I know that traveling full-time sounds fascinating – you get to explore new places, bring your home everywhere you go, try new foods, meet new people, and more.
But, it's not always beaches, mountains, and other beautiful landscapes.
I’m definitely not complaining and I am very thankful for the life I get to live. However, while I once believed that full-time travel was the greatest thing ever, lately I have been feeling oh so tired!
Over the last few months, I have seen countless friends and travelers that I know stop traveling full-time, all for various reasons. And, each time someone quits, I have stopped and thought about my own life and full-time traveling journey.
I want to bring this up because I know that so many people who travel full-time feel that they are the only ones having a hard time – struggling with loneliness, dealing with broken RV or boat parts, feeling tired, and so on.
I think that if more people realized that these feelings are normal, then they could push past the hard parts and enjoy the fun parts even more.
Traveling full-time is amazing but it’s not for everyone. And over the years, I've had plenty of people tell me that they could never travel full-time, and I always thought those people were absolutely crazy.
“WHAT?! Why wouldn't you want to travel full-time?”
But, after so many years of being location independent (since 2013), I'm finally starting to understand why some of the RVers and sailors I’ve met start to slow down or stop traveling all together.
And until recently, I had a hard time answering a question I often receive, “What do you NOT like about full-time travel?”
While the first couple of months of full-time travel were a difficult transition, the following years have been glorious and amazing. But like I said, I’m starting to understand some of the downsides.
Still, traveling full-time has many, many positives. I wouldn't be doing it unless I thought it was amazing! You can read about all of the reasons why I love full-time travel below:
- Why I Love Living In A Vehicle
- Why would you make $100,000+ a month and live in an RV?
- My Year In Review – Looking Back at 2018 and Looking Forward to 2019!
Today, I'm going to talk about the downsides of full-time travel. And while I don't see us stopping full-time travel anytime soon, these are all things that you may want to think about before you decide it’s the lifestyle for you.
Being away from friends and family.
I don't think I've been back “home” to Missouri in over a year, and even then, it was only for a few days during a stopover before getting our boat. I can't even remember the last time I saw my friends from home. It's also been forever since I've seen our family!
While we have visitors occasionally, it's very different from regular get togethers with friends and family at home.
I still remember the day that we sold our house in Missouri – I cried and I was so sad to move away! Even though I looked forward to our new adventure, it was hard to leave everything that I was familiar with.
That being said, we have made great friends both on the road and in the boating community.
But, since most these people also travel, we eventually have to say our goodbyes and will probably never see those people again, no matter how great the friendship is. I still fondly remember saying goodbye to an RV neighbor we once had. We didn't speak to each other a ton, but we loved sharing our past experiences with one another. I really loved hearing about the amazing life our RV neighbors lived. When it was time to separate, this 87-year-old man, who barely knew us, had tears in his eyes.
And, this happens all the time! It's difficult making friends when you know that it's going to be over soon.
Dealing with a literal broken home.
When something is broken in a “normal” home, you can typically still use your home, sleep in it, and have no other worries.
Yes, you may still have the stress of money and trying to fix it, but dealing with a broken moving home, such as an RV or boat, can lead to a lot more things, such as:
- Getting into an accident because something is broken (such as a flat tire, blown engine, etc.).
- Not being able to sleep in your home because it's in the shop, which can lead to even more expenses, scrambling to find somewhere to sleep, and more.
- Putting your life at risk in order to repair the issue (this is more-so true on a boat than an RV, because with an RV you can just pull over, but it's more difficult to do that on a boat).
Then there's the whole boats and RVs just aren't made the way that homes are, so they are literally just broken all the time. This is true whether your RV/boat is brand new or if it's 50 years old – there's just always a long list of things to maintain and items to replace and/or add.
Get used to being uncomfortable.
Many people have a very specific routine that they go through every day, whether they want to admit it or not.
After all, humans are creatures of habit.
When traveling full-time, it can be very difficult to establish anything that even remotely resembles a routine. This is because most days are different, life can be dependent on the weather, things break, and so on.
Here are some instances in which you may have to change the way you live while traveling full-time:
- Using less water. In a normal house, the average person uses around 100 gallons of water a day. If you are a full-time traveler (in an RV or boat for example), you will need to learn how to live with less water, unless you're at a campground or marina.
- Dealing with dirty clothes. If you don't have laundry aboard, then you will have to find laundromats. Yes, I realize that many people use public laundromats, but when you’re traveling it can be hard to find laundromats at each place you visit.
- Learning new cultures, laws, rules, etc. so that you don't do something stupid.
- Not speaking the language of wherever you are.
- Feeling sick? You'll most likely not be around a doctor you know, and you may have to go to a doctor in another country who speaks a language that you don’t understand.
- Have pets or kids? There's a whole lot more planning that goes into full-time travel once you add either (or both) into the mix.
And more! While those reasons may seem petty, those things can really test your comfort level and are why many people stop traveling full-time.
Not having a home base.
Okay, so our sailboat is our home, as was our RV.
But, there is something to be said about having a home base – as in one that doesn't move.
For me, I do dream of one day having a home with a beautiful mountain and/or valley view, a garden, and a place to stop and refresh after a fun trip.
I don't see myself quitting traveling forever, but being able to relax at home without having to move it sounds nice in the future.
I'm seeing more and more RVers purchase homes/property that have full hookups, so that they can stay in one spot and rest for a few months in a row. I've also met quite a few sailors who do the same for hurricane season each year.
Not having room for all of your stuff.
Another positive of having a home base is having room for all of your things!
The reality is that even a minimalist will have stuff.
When we downsized our house and belongings to move into our RV, we rented a storage unit for a few months to help us deal with some things that we still had but couldn’t fit into the RV. While it was helpful at the time, we are now really happy that we got rid of our storage unit.
I won't lie, though, just a few months ago, we were talking about whether or not we should get a small storage unit again for some of the gear we have (bikes, bikes, and more bikes, and other outdoor gear) and things that we have collected over the past few years while traveling.
But, we've decided not to.
Related content: 8 Lessons I've Learned From Living With Less Stuff
The amount of trash in the world will make you sad.
I'm not perfect, and I realize that I'm contributing to the worldwide trash crisis. But, traveling full-time in beautiful places and seeing so much trash everywhere is a real eye-opener.
I hate seeing all the trash, and traveling full-time makes it a little more difficult to live sustainably. Sure, a sailboat can be powered by the wind and solar panels, but other forms of travel aren't as eco-friendly. And, when you're traveling in certain countries, they may not be as eco-friendly as you’d hope (you may get plastic plates with your food and items in the grocery store may come with a crazy amount of plastic packaging).
Sometimes I dream of having a sustainable home, one that runs on solar and has a bountiful garden.
Related content: Save Your Money And Avoid A Storage Unit
There are so many decisions.
When living on a boat, so much of your life is controlled by the weather. Once you arrive to a new anchorage or marina, you're pretty much already thinking about your next spot, which can even happen the following day (depending on the weather).
There are so many decisions that you have to make as a full-time traveler, whether you are by suitcase, vehicle, or boat, such as where you'll be living the following week, where you'll be able to walk the dogs (or, if you're even allowed to bring them), how you'll school your children, how you'll get food/groceries, dealing with checking in and out of countries, route planning, figuring out when/where to get fuel, water, where to dump, and more.
Full-time travel means that you have to plan everything full-time!
How much longer will I travel full-time?
After reading all of the above, I'm sure some of you think that I might be about to quit this lifestyle.
Well, don't hold your breath – I have no plans of quitting this life of travel any time soon.
The grass is always greener on the other side, and there are positives and negatives to each.
I absolutely love full-time travel for many reasons, such as:
- Getting to travel – DUH! I love being able to go to new places, find new hikes, try new food, meet locals, see beautiful landscapes, and more. This world is a beautiful place and I want to see it all!
- You can explore off the beaten path places because you have a lot more time to see everything. This is probably my most favorite part of full-time traveling! I love just stopping for a break, realizing that we found something amazing, and staying for as long as we want.
- You can bring your home to places that people can't get to by plane, which leads to more travel options and you can stay in these places even longer. And, you never have to pack! Okay, well you kind of have to pack your home up but at least you know that you'll never forget anything at home, haha.
- You can live by the beach, mountains, desert, and anywhere else.
- You can spend more time outside.
And so much more.
While it does take some effort to make this lifestyle work, I wouldn't trade it for the world.
The thought of no longer traveling is something that scares me since we've been doing it for so long. Would we really enjoy being “home” most of the time? Would sitting still for long periods of time drive us crazy? Would we regret the change and go back to full-time travel life?
While it seems like a dumb thing to be afraid of, I know of many people who stopped traveling and felt lost, experienced culture shock, and were not happy. Full-time travel and house life are two lifestyles that are so very different.
Now, I know that some of you may take this as one big complaint of a blog post, but I am definitely not complaining about the life that I live! I know that many people live much more difficult lives, and I am very grateful for mine. In this blog post, though, I am hoping to help others make the transition smoothly and be aware of the possible downsides.
If you're interested in long-term travel, please read Want To Be A Full-Time Traveler? 13 Ways To Make It Happen.
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