Saturday, July 18, 2009

Why You Should Never Take a Year Long Trip

Yes, that's right, I'm here to now tell you why you should never take a year long trip. Now this may seem a little hypocritical considering the fact that that's what I'm leading up to right now. But, I'll have you know there are so many reasons why this is a terrible terrible idea.

Now sure, I've got myself in too deep. There's no way I can back out. From the moment I told the first person that I was going to do this, it was too late. From that moment watching Scott Wilson, Andres Dupuis, and Justin Lukach on Departures and thinking, "you know what? I bet I could do that." it was far too late for me. But it's not too late for you!

You will never be known as, "that guy who said he would take a trip, then couldn't." Why for me it would be like spending money to jump from an airplane, get up there, and then stop at the doorway, riding back down to the ground in the relative safety of the plane. There would be no recovery from that.

But please, heed my advice.

Why it's a Terrible Idea

You need to quit your job. Now sure, this is everyone's dream - but you better make sure that you don't need that job when you get back. You better be sure that you can find replacement work upon your return, or be sufficiently moneyed that you will not be in wanting upon your return.

2. It will drain your bank account. There's no way around it, if you want to travel the world for a year it is going to cost. I imagine you could do a twelve month trip for around $20 000CAD if you wanted, but you'd be missing out on a lot. These trips can cost anyway from $40 000 to $60 000 to $100 000. That is a lot. That is enough to buy a house, or a car, or in some places a house and a car.

3. The amount of planning is inconceivable. Sure you could just wing the whole thing, but you'd be missing out quite a bit. Each destination you go to needs to be researched so you know where to stay, what to see, and what to do next. Think of how much work you spend on a two week vacation, now multiply that by twenty six.

4. You need to take everything you need with you. And I mean everything. If you want a winter coat for one month of your trip, you'll either need to drop money on one on the road, or keep it in your pack just in case for the whole time. This isn't like where you can pack for each country upon return to your home base. Oh no - this is a serious stretch where you have yourself, your bag, and that's all. And if you want to bring your camera with you, it's there the whole trip. Where does it go when you want to take a swim? Where does it go when you're snorkeling? You just hope for the best, leaving it in your pack.

5. Visa acquiring can be a nightmare. Most visas must be obtained within three months of visiting a country, but if you're going to a country that requires one during month six of your trip, you'll need to find a place to obtain the visa on the road. Normally this means being without your passport for a number of days - and I don't know about you, but I'm slightly terrified to be without my passport when I'm out of country for even an hour or so.

6. You better be ready to leave everyone behind. Twelve months can be a strain for a number of people in your life. Friends, family, relationship partners - will you be o.k. with being apart for a year? And even more terrifying, if they're coming with you will you be able to handle them every single day for an entire year? I mean honestly - can you stand to see them six hours every day for a week? Now picture a week that never ends. And think of holidays such as Christmas, or your Birthday... Will that be alright if you're all by your lonesome? There's a reason I've booked my Africa tour to start on my birthday, cover Christmas, and end just after New Years Eve.

7. Ohh, I'm sure there are more reasons. Just think for a moment... You see what I'm saying? It's a terrible - terrible - idea.

Why it's a Brilliant Idea

Don't get me wrong. Clearly I don't think it's all bad. I'm just trying to stress that you'll need to be prepared for what you're getting into. There are a lot of things that can go wrong on the road, and if you're operating without a home base you have to be prepared to jump from place to place to place. Travel is work. It is not all fun, and relaxing on beaches. A lot of it is hot, sweaty, bug spray covered hiking. But that, in its own way, becomes fun - more often after the fact than not.

Let us not get lost in the downsides and forget the positives.

1. You get to be an asshole for the rest of your life. Honestly, think about it, for the rest of your life you can be "that guy." You know the one. The one who always has a story: Ohh that Mustard is from France? You know when I was in Paris I actually watched the creation of such a... Oh it's actually from Peru, well I remember when I was hiking through the forests there, and let me tell you sleeping under the stars were just... what's that? It's from Australia? Well have you ever seen the great barrier reef? Oh - you haven't? Oh my.

2. You can get some street credit when you meet new people, forming quicker connections (much in the same way as you would in number 1, but more refined.) "Oh, you're from Buenos Aires? That's a lovely city - what part are you from?" and there you go.

3. Watching movies will be a lot cooler. Trust me, watching Lost in Translation after being in Tokyo is fantastic. And if you visit New York City the amount of movies you'll quickly come to understand better are nearly endless. London is a great city to visit if you enjoy 28 Days Later or 28 Weeks Later.

4. You know - there's also the endless moments of self enlightenment, and personal growth, and spiritual actualization, if that's what you're into. It will also help you break down barriers and understand other cultures... but - really, is that what you want? I mean, after all, you can be The Asshole for the rest of your life. What's spiritual enlightenment compared to that?


  1. Brilliant things (to be continued)

    4. The more information, understanding, and knowledge of various cultures and nations as well as the world will enrich you forever!

    This is why travelling is so great, imo.

  2. Well, inspite of the 7 reasons you gave on why it's a terrible idea, the 4 reasons listed under why it's brilliant still manages to attract many RTW folks when even though it doesn't make much mathematical sense. But I guess, that's the magic of travel...Sure, it may not make sense why we put our lives on hold and our jobs in jeopardy so we can see the world, but I strongly believe that it is part of the human DNA to explore, to migrate, to learn. If our forefathers didn't explore, would we still all be clustered in one land (say, Africa) instead of covering much of the earth's land mass? In a way, it's a survival instinct. Our predecessors foraged for food and they all moved and migrated in the search for those things that would sustain them. Today, our lives are probably more complex, but that same DNA that pushes us to forage may be related to why we feel the need to travel!

  3. inmyownplace: that really is why travelling is so important, and you do gain so much from it. Just having spent a week in Tokyo has offered me countless numbers of stories, and insights. I can honestly not imagine what I'll be like, or think like, after this year is done.

    jen laceda: I've never actually thought of it that way, but that's so very true. I'm going to put quite a bit of thought into that. By the way, did you get your Ethiopian food?

  4. Very good post showing "both sides," which makes you credible. But travelers are dreamers, so for many, the 4 will always outweigh the 7. I found your blog through Folie a Deux and it is intriguing, so I'll make sure to keep checking in.

  5. I very much hope that people keep finding the 4 (actually not the first one, more or less just the 4th reason alone) weighs out all the others put together.

  6. I went on a similar half year round the world trip two and a half years ago when I was in my late twenties. Visited 13 countries and 25 cities in that time and without a doubt, it was the best half year of my life. Looking back, I would not trade that experience for any job or monetary payment I would have gained by staying.

    I think late twenties is the optimal time to do this.
    - you now have some money to don't have to rough it when you don't feel like it
    - you are still young enough to get maximum enjoyment out of your experiences
    - You have several years of work experience so finding a job when you get back in easier
    - I think you appreciate all your experiences more as you know this may be the last opportunity to do so before house/family chapter

    I truly hope that everyone who dreams of round the world travel doesn't let an opporuntity to do so pass you by. It was something that stewed inside me for many years and if I never acted on my dreams, it would probably have been the biggest regret of my life.

    Happy travels.


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