Written by Mr. Mark, our JamFriend and contributing freelance travel writer and world traveler.
Note: Mr. Mark’s British English shines through his writing, so you can almost hear his accent in his Proper British spelling!
You might be reading Ms Harmonica’s blog thinking “I would love to go travelling for longer than the usual one or two week annual holiday but that is only for rich and/or retired people”. On that note…I will attempt to explain why long term travel is within the reach of many people who do ordinary jobs and without large sums of money from my British point of view.
What about my job?
You do not have to leave your job to take a longer time off, given sufficient notice, many employers will grant leave of absence without pay, in some countries you have the right to ask for a leave every so many years. If you do decide to hand in your notice, it’s usually best to say how much you have enjoyed working there and might like to come back there one day…hopefully keeping the door open. Having a period of travel doesn’t look bad on your CV, it helps develop your communication and interpersonal skills, your practical and decision making skills will also get a hone.
I do not have the money for longer term travel
Travel does cost money and I prefer to have a certain amount to start with although I do know people who have travelled for years on credit and paid for it afterwards. If you don’t have the money, it does take time and discipline to save the amount you may need to travel. I saved for four years to take a year off and travel to normally spend extra money on like satellite television, going out to dinner or the latest IPhone. It might seem hard at the time but when you are sitting on that tropical beach watching the sun set over the ocean with a gin and tonic….it will be well worth it.
Another area where money can be saved or made is with accommodations. Do you have a spare room you can rent out or would it be cheaper to rent a room in someone else’s house for a while? If you own a house, you could sell it which might release some equity or rent it out while you are away, keeping the mortgage paid and perhaps gain a little more income by charging a bit more in rent. If you do decide to go the whole hog and sell many of your possessions you’ll not only raise more money but may also help prepare you for time on the road with less possessions!
How shall I travel?
The most popular form of travel is backpacking, using flights and public transport to get from one town or country to the next and is not limited to gap year students. You will see the occasional head of grey hair in the hostel common room and no one will think it strange. It is the easiest and cheapest way to travel requiring only a backpack filled with essentials of which you probably already own.
I prefer to have my own transport… which for me has been two wheels and comes in the form of a motorcycle or bicycle both of which have their pros and cons. This gives you great deal of independence for heading off of the beaten track or stopping when you want without keeping to someone else’s schedule. Taking your own motor vehicle is quite straight forward on your home continent but becomes more complicated and expensive once shipping, tolls, insurance, parking, highway license (vignette) is involved.
Alone or with someone else
Having a like minded friend or partner who wants to travel with you is a good place to start if you don’t wish to travel alone. It isn’t always easy to find someone else and about the only place (besides a good friend) will be on a forum which has a traveller seeking traveller section. If you are happy to go alone, then no problem, but having the confidence to set off alone is another thing entirely. BUT if you have the confidence, you are sure to meet people headed your way or who are happy for you to join them on theirs.
There are endless websites and forums out there with all the information you need to get started, here are some that I use.
For general travel information I find the Lonely Planet site helpful, their guide books are also the most popular out there.
For travelling with your own vehicle… be it motorcycle, car, four wheel drive or bicycle Horizons Unlimited is pretty hard to beat.