Dirty Little Secrets of Long Term Travel

By , April 26, 2010 5:27 pm

If there is something I love, it’s drama! Especially when it is not my drama which is probably why I went into social work.

We have been traveling darned near 9 months now and I think we are finally ‘getting it’. Although we have seen so many amazing places, met tons of wonderful people and sampled the yummiest of food, we were surprised to find that long term travel has a down side. How come nobody talks about it??–I would have loved to have been warned. I never in my wildest dreams expected to run into some of the issues we ran into–I mean, after all, we are lucky enough to travel for 13 months. Isn’t the world is our oyster? How could we have even one bad day? Well, we have had our fair share so, sit down and let me tell you about some of long term travel’s dirty little secrets . . .

I think the biggest thing is we didn’t know it was going to be so much work. Seems like we spend an awful lot of time planning our next move, figuring out where we are and how to get around (get a guesthouse, find somewhere to eat, find out what to do in that town/city, public transport, local scams, etc.). By the time we do all of that, we barely have time to journal, write in blogs and upload photos. I also thought there would be free wi-fi everywhere so we can update the website and keep in touch with loved ones and there definitely isn’t—guess we were spoiled in Seattle.

I wish I had a heads up that it wasn’t always going to be fun and exciting. Seems like nobody talks about the downside to long term travel and it’s even worse when we read other blogs and it sounds like others are having the time of their lives while we are struggling (I guess who’s going to write about it or take photos when they are struggling anyways right!). We also never expected we would argue so much because at home we got along so well; agreeing most of the time on what we were doing. Maybe it’s the fact that you are together 24/7 and making tons of new decisions every day. Then we felt bad because we were supposed to be having fun!!! It wasn’t until we met other couples (who seemed to be having a great time and well adjusted) and they also reported experiencing the exact same stresses and arguments. Then we started to give ourselves a break and reminded ourselves that this is an unusually stressful situation at times. I think a lot of the bickering in the early days had to do with the stress of not knowing what the heck we were doing, traveling way too fast (we never stayed anywhere for more than 2 nights) and we were spending so much money in Australia and New Zealand. Now we feel like old pros, we stay in places 4 and 5 nights at a time and our money goes so much further in SE Asia.

Another thing that surprised us during our travels, is how much we missed working. Maybe we just missed having structure and other people to interact with on a regular basis. At one point, We even contemplated ending the trip so we could get back into a routine again. Glad we didn’t because we are having the time of our lives.

Some ways that we have been dealing with this hiccup in our travels is talking about it with other traveling couples/singles and giving ourselves a break–literally. Now, if we are feeling frustrated with each other, we agree to take an hour or two apart and meet back afterwards. It works out pretty nicely to have some ‘me’ time. We also split up at times so Paul can take some more photos which he loves while I get a massage which I love—talk about a good break huh!!! We are also more spontaneous lately–letting things happen instead of making things happen. We aren’t so concerned at doing it all but just enjoying what we are doing. We are also taking time (like we used to) to do the little things for each other even though we drive each other nuts at times. We also laugh about the stupidity of our little tantrums and bad behavior. The important thing is we realize we are on the same team and love each other dearly. I don’t think anyone could put up with me and still spoil me on a daily basis like my Paul.

I love you sweetie and I am so happy we are doing this together!!!

14 Responses to “Dirty Little Secrets of Long Term Travel”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bert & Patty. Bert & Patty said: Dirty Little Secrets of Long Term Travel http://goo.gl/fb/MkaWn […]

  2. Wonderful post and so true! This year is about getting to know yourself and your partner – and sure there will be hiccups along the way – but what a once in a lifetime opportunity! We did the same thing and exhausted ourselves in the beginning and were cranky and tired all the time! Relaxing and taking a slower pace is the way to go and so much more fun! Can’t wait to meet up with you guys in the near future 🙂

  3. dRk says:

    you did not actually think that there would be free wi-fi all over the world?

  4. Julica says:

    …. all true 😉 and don’t forget the rest days, days off. Even people who work boring work have days off. Day off / Rest day = day when you don’t do much more than MAYBE read a book (not a travel guide, a real fluffy book book), have lots of quiet private time and don’t talk to strangers… ! all the best from Team OZ and thanks for the pics Julica

  5. christine says:

    manali—can’t wait to meet up too!!
    dirk–I know, I’m a dork!!! hey, do you have wifi?? might have to alter the visit if not—tee hee hee
    julica—oh yes, i forgot about that….i love the days we just stay in bed and rest, read, internet, and do nothing…..how are you and peter? jeez, seems like such a long time ago we went on that cool trek.

  6. Oli&mish says:

    We couldnt agree more! Travellling together is a wonderful opportunity but it definately comes with its challenges and a generous helping of great times too! What emerges at the end of it all, we believe, is an extremely connected couple who know alot more about each other than before the trip…who are better equipt to take the ups and downs with a smile! Afterall we are living our dream together! Thats certainly something to be very thankful about! Take care and lots of love. Oli&Mish

  7. Gillian says:

    Great post…and all so true! The not-getting-along was the hardest part for me. J and I had been together 11 years when we set off and spend a lot of time together at home…so why were we bickering in ways we had never before? You hit it on the head…it’s b/c of the daily stress, the not-quite-right, the spending more than we expected…it all played a role. We got better at about 3 months and we also felt better meeting other long term travelers who confessed to the same things. I’ve tried to be honest about it on my blog without belaboring it all the time. It’s certainly good for all future RTWers to be aware of! Cheers!

  8. christine says:

    oli & Mish, thanks for the comment–miss you guys….was sure fun hanging out with you in paradise….we WILL meet again and I cannot wait!!!
    gillian—thanks for the comment….it was a good thing to get off my chest….and so good to hear we aren’t crazy….i agree, future rtw-ers should be warned….my mother in law warned me but frankly it went in one ear and out the other–i mean, she never traveled long term–but hey, she was right….smart lady.

  9. Alonna says:

    Hey guys – what a great article. I agree with every single thing you said, even the internet! But we started with Europe and South America and both places in fact DID have free wi-fi everywhere – it wasn’t until New Zealand and Australia that we were shocked to have to pay big bucks for *lousy* internet! Anyway, it’s also great to hear from you and your commenters that we’re not the only ones arguing all the time while traveling. But after 9+ months we too have started to just laugh it off. Cheers and happy travels!

  10. Leah says:

    It seems to me that most of your problems came from unrealistic expectations. Never staying in one place for more than two nights? How do you see a place in two nights? I think that would cause stress for one person travelling on their own, let alone two who have to make decisions together! As I’m a young adult, I travelled a lot with my family as a kid but have so far not travelled by myself or with my husband alone (except for our honeymoon). It has always been with family. But I know from watching my parents what goes into it, and so I know what to expect. I remember watching, after we had gone to bed, mum and dad sitting up discussing what we’d do the next day so that once we woke up we knew exactly where we were going and what we were doing. I don’t want to make it sound like my parents are argumentative – they’re not – but as far as I can remember, they fought less when we travelled than at home! Besides, I know my husband well enough that I’m sure I can predict what we’re going to argue about when we’re travelling anyway! 😉

  11. […] we have found a couple that fights and admits it!  In one of our all time favorite blog posts (Dirty little secret) by our new found friends Bert & Patty (aka Christine & Paul).  Yes there is a […]

  12. Claire says:

    I will tell you something interesting I learned while on my honeymoon. My husband and I both started experiencing anxiety and depression the day after we got married. We had quit our jobs and packed our caravan and set off on a 5 month trip around Australia, where we are from. By the by, we sympathise with the expensive-ness of Oz – imagine having to live here!

    Anyway, we got from Melbourne, VIC, to Byron Bay, NSW, before we couldn’t go any further without attending a hospital to get some medication for my husband. He was experiencing panic and axiety attacks, severe insomnia and cried at the drop of a hat. It was very full on.

    The psychologist we met with at Byron Bay Hospital (very good services there by the way, highly recommend if you are in an emotional crisis!) told us that she sees many many backpackers from all over the world who come on holiday and immediately break down, just like we did. Perhaps they are lost without the structure of work. Perhaps they are finally having the breakdown they didn’t give themselves the chance to have earlier. Perhaps they built their holiday up so much that it is not (and could never) living up to their expectations.

    Travel is harder than you think, both alone and with your partner. Having fights all the time is so common and it’s hard to reconcile that with your image of what travel should be and what you have built it up to be: a joy and a break that you have been looking forward to for so long.

    We sorted ourselves out and are back home, he is nearly off the medication and we are building good relationships with our respective psychologists. Most importantly though, we have a great relationship with each other. We are supportive when it is evident that the other one is going through a rough time and I’m not sure that we would be as equipped to notice that if we hadn’t gone through the time that we did.

    We look back on our honeymoon with mixed feelings, but no regret. We look forward to our next trip with excitement and expectations that are not so high that we won’t enjoy ourselves.

  13. Jack says:

    Happy to read your blog.
    I would like to know where you stayed while in Australia and NZ? How much is the budget needed for a month? I myself want to make a trip but have no clue about the budget. Would be happy if you could email me. Thanks

  14. Christina says:

    I am sooo glad someone wrote about this! I’m currently traveling with my new husband (we’ve been away for 9 months so far) and had no idea we would fight so much, spend so much time researching/ booking while we were away and would feel homesick for the most unexpected reasons (I didn’t realize how emotionally important it is to me to cook my own meals!). The dynamics of your relationship are tested to the extremes. We are polar opposites so more things then I expected have been a challenge, and I think about going my own way when we return home on a daily basis… Not the honeymoon experience I expected!

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