There are lots of different myths out there about round the world travelers.
Many people think:
- the RTW traveler is rich
- the RTW traveler is retired
- the RTW traveler is on a gap year
While these assumptions can all be true, the three groups of people above are certainly not the only ones who travel RTW. It’s easy to assume, especially if you hail from a country where long-term, RTW travel is uncommon. But there are many, many, many more people who decide to travel RTW than these three.
Let’s take a look at who goes on long-term trips, starting with our three assumptions.
The wealthy traveler
If money is no object, and you like to travel, then it makes sense to head off on an epic adventure like a RTW trip. While you may want to stereotype the wealthy RTW traveler into a group who will only fly, stay in 5 stay hotels, and never eat from street carts, you could be wrong. While there are plenty of wealthy travelers who will only consider the best and most luxurious, there are also plenty who travel just like the everyday Joe out there – staying in hostels, eating at markets, and taking 20+ hour bus rides.
The retired traveler
If you come from the US, the good ol’ American Dream has citizens who put off their travel dreams for when they’re retired. So many of us assume that long-term travel has to wait until we retire, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. The retired traveler does do more than go on cruises and hang out in Florida, as many will take a chicken bus in Central America or hike in Nepal like other, younger RTW travelers do.
The gap year traveler
While Americans don’t typically take part, most have at least heard the phrase gap year. Gap years are typical throughout Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The idea is that a recently graduated high school or college student will take the next year off to travel the world, perhaps working or volunteering along the way, before moving on to the next step of his or her life.
The couple travelers
While sabbaticals, career breaks, and RTW travel isn’t fully accepted into the American culture, yet, it is gaining steam, and heading out on the road for an extended adventure with your spouse before having kids just makes sense. For couples (both married and not) who are yet to have kids, chances are they are doing well financially and don’t have a lot of responsibilities yet, so this is the perfect time to go. While traveling RTW with a family is certainly possible (and encouraged), it’s going to be a completely different experience than traveling with your partner while in your 20′s or 30′s. With less responsibilities, it makes it easier to take off, and more and more couples are taking the plunge.
The solo traveler
Not married? Not in a relationship? Don’t have any friends or family members as adventurous as you? Have no fear because there are plenty of travelers out there hitting the road solo, and there’s no reason you can’t, too. Whether you’re in your 20′s, 30′s, 40′s, or older, it’s possible for you to take a RTW trip despite the fact that you don’t have a travel partner.
The family travelers
Too many people think it’s impossible to travel once you have kids. The problem with that thinking is that there are simply too many families out on the road right now on long-term, RTW trips. There’s plenty of myths out there about family travel, but those myths are getting busted every day when families hit the road for one big, long extended field trip with their kids. Can there be a better way to learn about Pompeii than visiting it and learning about it firsthand rather than reading about it in a book?
The unemployed traveler
With the economy in the crapper for the past five years, people all over the world have gotten laid off left and right. While it has gotten better, depending on a variety of factors, there may not be much opportunity ahead of them. Rather than sitting around, collecting unemployment, and sending out resume after resume, why not think outside the box and head out on a RTW trip? Recently unemployed men and women are taking to the road daily these days, and if you travel in a developing region, you’ll spend much less than you would trying to maintain at home. What better way to pad your resume than traveling the world, and who knows, you may find a new passion you never knew you had?
The in-between careers traveler
While it’s fine and dandy if you’re one of those people who had it all figured out at 18, the truth of the matter is that many of us didn’t, so whatever career we chose in college may not end up being the one we’re meant for. If you’re one of those people, then what better way to figure it all out than to hit the open road and take off an epic RTW adventure? Many 20 and 30 somethings have realized that they are working in a career that isn’t right for them. Even if you think you know what you want to do next, it might not be a bad idea to take advantage of the natural break in life and go live your dreams before jumping back into the rat race.
The “I hate my job” traveler
A close cousin of the previous traveler, the I Hate My Job Traveler is someone who just loathed what they did on a daily basis and couldn’t take it anymore. While the In Between Careers Traveler typically has an idea of what they want to do next, this traveler has no clue. They just know that they hate what it is they do right now. If this is you, don’t wait too long. Too many people wallow around in jobs they hate until it’s too late. Even if the money is good, by now you know that money doesn’t necessarily make up for lack of passion for what you do. These people are some of the bravest as they quit their jobs and head out into the unknown, welcoming what’s to come, even though they have no idea what that is.
The nomadic traveler
Some people head off on a RTW and never come back. Most RTW travelers have a dream that they will do this when they set off, but most of us realize at some point that constant travel is a difficult lifestyle to maintain. But there are those few who love it, embrace it, and make it their lives. An admirable person, for sure, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
There’s probably more types of RTW travelers out there, but as you can see, traveling long-term doesn’t have to be done at a certain stage in life. You don’t have to be a particular age. You don’t have to be in the perfect situation to make it happen. In fact, if you wait for everything to fall into place in your life, you’ll be waiting a long time, as there never really is that perfect time to turn your life upside down. The only thing you can do is say “Screw it!” and throw caution to the wind, plunging yourself into the travel abyss. Plenty of others before you have done it. Just ask yourself, “Why not me?”
What type of traveler are you? Did we miss any? Comment below to share your thoughts!