10 Problems with Long-Term Travel (Including Their Solutions) 

Last Updated on by Talita

Just about everyone loves to travel in some capacity. But this doesn’t mean that everyone likes to travel the same way.

Some prefer shorter weekend trips. Others spend a year planning ahead for their month of holidays. And then there are others still who spend months away from home or even do a 1-year sabbatical. And although this may sound like a dream trip for many people, there are also some challenges that come with this type of long-term travel.  

Of course, this isn’t to say that traveling long-term isn’t wonderful and a huge privilege that I wish more people around the world could have. However, there are also some downfalls. So, my goal here is to take something that appears amazing for many people and show how things might not be as perfect as they seem

Which means if you have a long trip in mind, I put together this list with the 10 disadvantages of traveling long term (plus the solutions) to help you know what you’re getting into

Here are the 10 problems you might run into with long-term travel (more details below): 

  1. Traveling for a long time can be exhausting
  2. Traveling long term doesn’t allow you to have any type of routine
  3. It’s hard to eat well (and healthily) on extended trips 
  4. Traveling long term can make you homesick (even if you don’t expect it!) 
  5. Long-term travel can take away the “magic” of the places you’re visiting
  6. When you travel long term, you may miss having a place to call home 
  7. Long-term travel can get expensive 
  8. It’s hard to stay in shape while traveling long term
  9. Long-term travel can turn you into a “pretentious” traveler 
  10. Packing your bags for long-term travel is a pain in the @s$

Read on for more details about these 10 problems as well as the solutions and actions you can take to combat them. 


pin map


   1 – Traveling for a long time can be exhausting 

When you first start your trip, everything is new and exciting. You take dozens of photos, spend your days exploring, and are just plain happy to be there.  

And when your trips are short, this happiness doesn’t run out and you can carry the good memories with you from your trip even as you head home. However, when you’re traveling long term, you’re going to run into plenty of bad days as well – ones where you get lost, ones where you feel unsafe, ones where you don’t sleep, and ones where things just don’t go your way. 

These things may happen as you start to tire, but you may also start to tire on your trip because of them. 

And as you get tired, you stop taking advantage of your trip as you should or as you’d like to. This can make you quite frustrated as your mind and your body just can’t quite keep up with your will.  


What’s the solution? 

The secret here is to take some time to simply rest, and don’t worry about not making the most of your trip. After all, when you’re traveling long term, you don’t have to spend each day of your trip out and doing things from 8 AM – 8 PM. You’ve got lots of time. Instead, remind yourself that this break will reinvigorate you so you can see more things and enjoy other parts of your trip even more. 


   2 – Traveling long term doesn’t allow you to have any type of routine 

It’s pretty normal for us to break our routines completely when we travel. In fact, that’s a major reason many people either love (or hate) to travel! 

However, the constant break in the routine with long-term travel (given that you have a brand new routine just about every day!) can leave you feeling a little disoriented, directionless, and just plain unproductive after a while. 


What’s the solution? 

As much as you can, try to borrow small parts of your routine from back home. Nikki, for example, reads every night before she goes to bed and tries to journal a little bit or do some yoga in the mornings (if she finds the time, that is). I make a point to stay up-to-date with the world by reading news (and I try to do so over breakfast, if I can ). 


   3 – It’s hard to eat well (and healthily) on long trips 

It’s just about impossible to talk about traveling without also talking about food. Beyond being a basic human necessity, it’s also something that we like to do…especially while traveling! Yet, it can also cause some stress and extra work when we travel.

This might mean we eat junk or quick, unhealthy food to avoid wasting travel time, save money, or simply because we don’t know where to find ingredients or healthy food in the place where we are visiting. 

And of course, there can also be issues with an upset stomach from eating food full of spices and ingredients your body isn’t familiar with. 

If you’re going on a relatively short trip, you may as well try to enjoy the local cuisine without worrying too much about longer effects. But if you’re traveling for a long time just eating junk? Your health will definitely get worse. 

This makes it easier to get sick (Nikki, for example, gets sick regularly when we travel more than a couple of weeks) while traveling and have your tripped ruined. And in our experiences, you simply don’t feel as good and will generally feel sluggish or have lower energy.  


What’s the solution? 

If you know you’re going to be traveling for a while, as much as possible, take it easy. Do what you can to have a balanced diet mixed with local cuisine that you don’t want to miss out on as well as healthy food. Cooking your own meals at your hostel (or an Airbnb with a kitchen) is a good way to get some healthy food in on a budget. 

Another tip is to bring vitamins and supplements with you. They are just one way to compensate for the nutrients you’re missing out on if you don’t have the time, money, or local availability to eat well during your trip. 

I talk more about food and eating well on a budget while traveling in this article here


   4 – Traveling long-term can make you homesick (even if you don’t expect it!) 

The longer you stay away from your friends, your family, your home, and all the things that you are familiar with, the more likely you are to miss things – whether that’s a person, a place, or something else. 

Of course, at the start of your trip, you might not feel this as much since you are simply excited about everything. But the longer you are away (and you begin to miss things like a friend’s wedding or a family gathering or find yourself alone in a new country during a holiday), the more likely homesickness is to strike. 


What’s the solution? 

There are some tools, like video chat, that can help minimize these feelings. But they really are inevitable. Unless you simply plan more visits home or shorten your trip, this is yet another item on this list that you simply have to accept if you really want to travel long term. 


alone in the lake


   5 – Long-term travel can take away the “magic” of the places you’re visiting 

You know that tingle you get when you see something incredible on your trip for the first time? It’s a wonderful, unique experience…so unique that it probably won’t repeat on the same trip. 

The truth is that after visiting your 10th waterfall in Southeast Asia, your 15th cathedral in Europe, or your 20th art museum anywhere in the world, they start to lose their grandeur to the point where you stop appreciating them as they should be. 


What’s the solution? 

Unfortunately, there’s not a ton you can do here other than try not to overdo it and push yourself to visit everything everywhere you go.


   6 – When you travel long term, you may miss having a place to call home

Not having a place to call home is one of the biggest disadvantages of long-term travel, and it’s one that Nikki and I know quite well. 

To be clear, this is not the same thing as being homesick or missing home. When I say you don’t have a place to call home, what I mean is that it’s very hard to have a space to call your own when you’re traveling long term. 

When you’re always moving around, that feeling of having a place that is yours, a place where you know where everything is, is gone. 

Beyond the absence of a place to call your home, there are other disadvantages to this type of lifestyle. For example, in many places, you’ll end up sharing a bathroom or your bedroom itself if you stay in a hostel. This makes it inevitable that you’ll lose some privacy. And although this isn’t the end of the world, it can wear you down after a while. 

And from a practical standpoint, there are also other things that normally seem so simple when you are at home – such as having a place to store your stuff, wash and dry your clothes, cook, etc. – can end up much more complicated than you might expect since each place you stay will be different. 

What’s the solution? 

Unfortunately, there’s not a ton you can do here. However, visiting friends and family while traveling can help. So can actually having a “homebase” to return to (if you don’t mind paying rent while you’re traveling, that is). Or staying in private rooms occasionally or even entire Airbnb apartments so you have some privacy and space. 


   7 – Long-term travel can get expensive 

Naturally, we can’t talk about travel without talking about money, especially when it comes to long trips.  

Often, I find that I actually spend less while traveling than I do if I’m just staying in one place and paying normal living expenses. But of course, especially if you are traveling in more expensive countries, the longer your travel, the more money you’ll spend. And there are plenty of expenses that are essential and really add up, like food and accommodation. 


What’s the solution? 

Of course, there are some ways you can try to minimize your costs. A well-planned budget before your trip, for example, can help a lot. The more you plan out your trip, the better you will know how to manage your money while you’re gone. 

Another option is to volunteer somewhere during your trip. There are plenty of websites that help you find positions where you work in exchange for free accommodation and food around the world…learn more about these websites and programs in my article about 10 Ways to Live Abroad

You can also try to save on certain parts of your trip, like find cheap flights, accommodation, cheap travel insurance, or cheap car rentals


   8 – It’s hard to stay in shape while traveling long term  

In the same vein as #3, traveling long term often means eating unhealthily. But beyond that, it may also be difficult to exercise frequently. And these two things can affect your fitness pretty significantly in the long term. 


What’s the solution? 

If you aren’t able to get regular workouts in, do what you can to stay active and walk during your trips. I also have this article with 9 Ways to Stay in Shape While Traveling that may help. 


   9 – Long-term travel can turn you into a “pretentious” traveler 

Honestly, I’ve seen this happen to a lot of people…and even with myself. 

You travel for months on end, see a ton of amazing things, have a bunch of incredible experiences…and then you end up acting or feeling like you’re a little bit better than others who haven’t done the same. 

In other words, you become one of those people who judge people back home who don’t travel. And one of those people who are always telling everyone how many countries they’ve been to, give plenty of unsolicited travel advice, and constantly throw out stories (even if they aren’t relevant to the conversation at hand) like “oh, that reminds me of the time I was training monkeys in Thailand/building snowmen in Russia/finding a cure to cancer in Guatemala…” 


What’s the solution? 

I’m not saying this happens to everyone, but I’ve seen it happen enough times that it needs to be said. So, just keep this in mind so you don’t become one of THOSE travelers


   10 – Packing your bags for long-term travel is a pain in the @s$

The bags! It’s always the bags! Well, there’s no way to avoid them. 

The longer we travel, the bigger our bags get. It’s just expected that along the way we will accumulate souvenirs from the places we visit, not to mention the purchases we make from time to time. 

And the longer you’re gone, the harder it gets to carry your bag with all that has been added to it…let alone make sure it all fits! And depending on how you travel, you might start running into annoying costs like baggage fees for airlines


What’s the solution? 

You can always leave things behind along the way, but this is unlikely if you’ve packed only the essentials in the first place. So, the key lies in how you prepare your bag before you leave home. Ideally, you’d make sure you plan well for this and only take things you really need. 

Also, try to avoid buying things you don’t need since you’ll get stuck carrying them around for months otherwise! 

If you’re a lady and could use some packing tips, check out our article on packing bags for women here


backpacks by the mountain


In conclusion…

What do you think about these 10 disadvantages to long-term travel?

Of course, there are plenty of benefits, but those are usually what we talk about. That’s why I thought it was important to also point out the negatives so you can be prepared since they are very real and you can’t really avoid them. By being aware of and prepared for the challenges you’ll run into on a long trip, you can prevent frustration and unpleasant surprises later on. 

However, whether you are planning for a long trip or are already on one, what’s important to remember is that the downfalls won’t ruin the MAGICAL EXPERIENCE that you’ll have. At least for me, the pros have always outweighed the cons as long as I’m prepared. 

As I said at the beginning of the article, every person has their own travel style. You might not run into all of these problems, but most likely at least a few of them. So, I hope this article helps you be prepared for what to expect. 

Any final questions? Any disadvantages you’d add? Or any other thoughts? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll get back to you!  


Planning your next trip?

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