There’s no denying that Asia has so much to pack into a trip that you will never truly see it all, no matter how long you stay there. Because of this fact, you will find countless backpackers, digital nomads, and basically those who upped sticks and moved to this cultural and beautiful part of the world, in an attempt to swim in the rich ocean of everything Asia has to offer.
This might sound like a wonderful opportunity to have, an indeed it is, in fact if you have the chance then you should grab it with both hands, however like anything in life, there are downsides to long-term travel, as well as many upsides too. If you’re wondering whether you should take the leap and head off on an extended adventure into Asia, here’s a little food for thought to help you make a balanced decision.
You get to truly appreciate a place, and immerse yourself in the culture – If you visit somewhere for a week, you can say you’ve ‘been’, you can’t say you’ve ‘done it’, not in my opinion anyway. Now, long-term travel allows you to enter into that prestigious club which says you have lived there, and you have experienced it, swum in the culture and learnt some of the language. This is travel in its truest form.
One long trip is better than several smaller ones – Basically money-wise, it’s going to be cheaper to do one long trip than to do the tourist route and book flights and expensive accommodation in major resorts. You will only experience tourism if you do this, you won’t experience life in Asia as a whole.
You will make many new friends – Asia is a backpacker’s dream, and whether you travel constantly or you stay in a few places for a longer time, you will no doubt meet many likeminded people as you go along. Who knows, you could meet the love of your life!
You can volunteer and learn new skills, make a difference – Extended travel allows you to use your skills for good, and this is a part of the world where you can certainly do that. There are countless volunteering opportunities, from teaching English, to conservation, wildlife work, to construction, and helping in schools. This could be your chance to travel and do something positive too.
It pushes you out of your comfort zone – This is probably the biggest upside to long-term travel, whether it be in Asia or anywhere in the world – there is a saying ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’, and it’s a very true one.
Coming home to normality may be harder – The longer you are away, the harder it is to return to normality once you do return. This is just a fact of life.
It can be lonely – Life on the road, constantly on the go, can be tiring and it can be lonely. If you like to spend time predominantly on your own then this is great, but if you are a social butterfly, you might find it harder than you first thought.
You will miss home because the differences in culture are so huge – Asia is a melting pot of cultures and traditions, and on the positive this is a great thing to experience, but it will also make you more homesick because the differences are so massive.
Things may have moved on or changed a lot when you do return home – If you’re off having a travel adventure for an extended amount of time, don’t expect life to remain the same when you do return home. People change, they move, they get married, towns change, some things will be unrecognisable, and that can be hard.
It’s about weighing up the pros and cons when it comes to long term-travel in Asia, but personally, the upsides definitely outweigh the downsides.
Photo Credit: Mike Behnken