by Nick Waterhouse
Long term travel can be just as rewarding as it is challenging – but challenging it is. Constantly moving my body countless miles, usually over rough terrain, definitely takes its toll. I have been backpacking (going going going) for six months now and I am tired. Don’t get me wrong, I am still having a blast and have learned, seen and experienced so much in the 40+ cities I have visited. I have recently been reflecting on this trip and asking myself a lot of questions. What have I gained from traveling for so long? What experiences have stayed with me and changed me? What can I “bring home” with me that will help me improve and accomplish my goals? After all of this pondering, one area of self improvement that stands out is the newfound ability to quickly and seamlessly adapt to new situations.
This improved adaptability isn’t so much convenient as it is necessary while traveling. It is necessary in the fact that in order to get the most out of a small amount of time, I can’t waste energy developing new habits and routines for every place I visit.
Getting settled in is now instinctual.
I usually book a place to stay in advance. Although this can take the fun away from being a complete vagabond, this process introduces me to the geography of a city, insures I will have a good wifi connection and a comfortable place to rest, and saves valuable time and energy. Next, I find a local shop where I can easily buy water and other essentials and I usually don’t shop anywhere else for my entire stay. This eliminates unnecessary decision making so I can save my finite mental energy for more important decisions. If I plan on working while in the city, I find a convenient cafe that serves a cheap breakfast and has a reliable internet connection. Again, saving mental energy and helping me stay in my routine of having a quick breakfast and completing work in the mornings. I then feel out the general layout of a city and the best way to get around (i.e public transportation, biking, walking, etc..). Within a day, I am settled in and my routine is solidified.
Being able to quickly adapt to a new place is essential for staying productive while traveling. Incorporating this skill to my everyday life when returning back home will be awesomely valuable. While I plan on continuing my personal ventures, I will be relocating to a new city and looking for new professional opportunities. I am now confident that I will be able to adjust to a new city, job and living situation in record time. Acclimating to a new work environment will be easier than ever as I am already accustomed to being in new situations constantly. I will be able to get a feel for a new city, pinpointing a neighborhood to live in and staying in my routine without skipping a beat; something I would have had trouble doing without all of the practice I’ve been getting.
Coming home from any long trip can be stressful. Improving your ability to quickly adapt to new situations will increase confidence and eliminate a lot of this stress. I am now excited for what new opportunities await me and am looking forward to continuing my adventure back home.
What are some other benefits of long-term travel? Are there any negatives? Let me know in the comments below!
Nick Waterhouse is the founder of AirBuds, Ltd. and BackpackingWithaBusiness.com. When not starting new projects, he is exploring far-off lands or making music with his friends. Feel free to contact him at BackpackingWithaBusiness@gmail.com.