planning to travel for a solid month sounds like a fantastic adventure... but sometimes being on the road for that long can wear on you. I speak from experience: this summer I spent 28 consecutive days traveling. [and then an additional 10 days just 2 weeks later.]
while I admit this is a total first world problem - it is still a problem. being away from your home and your routine isn't easy. neither is living out of a suitcase, keeping track of where you are and where you're going next, monitoring your budget, and not letting your travel companions get on your nerves. how did I make it through a month of travel with my sanity, marriage, and friendships intact? it wasn't exactly a cake walk, but I have some advice on how we managed.
allow for rest after big travel daysif you can, build time into your itinerary to relax. your body needs time to recover after 12 hour flights or lack of sleep on an overnight train ride. and there's always that pesky jetlag. drink lots of water, find a nearby cafe to sit in while you read your guidebook and research activities for the next few days. if that feels like wasting your time, try a light activity that isn't physically taxing - like going to the beach or taking a bus tour around town.
when we arrived in Prague after 16 hours of travel - emotionally exhausted from changing our travel plans after the Istanbul bombing, physically exhausted from waking up at 5am and not being able to find real food at the airport [thanks, allergies!] - we did not want to do anything. so... we didn't. we took our first few days easy and stayed close to the neighborhood, and spent time catching up with our friends. after that we were refreshed and ready to tackle the city.
mix up your social settingit doesn't matter how much you love your husband or your BFF - spending too much time together in close proximity can be a relationship challenge. [exhibit A above: husband frustrated with my photo perfectionism in Ephesus.] I have my own methods of coping with group travel as an introvert, but on this trip we actually changed up our travel companions a few times.
for the first two weeks, my husband and I traveled with one other friend through Turkey. this allowed her and I to go off and do things he wasn't interested in [like waking up at 4am to see the sunrise,] for them to eat foods I can't [like baklava,] and for he and I to have date nights alone. in Prague, Luke and I stayed with a family of friends for a week. we got to spend time with our adult friends and their kids, but also go off and explore on our own. to end our trip, just the two of us spent a few days together in Vienna. I love hanging out with my husband. but I definitely took an evening to spend alone in a bath with wine and a book.
you can still manage this if you are traveling with the same companions for your whole trip. are you with a group of friends? break off into pairs or go off on your own for a bit. you don't all have to do every single thing together. on vacation with your significant other? spend some couple time together, but be sure you each get the space you need. traveling solo? try joining a group tour to meet some other travelers and get some social interaction. [actually, this works well no matter who you are with!]
do something that feels like homesome people thrive on unpredictability. me, I like to have at least a little bit of routine. at home I have been journaling every morning. so I brought my notebook and pens and did my best to keep this up during our travels. it didn't happen every day, but it helped keep me happy. maybe for you this means bringing your running shoes and getting your miles in, getting a pedicure or going to the movies.
new tastes and experiences are some of the best things about travel. but after a while, you crave something familiar. for my husband and I - that usually means Mexican food or some other cuisine we can't get in Taiwan. while we definitely like to sample the local fare, Taiwan doesn't really have the ingredients or get flavors quite right on many of our favorite dishes. yes, I ate many bowls of pho in Vietnam. but I'm not going to pass up my chance at brisket with potato latkes and hollandaise [Singapore] Mexico City style tacos [Hong Kong] or a bacon cheeseburger on a gluten free bun [New Zealand.]
take your time to explorepart of this is in your planning. I know a lot of people think the more you see the better your trip is - but sometimes slowing down can make for a enjoyable experience too. during our three week trip through New Zealand we saw a LOT. and I loved all of it. but since we moved around every 2 or 3 days, it didn't feel like I got to really know any one location we visited.
in both Istanbul and Prague we had a full week to explore. we checked off the tourist "must-do" items in the first few days and then could actually get to know the city. we met up with local friends, took walking tours, and just wandered around. we didn't feel rushed to get everything in before we had to repack our bags and move on. jumping around from place to place can leave you exhausted, but traveling a little slower not only keeps you sane but lets you experience more of each place.
accept that you won't love everythinga month is a long time, whether you're traveling or not. everyone has good days and bad days. and some of those bad days will happen while you are traveling. life is unpredictable. flights get cancelled, museums and monuments are under construction, you eat the wrong thing and end up sick, tents break in windstorms or your rental car gets broken into. maybe you just don't love Shanghai the way you loved Singapore. this is all ok. not everything in life [and certainly not in travel] has to be a pinterest-perfect experience.
so much of what we read about travel [or see on instagram] is all about the travel highs. but I've been underwhelmed by top-rated temples in Bali, harassed when traveling solo in Hong Kong, and was miserable my entire brief stay in Seoul. sometimes it's hard to remember that everyone has disappointments while traveling - and in life - because we don't often share them. I repeat: things will go wrong. but if you can accept this and learn to find humor in your misadventures, you'll be able to remember your experiences in a much better light.
are you ready to pack your bags and hit the road for a month? maybe not. but if you are lucky enough to do some long-term travel in the near future, I hope these tips will help you survive. [hint: they're also useful for short-term travel too.]
linking up for Wanderful Wednesday with: Lauren on Location, Snow in Tromso, What a Wonderful World, and The Sunny Side of This.