This tightly compacted city holds some of Cambodia’s best food and most tragic history. Without knowing its past of civil war and genocide, you would think Cambodians and Phnom Penhers in particular were just really friendly people. Once you learn their history and realize that everyone you see was affected by the notorious Khmer Rouge in the 1970s in one way or another, then you know they’re more than just friendly; they’re admirable. Visiting Phnom Penh is easy if you’re already in Southeast Asia. Cambodia can be overlooked and a lot of visitors only see Siem Reap in the north to visit the temples of Angkor Wat then move on, but Phnom Penh is the heart of the country and merits a visit all its own.
If there is one thing about long-term travel that is underestimated, it is the challenges that come with it. Living indefinitely on the road is not always wonderful. Sometimes it requires choices that are painful and challenging. Do not get me wrong. I love long-term travel, but in all honesty it is not a lifestyle made for everyone.
I have talked to dozens of writers, travelers, and bloggers all over the world.
Many of these people love traveling equally if not more than me, but even so many have told me that long-term travel is not for them, and there is no shame in that fact.
However, for those of us that pursue this lifestyle, the rewards are great. Let’s delve into some of the challenges and rewards that come from living on the road long-term.
I want to tread carefully here because I don’t want to discredit or insult the hundreds of friendships I have made while traveling. All of the friendships I have made are meaningful and unique. I have met up with some of these friends time and again in different countries. Some of the most meaningful relationships that have impacted my life in irreversible ways have been made while traveling. I cherish these deep friendships and always look forward to when the road brings us back together.
However, most relationships made while traveling are normally the product of random encounters or out of convenience. Unless you are staying in the same place for a long period of time, many of these friendships are brief, yet intense. Basically, bonds of friendship are formed quickly but before you know it, that person is on the other side of the planet and you have to start again.
Another aspect that is encountered while traveling long-term is growing apart from childhood friends. Staying in touch is difficult because of hectic routines and different time zones. Due to the brevity of on the road friendships and growing apart from your lifelong friends sometimes makes you feel completely alone. It can almost be overwhelming as if not a soul in the world truly knows or understands you.
Long-term travelers watch every penny they spend. This means that they are likely to be living in hostel dorm rooms and taking overnight buses.
Therefore, privacy is something that is rare and many times in order to be polite, you have to talk to people when you would just rather read a book, write in your journal, or close your eyes and take a nap.
It can be very frustrating when people turn on the lights at 3 A.M. or use your shoulder as a comfortable pillow on an overnight bus ride.
The reward of no privacy is that you meet interesting people from all over the world. You learn about different cultures and customs first hand and with vivid details. You are also forced to break out of your shell and talk to anyone about almost anything for hours.
Plus, waking up in a new place is an exhilarating feeling. One of my favorite travel quotes states “To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark
There are many long-term travel couples out there; I am just not one of them. For me dating is something from the past. When you are constantly on the move, having a relationship is not just tough, it is practically impossible.
Honestly, I have ended great relationships with girls I really care about, and vice versa, because our lives were headed in different directions. I did not expect them to change their lives for me and I knew I could not change my life for them.
I’m not going to lie; there have been times where I have accomplished a goal, got to a destination I have dreamed about, or have been watching a sunset, and in the back of my mind I wished someone was there to share it with me.
This challenge varies from person to person, however, I know for me to accomplish the goals I have set, I need to be alone. The benefit is that I can focus on my goals, go where I want, and when I want. Every new adventure, every foreign country, and every fulfilled dream leads me closer to my goals and vision.
Long-term travel is not easy. It is a lifestyle that demands as much as it gives.
For me the rewards out way the challenges. The simplicity and beauty of this life gives me fulfillment and peace. I never grow tired of seeing other countries, interacting with other cultures, and exploring this wonderful planet.
If it is a life-style that appeals to you, I urge you to take the leap.
Stephen Schreck has conquered the challenges of long-term traveler, and has experienced its grand rewards. You can follow his travels around the world on A Backpackers Tale.
Melbourne, Australia has become my second home. Known for its café culture, four seasons in a day and city of all things sport, this special place has a lot to offer. In the city, there’s the hubbub of business, culture, life, eateries, endless laneways and riverfront activities. Just a short tram ride away gets you the seaside feel of the Docklands, Chapel Street’s boutique shopping and the drool-worthy dessert shop delights of St. Kilda’s Ackland Street. However, there’s a world of adventure beyond Melbourne’s CBD. In only a short amount of time, all sorts of modes of transport take you to exciting destinations around Victoria. Within a day you can dip your toes in the sand of beautiful beaches, explore the Great Ocean Road, eat fish and chips near the Little Penguins of Phillip Island or get up close and personal with native wildlife at Healesville Sanctuary. Be it beach or adventure, koala cuddles or penguin kisses, seaside retreats or gold mining treasures, restaurants or road trips or all of the above- Melbourne’s surrounds have you covered.
Hike and Discover
Adventures await in Melbourne. A short trip by train or two-hour journey by car finds you in Ballarat. Sovereign Hill, Ballarat’s interactive outdoor museum appeals to visitors of all ages. Pan for gold, dip a candle, visit the blacksmith and spend your day reliving the city’s gold rush period. There are underground tours, hands-on experiences and a gem museum that adds extra sparkle to the trip. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy Mt. Dandenong. Less than an hour’s car ride outside of the city sit quaint mountain towns, hiking trails, fresh mountain air and artistry unlike any other. You can hike up the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk’s thousand steps to happily earn sweet treats in one of the many adorable cafes. Areas of Sassafrass and Olinda are filled with cafes (my favourite: Miss Marple’s Tea Room) lolly shops, toy shops, tea shops and more that delight your fancy.
Artists, dreamers, believers, creatives and naturalists can wile away the hours at the William Rickets Sanctuary. Meander through the trees to find incredible carvings and artistry all made by one man. Revering native Aboriginal culture and believing strongly in the lives, stories and message of its people, William Rickets creates unimaginable artwork through tree sculpting. Both the poetry and design exude the magic, trust, wonder, reverence and beauty that is nature.
Journey to the Seaside
Melbourne’s Yarra River flows through the center of the city. Festivals, fireworks and fun happen along the water daily. Searching for a greater view, that specific scent, picturesque coastline, sailboat sightings or just an expedition all your own-Melbourne has that, too. A quick ferry ride away lies the charming seaside town of Williamstown. With its laid back vibe, quaint boutiques, quirky cafes and ice cream shoppes, Williamstown offers a perfect retreat from the buzz of the city. Explorers for a day or a week can experience the rush of life alongside the Great Ocean Road. Deliriously daunting cliffside views halt drivers in their tracks, forcing a stop, look and photo session at each of its thousand twists and turns. Go for a day, stay for a night or ride all the way to Adelaide-no matter the distance, the Great Ocean Road doesn’t disappoint. Gorgeous beaches line the roadside as seaside towns invite you to taste their splendid fish and chips or take part in their endless outdoor activities.
If you’re visiting and missing the roar of the ocean, Melbourne’s beaches are for you. Whichever direction you choose to head, there are waves just waiting to wash over wiggling, happy sand-laden toes. Visit Portsea and Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula to take in the main streets of the towns while hiking down to local beaches to watch surfers find the sweet spots on the many waves. Want a fun train trip and colourful backdrop to stunning white capped waves, hit Brighton for the day where the iconic Beach Boxes are just as much the draw as the sun and the sea. Looking to add a little wildlife adventure to your day on the sand? Take the two-hour drive to Phillip Island to experience the fish and chips, endless scenic views and the Little Penguin Parade. Channel your inner penguin as you wait patiently for some of the world’s cutest creatures to pop out of the water at dusk and waddle their way past your camera lens and back to their burrows for their evening slumber.
Nature, Wildlife, Wine and Cheese
Whether you’re in it for the wine, cheese, or kangaroo cuddles, the Yarra Valley is for you. Filled with lush eye-catching scenery, wineries by the dozen and cafes galore, this bucolic area lies a short distance from the hustle and bustle of one of Australia’s busy cities. If you’re interested in getting up close and personal to native wildlife, spend a day at Healesville Sanctuary. This interactive nature sanctuary is home to heaps of Australian wildlife. Whether you fancy feeding a wallaby, chatting with a kangaroo, counting the quills of an echidna or just relishing time spent with the friendly animals; a day at Healesville will put a smile on the faces of guests both young and old.
For more of Stacey’s musings visit her website.
As far as European cities, Paris isn’t the cheapest, but there are some simple tricks and strategies that can keep your Paris budget to around $60 a day within the city. For instance, I stay in hostel dorms, walk whenever I can, and alternate between eating out and cooking my meals.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?
I went to a French film in Paris. It was a very odd experience. I didn’t understand the plot and unfortunately, they had no English subtitles so I found myself guessing throughout the movie. In truth, French Cinema is very strange compared to what I am used to. Even the atmosphere of a theater in Paris has a strange feel to it.
Describe a typical day
Today I woke up with the number one goal of walking to the Eiffel Tower, a formidable feat from my hostel on Crimée Street. Now, I realize that you are probably asking, “Why walk?”. The answer is simple. There is no better way to get a feel for a city and culture than by walking it.
So I wake up early and begin my leisurely stroll through the quiet cobblestone streets and tiny alleyways. The scent of world-renowned fresh bread and doughy pastries fills the air, instantly sending hunger pains into my stomach.
I step into the first open cafe and order a frothy cappuccino and delicious chocolate filled croissant; a breakfast meant for savoring. Eventually, the urge to beat the massive crowds spurs my feet into action, and I start walking until I reach the river, Seine.
Following the river, I am soon greeted by one of my favorite sights in Paris: Notre Dame. This gothic cathedral is a marvel, towering over every building in the area. Every time I am in Paris, I happily get stuck at this wonderful monument.
Each time I visit, my mind travels back in time to centuries past and all the history that happened here. Although I’m eager to get to the Eiffel tower, there are two more stops I can’t pass up on the way.
The first is the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, where personal literary heroes of mine including legendary Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce would often gather to sip brandy and discuss life.
The next stop is the Louvre and the gorgeous gardens surrounding it. Every time I look at the Pyramide du Louvre, I imagine future travelers visiting this glass pyramid and standing in awe, much the same way I do today as I fly around the globe looking at historical sights such as the Collosuem.
The gardens surrounding the Louvre are filled with Greek statues and modern art.
It is a beautiful clash of the ancient with the modern and appeals to the history buff inside of me. I could stay here all day, but I know it is time to move on so I start on the last leg of my journey, an hour walk to the Eiffel Tower.
Although I don’t have any other major stops along the way, I do briefly pause to browse the wares in the stalls along the river.
Approaching the Eiffel Tower, I can’t help but be impressed once again by its size and beauty.
It is the middle of the afternoon now, and while I didn’t make it to the Eiffel tower as early as I planned, I still can’t resist the urge to wait in line to take the elevator to the top. You see, from the top of this beautiful metal wonder, you get an overwhelming view of this grand city.
Paris is a city that holds a lot of charm and romance even if you are traveling solo, and I can’t help but visit the city over and over again. It has become like meeting an old friend that I embrace with great fondness every time I visit.
Conversing with locals.
Most of the magic that happens while traveling is in the unexpected conversations. Some of the best use no or very little common language and is conducted simply by body motions. Personally, I like eating at hole-in-the-wall diners, shopping at local street stands, and getting off the tourist track. I soon discovered how important it was to know how to communicate without words.
The last interesting conversation I had with a local was in a small restaurant in France trying to ask directions.
The older gentleman didn’t speak any English and shamefully, I don’t speak any French. Thus, we had about a ten minute conversation that involved me trying to explain where I wanted to go and him drawing me a map covered with French writing.
Believe it or not, he was more than willing to help. He laughed a lot, made a few jokes, and wished me well all through body language.
I love communicating this way because it shows that language doesn’t have to be a barrier. Locals want you to enjoy their country and even though this man knew I did not understand his words, he found a way to communicate. I walked away smiling; humanity did not disappoint.
I cannot tell you how many friends I’ve made in countries all over the globe where I do not know a person’s name. I do not know if they are married, have kids, or what they do for a living; however, I do know their kindness and their character because they have helped me when I needed it the most without a second thought. Traveling shows you the goodness of people despite language barriers and culture differences.
What do you like about where you are? Dislike?
Paris isn’t about the sights. It is about the food, the people, and the wine. Things I like about Paris are strolling the streets, shopping at the stands, sitting in coffee houses, and kicking back with the locals.
One thing I hated at first, but now enjoy, is the rude waiters. Paris is known for its rude waiters, something I didn’t know at first and found rather confusing. Soon though, I realized that it is just part of the culture and now I just smile when I experience it.
What was your latest challenge?
This wasn’t my latest challenge but one worth mentioning since it involves Paris. In all honesty, the first time I visited Paris was horrible. I showed up on a late night bus in a bad part of town with no place to sleep and nowhere to go during one of the most chaotic times for the city. Luckily it all worked out, but the first few days where rough. Plus, it was my birthday and after the first night, I felt like I wanted to be anywhere but Paris.
It took me a while to feel out what the city was about. Of course, once I did, I fell in love.
What new lessons has Paris taught you?
Paris has taught me a few things. One being to always book accommodations ahead of time as it is a massive travel hub for the UK and Europe. Many hostels are booked out all year round. Travelers should book accommodations a least a month in advance or might risk taking a train to the airport just to get a safe night’s sleep.
Take my advice; I have done that on more than one occasion and it is an experience I don’t want to repeat.
Next I am headed to my all time favorite country in the world, Italy. I am a history buff and what better place to visit than a country that was the center of the world for two thousand years.
If any of you have become regular readers of “Business Insider”, you might have have read about an incredible $74 round-trip price from Newark to London in business class. In their article on February 11 at 8:39 am they had the following things to say about this “deal.”
This might be the deal of the year.
United Airlines is offering travelers first-class tickets from London to Newark, roundtrip, for 487 Danish krone. At 6.58 krone per dollar, that comes out to $74. Newark is just minutes outside of New York City. DansDeals found this first.
(The original article can be found here: United Airlines First Class Tickets )
I have a few problems with this. Firstly, the author is referring to this as a deal that “United airlines is offering.” My first reaction was that such a phrase did not seem a very genuine description of what was most likely going on. At least in my opinion it implies that United offered these rates intentionally. But…I’ll get to that later.
I don’t see these fares as deals offered by anyone. I see them as glitches that a person could potentially take advantage of, but that the person is not entitled to.
In my niche, we call these glitches “mistake-fares.” They are fares that the airline does not intend to offer, but because of a glitch in the pricing process, the price gets listed and programmed as much lower than intended. Often times it’s a coding issue of some kind, leaving off a fuel surcharge for instance.
No surprise, just a few hours later Business Insider UK reported that the “deal” was dead.
That is indeed the norm for such “deals,” or rather, mistakes. The reality is, these prices only last until the airline or aggregator realizes the issue and fixes it. And the more people are chatting about the deals online or in widely-read media outlets such as Business Insider, and the more people who are purchasing the fare, the more quickly the airline or aggregator will catch on to the issue.
Now, I have no problem with a great deal getting exposure so that lots of people can take advantage of it, (if the airline ultimately decides to honor the rate). The risk however, is that someone may misunderstand the glitch as an intentional deal and may try to call the airline asking about it.
There are all sorts of reasons people call when they’re booking a trip. Perhaps a person can’t find availability for the time they’re interested in or perhaps they want to make sure the rate will be honored.
But the key thing to realize with these mistake fares is that they are (except perhaps in a few suspicious cases that look a bit like publicity stunts) almost certainly unintentional. And therefore not a single person is entitled to anything more than a refund. Thus, the airline in no way needs to help you understand or book this accidental fare.
I can’t be more clear about this: if you are booking a mistake-fare like this one, do not call the airline to ask about it unless you genuinely wish to end the deal. If you feel a moral obligation to let the airline know about the mistake-rate so that they can end it, then I am certainly not going to be the person to tell you not to do that. Go for it. But that is the only effect calling will have.
You can consider this my little “mistake-fare” PSA: if you call the airline about its mistake-fare, they will shut the rate down.
Now, earlier I referenced a bit of distaste for how Business Insider referred to the fare as something United was offering. But since my initial read-through of BI’s article, I came across another article by View From The Wing that sheds light on why an author might not describe such a deal as a mistake-fare.
According to VFTW’s article, the DOT is possibly reconsidering its current stance holding airlines accountable t0 honor such fares. Apparently the DOT is seeking a way to defend the consumers who honestly think the low rate is a real rate while not letting other consumers (who see through it as a mistake) get away with knowingly taking advantage of the mistaken rate. While I can’t begin to fathom what the DOT will end up doing about this concern, the distinction between consumers who are naive of a mistake and those who are suspicious of it seems to provide an incentive for journalists and bloggers to remain vague about low rates, publishing no assumptions as to whether or not the rate is a mistake.
Whether or not Business Insider knows that this rate was most likely a mistake, I have no idea. But when you see a rate that’s too good to be true, know that it probably is. And therefore, don’t call the airline about it and, if you want to be extra cautious, don’t publish anything online about it either!
Hometown: I come from an average size city in Northern Poland. Name won’t ring a bell to anybody.
Quote: “Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.” – Lisa St Aubin de Teran
Many people head to southern Thailand for beaches, islands, and the relaxed vibe of coastal life. Ao Nang is a bit more relaxed than larger cities like Phuket but still has a vibrant tourist draw and is an easy jumping-off point for many activities like rock climbing, island tours, beach lounging, hiking, and diving.
Cost of living:
If you’re trying to save cash and are settling down for a while, a monthly rental can be found here for about 9,000 baht if you’re willing to stay a few kilometers away from the main beach area. Doing this will save you cash and the restaurants and shops get cheaper as you move farther from the beach. A scooter rental will cost you 250 baht per day or only 3,000 baht per month. If you were to eat all three meals a day at restaurants, your daily food allowance would need to be between 350-500 baht per person. However, stocking up on groceries and eating breakfast and/or lunch at home can save some cash and drop your daily food costs down to 150-250 baht per day. Prices at restaurants can more than triple when you get to the main beach strip and the quality of food isn’t any better. Sometimes you have to give in and spend 200 baht on that piña colada so you can watch the sunset at a beachside bar.
Growing up in Long Island, New York, my comfort zone was very small. I certainly never thought I’d leave that tiny suburban town for other coasts or other shores. After that first trip abroad everything changed. I had no idea then that harnessing fear of the unknown would be the thing that actually facilitated a growth spurt for my ever so tiny comfort zone. Little by little it started to grow and although, at times the fear tries to blur the lines, the desire of that comfort zone to stretch continues to win out. Almost twenty years after I graduated from a small university outside of Boston, I’m actively exploding that zone wide open and travel, for me, has been the blasting tool.
Even with strife and destruction happening daily in the world, I’ve yet to ever find a reason why the decision to travel could be a bad one. Day after day there’s sadness and devastation with people who aim to do evil striking at the heart of good. I’m not suggesting to directly put oneself in the line of fire or to go where those in the know say to heed, but travel will always open doors, help to defy stereotypes and change the world one traveler at a time.
Travel continues to provide endless gifts of perspective, growth, understanding and compassion. Comfort zones are great, but as we all know, minimal growth happens in them. Learning happens each time those boundaries are pushed and with even the slightest bit of movement, people are forever changed. Have you ever traveled by yourself and noticed those fears creeping in when what would be an adventure with a friend feels like disaster waiting to happen? Have you ever muttered the words ‘I’d never do this at home’ with a smile knowing that some sort of magic is about to happen even though you have no idea what, where or when? Have you ever found yourself wandering down a foreign land’s street filled with insane chaos, maddening sounds, bustling crowds, endless odors thinking just how different this is to your ‘normal Tuesday’ and how utterly amazing it is that you’re enjoying yourself as much as you are? We continue to surprise ourselves, if only we let ourselves.
Strange as it may sound – boundaries are pushed and comfort zones are meant to expand. As we grow, we learn of what we’re capable, what scares us and what, just maybe, we might want to push through. It’s the feeling of that little one finally letting go of a few fingers when she learns to cross the street or shouting, ‘let go, let go’ when he tries to take off on that first two-wheeler ride. Parents stand proudly by watching as that fine line swarms around them wondering, ‘do I run after him to keep hold or let him see what he can do on his own’. Now, we’re those grown up little ones guarding our choices and teetering on the edge of can I or can’t I, will I or won’t I and pushing ourselves to take that risk knowing that we’ll be alright whatever the outcome. Each leap really is one of leaps and bounds.
Travel has been the force propelling me forward. That desire to see the world, visit other destinations, meet new people, experience and wonder has frightened me, pushed me, amazed me and changed me. It gave me direction when I had little. It showed me paths that I would have never before taken. It introduced me to impactful people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. It showed me that different isn’t bad, difficult is worth the struggle and that change shouldn’t only scare me. I owe a debt to travel and the best way I know to repay it is to keep on going and thanking travel each day for helping me to explode that comfort zone.
Things I never thought I could…and did!
Jump into the edge of Victoria Falls
Go on an around the world honeymoon
Make my way through a language barrier
Walk with lions
Road trip across the USA
Quit my job to travel
How do you explode your comfort zone? How did a travel experience push your boundaries?
For more of Stacey’s travel musings, check out her blog.
Every now and then long-term travel is rough.
The lifestyle of never remaining in one city or continent for more than a few months requires commitment and sacrifice.
Traveling alone means experiencing days and occasionally weeks without making friends and starting over in a new place can seem tedious.
When this happens, travelers often feel overwhelmed with homesickness, wishing for old friends and all the comforts of home.
Through my experience on the road, I have learned long-term travel requires determination, but the rewards and perks of this astounding lifestyle outweigh the battle of loneliness.
Let’s talk about a few ways to combat loneliness on the road.
Embrace Your Feelings
Loneliness is a good feeling. When it is creeping up on you, use it as a time for personal growth. With no one around, there is ample time to reflect on your adventures and how traveling has transformed you as a person.
Reflection is a tool to help us learn more about ourselves. Evaluate the lessons the road has taught and ponder where your path might lead.
Embrace your loneliness. Within a short period of time, you will feel renewed and excited for the journey ahead.
Beginning a project is a vital way to keep loneliness from entering your mind. If you are journaling, video editing, or photo sorting; long hours in trains, buses, and airports become desirable.
For example, many times my travel blog, and other projects keeps me extremely busy. I often look forward to alone time so I can get caught up. I don’t even have a chance to get lonely.
Find something you are passionate, or start a travel job and pour yourself into it when you start to feel alone.
We live in the golden age of travel. With easy access to Ipads, laptops, and smart phones the world is easily accessible. New discoveries and knowledge are just clicks away.
When I started traveling, I promised myself every day I would try to improve as a person.
One goal was teach myself a new language. This not only took my mind off of being alone, but also gave me a better cultural understanding of the countries I was visiting.
Use loneliness for self-improvement and you will not only become a better person but a more responsible traveler.
Remember Your Goals
Having travel goals is one of the best ways to deal with loneliness on the road.
Goals help keep long-term travelers focused and are a continual reminder of why traveling is important.
Whether you want to see every country in the world or to just sip wine under the Eiffel Tower, goals keep your ship pointed north when it wants to go astray.
Talk to Strangers
This is going against everything you mother taught you since you were two years old, but one lesson the road teaches quickly is that 99% of people want to help.
If you are missing home or feeling alone, just start talking to someone in the area.
Chances are you will make a new friend which can ease loneliness.
I’ve seen loneliness break travelers and honestly, it has almost broken me a few times.
Knowing how to deal with loneliness is vital for any long-term traveler.
While the feeling is not always pleasant, it can be a gift to learn more about yourself, break out of your shell, and grow as a person.