Very long-term travel is measured in years, not months. My longest trip was three years, and that's considered very long-term travel - just.
Are you considering this kind of travel? Do you see yourself selling and packing up, buying a one-way ticket and hitting the road? If this is something you've ever considered, even in your wildest dreams, asking these questions may help you decide whether very long-term travel is something you could - or even would want to do.
Women on the Road NEWS: Contents for Issue #31
Very Long-Term Travel
Is very long-term travel really for you?
It's hard to know before you try. If you're a nomad at heart, independent of character, resilient and if you enjoy your own company, there's no reason why very long-term travel - several years on the road - shouldn't be for you. Unfortunately it's one of those things you won't really know for sure until you just do it.
What are your motives?
Knowing why you want to leave will help you weather through any rough patches. It doesn't have to be a major purpose, but you should know what's behind your desire to travel. I mean, why DO women travel? Do you have a concrete goal, like trying to trace family roots, or are you just motivated by good old wanderlust? Whatever your reason, clarity of purpose is always a good travel partner.
How do you get ready to go?
This is a major emotional as well as practical decision and involves a lot of factors. Should you postpone college? Get a leave of absence from your employer? Should you quit your job? How do you deal with responsibilities at home? Will you have any regrets, or will your big regret be NOT doing this when you had the chance?
What about friends and family?
Some people will be horrified by your decision, others will be supportive, and yet others will be envious. Those who will really miss you should be given special attention - you may be going off on the adventure of a lifetime, but your parents, partner or other family members are bound to suffer from your absence. How do you tell your friends and family you're about to take off around the world?
What practicalities should you consider?
Very long-term travel isn't much different from six months or a year on the road. Just do your homework. This travel checklist should help start you off on the right foot.
How do you finance your trip?
The obvious answer is to begin saving as soon as possible, and to estimate how much you'll need, at least for your first few months. When it comes to travel advice, money is always an issue and should be treated seriously. Once you're on the road, you may be able to supplement your income through overseas jobs, for example by teaching English abroad. Remember, if you stick to cheaper parts of the world, you'll need a lot less money on the road than at home - no rent, no car, and if you start couch surfing or become a housesitter, you may have no accommodation costs at all!
What if you get lonely?
There's no 'if' - at some point you will get lonely. You may even suffer from travel burnout at some stage. The good news is that there are many ways of managing travel loneliness, and an important one is keeping in touch with friends and family back home. A good way of 'fitting in', becoming part of the crowd and building relationships with people is by putting down roots: it may not be home, but for a while it will feel like it. The key is to anticipate these moments, and catch them before they become too big to handle.
How long should you stay on the road?
Travel at first is rosy, filled with wonders and ah-hah moments of self-discovery. The metamorphosis sets in after a while - you start looking different, sounding different, and eventually, you may become a bit jaded. By the time you're into very long-term travel, you may start wondering whether THIS is actually your life, as opposed to the one you left behind. For some travelers, the world begins to lose its shine and your conversations may sound something like this: Beggars in Bangkok? You should have seen the amputees in Angola. A safari in South Africa? I remember being charged by an elephant mare in Nigeria. Eating bushmeat? Not as tasty as snake and caiman. Want to cross Iran? Sure. We did Afghanistan last year, so should be fun. When this starts to sound like you, it may be time to consider going home.
What will coming home be like?
Things may be the way you left them - but that's not usually the case. Most times, people will have changed - and you'll find out how solo travel for women has changed you. You'll probably suffer some kind of reverse culture shock. Eventually you'll either want to stay home and settle back into your life, leave again right away, or use the opportunity to make a major change. You may also have to find new friends. No matter how much they followed your adventures, they were your adventures. Meantime they were busy with LIFE, getting married, having children, changing jobs. They may not really want to hear about your travels - a mixture of incomprehension or envy.
Whatever your decision - stay, leave, change - you'll be left with your memories and experiences, which you'll delve into over and over again. Very long-term travel may not be for everyone, but it's a journey you'll never forget. I certainly didn't.
Are you a woman on the road with a travel question?
Are you wondering...
- how safe it is to travel solo?
- the best places to go on your own?
- how much it might cost?
- what to pack?
- how to meet people and ward off loneliness?
- about the most unusual destinations?
Here are some recent questions readers have asked in the past month:
Can a solo young first-time traveling female go to Egypt and Israel?
How about women over 70 - is there a place for us as independent travellers?
Traveling to Thailand?
If you're a woman on the road - or about to hit the road - and have a question which could be of interest to other readers, please post it here and I'll answer it online. Please don't ask me for job leads or recommendations for hotels or restaurants - plenty of sites out there do that far better than I ever could!
If you need to get in touch with me personally, please either Reply to this email or use this form - and don't forget to include your email address.
My free travel course is still going strong!
When I introduced this course a few months ago, there was huge interest. I thought by now it would have died down but No, you keep subscribing, and I'm delighted - it shows me there's a need for it. And a special thanks for those of you who have already taken the course and written to tell me what you thought - I'm thrilled to hear you've found it useful.
So if you've ever thought of writing to pay for your travels, you may be like thousands of others who love the road, need the money, and would be thrilled to see their name in print.
I've paid for my own travel as a writer so I've learned a trick or two about what kind of writing sells and how to make a living at it. I share some of these travel writing tips in my free online course, The Travel Writing Magician, available exclusively to readers of this ezine.
Just sign up and get it in your mailbox in seven easy daily lessons. Work the assignments on your own and see how your writing improves after just one week. You'll never know if there's a travel writer lurking inside you until you try!
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Travel Packing List
Women's Travel Clothing
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Become a Travel Writer
First Aid Kit Checklist
Unwanted Male Attention
Travel News from across the Web
100 Ways Travel Has Changed My Life
Countries That Can Still Be Traveled on the Cheap
Solo Travel Safety: 10 Ways to Look Confident
Tips for Crossing Land Borders
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Behind the Veil
For food lovers...
World's Strangest Restaurants
Guerilla Food Photography: 10 Tips for Taking Great Food Photos
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...and lovers of other arts
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The Crossroads of Asia: Kazakhstan
From Camels to Cows: An Overland Trip Through Algeria
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Colors in Cultures
Cause of the Month
Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery
If you thought slavery ended more than a century ago, think again. Around the world, at least 27 million people still live in slavery, many of them women and children. Human trafficking is the illegal trade which makes slavery across borders possible.
This is what modern slavery may look like:
There isn't a corner of the world untouched by modern slavery and human trafficking, with cases found in North America and Europe as well as the rest of the world. A comprehensive list of country reports at Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery provides an overview of human trafficking in every single country.
- a child sold by her parents to pay off a debt - this is known as trafficking in children
- an Asian maid in a Gulf state whose passport has been confiscated and who is treated like chattel
- a refugee from war forced into prostitution to survive
- women kidnapped or lured into sex work from Asia or Eastern Europe - this is sex trafficking
- in parts of Africa girls may be given away as slaves to cancel a debt, or children may be forced to become child soldiers
- someone tricked into taking out a large loan, and then forced to spend their lives repaying it - known as bonded labor
- a girl forced into marriage with a much older man she has never met
- a child begging on the streets of Bangkok managed by an organized crime gang
- a Mexican child trafficked for sex in US-Mexican border towns
- foreign workers used as cheap labor in sweatshops or on farms in Canada and the US
- Roma beggars trafficked from Eastern Europe to Switzerland for begging in city streets
- children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation among the tourist resorts of the Caribbean
- forced concubines in Sudan...
If you still need convincing that human trafficking and slavery remain widespread today, reading some of the following recent news stories should convince you:
Ireland: Immigration Probe Targets Human Traffickers
Vietnam: Over 230 Trafficking Rings Recorded
Nigeria: Agency Arrests Man for Trafficking Teens
USA: Mayor Bloomberg Launches NYC Campaign to End Human Trafficking
Cambodia: Human Traffickers Target Young Cambodian Men for Fishing Industry
South Africa: Zuma Warns Against World Cup Child Trafficking
USA: 17-Year-Old Twins Charged with Trafficking Teen Girls
China and South Korea: Man Arrested for Exploitation of N.Korean Refugees
Blood Diamonds: Still Bloody
If you'd like to take action to fight human trafficking and slavery, the following sites will provide you with tools and information:
UNODC's Blueheart Campaign
Not For Sale Campaign
UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking
UNICEF's End Child Trafficking Campaign
End Human Trafficking Now
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
Next Month in Women on the Road NEWS?
How climate change can affect your travels
(c) 2007-2010, Leyla Giray. All rights reserved. Women on the Road News is published monthly. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.