Thriving in Transience

The thing that scares me the most about traveling long-term isn’t the fear of the unknown, the unpredictability, not knowing where I’m going to sleep every night, or all of the infinite bad things about the world we’re constantly bombarded with from the news. It’s something that I know all too well:

The repeated heartbreak of meeting incredible new people in each new place and then having to say goodbye a few short days later, with no idea when you’ll get to see them again.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried on the way to the airport / train station / other means of transportation on to my next destination because I got attached to the people and the place. (Shoutout to my taxi driver in Bangkok who had no idea what to do when I couldn’t hold my shit together). Maybe I get too attached. But also I wouldn’t change that aspect of myself for the world, because that’s what makes each new adventure so special.

I couldn’t help but warn the hopeful, idealistic guy I’d just met in the hostel who was (albeit, drunkenly) pining away over some girl he met as we sought shelter in a bar along Khao San Road to avoid the pouring rain. Do not get attached to this girl. It’s so easy to cling to what is familiar when you’re in a new place, where you can’t speak the language. I saw myself in him, and I cautioned him to be careful because I knew all too well what was coming for him in a few short days.

Is it some ounce of self-preservation that makes me wary of this each time? Around the halfway point on my last long trip, someone pointed out to me that I seemed closed off. And of course I was – it’s emotionally exhausting to constantly meet and be open to new people, especially as an introvert alone on the road long-term. But I think that’s what scares me even more – the idea that out of exhaustion and self-preservation, I might become so closed off to new experiences that I stop getting the same joy out of being on the move.

When you travel long-term, especially as a solo traveler, everything in your life is transient. The people, the places, the comfortable foods as you change location, everything. The only constant you have is yourself and what you can carry on your back.

As I prepare for life on the road long-term, this is one of the biggest things I’m trying to grapple with. As a solo traveler, you’re already on your own, away from friends, family, and all the comforts of home. The possibilities for burnout are real, and happen to many around the 3-4 month mark.

I didn’t even make it that far on my last trip, although not necessarily due to burnout. (After losing my appendix in Berlin, I was more than ready to get back to the U.S.) Learning how to thrive in a transient environment is just part of the process, I suppose, and hopefully this time around I’ll be more prepared because I know what’s coming.

 

I’d love to hear your experiences – please let me know how you’ve dealt with this issue in the comments!

 

xoxo,

Hanna (Bubu Backpacks)

 

P.S. To follow my adventures in real time, follow me on Instagram and Twitter @bubu_backpacks!

10 thoughts on “Thriving in Transience

  1. This is an all too common downside of travel but the pros outweigh the cons in my opinion! Connecting with people all over the world is by far one of the most amazing parts about travel, and obviously goodbyes hurt but if you’re meant to see people again, then the universe will make it happen! Make sure to connect with people you meet on fb/ig/snap so that you can remain connected even after parting ways. And as an introvert, its okay to close off for a little while. Its good for the soul!

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  2. It can definitely be emotionally draining travelling on your own, in general I’d say! I think it takes me a while to really get to know someone so I tend to not get too attached to people, plus whenever I’ve been on my own I’ve been moving around so much that I only ever see the same people for 2-3 days then I leave again anyway. I guess the pro’s outweigh the con’s so much for me it doesn’t affect me too much, and with the age of social media you are almost guaranteed to speak to everyone again or even see them further along the road anyway!

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  3. Girl, I feel you. Sometimes I feel like the worst traveller in the world whenever I do not want to leave a place because of the people I’ve met. I met this friend in Sweden and she told me that when you travel full-time you know you have a time limit, so that’s why you bond faster. A friendship that would have take months to develop, just blooms in days and all of it because you know it’s going to end soon. I guess it is a double curse of the nomad life, you meet incredible people that become your best friends and that you would have never met under other circumstances, but you have to say good bye. I guess it’s the best souvenir you can keep. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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    1. That’s such a good explanation! I’d never thought about it in terms of the time limit before, that’s so interesting! The memories of all these new friends are for sure my favorite “travel souvenirs” 🙂

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  4. This is a great post, perfect for some evening laptop time. Im borrowing this “The repeated heartbreak of meeting incredible new people in each new place and then having to say goodbye a few short days later, with no idea when you’ll get to see them again.”

    The most unique feeling and it never really leaves you.

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    1. Isn’t it? It’s simultaneously the most wonderful and most challenging thing about traveling, for me at least. Even though our paths cross for only a few short days, these people come into our lives for a reason and that sticks with you forever.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this! I am currently 1 month in my first long term solo trip (6 months). Let’s see how I feel at the 3-4 month mark…

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