How Long-Term Travel Ruins Your Life

Pssst! Hey! Yes, you. Come closer. I have a secret to share with you. Something that everyone should be aware of.


It’s more addictive than heroin and there is no rehabilitation, no cure. Much like herpes, you are stuck with it for life. The best prescription you can hope for is a new plane ticket applied weekly — but like all good medical treatments, this is only affordable for the affluent.

For those who do choose to pursue “treatment” (aka indulging in the addiction) we eventually find that travel ruins our lives. Again, much like heroin — but slightly less expensive.

  Itching to pin something? Here ya go ๐Ÿ˜‰

It's more addictive than heroin and there is no rehabilitation, no cure. The only prescription that helps is a new plane ticket, applied weekly.

“But wait, Derek, you keep telling me that travel is great.”

True. Short, eye-opening vacations and trips are great. But long-term travel ruins your life. Little things which ordinary people take for granted — such as a normal sleep pattern or a simple work routine — become impossible tasks. Maintaining a steady relationship is arduous best, especially if it is with someone who doesn’t travel as much. Everything that gives meaning to “ordinary” peoples’ lives suddenly loses all meaning when you travel. Sports. Television. Your local bar. All those things lose their appeal.

I’ve spoken in great detail before about the Occupational Hazards Of Being A Professional Travel Blogger and of the travel fucktastrophes that happen when you spend your life on the road.

Yet still there’s something sexy about the phrase “digital nomad.”   Guilty. Sometimes I have a few beers and brag about it to my embarrassment the next day:

Of course if that won’t convince you that extensive traveling ruins your life, let me have some of my friends share their thoughts:


TV. No desire whatsoever to watch stupid telly interrupted with even more stupid TV commercials. Waste of time.

– Juergen Klein,

Enjoying this beautiful vista view instead of watching TV. Just another thing that long-term travel has ruined for me.
With a vista view like this, who needs a television?


GYM GYM GYM and health. I hate that I can’t keep in top shape when I’m bumming around the globe :S Healthy eating, sleeping patterns, regular workouts etc, miss it so much.

– Johnny Ward,

Long-term travel ruins sometimes the “deep” connections with your so called “best friends” back home. You travel, you live your day-by-day-adventure and by all the experience you gain, you grow and open up your mind, attitude and appreciate small things. Back home your lads still complaining about their same shitty jobs, what a tard their boss is and that they need to see that new Avenger movie. Avengers is great, don’t get me wrong — but the fact that your best friends back home keep grinding in that race rat and don’t actually live their lives to their full potential loses the deeper connection to them. Kind of hurts, but everybody is in charge of their own happiness I guess…

– Nick Martin,

Long-term travel will lead you down roads you never even knew existed.
Long-term travel will lead you down roads you never even knew existed while your best friends stick to the same boring roads they’ve been driving their whole life.


The desire to spend money on furniture. Like I’m supposed to spend a couple hundred on a used couch for my new apartment? That’s a plane ticket back home to see family!

– Dani Blanchette, Going Nomadic

Travel even ruins the view out the airplane window. After a while you get bored by it.
Travel even ruins the view from the airplane window. After a while it just becomes normal to us travelers. Much like traffic is for “normal” people.


Long term travel ruins the enjoyment of short term travel. A one week vacation is not enough to experience/enjoy a destination. You feel like you need at least a month.

– Ted Nelson, Traveling Ted

Friends become family and family become strangers. Just one of the many ways that travel ruins your life.
When you are traveling somewhere new every week and making new friends every day, everything you thought you knew about “normal” life vanishes. New friends becomes family and family become strangers. This was us on the Rickshaw Run in India.


Long-term travel/perpetual expating (for nearly 5 years now) has ruined any attraction for a comfy, predictable life in a 1st world country like my native land. Alas, I’m now addicted to the daily challenges of living amid a sea of gibberish and cultural differences (such as “suicide showers” which I actually find brilliant and exceedingly energy efficient; squat toilets – ditto quite efficient/superior to the Western variety when you think about it, given that you don’t have to plop your tush on a filthy toilet seat, yes?, – not to mention the sheer joy of eating fresh, rather than frozen veggies, silly Tyson chicken nuggets, etc.)

Call me a masochist, but I honestly THRIVE on constantly testing my mettle to deal with ever surprising, confusing and yes, thoroughly stimulating obstacles of life in foreign lands. In short, it makes me feel effusively ALIVE!

Shoot, at this point, I’d be BORED SILLY within 10 days in my (otherwise beloved) Seattle. Just waaay too cushy and predictable.

– Dyanne Kruger,

Squat toilet in Mongolia. Dealing with things like this is how travel ruins your life.
Squat toilet in Mongolia. Dealing with things like this is how travel ruins your ability to be happy with a “normal” life.


Long-term travel has ruined my ability to spend money on normal things. I used to buy movies, pc games, fancy clothes. Long-term travel has ruined my desire to have things normal society deems necessary to live like a car, or house. When you spend years living out of a backpack you realize just how little you need and how rewarding it is to live with next to nothing. I couldn’t imagine doing something as big as buying a car, or as small as spending a couple hundred dollars on clothes. For me it is a waste.

-Stephen Schreck, A Backpacker’s Tale

Wardrobe Shopping In Jogja


Family relationships for sure — it is horrible for family not just to have me personally traveling, but our kids too and for example grandparents (and aunts and cousins) not seeing their grandkids etc. At the same time, we have stolen the same from our kids by choosing the travel lifestyle instead of family-focused. Our own family of five is probably much more tight and close than typical families and we do everything together, and our kids are each others best friends because we move so often that it’s what they have… But the overall larger family relations are not nearly as close what many non-traveling families have. We try to visit Finland and Texas every 3-4 YEARS, where our families live, but frankly because the extended family doesn’t want to travel to see us, we always don’t want to travel to see them either… and rather visit new places. Also — we have stolen “roots” from our kids. I think right now they are proud to be citizen’s of the world, but I am sure they will spend time in therapy when they are adults ๐Ÿ™‚

– Katja Presnal, Skimbaco Lifestyle

Turns out the life of a traveler isn’t as picture perfect as everyone may think.

  What has travel ruined for you?

Enjoy it? Tell a friend
About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel." ย  Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

21 thoughts on “How Long-Term Travel Ruins Your Life”

  1. Travel has ruined he half-baked copies of foreign cultures that can be found back home. Go out for Indian/Chinese/etc in Louisiana? But I know this little spot in Delhi/Chengdu that’s just soooo much better…

  2. I can never, ever, be “normal” again. I would die of boredom. A job….dear God no!!!
    What the lady above with kids says is kinda true. My two spend no time with extended family either, but to me that’s no loss, the family don’t “get” us and really see our lifestyle choices as rejection of their own. So stuff them. The kids lives are far richer through meeting some incredibly interesting, weird and amazing people, from all over the world. They’ll never be “normal” either. That’s a good thing.

    • Lol. Appreciate the quote, Ted. But I’m sure you know the old saying: “Do as I say, not as I do.” At least make the trip as interesting as possible as visiting some new places up there that you haven’t been too yet.

  3. It’s difficult to get really excited by more temples and ruins but that just makes the human contact in other places so much more rewarding.

    • Yeah, when you’ve seen literally hundreds of temples, they really all just begin to blend together. But the people and cultures are always unique, and always memorable. Often rewarding as well too. Travel just makes it too hard to appreciate all the (frivolous) things in life that used to be of such great importance. The hard part, the part I still struggle to thoroughly explain to all those people who have never and most likely will never travel, is just how profound this change is.

  4. The true test will come when we decide it’s time to stop traveling and if we can take the positive aspects of the changes into settled lives to make them more meaningful. I don’t know about you but I am sure one day I will be ready rest from long term travel.

    • Yes, I already see myself nearing that day Graham…although maybe I shouldn’t be mentioning that publicly. Basically I’ve this year I’ve started to temporarily settle in places for several months, rather than country hop every month. But rather than out of exhaustion or boredom with travel, it’s more out of necessity. I am so hopelessly far behind on my work and client commitments and video editing and photo sorting and blog updates….ever since Nepal really. Then I was too busy doing videos in India to focus on anything else. Since leaving, I’ve been slaving away on a laptop every second I’m not on a motorcycle for the last couple months now and still feel like I’m barely making any progress. The downside of making a career out of traveling, whereas your situation is a tad bit different. Anyway, hope we cross paths yet again soon ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Best of luck with it, at least you have created a post travel career out of your travelling and one which will still give you the chance to travel a bit I imagine.

  5. haha, I am sooooo with Dani on the furniture thing. I did 10 months of travel a little over a year ago and when I got back to the US I definitely did not wanna buy a lot of furniture. Another thing for me is the rental prices in the US compared to other places. Just makes me sick knowing how well I can live in other countries in the price I pay here in the US.

    • Oh I know exactly what you mean Alex! You go back at start to look at things differently, like “for the price of this couch I could travel Guatemala for two weeks” or “$8 for a burger, fries and drink? I could get 8 meals in Vietnam or Indonesia for that price!” However, want to know a secret? I’m going to keep rambling all in one long paragraph so that the skimmers don’t catch this, because I haven’t announced it to the world just yet….but will soon. Probably later this week. Anyway, my point is, just two weeks ago I got a new condo. And then furnished it. I even went silverware shopping shopping and had curtains installed! The old me would have slapped me. For the first time in 7 and a half years, I now have a again home — although I only actually plan on being there a couple months out of the year. It is somewhere in Southeast Asia, on a nice deserted beach away from tourists, and it costs me so close to nothing that I’m willing to pay for it even though it’s basically just going to be storage for gear I’m not using on my current project. I guess the point of all this is after having wandered the world and spent far too long surrounded by American excess, having a home isn’t so bad — as long as it isn’t so expensive that it keeps you from traveling as much or as little as you want.

      • haha, I won’t tell anyone! But I’ve been secretly thinking of doing the same when my lease is up next spring cause it makes me sick to pay $1400/mo for my “cheap” apartment – especially when I’m not even here all the time.

        • You should. Yeah that same price would get you a condo on the beach of Thailand for 8-9 months or a flat in Indonesia for basically a year or a…… Wait, I’m not helping, am I? (Or maybe I am ๐Ÿ˜‰ )


Leave a Comment