Traveling Nonstop vs Chunks at a Time - Pros & Cons

Old Dec 23rd, 2020, 08:27 AM
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Traveling Nonstop vs Chunks at a Time - Pros & Cons

What are the pros & cons of traveling nonstop ("travel the world") versus traveling two months at a time, back home for 2 months, then traveling again for 2 months?

Hi, I'm 33, male, single and have been grinding my ass off for the past decade. Covid has made me realize life is short.

I live in a country where I will be lucky enough to get a vaccine in March or April. After I get the vaccine I want to hit the road. But I want to figure out the best lifestyle/travel choice.

One option is I could buy a ticket somewhere with no return flight home and just figure out how it goes and play it day by day, week by week. In this hypothetical, I could be gone for up to and beyond a year. I got the inspiration for this because I sometimes see people travel the world for a year and they never go home. I wonder how fun doing this is. Or whether people burn out at some point.

The other option is to make a set plan, maybe buy a package off of travel zoo or something, and just hit the road for two months at a time etc. and come back home.

Does one form of traveling have an advantage to the other?

Are there other forms of travel in regards to time?
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Old Dec 23rd, 2020, 09:43 AM
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The longest I've been on the road was 6 months, round-the-world. Though the thrill waned at about the 5 month mark I stuck to the plan. I had flights booked for the major moves in advance, bought from a consolidator, Airtreks, and played the local itinerary by ear. It worked well.

I'd say the more research you do or if you've already traveled in a region the more likely you'll be able to plan in advance. However, some of the best places I visited were ones I'd never heard of & were recommended by fellow travelers. So for me the best approach seems to be a general framework but with plenty of opportunity for spontaneous deviations.

My next trip will likely be 2 months next winter in Mexico with 1 month in a place I know, the other month wandering.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2020, 11:21 AM
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I once did a ten month RTW, mostly on the ground, but I had almost all of it planned out before I left as it involved a great many trains (Rails Around the World 2004 -- Wilhelm's Words ). I was pretty tired by the end, but I have done six month trips since. If you have never done a long trip, you might want to start with a month or two to see how you like it before heading off a really long one.

You really need to be prepared to do some planning. To start with, the fact that you have been vaccinated doesn't necessarily mean you can visit any country you feel like. Second, what are your living arrangements at home? Do you own your home, or rent? Do you have friends who will keep an eye on things for you? Will you need to store your furniture if you move out of a rental? (My leaving home list is a bit dated, but you might still find it useful: https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...ing-home-list/ )

Some countries require visas, which you may or may not be able to get on the road. Some countries require you to have a return ticket or other proof that you have a plan in place to leave the country. Some countries require you to have proof of medical insurance, and/or enough funds to support yourself.

The "Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World" is four years old, but probably still worth reading, as would be their "first-time" guides to specific regions.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2020, 02:54 PM
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I kind of think that advantage of one over the other depends on who you are. No one size fits all.

for me, one major disadvantage of one long trip is that leaving a dog with family for 2 short trips is a a lot easier on both family and dog than one long absence.

another disadvantage is that I get tired. I donít mean ďtiredĒ as in physically exhaustedójust tired as in the thrill isnít present. Hard to enjoy where youíre at if you really just want to be home, if only for a week. I need to recharge. And I can do that somewhat on the road, but itís not the same thing as sleeping in my bed, taking care of my plants and cooking in my kitchen.

the last disadvantage would probably be the kitchen aspect. Even if I had a decent rental, Iíd still be without my beloved kitchen stuff. Which weirdly, is what I miss (second to the dog). Iím not really attached to the stuff, itís just the easy of cooking when Iím familiar with the equipment, the organization. And itís easier to manage my food habits at home. Iím not really a ďdietĒ person, but I have various food intolerances that impact how I feel.

an advantage is that I think the lack of rush IS a rush. I love the flexibility of longer trips. The logistics are fun, even (unless Iím in a foul mood). And it often works out to less expensive, especially in terms of plane tickets. It could be that itís just easier for me to spend less in one place if Iím headed somewhere even more interesting, though.

and another advantage is variety. I think the ďthrillĒ lasts a little longer if youíre doing several very different places, whereas if your doing a couple weeks in one region, it could be awesome or it could get a little dull after awhile.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2020, 08:37 PM
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If you have never done either of these, I would suggest starting with a 2 month trip, with somewhat of a plan in advance for where you will go (does not need to be a "package"). See how you feel about it. Some people can stay on the road for several years and still love it. I don't like being constantly on the move myself and one month has been my longest trips.

There is no one answer, no right or wrong answer to your question. Have you traveled solo before? How did you feel about it?

Lots of RTW or permanent travelers blog their trips. Get out there online and find trip reports and/or people to "follow". Just to see some of the options and approaches.

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Old Dec 24th, 2020, 07:43 AM
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Not far below your post on this forum is a (long-delayed) trip report covering the first round-the-world trip my wife and I took in 2005 - Our first RTW - 2005

This was the first of a number of similar trips that we undertook in subsequent years, but I reference the thread not for the content per se, but instead because it illustrates the model that we chose for such an ambitious travel scheme.

We couldn't - and really didn't want to - stay away for extra-long periods of time. We had a house, elderly relatives, dogs, and careers that we didn't and couldn't just leave behind. So what we did - and I want to state emphatically that this worked for us and might not for others, was to stage our travels in such a way that we could break up a year's travel into manageable "chunks," as you say. In our case this was facilitated by the air travel product we chose to use, one of the "round the world" tickets sold by members of the various airline alliances, in our case the Oneworld Explorer sold by members of the Oneworld alliance (American, British, Qantas, Japan, Cathay Pacific, Iberia et al.)

Some of the key features of these tickets (which are generally universal, including similar tickets sold by Star Alliance or Skyteam members) are that they're good for a year, they're easy to modify or reschedule, they include baggage allowances, and - importantly - carry markedly different prices depending on where they start and end. The tickets require that you cross both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the same direction (i.e. east to west or v.v.) and travel in compliance with the tickets' rules, which while many are not that hard to meet.

In our case, at the time, the ticket we wanted (business class covering 20 flights and four continents) was cheapest if the travel started and ended in Turkey. Subsequent RTWs began and ended in Japan, South Africa and Sweden, because at the time prices were cheaper in those countries than elsewhere, even given the "staging" costs to get there in the first place, and home after.

The model we chose for the first and all subsequent RTWs was to start someplace overseas and use part of the allocated flights, then fly home and resume our lives for some time (could be a few weeks or several months) then to continue and complete the trip before the 12-month eligibility ended. In the first RTW (in the post) we actually suspended the RTW a second time, flying home from Europe on a separate ticket, before ending the trip back in Istanbul.

Now as I say this model worked for us and might not for you, but perhaps it's worth thinking about. You haven't told us where you live or where you'd like to go and for how long, but this might be a model to consider. RTW tickets can give you the freedom to travel to some very far-away places if you want - places that would be expensive or difficult to access using conventional means, and because they have a single price, one can leverage quite a lot of travel with a relatively small investment. For example, today, a 16-flight, 4-continent RTW using Oneworld airlines originating in Norway (currently one of the "cheaper" origin points) would cost US$2,352 plus taxes and fees in economy class, or $6,672 in business class (or their equivalent in other currencies.) In terms of cost per flight, that's $147 per flight in economy or $417 in business class, expensive for a London to Paris flight, but pretty cheap for New York to Hong Kong.

Here's a post I filed on this general topic a couple of years ago if you want to pursue the idea - Round-the-world and multi-continent airfares

There is, of course, the option of just going where you please and when, unrestrained by any major rules. This may or may not be more economical than products like RTW tickets, and one-way long distance airfares are becoming cheaper in many cases (but not always) so that's less a barrier than it was in the past. The main thing I'd suggest is some research, for example, not just where you want to go but when. Flying to Siberia or the Atacama desert will be very different in the summer than in the winter, and the seasons are reversed. Monsoons happen. The mosquitoes in Kruger National Park are awful in the summer, negligible in the winter, and so on. So while detailed planning might restrain your spontaneity, it might also result in more rewarding travel experiences.

Hope this helps a little, and here's to a fulfilling year of travel.

And by the way, welcome to Fodor's!
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Old Dec 25th, 2020, 02:16 PM
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For most people, this choice would be significantly about logistics such as work, home (your normal apartment/house), visas (make sure you're across these), what would you do with the time at home in between trips, etc. But if none of those are particular issues, then either would work well. I agree with the point that after a while, the pleasure of being in a new place can dwindle a little. Whenever I've travelled for a long time I find that after a couple of months I'm ready to go home but a week or two later I've got my second wind and thereafter I'm happy to travel for as long as I have available. Travelling solo, especially if staying in hotels or apartments, can potentially be a bit lonely. Only you know how much alone time you like. Of course, there are ways to connect with other people, such as staying in a place where you share breakfast, where they organise activities, doing walks with a local guide, taking a course or a short tour with a special focus like cycling.

With regard to arranging your travel yourself vs a package tour, the former will normally be heaps cheaper and also more rewarding. It's all too easy to just be lead around by the nose in organised tours, although they can be really useful for places out of your comfort zone. Not all tours are the same though - sometimes small group tours (e.g. less than a dozen people) can work quite well.

Even with a year it's easy to run out of time to see everything you want to see in Europe, let alone the rest of the world. And if you're constantly on the move, you risk the feeling of everything being remembered as a blur. I think you get more out of it if you focus on particular countries. You could also break it up by spending a couple of months travelling then base yourself in one town for a month. For example, if your focus was Europe, you could spend three months in four countries, travelling for two months, then spending a month somewhere like Bologna, Seville, Vienna, Edinburgh, wherever. Another possibility would be to arrange for a friend to join you for a few weeks here and there. Try to get more out of it than just being a tourist moving from one tourist site to another, such as make some local connections, learn something of the local language, learn about local customs, do some long distance hiking, whatever appeals to you as your focus. Spending a year in a single country could potentially be the most rewarding of all.

The suggestion that if you haven't travelled for an extended time before to just try it for a couple of months before committing to a year is a good one.

Lastly, it seems that the current coronavirus vaccines will stop the person who has it from getting sick but it does not stop you from being contagious if you get it. The very last thing you want to do is potentially spread the virus to others by moving around freely so I'd wait until your destination countries have had an opportunity to vaccinate their populations. Also, for me, visiting other countries is very much as about mingling freely without having to be concerned about masks, special hygiene or physical distancing. I'd wait until I didn't need to worry about those things. They would take the edge off for me. You could use the time to read and decide where you'd most like to visit.

I envy you this opportunity. To be able to do so is a gift that few can enjoy and so plan to enjoy it in the best way possible. Have fun and let us know how it all pans out! So jealous!
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Old Dec 27th, 2020, 09:30 AM
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I very much enjoyed a few lengthy (IE year-plus) work-breaks where I traveled regularly/frequently but came home in between. I still had a home base with all my stuff waiting for me, nothing in storage (unless you call my house storage) and it was exciting to have something to regularly look forward to, without getting burned out. It kept the feeling of "what's next" alive although it was by no means a cheap way to do it. Lots of plane tickets.

My longest away-time duration during this was a month which I did a few times, otherwise, most of the trips were about two weeks long. For me at least that was easier to keep my old life assembled and ready to jump right back into instead of disassembling everything and then having to start over again in "a year" or whatever length of time.

I think given that you are 33 you might have an easier time of putting things on ice for a lengthy trip, though. For instance do you have a house and STUFF, do you have a settled career you would like to walk back into, a relationship that would suffer from a lengthy time away, etc. If you are still unencumbered maybe do the long term because when would you have time to do that next?

I can't speak to the all-in plan, but I can say the few weeks/a month visits which are more frequent were great. I am not sure waiting two months in between is a great idea though, that is pretty long - what do you plan to do at home during that time? Maybe come home for a few weeks to do laundry and chill with friends then out again.

A family friend has been on the road continuously since... forever? I can't remember when he last had his own home and a desk job, it might not be hyperbole to say 20 years. This year of COVID he is living with his parents but not working, I think just doing his photography stuff. He has a rhythm, though, in that he has identified regular places which will let him come back each year and work during a season and make scads of money which he then uses to spend the other 8-9 months traveling. He is a guy, though, and OK with a rather backpacker lifestyle so even though he does make serious coin in the summer (Alaska as a seasonal worker, I think in tourism has been his most regular gig) he lives very frugally otherwise. That would not be my cup of tea for very long, I like to be comfortable. I seem to remember he put down roots in Costa Rica for a good few years and spent the whole time as a tour guide type of person year round until he moved on. I have wondered at times what he will do when he is of retirement age, he is early 50s and going strong but there must be some age you'd want to settle down (65? 70?).

Anyway, all to say that "it depends". Either way you will enjoy yourself. It may be easier to establish friendships with longer trips.
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Old Dec 27th, 2020, 07:05 PM
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I saw your same question over on Trip Advisor Solo Travel forum. Since you said there budget and time are unlimited I say the world is your oyster

As far as "other forms of travel" were I in your shoes I'd be looking at one of the classy small boat cruises that go slowly for 9 months or so around the world. Or the private jet National Geo uses for adventure/luxury tours. Maybe you'd like a safari or climb a mountain or walk the Great Wall?

Hard to know since you give no indication of your interests. What exactly do you want to DO on this trip?

Do not buy a "package off travel zoo". You can easily do better. heck I can personally make you a better plan in my sleep, if you gave us some criteria to work with.

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