“At what point does travel as a lifestyle become as monotonous as staying in one place?” Colin Wright, travel-addict like myself, recently asked this question in his post Travel as a Lifestyle, on Flightster, a blog about all things travel. Again – appealing to all those travel crackheads fiending for more like myself and most likely yourself.
As I read through his article about how he went from a location-dependent to a location-independent guy and some of the struggles and mental-blocks he went through to get there, he asked this one question that struck a chord in me:
“At what point does travel as a lifestyle become as monotonous as staying in one place?”
Whoa – that’s a scary question to think about. As the answers to it make you confront one small little detail: That all this travel you’ve worked so hard to make part of your lifestyle could eventually become monotonous, which for those out there that don’t like words more than 2 syllables means tedious, reptitious, unvarying. (Okay I won’t lie, I actually let Google elaborate more on that word for me just for a little vocab inspiration.)
I mean, could I really ever get tired of repeatedly hearing people hawk up loogies around the city of Beijing daily? Yes – that got montonous after day one. But could learning a foreign langauge, experiencing and getting to know a different culture, and meeting and learning from people whom have grown up with different experiences and points of view unlike your own ever become unvarying or repititious? – If your answer is yes then go ahead and book a 7 night vacation at an all inclusive hotel where you never leave your poolside chair. (Actually that sounds really relaxing right now, but that’s besides the point!)
However, all things considered, travel can absolutely become monotonous if you don’t spice things up a bit and get good at doing it too. Its kind of like a skill you acquire along the way. And as you acquire it, you realize more and more all the things you can do to make your travels more of an ADVENTURE and a LIFESTYLE rather than just a trip to the Top 10 Things to See in City XYZ before you head back to your hotel at night.
And so, after pondering Colin’s question for a bit, I decided to come up with a few ideas to make sure this monotonous feeling never begins to creep its dull head into our travel obsessed lifestyles….
The 5 Keys To Keeping a Crazy-Fun, Ever-Changing, Self-Growing Travel Lifestyle
(And giving the cold shoulder to a monotonous one)
1.) Learn the Language!
I made the mistake of coming to China and never really attempting to learn the Mandarin. Things quickly become tedious and annoying when you can’t laugh with the locals and spark up friendly conversation with locals, eaves drop on boring, cramped subway rides or yell at the guy for walking directly in front of you as you’re biking (This happened to me today by the way – it resulted in 2 people screaming profanites at each other in 2 different langauges and frankly looking back is absolutely hilarious ). I digress –
Without being able to communicate you not only isolate yourself from the people, but you also inhibit your ability to truly get to know the culture and the way of life. Plus, its a fun an interesting challenge. Not to mention, being multilingual is sexy in my opinion.
2.) If you love a place – stay there. If you don’t – move on.
I LOVED living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have sort of LIKED living in Beijing, China. Of course, going back to #1, being able to speak Spanish may have helped make that LOVE happen. However, overall, while I’ve grown more and learned more about myself in Beijing, I was much more fascinated by the culture of South America and the travel there.
When choosing where to travel and live you want to make sure you’re in a place that INSPIRES you. Where you’re eager to get to know the locals, experience the culture, and explore your surroundings. If, however, you’re in a place that simply leaves you saying, “eh” then life will get pretty monotonous there pretty quickly.
3.) Expats are Cool, but Locals are Cool too – Make friends with both.
Anytime you’re living abroad its great to have a group of friends from your own home-base or lifestyle and a group of friends from the country you’re currently living in.
Having a network of expat friends is great because no matter how much you love where you’re living, if you’re there long enough, there are always going to be days when you just want to talk to someone from a place similar to back home about what life is like where you’re living – the things you love about it and the things you don’t love about it so much.
Having a network of local friends is irreplacable because this is where you truly grow and learn – you get an inside, personal look at the way of life in that country whether you’re looking to party hard, work in a certain industry, learn the family values and customs, or understand why they do what they do in general.
4.) Get back to your homebase every once in awhile
Sure, there are some hardcore travel nomads out there that haven’t been back to the places they grew up in years. But for most of us, a taste of home and our old friends are a necessity to keeping ourselves grounded, sane, and not forgetting about who were to begin with. Don’t let those things that were once so important to you fade so quickly. Get back home every once in awhile for a little perspective, to say hi to your Mom, and to drink some beers and talk about old times with your best friends.
5.) Attitude is Everything – Don’t be a Debbie Downer
If I’ve learned anything over the past 8 months in China its that your attitude will make or break your trip – and your life. As Stacey wrote in an article called On Choosing Happiness on her blog Chasing Paradise, “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.” And let me tell you, sometimes keeping a positive attitude in check takes a lot of freaking personal effort when living abroad.
Especially when living in countries where a lot of things are unlike what you’re used to, after the initial “Wow everything is so awesome and different I love it here” phase starts to pass and you enter into the “Wow I’m actually living here and why do people (insert cultural difference here)” its important to keep your attitude in check. If you focus on the negative, then things will routinely become crappy, boring, and frustrating. But if you remember to enjoy the the little things, laugh at the frustrating things, and keep in mind the big picture, then you’ll be unstoppable.
Until Next Time
And so there you have it my fellow travel addicts. For those of you who have been incorporating the travel lifestyle into your way of life, then maybe these little pointers will be of assistance if things ever do start to seem monotomous. And for those of you who are just getting started, well, it is sure to be a hell of a ride – and I’m excited for your upcoming adventures. As long as your mind is as curious for exploring, discovering, and understanding as it was when you set out on your first journey, that I don’t think travel as a lifestyle could ever get monotonous.
Do you think that travel as a lifestyle can become as monotonous as staying in one place? What advice do you have for fellow travelers to help avoid this?