Before I begin this post, let me just say that I find full time travelers absolutely awesome. They could easily teach any of us a thing or two about incredible self-discipline, courage, and adaptability. If you can find a way to make money living out of a suitcase, you’re clearly doing something right. However, the more stories I read about full time traveling (both the adventures and the mishaps), the more I know that it’s just not for me. Rather than traveling constantly and racking up a country counts, I like to take time in between my trips. I’m definitely a part time traveler, and here’s why:
1. I. Got. Bills. Please sing that in this voice. Basically, I have bills to pay, and I’m not willing defer or drive myself into the ground to pay them off as fast as I can. My student loans, while not as high as some, are pretty dang high (#privateliberalartsprobs), and I’ve got monthly payments to meet. My goal is to stay on the standard loan track, putting in an extra bit when I can, and so far it’s going well! If I traveled full time, I wouldn’t be able to pay those bills, and that fact would stress me out too much. I know I could live the expat life, avoid the government, and never pay a dime, but it was my choice to attend where I did, so it’s time to pay it back.
2. I’m a total homebody. I know, I know. Traveling and homebody seem weirdly at odds with each other. However, I’m filled with both wanderlust and the strong desire to have a home. Just as much as I love feeling sensory overload or trying new things, I also love waking up in my own bed and cooking my own breakfast. I enjoy solitary activities like trying to watercolor or pretending I understand calligraphy, and those kinds of things just aren’t practical for long term travel.
3. Also, I’m a total introvert. I need downtime at least everyday. I can’t sleep if I’m busy up until it’s bed time, and I get real cranky, real quick if I don’t have solitary time regularly. As much as I need weekends visiting friends and finding new cities to explore, I need weekends where I just veg out and watch TV or scroll through Buzzfeed for hours. It’s the most glorious time for an introvert, and while too much of it gets us antsy, it’s necessary forour sanity. You can’t really do that traveling. I mean you could, but I’d feel like I can’t. Why would I spend two full days in a new place just sleeping when I should be doing something?
4. I like shopping. I’m not a clothes horse by any means, and in terms of my style, it leans towards minimalism. I have no problem getting rid of most of my clothes, and I definitely change into my PJs the minute my front door is closed. However, if I see a new trend or dress I like, I’m probably going to buy it. I can’t live out of a suitcase or a backpack, and I have no interest in trying. I like swapping out my clothes after a trip or the feeling of unpacking everything. I’m also not up for selling all my belongings or living in the same rotation of outfits for months on end.
5. I’m not particularly good at budgeting. Shh, look away, Mom! I’m actually terrible at budgeting, and only in adulthood have I gotten a little better. I’m just not good at restricting myself. I budget enough that bills are paid, some money is set aside, and I’m never over-drafting or digging myself into absurd credit card debt. But if I want to go out and get coffee with friends, then I’m not going to say no just to save money (though I might say no under that pretense because #2 and #3). But when I travel, I tend to lean towards YOLO more than frugal. I’m getting better, but I’m just never going to have the discipline I see backpackers display.
6. I actually hate flying or taking long bus/train rides. Whoever writes those lists about “How to Tell If You Love Travel” and includes “You’d rather be on a plane than anywhere else….” Who are you? I hate flying. The air isn’t as fresh as the outside; I get antsy after hour two, and I always get a little hot no matter the time of year. The thought of having layovers and traveling over 24 hours…. No. Thank. You. My flights between Philadelphia and Korea are pretty much the longest I ever want to be in transit. Flying for me is about getting the most direct route possible without it being more expensive. So, yes, I’d probably pay a little extra to have a direct flight than to have a two hour layover somewhere.
7. I often crave routine. I know, right? Someone who loves travel, also loves routine? Isn’t that, like, the antithesis to everything travel stands for? Yes, and while I get bored of routine, I also crave it when I don’t have it. I enjoy having a job Monday-Friday about 75% of the time.. I like knowing I’ll eat lunch at a specific time or that I have a certain class once a week. Again not all of me loves routine, but over all I find myself getting irritable the longer I go without it.
8. I really like the idea of setting up roots. I mentioned it before, but I like establishing a home. I’ve lived in my town in Korea for about nineteen months now. I have a church I attend, favorite coffee shops, often visited places… I know where my friends live, and I know most of the nooks and crannies of this place. That’s setting up roots, and it’s insane to me that I didn’t even know this place existed two years ago. No matter where I go in life, I’ve set up roots in these places. Coming back to them, no matter how they might change, will feel a little bit like coming home. Not everyone feels they need this, but for me it’s all about the places I live.
And there you have it! I love being a part time traveler. I love coming back to my own bed, waking up to see my personal decorations, and making tea with own supplies. While, yes, I’m super excited for my next adventure, I’m equally excited to come home afterwards.
What are some of your reasons for the way you travel (part time, full time, etc)? I’d love to hear about different perspectives!
Words and Photographs by Samantha