean. I haven’t had a permanent location in years and although I love constantly being on the road, it’s always a challenge. You never feel like you really have a home and that can wear on you after a while.

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 26, 2016 at 6:21 am

      I’ve stayed in places for between 6 months to a couple of years but I find when you know you have an end date, be it for visa reasons or just wanting to travel on to the next thing, it makes it difficult to really feel like home. It can be tiring constantly setting up again and again, but it’s a double edged sword because I love the experience too! Hope you find a place to set up a little base soon if you want to, or if not keep going!

  • Reply Gilles Barbier January 26, 2016 at 12:25 am

    Hi Sonja,
    I agree and disagree with you:
    I agree that you cannot see it all (and you cannot see everything in each place you visit) and that at some point you will need to come back to a certain level of routine, to be back “home” before you hit the road again. And believe me, the 2nd will get stronger and stronger with the year, a real duality between wanderlust and need to come back on a regular basis.
    But is this a problem or is this not simply the way travel is ? There I disagree, because it is not a problem, on the contrary, it is a motivation to keep on going & discovering and to keep connected to your roots (your home).
    Cheers, Gilles

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 26, 2016 at 6:25 am

      Hi Gilles, that’s a really great way to put it! I think that’s where my current concern is, I need to be looking at it not as a problem but as a reality. I think it’s just a reality I hadn’t thought so much about until more recently, because I still naively thought I’d be able to see it all! I love the idea of it being motivation to just keep going with what I can and to still be able to feel connected to a home. Sounds like that will be the goal :).

  • Reply Naomi January 26, 2016 at 8:30 am

    I agree. The more you travel the more you realise there is more to explore. It’s like learning. When you learn you learn that you only know so little and there is so much more to learn. I don’t feel you’re giving up, it comes across that you consider a different approach. Which cannot be a bad thing. I bought a house last year. I needed to do it. I wanted to do it more than travel. But I’m also planning my next trip to Sout America. A dream come true. It can happen, only different than before. Keep traveling. Keep dreaming. It will get easier. Once you know you cannot see it all, you’ll even enjoy and appreciate everything you do see, even more

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 27, 2016 at 6:34 am

      Such a good analogy with learning! Maybe we can extend it to say that we know we won’t learn everything there is to know, so why should be think we can travel everywhere? I think I’m at the point of realising this, and I truly think it’ll be more enjoyable because I won’t be trying to plan ahead to figure out how it could all be possible! Thanks 🙂

  • Reply Karin January 25, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    I´ve been the happiest ever while on the road. It brings the best out of me I feel. But I also like living in a place for a time, it is a chance to get to know the place from another side…I think I want to keep moving and settling and moving and settling for a while. But one can never be too sure, right? 🙂

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 26, 2016 at 6:23 am

      Haha no we can never be sure! I have been doing more of the move and settle, move and settle thing for awhile and I do enjoy it, but I’m also a little over the setting up somewhere new all the time. I think I’d like to find somewhere to be based a little longer, and take more extended trips from there. But who know what will happen?!

  • Reply Gemma January 26, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    I know what you mean. I travelled solo in Central America and loved it, and spent most of my time traveling in New Zealand with friends and family, which actually was even better. After settling down to an expat life, I struggled a bit with the lack of travel, and loved having a base at first. I’d planned more travels for my way back to the UK, but I wasn’t nearly as excited about them. I was only excited about the parts where friends would join me. As it turns out… I fell in love with a guy, cancelled my flights and I’ staying put a bit longer so we can go to the UK together. I want to travel with someone, as much as I’ve loved traveling alone. I also want a home and one day, a family. Travel will always be in my blood and hopefully large part of my life, but I also want to settle at some point. On the other hand, I know I can live frugally to save for travel, so I hope to always be able to go away lots, weather it’s a cheap weekend camping or a longer further flung trip! You are not alone in wanting a home!

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 27, 2016 at 7:53 am

      Thanks! I think it’s a balance we will have to try and find, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing it’s just a different outlook than when I first started travelling and thought I would see and do it all! It does get lonely sometimes when you constantly travel alone. I’m really glad I, by luck, had a friend already living in the place I’ve just moved to, it’s made it much easier! Good luck to you and your boyfriend on your travels and moving to the UK. I’ve done a LOT of research on visas for Kiwis if he can’t get an ancestry visa/already has citizenship for my own personal reasons so hit me up if you want to know anything!

  • Reply Taylor January 29, 2016 at 9:42 am

    I LOVE this post! Is seriously does get harder, and for all the reasons you said. My list too is every growing and I get really overwhelmed with how much there is to see. I think living abroad can be great, but when it comes to deciding on just one place to live for the rest of my life I panic. But I can just imagine how exhausting it is to move all the time, like you said, create new connections, etc. I would urge you to not give up though. Maybe find one place to stay for longer than a year but don’t stop wanting to see everything, because the more you see the more destinations you may want to see, but some of those destinations you might never of heard of without having traveled somewhere else first!

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 29, 2016 at 1:40 pm

      Thanks so much! I definitely plan to continue travelling and since my job in Spain is only until the summer I’ll be setting myself up at least a couple more times! It’s actually been the visa issues recently that have caused so many moves, but I’ll get there! It’s very true though that even though you may want to see more destinations you wouldn’t discover them if you didn’t keep going. I think it’s the accepting that I may find more and more but I won’t see everything that is key, and I truly believe that will become a positive because I can think about where I want to go more and slow it down and not feel like I’m just ticking off a list. Because the list is never going to end!

  • Reply Katie January 30, 2016 at 5:12 am

    I so relate to this, Sonja. I prefer to live abroad and travel slowly — backpacking non-stop to check off the must-sees in a given destination is so very not my style. I know it means I won’t see as much as I dream of. It’s scary, but I’m okay with it. As a sidenote, this is exactly how I feel about all the books in the world I want to read, too!!

  • Reply Sarah January 31, 2016 at 1:00 am

    Excellently put and my sentiments exactly! In fact, I wrote something very similar recently when I blogged about my plans to settle in Hawai’i, at least for the next year.

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 2, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      Thank you!!! Hope you’re enjoying Hawai’i as much as I am Spain.

  • Reply Alex February 2, 2016 at 12:26 am

    Great post. I have definitely changed my travel habits over the past few years. It now feels so much better to take an extra day in places rather than cramming all the touristy stuff in in a couple of days. As for living abroad, I’ve been in France for 7 months, after living in Australia for a year, and I gotta say I have itchy feet but am happy in my current home. I enjoy exploring the region and really seeing towns I wouldn’t see had I decided to move on every month.

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 2, 2016 at 7:03 pm

      I think I’ll always have itchy feet too! But it’s the balance between having a happy base and still having adventures as well I think. It’s so nice to explore places more thoroughly and to see little places that aren’t on the main path we have to stick to more when we’re trying to cram everything in!

  • Reply Lenny February 6, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Thank you for so much for this. It really reflects how I’m feeling at the moment, I’ve just written something quite similar. I currently have decision fatigue because there are so many places I want to go and so many things that I want to see that I’m struggling to focus and actually make plans. I know that I will never see everything I want to but I am trying to formalize my “wanderlist” rather than just chasing random ideas around my head. I also struggle with the home/travel dichotomy, it’s a question of finding the right balance (I just hope that it’s possible!).

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 7, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      You’re welcome thanks for reading! I know what you mean about decision fatigue, I have so many places I’d like to try and go this year but only so much is possible and I have to remember there are more years after this one haha. I think it’s a great idea to think about WHY you want to see a place and then to put it on the list, and try and have a meaningful reason rather than just that it looks cool and would be a good experience. Otherwise it is almost everything! I hope we can achieve the right balance, I think it must be possible!

  • Reply Dale February 11, 2016 at 2:37 am

    Great post Sonja and something I’ve been wrestling with for a while now. I think what I’d like, is to still have a home base somewhere I can come back to when I want and have access to more of the tools I use for creative projects and the few possessions I haven’t already sold or given away. But I’ve been a homeowner before and not anxious to do that again. So I haven’t been able to figure out exactly what that middle ground looks like. I finally stopped for a while to recoup finances, prep for the next big adventure and get some work done on creative projects that have been languishing. For the time being it’s a good place to be, but the road does beckon…

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 11, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks so much for reading! I think you’re right it’s about finding the balance and I think having a bit of a home base, even if it’s only somewhere we spend a few months a year, then it would help. My problem is right now I don’t even have that because I haven’t been in my home country for so long it doesn’t feel like that base anymore. It’s interesting you’ve been a homeowner and aren’t so keen on that again. I’ll admit it’s not even on my radar at the moment! Best of luck with finding the middle ground!

  • Reply Syeda February 19, 2016 at 5:22 am

    I love this post! I’m always dreaming of traveling the world but unfortunately I haven’t been able to as much as I would have liked. However, I have moved around a lot which I never really liked but learned to embrace it for it was, a chance to see and explore new places and make new friends. But I’ve never known where I truly belong and I’m always looking for a place to call “home” so I understand completely what you mean.

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 21, 2016 at 6:44 pm

      Thanks for commenting! I’m so glad you understand :). It’s a balance between the difficulties and the rewards I think!

  • Reply Brittany Thiessen May 16, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    I found myself relating to a lot of the emotions and feelings that you mentioned in this post!

    My bucket list of sorts isn’t super long, but I have such a desire to explore the few places on my list deeper and really learn about and connect with those places. Like you, it also scares me to think that I may not be able to delve in-depth to all of the places on my list and I sometimes find myself feeling depressed because I don’t know how to deal with this emotion.

    It’s really difficult! Once I started traveling, my desire to see more and do more just kept growing and getting stronger. It feels like both a curse and a blessing sometimes.

    I love having the stability of a home base and I live at home with my family when I am not traveling. Traveling long-term is not something that I can see myself doing or enjoying, but I often wish there was more time so that I could fulfill everything on my list 🙂

    • Reply Migrating Miss May 16, 2016 at 11:23 pm

      I don’t feel like mine is too long either, although it seems to continuously grow! I try to think about if I REALLY want to do something and the reasons behind it, rather than just endlessly adding places that look pretty cool to the list. Because let’s face it, everywhere looks pretty cool in it’s own way! Maybe the beauty is in not being able to see everything, to make the most of what we can and know there is always more in the world to explore?

  • Reply Anna Kernohan November 30, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    Couldn’t have said it better myself! I totally agree it gets harder and after 17yrs of on/off travel and living as an expat I too have come to want a “home base” from which to explore from instead of it being a backpack on the floor of a hostel room somewhere. Thanks for the great read and well written article.

    • Reply Migrating Miss December 1, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Thanks Anna! It’s strange how things change in ways we never thought they would. I don’t think it has to be a bad thing though! 🙂

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