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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+ [...]

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.


Filed under: Perpetual Travel, Travel Philosophy

About the Author:

For 30+ years, Michael Robert Powell (MRP) has been nomadic across the planet, exploring 120+ countries while pioneering a minimalist, travel lifestyle. Experiences include: Arrested in Saddam’s Iraq – accused of being spy by the army, caught amid a murderous cyclone in Bangladesh, hitching the Sahara across Algeria and Niger, and much more. Check out: www.thecandytrail.com. has written 3 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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  • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 23, 2011, 10:16 pm

    I can’t say I have ever had a correspondent reading watching porn while answering a question before haha. Or at least they never shared this with me.

    This is truly a great primer on how to keep the mind from turning to jelly and fully stimulated when on the long road. I like how you go between full on and complete excitement to quite times of simple intrigue. Truly a good formula.

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  • the candy trail ... | Michael Robert Powell January 23, 2011, 11:06 pm

    Thanks Wade.

    Yeah. Opposites work for me: busy – lazy; full-on – quiet; exciting – dull; amid people – alone; working in a foreign land – traveling in a foreign land; drunk – sober; crazy – normal …

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 23, 2011, 11:55 pm

      Yes, there is something stimulating in extremes. To go all the way one way is to create a craving for going all the way in the opposite direction, always keeping both sides fresh. I suppose I once went for extremes as well until landing myself with a family. Now life is always extreme in the same direction haha.

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  • Dave from The Longest Way Home January 24, 2011, 1:05 am

    Good to see the likes of brutal in your face travel being highlighted. People like Candy Trail used to exist in plenty of places around the world. Now they are a rarity

    And, as we know when something becomes rare it’s value increases.

    Moreover, in world faded with the monikers of “pleasure travel” Michael does indeed take it to a new level.

    What type of book/blog is there 1,000 versions of? The 101 best beach types. What type of websites talk of blow up Korean dolls … well there’s value in rarity!

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 24, 2011, 10:35 am

      Very true, Candy Trail is that it tells the raw story (or at least a small portion of them). There are so few travel sites that even tell the truth, let alone with such sheer brashness. Truly something rare.

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  • bicycle luke January 24, 2011, 4:48 am

    Wade/Michael, did you meet one another along the road or just throught each others websites?

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 24, 2011, 10:30 am

      No, he just started appearing in the comments with the byline, “A nomad across planet earth since 1988.” Haha. How could I not want go to to his site and check him out? What I found there was truly unique.

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  • David Jacobs January 25, 2011, 7:46 am

    Love his stories. Wish he published more… 🙂

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  • the candy trail ... | Michael Robert Powell January 26, 2011, 7:38 pm

    Greetings from China … Thanks for the thumbs-up: Dave, Wade, David; I rarely receive any encouragement so it’s nice to know a few people appreciate my version of travel (as I don’t write for an audience). Maybe it’s time to release more stories …

    Enjoy life, wherever you are … | Regards – MRP

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 26, 2011, 9:26 pm

      No problem, Michael.

      Good on ya, get those stories out. Could be better to do a little book of them. Good stuff.

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  • Adam February 18, 2011, 11:30 pm

    It has to be rooted to a deep passion to seeing the world, going the distance and meeting new people.

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    • the candy trail ... | Michael Robert Powell March 6, 2011, 3:34 am

      You’re right … Am fascinated by the sights of the world – historic, scenic, cultural – and meeting new people is part of that as are, the endless distances and the fun of the actual journeys, themselves.

      It’s the only life that I know – this travel life, that makes me feel happy AND so free. But, I assume I will find other paths, one day?

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  • ours 3CK January 29, 2012, 12:43 pm

    I’m pretty sure roadjunky.com has a place for you…

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