For the Love of Extended Travel…

val in real life

For some, extended travel seems wearisome. Spending weeks (or months, or years) on the road, not seeing your home, managing your life from a distance, finding laundromats, having to find a new place to sleep or set up camp every few days, all of the uncertainties—there are definitely some challenges.

craters of the moon - val in real life
Fred and George getting blown away at Craters of the Moon on one of our mondo road trips.

For me though, short-term yo-yo travel is harder: trying to pinwheel out from my home base to attend events and explore, packing and unpacking frenetically, losing time going back-and-forth. It’s a perverse commute. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m coming or going.

Last fall I had five separate trips in six weeks. It was exhausting. I would have saved myself a lot of time and energy if I’d combined some of them by not trying to come back to my HQ for only a day or two before leaving again. I also would have more content to share with you if I had slowed down and shared the journey instead of racing between places because my timeline was so tight. And it forced me to press through hard weather when giving myself more room to avoid energy-draining conditions would have been safer for me.

Thinking back to that batch of trips got me musing about the difference between the weeks-long expeditions I’ve done in the past and short weekends away. There are people who love to jet off for weekends frequently. It refreshes them from their daily routine, which may be difficult to leave for longer stretches. I admire that they’ve found a way to manage travel with limited time available.

And I’ve realized that I don’t enjoy frequent micro-adventures. It feels like a lot of energy for not enough return. I love the rhythm of longer trips.

val in real life
Giving myself more travel flexibility means I can avoid situation like this when I spent hours warming up and waiting out a storm at a Waffle House.
  • It helps me avoid feeling like my adventure is over when it’s just getting started.
  • There’s less pressure to do everything. I accept that I’ll need laundry days and time to catch up on personal items, work, etc. Just like at home. And that a do-everything pace isn’t necessary or even sustainable for longer trips.
  • There’s a much greater element of self-reliance to longer journeys. There’s less “I’ll fix it when I get home.” I have to address issues in the moment, with my own wits. It’s empowering.
  • Living out of a car or off of a motorcycle for extended times helps me realize what I need in my life. And what I don’t.
  • It requires more resilience and flexibility. And returns more immersion and connection with places and people.
  • It changes my mindset about vulnerability. One, by embracing help from strangers. Two, by recognizing I am no more or less safe as I travel than I am at home. For many people, distance from home creates anxiety. Realizing you can handle situations while traveling almost as easily as you can at home is often a revelation.

So there you have it. That’s why I love long-term travel. And why I’ll be heading straight from my annual photography workshop in the Smokies to Horizons Unlimited in Virginia. Instead of being a yo-yo on an unraveling string, I’ll be able to embrace rich, thoughtful travel.

The wonderful thing about taking on anything new in our lives is the sense of release and freedom when you realize your comfort zone has been suffocating you. Extended travel is one of those wonderful things that will make you question what you were so frightened about. And there’s no putting yourself back into the box once you’ve busted out of it. Life becomes bigger. Possibilities emerge that you never dreamed of.

What do you think? Do you prefer extended travel? If you’ve never tried it, would you if you were able?

Cheers, friends. Adventure on!

val in real life
Longer travel allows me to stop and smell the flowers. 🙂