A somewhat unspoken truth amongst long-term travelers is that sometimes you just want to stay put.
Whether that be to recover from the monotony and exhaustion of constant travel, or just because you fall in love with a location, does not matter. Traveling will no doubt be more thrilling and beneficial if you actually feel like traveling – so hanging around, taking up a temporary residence, and getting into a normal routine for awhile is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it can help you to appreciate those little bits about being on the road that you start taking for granted â€“ like the beauty of a medieval church in Europe â€“ when you decide it is time (if ever) to head out again.
So, fellow travelers, here are 7 signs that it might be time to hang up those backpacks and grow some roots.
1. Your Wardrobe Expands
Sure, a few extra tops and cute shoes might not seem like much, but every backpacker knows that these little extras are not so little when you carry your entire world on your back. In response, most travelers succumb to living in the same two spot-me-I’m-a-tourist outfits day after day. This normally poses very few problems when you constantly move from city to city as one location is quickly replaced by another.
After all, that Japanese kimono you bought yesterday might look just as out of place tomorrow in Moscow, or next week in India, so why bother with carrying the extra weight? When you start worrying about local fashion, fitting in, and not about what fits in your backpack, however, it is probably a sign that your mind is not thinking about upcoming travel.
2. You Look for Work
Backpackers look for work for two main reasons. The all-too-common one is simply because they have blown their budget on too many nights out and need money as quickly as possible. In this case, backpackers are forced to seek out employment wherever they currently sit because without it there will be no more adventures.
The other reason a backpacker might look for work is just to have an excuse to stay somewhere for a while longer. Some backpackers do it because they have fallen in love with the city or the people, while the rest would rather work a real job instead of dealing with the tough task of traveling foreign lands. (Don’t laugh â€“ travel is not an easy job!)
So, if you find yourself thinking about some sort of employment, ask yourself if it is because you need the money, or because you just do not want to leave.
3. Slow Travel Becomes Even Slower
The general mindset of backpackers when just setting off verges toward trying to see as much as possible, and this presents itself in a go-go-go attitude. A backpacker often loses his or her go-go-go attitude after experiencing cathedral after cathedral or indistinguishable old town after old town in Europe, for example.
A little bit of burnout on the road has detrimental effects on what a person actually experiences abroad. They start to bypass must-see attractions because they think it will look just like the last and, instead, find themselves spending day after day hanging around the hostel with no real goals to actually leave soon and see what they had initially intended.
If you notice that instead of trying to take an excursion to a nearby must-see town next weekend, you start shooting for next month, then you might be in need of a little stagnant recovery time. Once recovered, you will soon find a bit of that go-go-go has returned and travel is exciting again.
4. Stamps & Visas Add Up
Some travelers find themselves hitting the same places over and over again, even when an entire world awaits them. The comfort of knowing a city â€“ where to eat, sleep, bank, shop, and hang out â€“ can make it feel like a home away from home to someone used to hostel-hopping and living out of a backpack for months on end.
Furthermore, a pleasing lifestyle and culture will have the same effect on travelers repeatedly visiting the same destination. Either way, when the stamps and/or visas for your special location become the trending topic of your passport, it could be a sign that you really did not want to leave in the first place.
5. You Lease an Apartment
It is one thing to book a furnished, short-term apartment for a more comfortable one to two week stay in a city, but it is a completely different state of mind when you sign an agreement. This step shows that you have direct intentions of staying put for a period of time with very little leeway for changing plans, especially when changing plans almost seems like second nature for backpackers.
An even further jump is when you get an apartment that requires you to actually buy items before moving in, such as pots and pans or a mattress. Even if you tell yourself that you can always resell such items when ready to go nomadic once again, this tactic definitely makes it much more difficult to move on in the future than you might be used to right now.
6. Routines Become Pleasing
Routines bore 99% of people, and breaking those routines invigorates the lucky travelers who get to run free. But as exciting as the unpredictability and spontaneity of backpacking seems at first, over time the lack of daily structure can make some people feel lost and without direction.
Countless travelers find themselves forgetting the day of the week and even the name of the current city after months of non-stop travel. Other travelers simply experience a bit of anxiety when confronted with the idea of what will happen next. If such a person has found recovery in a comfortable routine at a great location that is still not getting boring, then his or her body is begging for a little stability and, ultimately, security in an uncertain environment.
7. Ask Family & Friends to Visit
Some travelers with a set schedule often make plans to meet up with acquaintances around the world. Others, specifically ones on open-ended adventures, do not even bother until they know they will be idle for a decent amount of time. Long-term travelers learn to keep plans as mere guidelines and have generally accepted the idea of going very long periods of time without seeing loved ones in the better interest of being a world nomad.
If you are like these travelers, then asking family and friends to visit not only shows a desire to stick around in one place longer, but also a desire to introduce them to your new life. If you make it to this point, you are more than likely feeling like a resident of some sort in your new home and wanting to just stay put.
To read more about becoming an expat or slowing down, check out the following articles:
- Is RTW Travel for Everyone? Consider Expat Life As an Alternative
- Travel Burnout: Is it Real? Will I Get It?
- 10 Important Life Lessons You Learn From Living Abroad
- Everything You Need to Know About Au Pairing Your Way Around the World
- Becoming an Expat
- Best Places for Expats to Live
- 15 of the Best Expat Blogs