I have been travelling constantly since December 2012. It has been an incredible journey, albeit a tiring one at times. This extended travel has taught me many things about living life on the road. Is it easy – no; is it enjoyable – mostly yes; is it recommended – definitely yes!
Long or extended travel is anything over six weeks. The reason for this definition is that after six weeks you begin to live life on the road – one must purchase new toiletries, get a haircut, replace clothes and the like. Before that time you can rely on everything brought from home – but not so after.
Slow Travel If travelling for an extended period at the same pace as on a shorter holiday, you will quickly become exhausted. If you have the time, use it. Instead of trying to see five cities in two weeks, why not stay in the one place for a week or even longer. Not only is this a cheaper way of travel, but it allows one to gain a deeper understanding of the places visited.
If staying in one place for long, negotiate directly with them to organise a discount for extended stays. Most times you will receive a favourable response.
Taking a Break Even if travelling slowly, eventually a point will be reached where you no longer want to unpack and repack your bags. Your only desire it to stay in one place and do nothing. If you feel this way, then listen to what your mind and body are saying and stop. Find a decent place in a location to truly relax and be pampered if that is your desire. Don’t keep pushing along the travel road if you are getting so weary that the experience is no longer enjoyable.
Establish a Base You don’t want to carry heavy winter clothes to a hot destination, and likewise, not bring your summer clothes to a cold one. You will accumulate a lot of possessions during extended travel because you need to cater for a range of different environments and situations. It is not possible to carry it all. Try to have a base (or two) where you can leave some of your belongings.
My base is Dubai due to its central location to Europe, Africa, Asia and Middle East and the fact that most of work occurs in the city. I rent a storage shed where all my belongings not currently needed are kept. It obviously costs some money to maintain this storage facility but it is far preferable to carting it around the globe and incurring numerous and more costly excess baggage charges.
Another thing to consider is where to get important mail delivered. For example, receiving a replacement credit/debit card is going to require a physical address. If you are staying in one place for long and know the staff well, see if you can use their address for such vital correspondence.
Medical Matters This is an issue with anyone who requires regular medication. If you travel for extended periods, your medication is going to run out or expire. You may find the same medication, but it is likely to be offered with a different name or not at all. Talk to your usual doctor before you leave to find the alternative names for your medications. Another option is to talk with an overseas doctor or pharmacist and they can suggest an alternative. Of course you must have great travel insurance (see below).
Establish a Normal Life This becomes important after very long period of travel (one year or more). Remember the small things that made your life at home comfortable? Try to replicate this on the road. For example, board games make me relax. It’s not possible to carry large games, but I can carry smaller, lighter ones. If you love music, then purchase an MP3 with a substantial memory so that you have a vast range of music to listen during your travels. Have you thought about bringing your favourite incense? What about a collection of your favourite recipes for those times you have access to a kitchen? When travelling for long periods, you want some semblance of normality after a while – and these small items can help.