Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury to embark on long-term travel adventures. This may be due to life obligations, career constraints, or lack of money. However, if you are serious about traveling abroad and are able to make it a priority in your life, you will find that traveling over long periods of time provides you with many advantages over the typical, short-term travel excursions that the majority of people experience. Let us give you a rundown of some of the top reasons why you should aim to travel for the long term.
Airfare is important to consider because it is one of the largest costs of international travel. For example, imagine you are taking a one-week trip to Brazil. The current going rate for roundtrip airfare between New York City and Rio is rough $950. So, if you spend 7 days in the country, that means that the airfare alone has cost you about $136 per day of travel. Now compare that with someone who is traveling in South America for 3 months, starting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and ending in Bogota, Columbia. The cost of airfare for this arrangement is rough $1050 roundtrip, which means the cost-per-day for airfare is $12 (spread over the 90 days). This means your cost-per-day goes way down when engaging in long term travel.
When you’re in a country for a short period of time, your mindset is in a mode of scarcity instead of abundance. You know that your time is extremely limited, so you are apt to spend more money on hotels, restaurants, and nightlife. Even if are trying to limit your spending, you simply do not have enough time to become accustomed to the true cost of living in the country. Take the one-week Brazil trip for example. In that scenario, you are already spending $136 per day on airfare. Since you do not have time to find the best deals and cheapest eats in Brazil, you are likely to overspend at every turn. Including airfare, your cost per day could easily exceed $200.
Contrast that with the 3-month trip through South America. When you’re engaging in long term travel, you have more time to develop your travel savvy, hone your street smarts, and become familiar with the real cost of living. You never need to buy anything immediately because you know you can always wait for better options. Time is on your side. After 2 or 3 weeks, you will begin to master your money and start spending it extremely wisely. The cost of traveling in South America is already very cheap, but with your added savvy you could easily be traveling on less than $40 per day including the cost of airfare, as long as you don’t spend too much time in expensive cities like Rio.
More time to dig the culture and people
Foreign cultures are complex and cannot be easily understood or penetrated during short travel episodes. However, when you engage in long-term travel, you have more time to learn about the nuances of the local culture and the mindset of the people. This is especially important if you plan to develop fluency in the local language.
Freedom and flexibility
While traveling, have you found the beach town of your dreams? Did you come across a particular neighborhood with awesome people and a great vibe? When you’re traveling for many months at a time, you don’t think twice about staying longer in a spectacular location. You simply do whatever you please, and the feeling of total freedom is incredible. This is not the China I planned to see.
Long term travel also allows you to discuss travel destinations with fellow travelers and change your plans on the go. A few years ago I traveled through China for two months and drastically changed my plans based on recommendations from an awesome Israeli traveler that I met. Although I started my China trip in the southwestern province of Yunnan, I ended up traveling over 3,000 miles to China’s westernmost city of Kashgar, a Muslim stronghold of the Turkish-speaking Uighur people located on the ancient Silk Road trade route. Between soaking up the wild atmosphere of the ancient trading quarters, perusing the chaotic bazaars, and solo hiking the incredible mountains along the Karakoram Highway to Pakistan, I knew that I had made the right decision and was proud to have experienced such a rarely-seen side of China. If I had been traveling in China for only one or two weeks, it simply would not have been possible to accomplish such a drastic itinerary change. This is the power of long-term travel.