Me at Pompeii last month
This is my third new year as a permanent traveler. We packed all our possessions into a storage facility in August 2009, and our sofas, dining table, and box-after-box-after-box of books have gathered dust for the last two and a half years. We haven't settled in one place for more than two months in the last 28 months. 839 days of full-out nomadism. When we head back to the United States next September, we will have been on the road for three solid years. 36 months. 1096 days.
When we left for Australia at the very beginning, Chewy was a spry 8-year-old. Now, Abby, our baby girl, is going to turn 8 and Chewy is a steady 11. Our nephew was a Spongebob-adoring preschooler and now he's fully enmeshed in Little League and the first grade. We've lost and gained family members while we've been gone. We've watched friends marry and have children from afar. And, in those two and a half years, we've traversed five continents, over 20 countries, and way too many planes, trains, and boats. We've been together nearly every single day for almost 900 days.
And, so far, we're not bored. But, I'm afraid that it's going to happen soon.
Chewy and Abby seeing rhinos and zebras at the Cotswolds Wildlife Park
You see, at some point, traveling loses its charm. When we started this blog, we virtually met lots of travellers embarking on round-the-world trips. While we've been exploring the world, most of those blogging friends have returned home, resettled into jobs, and some have even had babies. In the last week, Jeannie from Nomadic Chick and Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic, two popular travel bloggers and super fun women, announced that they're ending their long-term travels.
Jeannie explained in her hilariously titled post, "Crazy Travel Lady Needs to Stop," that "I’ve been bulldozing alone for too long. It’s time to stop. I’m getting irritable, even slightly panicky about replenishing my savings. What saddens me the most is that I’ve lost something. The spark that first ignited my thirst for other cultures has dwindled. I want it back." Ayngelina echoed Jeannie saying, "I’m done with the constant travel. The nomadic lifestyle is not for me, I loved it for a year and a half but now traveling is becoming a chore. I miss the wonder and awe. It disappeared somewhere along the line. And I think many of you realized it before I did."
And, though not quite as dramatic because he's not ending his travels, Dave from The Longest Way Home, who has been traveling for 7+ years in search of a "home," complained recently that he was "frustratingly bored" by Southeast Asia. So, he headed to Kathmandu, the first place he ever felt truly at home, because, as he says, "I want to take up my own challenge and make a place to live. I want to throw caution to the wind and join the elements for an adventure to the edge of the world."
About a year and a half ago, Christine from Almost Fearless posted that "Eventually, Everyone Stops Traveling," referencing two other popular travel/lifestyle design bloggers who decided to quit traveling. Christine asked, "is the romance of the round-the-world trip actually burning people out on travel? . . . . I’m beginning to think the entire premise of a RTW trip is flawed. It’s as if we’ve collectively decided that if you’re going to travel, then you must cram as much actual traveling into that time as possible. Lest you miss something."
Us at the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Patrick and I are doing things very differently than most long-term travelers. Because we've got Chewy and Abby with us, we move slowly. In the last five months, we've been in only five countries, renting holiday homes/apartments for two weeks (or more) at a time. We limit sightseeing to every other day at around 6 hours per day. We cook most evenings, meaning that we're not packing on calories at mediocre restaurants every night. We have our car with us which shortens most travel times. We rent places with laundry machines, WiFi, and big beds, to mimic home comforts as much as possible. Our dogs, amazingly, adapt to every environment in about 24 hours, eagerly scenting out the new places we stay in, creating as minimal disruption or annoyance to our lives as possible.
Even still, we are exhausted.
You see, we've been permanent travelers for 839 days. We move establishments every two weeks. I pick up a new language every month (while Patrick smiles and nods at my attempts to speak Spanish/French/Italian/German/you name it.) We are constantly adjusting to new climates and cultures. We find dog parks, walks, and veterinarians in every city. We work every single day at least five hours per day. (Last week, for example, we revamped our site while we were showing my parents around London.) We never know the day of the week because we never take a "weekend." And, sometimes, as Dani and Jess at Globetrotter Girls poignantly put it, we fear that we've become frighteningly forgettable as we struggle to keep up with our friends and families across the sea.
Yeah, we are exhausted.