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Long Term Travel Primer on How to Keep Traveling

Question for Michael Robert Powell about how to keep traveling

It has been my observation that many people who set out with a long term travel objective often hit a wall at around 6 or 7 months — some become listless, depressed, bored, and many return home. How, after 22 years of travel through 100+ countries, have you kept travel invigorating, fresh, mentally and physically stimulating and challenging? What strategies have you employed to beat the law of diminishing returns, to stave off depression, boredom, and to keep your hands from becoming overly idle? In point, what I am asking is how have you made travel into a complete and rewarding lifestyle?

Big question. Let it be said that what works for me may not work for others.

MRP in Egypt in 1995. Photo from his website, www.TheCandyTrail.com.

Long-term travel is my life. And it can be lonely, depressing and boring like any lifestyle – if, you allow it to be … My philosophy is to avoid such ruts and downs.

I am a hedonist – a pleasure seeker. Life should be fun (… as I write this I am drinking beer and eating spicy peanuts in China, while watching porn).

So, the fact is that I am a bit of freak – someone who enjoys a lot of time alone (as I have no one in my life except the odd email from some members of family) and so I must rely on temporary travel friendships along the way to humanize.

I am friendly, easy-going, and open to all. Sometimes it gets me in trouble. But I don’t care.

But what keeps me really excited is new experiences and seeing places that I always dreamed of – I have a love of history, all cultures, world geography – so it’s a kick to see this in reality. BUT also I love the absolute freeness of the journey, across countries and continents; and the sheer unpredictability of each day.

And if I get stale on a region – too many temples, the same mountain/desert scenery, etc – then I snap and change continents within hours.

And if I get tired of moving location every few days for many months, I park-up somewhere tranquil, to chill, make art; reflect.

Or if I’m short of cash I teach English for some months. This option is great. Easy visa. Reliable money. Less than 20 hours a week of work. Local cultural immersion. Empty my head; file away the memories. Continue editing my digital archive.

And when I get tired, bored, restless – I hit the road again. These opposite travel situations feed each other; charge me.

Which gets me to the last point: what do my hands do?

This is a map of MRP's travels as of January 2011

I travel with a laptop and decent camera kit, and have a vast amount of unedited stories, videos, images (especially since being totally-digital in 2001) so this hobby keeps me occupied and keen.

Also on my machine are e-books, BBC Radio 4 podcasts, movies, music, and along with making digital art and web-site building, I manage to fill-in my lone hours pretty well.

But when that’s not enough I drink lots of alcohol, have sex with who-ever will dare, party, read, occasionally watch TV (not always possible), and go for walks, trips, crazy adventures.

But when I am totally on the road – not parked up – everyday is very exciting and busy with the intense freshness of the world.

MRP has been a nomad across planet earth for over 22 years. He is truly one of the most traveled living nomads today, as his journeys have taken him through more than 100 countries on every continent — including Antarctica. He hitchhiked across the Sahara, was arrested in Saddam’s Iraq, paid to make love to a plastic doll in South Korea, was abducted in Siberia, and has gotten in and out of trouble in almost every way imaginable at some point or other. Needless to say, he is a madman, making the rest of us perpetual travelers seem like prigs and prudes. Read some of the craziest travel stories being published online at his website, The Candy Trail.

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Filed under: Perpetual Travel, Travel Philosophy

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