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Long Term Travel (A #ttot summary)

When I lived in London a few years ago, I was told of something called Travel Talk on Twitter, found on Twitter with the hashtag: #ttot. Run out of the UK, it’s a sort of “meetup” group where you join in online, 09:30 GMT and/or 21:30 GMT, answer questions, get advice, learn something new, and “meet” new people – all in the name of travel. 

Five questions are asked throughout the hour, submitted by tweeps themselves, and topics are announced at least a week beforehand on their Facebook page (where you can find more info). Some topics are super relevant to me, some are not. I actually met some amazing people out of TTOT, so I try to join in whenever I can.

Here in Thailand, I can only catch the “morning” one, as it coincides with our late afternoon. Last week’s topic was Long Term Travel. I was obviously SUPER excited about this, as I think I can consider Graham and myself nomadic. This also came at a time when I was super exhausted from everything, so I was eager to hear some of the questions.

I really enjoyed what some people said, so I’m going to summarize the talk here. Credits are listed. I’m @underexperiment, and my thoughts are at the top. Note that the grammar nazi in me couldn’t pass up adding periods and capitalized where necessary 😀

Q1 via @sueexpress: Pick one place you’ve been on a short trip that you want to revisit for a long stay. Why? 

This is obviously a very subjective question, so I’m avoiding putting answers down. Graham’s answer to this is, clearly, Thailand, which is part of the reason we ended up here.

Q2 via @Boz23: How do you sustain yourself physically and emotionally when you travel long term?

Bodies also like routine. I need routine when I’m settled. Helps keep things in perspective. (@underexperiment)

Having a spouse along for the ride helps 😉 Finding a good community wherever you go is key. (@underexperiment)

Go slow. Pace yourself. Travel, esp long term travel, is not a race and there is no finish line (esp with a one-way ticket!). *AL (@lonelyplanetUSA)

We just keep reminding ourselves of this… 

(@Intrepid_Travel)

Finding a place where you can actually cook your own food keeps you sane and saves you cash. (@makenewtracks)

The secret is not to move too quickly from place to place, but settle in and become a local for a while. (@RoxanneReidSA)

It’s just about paying attention to yourself isn’t it? You know what you can handle. Go slowly. Take a rest sometimes. (@innocentnomad)

Stay in once place long enough to make friends. (@makenewtracks)

By keeping in touch with friends & family, writing stories, budgeting, spontaneity & rest. (@Grootbos)

By constantly telling yourself how lucky you are for doing what only a small fraction of the world can do. (‏@The_Deadscene)

Q3 via @MickGoods: What are challenges you have faced during long term travel?

Currently going through: exhaustion, frustration of not knowing the language, and defeat. (@underexperiment)

Being ripped off because you’re foreigner (a farang here in Thailand) sucks EVERY TIME. (@underexperiment)

The dreaded flip-flop tan line – both inevitable and ridiculous. (@WTGTravelGuide)

Knowing I’m missing out on so many things in the lives of family/friends is for sure the biggest challenge for me. (@shedreamstravel)

Budgeting. It’s tough to budget for a long trip. Definitely possible, but takes a lot of planning (and self-control)! *AL (@lonelyplanetUSA)

Felt overwhelmed by information but can’t really stop wanting to learn more. (@DoroLef)

Multiple languages to get to grips with: pick up a phrase book and put a long flight to good use by learning a few basic phrases. (@Travelzoo_UK)

Sometimes communication with people back home, not technology-wise but rather time difference, different mindset, etc. (@dewtraveller)

One of my favourites -> Meeting exceptional people along the travels empowers us to overcome challenges. It’s amazing what building relationships enables. (‏@worldsetfree)

Q4 via @hjortur: How do you get furthest on your dollar when travelling long term?

I should have also mentioned using Groupon and LivingSocial to buy deals in advance! I’ve done that a few times and saved lots of money.

Ask all local expats for tricks and tips! Also, learn a few local language words. Goes a looooong way! (@underexperiment)

Couchsurfing or renting apartments, free local meetups, buses & trains, and street food and markets over 5 star restaurants. (‏@WSouldier)

Cook! Try local stuff for sure, but get cooking too. Eating out and drinking often eats up the funds. (@WanderingPier)

Easy. I stay in apartments, take public transportation, grocery shop, check out museums on free days, I live like a local. (@HTTourist)

Realize when you should splurge & when you can save. No need to go to every sight on the list if it’s not interesting to you. *AL (@lonelyplanetUSA)

Stick to cheap countries! SE Asia, Eastern Europe… your dollars go so much further! (‏@globetravelled)

House-sitting, home exchange and airBnB (both as a renter and landlord) has worked well to keep costs low for us. (‏@hjortur)

Getting family to buy you experiences rather than things. (@aardvarksafaris)

When deciding where to eat choose the plastic chair and table on the sidewalk before an air conditioned restaurant. (‏@AdventurousDave)

Shop & eat like a local not a tourist. Go to where they go and you can bet the prices will be a lot lower than the tourist places. (@janemichelle70)

Prioritise your budget around YOU. Would you prefer to spend on food, sights, transport or drink? *ES (@lonelyplanetUK)

Often it’s also a good idea to eat a big lunch & have a smaller dinner, as there’s more lunch deals at cheaper prices… (‏@LadiesWhat)

Q5 via @jbandersoncpa: What one piece of advice would you offer someone preparing for a long-term trip? 

(My divisions)

ON PLANNING/BEING FLEXIBLE:

Don’t overplan it. You’d be surprised how much things can change when you start talking to locals/expats. (@underexperiment)

“3 Be’s”: Be flexible, be mindful of various cultural differences, and be humble. (@underexperiment)

Don’t expect to follow a plan. Have an idea of what you want to do, but be willing to change it. *AL (@lonelyplanetUSA)

Don’t have it all mapped out. Leave plenty of time to go with the flow and appreciate every experience. (@karenj2)

Don’t cram too much in. It’s better to do 10 places properly than rush through 15. And leave some time for spontaneity! (@Travelzoo_UK)

ON PACKING:

Pack lightly and don’t take anything you can’t bear to lose. (@EverydayJrny)

Pack ear plugs and an eye mask – a good nights sleep can be a luxury! (@5Dollartravel)

You probably need to take less stuff then you think… (@Mrs_OC)

ON EXPERIENCES:

It’s not how many sites you visit or how many stamps you collect, it’s more that you truly see & experience where you travel to. (@Kim_Wildman)

Make the most of every moment, it’ll be over before you know it. (@findinganeish)

Prepare to have your world changed forever. (@simonearmer)

Take lots of photos but remember to put down the camera once in a while and just watch the world go by -NM (@theflashpack)

Learn to scuba dive – or at least practice snorkeling. Some of the best travel experiences are underwater.

(@BeyondBlighty)

“Worry not about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey”. (@AdventurousDave)

Be ready to fall in love… with the place, food, culture and people… or even a person you meet along the way! 😉 (‏@curiousdahlia)

Be prepared to never want to come home. (@makenewtracks)

Work less, earn less, live better. (‏@WorldDetour)

ON CHALLENGES:

Have some rest days. Being on the move all the time can take its toll. (@sof_cloud)

Push through the homesickness. It will be worth it in the end when you look back on all the adventures you had. (@ABTAtravel)

It’s NOT a holiday, it’s travel. There will be unique challenges and situations every day that must be embraced and overcome. (@AdventurousDave)

ON GETTING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE:

Have a few job contacts lined up, it doesn’t hurt especially if you plan to stay long term & are low on funds. (@Cruise_Deals_UK)

Meet the locals! Try not to become embroiled in “traveller” only cirlces. (@HAGGiS_Laura)

Read. Research. Make friends with locals. Embrace. Explore. Be open. (‏@innocentnomad)

Your instincts are your greatest compass. (@WSouldier)

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