A Dangerous Method for Planning Long Term Travel

Long Term Travel
Another trademark Yomadic metaphorical picture. This one from Banyuwangi, East Java, Indonesia.

Not so long ago I journeyed for six months, with Phillipa, through three continents and a bucket-load of countries. It was a test. A fun test to be sure, but a valid method of providing real experience to know that long term travel is for me. It’s not for everyone. Is it for you? Well, just give it a go, you’ll soon find out. As the six months drew to a close, we were both in total agreement that we should “just keep on going”. Travelling felt great. It felt right. Alas, real life awaited. Since our return, we have spent the last 6-12 months preparing ourselves for a longer journey. Fortunately, it’s going to take me years to see all that I want to see.

Less prescriptive, more descriptive. That was the advice I got this week, in my weekly email and twitter round of “pestering people who’s journalistic and photographic work I admire”. It’s good advice. Really good advice. It’s not that I don’t have good, prescriptive, travel advice to give. My travel experience is extensive by some measures (I must be well into a hundred+ visits to other countries), and yet by other measures, I’m inexperienced. Apart from my home country of Australia, I have never spent more than three months straight in any other country. I still have a lot to learn about the world. Top Ten travel lists, I can do. Opening up about myself, and explaining why I’m doing this, and describing what I’m feeling, I’m not so great at.

Here on Yomadic, I’m still searching for that happy medium between providing advice about travel in general – and what parts of me I need to share with you, in order to make this story more complete. I’m searching for that balance every week, until I nail it. You may be planning your own journey, you might be neck-deep in the middle of your own adventure, or maybe you’re daydreaming about that “one day” when you get your turn (hey, we’ve all been there). Either way, Yomadic is for you. If you don’t get anything out of this blog, then there’s really is no point in me continuing. Learning about the world, and about yourself, is Yomadic’s raison d’être.

I know long term travel is for me. Now, I’m in the preparation-for-departure stage. No, this isn’t an article about “this is what’s in my backpack, this is how I booked my ticket, this is…”. I’ll save you the time reading a bunch of other articles about packing, with another Yomadic Two-Step-Program™, on how to pack for long term travel:

1. Put your things in a backpack. If you find you have too much stuff in your backpack, take some stuff out, and donate it to a local charity.

2. If you forgot to pack something, buy it on the road. They have shops all over the world these days.

As for the nuts and bolts of how I prepare for long term travel planning?

What happened to me as I slept last night, may help give you an insight to my methods.

Last night, I had a travel-dream.

There was a crescent-shaped bay, white sand, a shore dense with palm trees, and salty turquoise water. The most fantastic tropical paradise. Without thinking, I just jumped straight into the water. It was deep enough to dive far underwater, and I felt the perfect warmth of the sea. I came up from under, I looked around, and saw Phillipa in the water next to me. She was smiling, a content smile, as if she knew what I was going to say. I knew she didn’t know where she was. And, I had no idea where we were either.

I was confused. I looked up at the sand, and saw a black man, smiling, peaceful. Immediately, I thought, I must be in Africa. I had this overwhelming feeling, that this was the world’s most perfect location. In my dream, I knew I was in a dream. I knew, I was dreaming about this location, because in the awake world I am in the middle of my travel planning. But, I didn’t know where I was. This was paradise. Perfection. I could even smell some seafood being grilled further down the beach.

“Hey. Wassup. Um, where am I?” The man on the sand smiled. He nodded. But, he didn’t answer. I repeated my question, growing more and more desperate each time. I needed to know where this location was. But, he wouldn’t tell me. Finally, he laughed, and said “you don’t know where you are, mon?“. I managed to explain to him that I wasn’t actually “there”, that I was dreaming, and he needed to tell me where I was, before I woke up. It was crucial that he tell me, and fast. I could feel myself waking up.

Finally, he said it. “You’re in Mozambique, mon”. The rest of the dream was a strange mish-mash of reality and google street view, trying to pin-point the precise location of the Mozambique beach. I never found it. But, when I awoke this morning, I looked at Phillipa and said “we’re going to Mozambique”. And that, is pretty typical of how I plan my travels.

I have the first destination figured out (it will be revealed soon). I’m going to spend about a month there, and then move on. It’s not Mozambique. I have another country decided upon, that I’ll be heading to by the end of the second month. Absurdly, the distance between the two countries, is over 18,000 kilometres (11,000 miles). Obviously, there is a lot in-between. But, by not defining a beginning, an end, or even a “home”, the journey will remain spontaneous and more than likely, more interesting.

These past few weeks, I have a swirl of feelings and emotions. There is guilt. Nervousness. Excitement. At times, it can be close to overwhelming. My guilt, I would need a psychologist to explain to me. I have always had enormous empathy for the “underdogs” in life. I’ve seen what it’s like to live poor. Really poor, as in $1 a day poor. It’s not great. So, I have these feelings of “why should I get to go on this amazing journey, when others have life so rough?”.

I’m really not entertained by money, I have dreams of having nothing but the shirt on my back at some point in my future life. I’m one of those people who wishes he could fix the entire world. I don’t believe war, hunger, or violence, are requirements of the “modern” world, and it’s time we sorted that out. Oh, trust me, I have only begun to rant. I have strong and unwavering opinions about money, government, religion, and I’m not afraid to push a few buttons when I feel the urge. Stick around, I can’t hold this in forever.

The nervousness and excitement sits hand-in-hand. There’s nothing in specific I’m nervous about – it’s just a natural human response to the unknown, and not having answers to even my own questions. Most nights, when I lay down to go to sleep, a few thoughts swirl in my mind, and then I’m out like a light. But, about once or twice a month, for the last few months, it takes me hours to get to sleep. On those nights, I’m thinking about what a great time I’ll have, and where should I go to. I also dwell on financial considerations, much to my annoyance.

But not once, not in the slightest, have I felt anything other than complete commitment to the journey.

So, I hope that answers a few questions people have. I do have some prescriptive advice for success in life and travel, taken (and slightly modified) from one of my favourite movies:

Try and be nice to people, avoid eating too much fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.


PS, I’m very glad I didn’t dream about Somalia, that could have introduced some safety issues. Later this week, I’ll show you exactly what happened last time I ignored safety issues. It’s a little post I call “Guns, people’s uprisings, Phillipa gets sent back to the hotel, and Nate gets run over by a Motorbike”* 

*title to be confirmed.

BTW, I would love to send you the next dispatch, posted from some-where random around this planet (and you'll soon find out why YOMADIC email followers are my favourite followers):

26 thoughts on “A Dangerous Method for Planning Long Term Travel

    1. haha I have actually sat down and researched Afghanistan. Seriously, there is something wrong with me Tracey. But, Phillipa just tags along. Wait until you read the upcoming story, of what I put her though when we travel.

  1. I thought of Afghanistan too when you mentioned safety issue, especially when I just finished reading a novel set in war-torn Afghanistan. I googled the map of AF and look for the places mentioned in the book. I have been paying much attention to the AF news. Obviously, you are not the only one who thinks something’s wrong with you. :)

    PS, thoroughly enjoy reading your blog & like the way you write.

    PPS, you make me curious about your partner, Philipa, let’s introduce her to us :)

    1. Thanks for the really kind words, Mandy. Hmm…seems I’m not the only one reading about Afghanistan – we are kindred travel spirits ;) Oh, and sooner or later, I will make sure there is an introduction.

  2. All good thoughts! John is the spontaneous traveller between us; pretty sure he just dreams up what he wants to do every day as well ;)

  3. Love this post… though definitely not all things are easy to buy on the road, depends where you are and what you need! The longer we stayed abroad the more that started to become a pain in the arse (clothing and decent shoes, that were affordable for one thing :) But you learn to adapt, and that’s all part of the adventure!

    The dream thing… classic, and I’d love to visit Mozambique as well someday! Best, Molly

    1. Yes, I have found some things to be difficult to buy on the road as well… underwear when in SE Asia for one. No further comment on this topic ;) Fortunately, most things are easy enough to get, as long as we remain adaptable, as you say. Thanks for stopping by Molly, hope to see you here again. Nate.

  4. Excellent! Just be you and the “how to” will come(if it hasn’t already). Just be honest. You’re all set.

    Talk about following your dreams . . . but I can’t blame you. This is how some of us are. It’s a good thing.

    On the poverty issue. I am slowly coming to grips with the idea that we really can’t do to much to help those in dire need by ourselves. The issues are to big for individuals – we need masses. Maybe your role is not to save those that live on a $1 a day, but to teach those that live on $100’s a day that they can change, and through that change, we can all make an impact. Doesn’t that make sense on some level? I don’t know. We tend to all want to feel bad and dig wells. Yes, that helps. But unless we all change, there will always be another well to dig.

    Go to Africa and let others know they can go as well. That will change a lot.

    Great post Nate! Can’t wait to see your travels unfold.

    1. Damn it Justin, why didn’t I work in a “following my dreams” joke! How did I miss that one ;) Your words are really thought provoking – I know that you’re probably right – I can use this blog as a tool to inform people that there is another way in life, and that collectively, we can make a difference.

  5. Hey Nate,

    Like I said before, without an interesting story arch, there’s no point in reading. It’s *your* story that’s make the blog worth reading. :)

  6. I struggled with the same on my blog, at first I wrote a lot of information about places and it was so boring and one day I wrote a very personal post and realized people wanted to hear more about me.

    But it’s a slippery slope, once you start sharing a bit of yourself people want all of it :)

    1. Thanks Ayngelina – I really appreciate hearing from people who have “been there, done that”. I completely understand about “the slippery slope”… but, I’ve got sure feet, and it will probably take me a while to head down that slope ;) Your blog is great, make sure you realise you genuinely deserve all the attention you’re getting!

  7. Hi Nate,

    Great post. I’m trying to work out the balance between fact and feeling in blogging at the moment too. Less prescriptive, more descriptive is a good mantra to keep in mind. Might have to borrow that one!

    Trying to find a voice in a busy world of travel bloggers isn’t easy.

    Your site is beautiful by the way. Love the minimalist design, Easy to read, great photos.


  8. G’day Nate! Love this post, you have totally become my travel hero. You’re doing exactly what I want to do and you’re saying a lot of the things I’m thinking. I think you’re doing a great job “revealing” yourself, just go with what you’re comfortable with. Can’t wait to hear more about your upcoming travels.

    1. Thanks Noelle…what a nice thing to say! I hope I can live up to your lofty expectations ;) More info on the travels, coming soon…

  9. Do what the experts say resonate with you? I think you’re doing great with what you have going with your photos and descriptions. Not everyone is overly touchy-emotionally feely. Sometimes it’s hard to put great experiences into words. Just do the best you can and keep it from the heart and don’t pay too much attention to what others want. I never do–I just “do me”. Works out fine. ;-)

    1. Cheers Amberr…as time goes on, I think it will become quite clear that I just “do me” as well. Always appreciate you popping in and giving me your tips.

  10. Man, I wish I had your dreams.

    I don’t know how many times Darcie and I have picked somewhere random for absolutely no reason at all…

    … then we spend a few months planning our a route, which then goes out the window as soon as we get there.

    Can’t wait to hear about Mozambique!

  11. haha cheers Adam. I must say, that wasn’t a regular dream ;) It sounds like you and Darcie travel in a very similar way to myself and Phillipa. Little planning makes things interesting!

  12. I love the Yomadic Two-Step-Program™. Haha! I definitely think that people put too much thought (and too many things) into what they pack. I know because I’ve definitely been guilty of this before!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *