What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Travel?
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Travel?

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Travel?

Every person will have a different opinion on what they think the advantages and disadvantages of travel are based on their unique experiences.

In my case, I’ve spent years of my life traveling and living a nomadic lifestyle is something I’m very passionate about. However, as great as the advantages of long-term travel are, they don’t come consequence free.

So, in this blog post, I want to help you understand what I have found to be the advantages and disadvantages of traveling long-term as a backpacker.

The advantages and disadvantages of travel

If I was going to include every single advantage and disadvantage of travel, then this list would be too long to read. So, here’s my summary of the main ones. 

Advantage of travel: it’s incredibly fun

Traveling is by far the most adventurous and exciting thing you can do.

For me, this mainly comes from that feeling of going somewhere new. Even if it’s a place that millions of people have already visited and even blogged about before, the fact that it’s new to me means I still feel like an explorer in uncharted territory.

But it’s not just discovering and exploring new places that makes traveling so fun, it’s also returning to places where you made great memories before. Sometimes you plan a return trip, other times the place happens to be on the route to your next destination.

Earlier in my travels I ended up spending a lot more time in Antigua, Guatemala than I’d planned. It became like a second home for me as I used it as a base to explore more of Central America and parts of Mexico.

And, of course, there’s the people. The places you discover are great, but they’re made special by the friendly folks, both locals and other backpackers, that you meet there. Some of these people turn into friends and you end up with a network dotted all over the world that you could visit.

Disadvantage of travel: it can get tedious sometimes

The regularly changing places and faces can take a toll after a while. There are times when packing your bag, again, to get on a 3 am bus, again, to the next place feels more like a chore than the luxury that it is.

I think most of the people who experience this get the tedious feeling because they are traveling really fast, ticking off places just to get to the next. But the good thing is that you have complete control over this and can slow your travels down.

However, you can still get bouts of tediousness even when traveling slowly. I had this feeling a couple of times when I’d been in places that I liked for a few weeks. Just as I was starting to feel settled in, it was time to move again. I just wanted someone else to pack my bag for me and book my bus tickets.

You’ve just got to take these tedious days as they come as it’s only natural that every long-term trip will have its down points.

Advantage of travel: you learn a lot

So what’s next on my list of the advantages and disadvantages of travel? Well, along with being incredibly fun, another main advantage of the regular change-up of your surroundings is that you learn a lot. In fact, I think that travel is the best form of education.

Think about it, there are a bunch of places you want to visit and you’ve got a limited budget that you need to stretch as far as possible. Well, that requires planning.

Then there are all the different kinds of people you meet in these places who share their cultures with you and help you to think in new ways. You also learn bits and bobs of foreign languages too, and if you put the effort in, become fluent in one.

Also, there’s the learnings about the world, its joys and its hardships. You see how harsh life can be for some people, but learn to take inspiration from their ability to keep going.

And then there are also the self-learnings. This is where this article gets a little cliché, but there is some truth to the classic ‘I learnt so much about myself when traveling’, so here me out.

Because you are experiencing so many different things all the time, you’re able to figure out what you like, love and dislike. Most of the things that I’m passionate about in life, I discovered when traveling.

Disadvantage of travel: sometimes you don’t appreciate the experience

Constantly having all of these fun and eye-opening experiences means that, at times, you don’t actually appreciate what’s happening. The whirlwind of new places and people can, in a sense, blind you to just how lucky you are to be traveling.

This is especially true when you’re doing a multi-year trip. I wouldn’t change much about my earlier years of travel, but if I could, it would definitely be to periodically take a step back just to appreciate what I’d done over the past, say, few months and how these experiences had changed me.

Advantage of travel: you grow as a person

Speaking of change, next on my list of the main advantages and disadvantages of travel is that you grow as a person.

I mentioned before how I learnt about myself. But just as, and if not more important, is that traveling helped and still helps me to become a better version of myself.

On every trip I’ve done I’ve grown in confidence and capability. This is because you’re self-reliant when traveling and so it’s down to you to find ways to overcome the obstacles you’ll face.

With every challenge you overcome, or simply every time one of your plans works out, the more you learn to trust your gut and keep following your instincts.

Disadvantage of travel: you aren’t there to see others grow

While you’re away traveling, growing in confidence and capability, your friends and family at home are growing older physically. And the negative of this is that you’re not there to see it.

Yep, this article has just gone deep, and obviously this negative aspect of traveling doesn’t count as much if you’re not on a really long-term trip. But, if you are planning to be away for a few years, then understand that you’re not going to see people at home for a while.

That’s an obvious thing to say, I know. But you’re so busy enjoying your adventures that you don’t realise it. Then, when you do finally get home, one of the first things you notice is how your family looks older. This can feel a bit sad, especially when you catch up with older family members and see how much they’ve aged.

To date, the longest I’ve been away from home at any one time is 2.5 years. I don’t consider that to be really long. I mean, it’s long, but it’s not a crazy amount of time. But even still, 2.5 years was enough time for my parents to look noticeably older.  

Luckily, though, this point I’m making isn’t such a negative any more as you can quickly jump on a video call and speak with your family instantly.

Advantage of travel: you experience lots on a small budget

If you’re traveling long-term, then the chances are that you’re on a tight budget. But the amazing thing is that even on a small budget, you can still manage to pack in a ton of experiences.

It might surprise you, but when I left home for that 2.5-year trip, I only had £3,000 in the bank. This did mean that I had to become super resourceful with my money, but that’s just a part of being able to travel long-term.

At first, you’ll probably over spend your daily budget. But once you get into the swing of your trip, you’ll get good at sticking to it and finding ways to have the experiences you want while paying less.

If you want to learn how to spend less while traveling, I’ve covered it in detail in my mega guide on how to afford travel.

Disadvantage of travel: you’re basically broke

However, even though you can have an amazing trip on little money, the fact that you’re on such a small daily budget means that you are basically broke. It also means that you have to be quite protective of your funds.

Both of these points suck for different reasons. There will be days when you are sick of eating really cheap food or cooking the same pasta dish for the 1000th time and just want to splash out on a nice meal. But then you remember that you already had an expensive day that week and don’t want to break your budget again so soon.

There will also be days when you want to help out someone begging for money, for example, but decide not to. Even when you really want to give them a few dollars, your money protectiveness will kick in and override your kindness. You’ll remind yourself of the last beggar you helped out on the trip to justify not giving this one anything and make yourself feel better.

That’s not to say you become less empathetic. It’s just a sad aspect of the mindset you adopt when your funds are tight and every dollar you spend impacts how long your trip will last.

But as with most of the other disadvantages of travel that I’ve mentioned in this article, there’s an upside here too. And that upside is remote work.

Finding a way to make money remotely means that you won’t be limited to the daily budget you worked out based on your savings. You’ll be able to travel more comfortably financially and, if you choose to, more generously.

Advantage of travel: It puts what matters into perspective

Travel has been the biggest influence on my general mindset and outlook on life. It constantly teaches me to value minimalism and helps me to truly understand just how little material wealth matters.  

The more you travel, the more you realise that there are so many incredible things to discover, explore and learn in this world and how important using your resources to experience these is.

Disadvantage of travel: sometimes you miss the material things

On the flipside, as a final negative on this list of the advantages and disadvantages of traveling long-term, you do sometimes miss the trivial and material things when on the road.

There have been days when I would’ve killed for a few pastries from the really cheap but tasty Greggs bakery that you can only get at home in the UK. And there have been times when I would’ve loved to have had a nicer pair of shoes to wear instead of the flimsy, ripped Vans I’d been wearing every day for a year.

It sounds silly, as being in this position is a luxury. But I guess in many ways we’re creatures of comfort and even something as great as traveling can’t completely change that.

Advantage of travel: it’s addictive, in a good way

I don’t want to finish this list of the advantages and disadvantages of travel on a negative, so here’s my final main advantage.

Travel is a drug, and the best kind of drug if you ask me. In fact, I’d bet lots of money that it’s the favourite drug of anyone who’s ever traveled.  

The old saying that you get bitten by the travel is the truest of them all and once you go on that first backpacking trip, it sparks something in you that wants more and more.

You turn into a daydreamer, if you weren’t already one, and all you can think about is how you’re going to afford the next adventure.

And on that note, I’ll leave you to think about it.

Feel more clued in to the advantages and disadvantages of travel?

I’m hoping that this guide to the advantages and disadvantages of travel has helped you get an idea of what it’s like to be on the road long term—so let me know in the comments. For more travel tips, make sure to head to the A World Over blog, where you’ll find all my guides and articles.

And if you’re planning a trip at the moment, then I highly recommend that you read my ultimate guide on how to afford travel.

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