Why I Quit Traveling

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That’s an odd statement from a blog about, among other things, travel.

But I alluded to this in the past.

Traveling the way I’ve been traveling is tiring. Being on the constant move is tiring.

Just when I get to know (and maybe love) a city, I move on.

It takes about a week before I get comfortable with a new place. If I leave before that week is up there’s an underlying sense of stress.

In New Zealand, because I decided to do a bus tour, I saw 16 cities in 30 days. That is just too much. I went to more cities in NZ in 30 days than I did in the 70 days I was in Australia.

Guess where I had a more enjoyable time?

New Zealand was amazing, but incredibly stressful.

I hate stress.

I’ll go out on a limb and assume you hate stress too.

Today I’m flying to Detroit after 5 days in LA. I’ll be in the Detroit area (where I grew up) until I leave for India on Jan 28.

Although I can’t stand cold weather, I’m looking forward to having a home base for more than a few days.

What I Did Wrong In Australia/New Zealand

Squeezing 2 vast countries like Australia and New Zealand into 100 days is not possible.

When I booked my flights to Australia/New Zealand (all the way back in March) I planned on coming back to the US and laying down roots again.

A couple of months after I booked said flights I decided to sell all my stuff, live out of a backpack, and see more of the world.

Because I bought a return instead of one way ticket I was already pretty well handcuffed to the 100 day Oz/NZ trip. Yes, I could have paid flight change fees and extended the trip so I could stay in my favorite places longer, but there’s a reason I didn’t do that.

I already made December plans with my family and friends in Michigan. When I say I’m going to do something, barring unforeseen circumstances, I do it. With my upcoming plans I won’t see any of them for a long time so it all worked out perfectly and I’m looking forward to spending time with them.

How To Quit Traveling and Still See The World

When I say I’m quitting traveling, I specifically mean I’m not going to be on the move constantly anymore.

I booked a one way award flight from Detroit to Mumbai. I will probably stay in Mumbai for just a few days before heading to Goa and staying there for a month or two.

My new rule is, unless I don’t like a place, I’m staying there for at least a month.

This will give me time to acclimate to each place I visit. I’ll also be able to rent an apartment or a single guest house room.

I still fully plan on making 2-3 day side trips, but having a home base to go back to will be wonderful.

The beauty of travel…scratch that…the beauty of anything in life is that you can do it however it works for you.

For some people, not knowing where they’ll be from one second to the next is exactly what they need.

Personally, I like knowing at least a few hours (OK, days!) in advance where I’ll lay my head. :)

What is your style of travel?



44 COMMENTS

  1. Well, i have to say that when you annonced a title of your next post couple days ago i was expecting axacly that :)
    I think that is a great idea to stay in one place longer so you could get to know it better not just seeing it as a tourist. Kinda Tynan style.

    And I probably need a lot of practice in writing in english…

  2. Awesome Karol. I can resonate, because I don’t like traveling unless it’s slow and I can stay in one place for at least a month or two. Going on a stress-vacation and trying to see as much as possible is not for me. I like to sit around and do nothing and get comfortable ;)

    • Hey Henri,

      Exactly…although I did somewhat rush through Australia, it was much more enjoyable because I went slower. I was able to get more work done and hang out with the local CouchSurfers more. :)

      Karol

  3. Staying in one place longer also lends itself better to social situations. Aside from being able to ‘experience’ the country in a deeper way or avoiding stress, you’ll also get to form longer-lasting connections with the people you meet!

    Always a big plus. :-)

    I love it. I can’t wait to hear about your guitar making experience. Super jealous.

    • Yeah man…I didn’t even meet CouchSurfers in New Zealand! (Except that first night in Auckland the first time we briefly met.) The bus tour didn’t lend itself well to friendships because everybody was on a different schedule (it being a hop on hop off tour). As much as I love hanging out by myself, it’s cool to hang with a core group of people sometimes too. :)

  4. I completely agree. It takes a month just to figure out where the decent cafes are. Anything shorter than that and you are not really getting a feel for the place.

    Many people dreaming of extensive travel don’t really understand how tiring and tedious it can become if you are always moving.

  5. I know exactly what you mean here – I got back a couple of months ago from a year RTW – and although I slowed down a lot at the end, it was just too fast and sooo exhausting. Because I was meeting people along the way I felt compelled to just keep moving on, but there are a few places I could have plopped down and enjoyed for months :-) Looking forward to your India experiences!

    • Hi Shannon,

      Thank you. That’s precisely the reason I didn’t buy a RTW ticket before even though I was strongly considering it. I had a feeling it would be too confining, and rush rush rush.

      Karol

  6. I’m with Henri on this one! I realized that the slower pace was much better for me soon after I started travelling. That’s why I stay at least 2 months in a city and am happier getting to know a city and its people really well, even if I can’t say I know the “entire” country :)

    • Hey Benny,

      Thank you. Yeah, I have already had people tell me, “but you’re missing out if you don’t see EVERY SINGLE TOURIST TRAP in the country.” The slow pace isn’t for everybody. But the vacation mindset of having to see everything has never been my cuppa tea.

      Karol

  7. I just recently found your blog – I can’t remember if you did a guest post somewhere or if one of your fans linked to you, but somehow I ended up here. I’m enjoying reading up on some of your past posts like this one, and just wanted to say thanks for that great Marcus Aurelius line in “Permission to do Nothing”.

    It seems everyone has an opinion on what we should be doing with our lives each day, and even those of us who have crafted some semblance of true freedom can find ourselves bogged down with a massive to do list filled with other peoples expectations that we forget to stop and listen to our own voice.

    I’m glad that you have decided to listen to yours, and hope that you will continue to to be ridiculously extraordinary as you follow your heart, and stop running around and start traveling.

    • Hi Chip,

      Thanks for finding me in whatever way you did. :)

      It’s not always easy for us to live our lives the way we want, but I’m learning that it’s far more rewarding. I actually recorded a video in the mountains here in LA a couple days ago about this very topic. I don’t know when I’ll release it though. :0

      Thank you again,
      Karol

      P.S. For anybody who didn’t read Permission To Do Nothing, this is the quote Chip is referring to: “Everyone gets one life. Yours is almost used up, and instead of treating yourself with respect, you have entrusted your own happiness to the souls of others.” – Marcus Aurelius Meditations 2.6

  8. Great decision. My experience is that if you stay longer in a place, you got much more opportunities to connect with the people that live there and get to know the secret spots that won’t show up in Lonely Planets…

  9. I think you have the right idea Karol. Though I suggest everyone take a random, wandering trip as well. Why? Doing that much travel through so many cities allows people to see many different places and come back to them, it teaches people to be a minimalist traveler, and it forces people to do stuff instead of just being there. When I first went to Aussie in 2005, I traveled everywhere in a little amount of time. This was great because I learned to travel with less and found places like Cairns and Sydney that I focused my travels on the next trip. I believe knocking out a trip like you did is extremely beneficial.

    But like you, in the future, I plan on staying for about a month wherever I go and just renting a place for that period of time. My girlfriend and I realized the comfort and security of having a one-month-rental to go to while staying in places around the world is much more enjoyable.

    What are your plans for India?

    David Damron
    LifeExcursion

      • Hello Karol,

        I have just about an hour ago stumbled on to your blog. I am Indian and, live in Mumbai. I see that you are transiting through on your way to Goa. You are an interesting man and it would be a pleasure to meet up in Mumbai that is, if it is not going to put a crimp in your schedule. As you must be aware India is more vegetarian than non; having said that I must caution you, Goa does not have too much options for vegetarians. You will get by certainly. Cities will not pose too many problems though. Feel free to correspond if there is any bit of info you may need.

  10. I sort of do the same thing now. After two month of camping, hitchhiking and mountain climbing I get to the point where I want to settle some place for a few weeks, break the routine a little bit and keep busy (like work or take some classes). Remember Karol, if you need a place to crash for a while in Medellín Colombia never hesitate to ask.

    • Kevin! Thanks for sharing…awesome to see you here. :)

      I definitely will visit Colombia some day. My next ~9 months are full though. :)

      You touched on a biggie for me that I didn’t mention in the article (edited the whole “work” section out): I enjoy working and it’s very difficult if I’m moving every couple days.

      Karol

  11. Hei Karol!
    Once again lots of wisdom in this post: such a pleasure to read your blog!
    I realised slow travel is an invaluable experience with regard to social connection and in depth knowledge of the people we come to visit on a long stay….by chance.
    On my first travel (10 years ago) I was exhausted by job, then stayed 2 months in Okinawa (Japan).
    Though I barely could speak some japanese, I came to know lots of wonderful young people over there: it was an amazing time. Later at home people asked me puzzled where I had been all alone as a teenager so far away, which cities had I seen, which tourist places had I been to?? but I’m simply answering I stayed 2 months in Okinawa cause that was a nice place!

    By the way, I visited North India few years ago (I know a lot more hindi than japanese:p), but I chose to see as many different cities/villages/temples/castles as possible, because I went there for arcitecture sightseeing…though I stayed 10 days in Dehli, far away from tourist to get to know more people.
    But for social relationships and culture I preferred Pakistan, unfortunately nowadays the places I visited are regularly attacked by suicide bombs, so I won’t advise you to go there.

    • Hi Paris,

      Thank you! Why do people find it so odd when you spend an extended period of time in one place without lots of sightseeing? I get some of the same reactions as what you got when you went home from Okinawa.

      Karol

  12. oops I forgot to tell you there is my India and Pakistan travel blog post on the blog link I put here….just in case you want to have a look.

  13. That’s awesome, Karol. I’m very happy for you that you took a look at what was bothering you and you took steps to try to fix it. :)

  14. I think you are really on to something with this post. Whenever I travel, because of my work schedule, it always seems like I have to cram everything in on one trip! I have always thought it would take longer to really get to know people and be comfortable in places where you visit.

    We can’t worry if we don’t see everything. I have been to the Philippines on a couple of occasions and I probably have visited more sites than most who live in country. It is important to slow down and enjoy the travel process. This is how we learn the most. Travel changes us for the better!

    • Don’t worry Randall, this is how most people feel: “it always seems like I have to cram everything in on one trip”

      It’s a scarcity mindset and it’s perfectly normal to have. Although it’s quite beneficial to actively pursue an abundance mindset. Steve Pavlina talks a lot about this although I don’t have a specific reference to point you to.

      Thanks for contributing!

  15. Yet another excellent post my friend!

    Well done! I can’t tell you how much I really enjoy your blog. I don’t know about most people, but I know there are a ton of awesome blogs out there on the internet, but I tend to only frequent a few that I really enjoy on a consistent basis. I just had an epiphany of sorts. If my travelling habits are anything like my blog reading habits, I would much prefer to actually experience the local culture than to stop off for a day and see a city just to say “I’ve been their!” Does that make sense?

    Also I think everyone is different. Its one of those things that you just have to play around with and experience for yourself to truly discover your personality and what kind of traveler you really are. It probably also depends on the circumstances as well. Not to diminish the beauty of any smaller country in geographic size, but its probably easier to see smaller countries like England, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark etc than it would be to travel an entire country as large and as vast as Canada, China, USA, NZ and Aussie.

    I’ve lived in Canada my entire life (23 years) and I’ve probably only seen half of it. It can be challenging to see such a large country especially considering it would take you 5 days or longer just to drive from coast to coast.

    I suppose there is a difference. Sight seeing, and truly experiencing and engaging in the local culture. Some people prefer some tropical country with really hot weather and just want to sit on a beach for a week. Whereas other people would get bored out of their minds doing that.

    To each their own. I think we can all agree on that you will never regret “spending too much time” in one spot. Unless you really don’t like it. If thats the case, I’m pretty sure after a few days you will figure that out. And at that point, if you aren’t loving it, its a good indication to leave.

    Cheerio

    • Wow, I don’t really know what to write. Thank you Kevin! :)

      You’re dead on, everybody is different. David Damron mentioned earlier that doing the rushed type of travel is probably beneficial for everybody to experience. I agree. And now that I’ve done it I know I don’t want to do it again for a while. I probably will schedule a month or so in Poland of fast paced travel. We’ll see what happens when the time comes though. :)

      Thanks again!
      Karol

  16. I tend to “buy in” to the tour schedule. What ever a tour company says is available, must be made to work. I love you have decided to make the experience and adventure under your own terms and that may be adding time on the beginning or end of a trip without a schedule. It has made me re-think a few up coming trips I have.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Your blog is a little vacation for me. Happy Holidays in Detroit and get some much needed rest.

    • Thank you Erin. I agree that the tour companies “make it work,” but that doesn’t mean they make it work optimally. They do obviously have their place though.

      Karol

  17. Hey Karol,

    Your story reminded me of my one-week-holiday in Malta by myself, 7 years ago. The first day I was constantly looking on my watch, seeing if I was on schedule for visiting all the sights in Malta’s capitol. Who’s schedule was that? Mine and mine only.

    So after a day I decided to forget about schedules, to skip all organised trips to the sights. Instead, every evening I spent time deciding what I wanted to do the next day, mostly just one thing, sometimes 2, rarely three. And then I went (by bus, great experience in Malta!), enjoying where I was, what I saw, what I experienced. And giving myself a very good reason to return to Malta another time to visit things I didn’t go to that holiday and revisit places I liked.

    I had one of the most wonderful and inspiring holidays of my life. I have never been on a fully organised holiday. My last holiday was camping with a tent, together with my boyfriend and our two young children. Then planning becomes more important, but still not too important ;)

    I wish you wonderful and inspiring stays too.

    Have fun,

    Karin

    • Thank you so much for sharing Karin! That’s awesome that you took the reigns and decided to go at your own pace.

      “And giving myself a very good reason to return to Malta another time to visit things I didn’t go to that holiday and revisit places I liked.” – I love this. This is a great example of the abundance mindset. :)

      Thanks again,
      Karol

  18. Hey, Karol, I think your not quitting your being flexible and giving yourself permission to learn from your expirience. You’d quit if you came to Orlando (or wherevr) and signed a 1 year lease! I’d definetely would’nt frame it as quitting!

    • It was a matter of semantics. I didn’t mean I quit in the traditional sense. But using the headline “Why I Quit Rushed Traveling” isn’t as effective a headline as simply “Why I Quit Traveling.” The former doesn’t evoke as much curiosity.

  19. I was waiting for this article since the last one! And it delivered a lot of value to me still Karol!

    I’m glad you shared your experience with quick on the go traveling and staying in a place for a while. I would as you prefer to be in a place for a while, thanks Karol! Your blog/articles help me tweak my plans a lot! Now a member of couchsurfing.org.

    If you remember from your traveling light post, I’m traveling in similar ways as you next year. I sold most everything to friends, amazon and craigslist, and resigned my job this past Monday (two weeks notice).

    Tell me Karol, do you plan to head to Japan?

    • Thanks for commenting Bobby! That’s so awesome that you joined CS. It’s a wonderful community. :) Congrats on selling your stuff and quitting your job! That is great to hear.

      No plans to head to Japan any time soon.

  20. I know this will sound strange but I love to see the world BUT I HATE to travel. Meaning I hate having a short time span to see any place (by short I mean 2 weeks or less) — I hate the stress of running around like crazy trying to get a feel of the place and also see touristy stuff too. My husband wants a crazy quick trip to the Swiss Alps someday with a “to do” list — not looking forward to that so much.

  21. Karol, You’ve discovered what many of us “full-time travelers” have found – “traveling” abroad is different from “living” abroad.

    When my husband and I took a year to travel to mostly third-world countries by motorcycle, we also thought we’d travel for that year and then come back to “real life.” We crammed in as much as possible, thinking we might never get the chance to see the places again so we should take advantage of the opportunity to see and do as much as possible. Well, that year was exhausting! Fun and life-changing, but exhausting.

    When we came back from that year and decided to make “exploring” other countries our way of life, we made a major change: we built a “home on wheels” that would be rugged, and yet comfortable enough, to take us where we wanted to go, and to allow us to “live” in each place for as long as we desired. These two travel styles were so remarkably different and I can honestly say they both worked for the time in which we did them. But, when asked how we prefer to travel, we respond that we prefer to “live” in a place for a while so we get the chance to really get to know the vibe and the people. That’s almost impossible to do when popping in for a day or two, and certainly challenging when trying to cram in many stops in a short period of time.

    I wish you all the best on your continues travels and hope your time at home in MI is fun, relaxing and not too cold.

    Happy Holidays,
    Steph

    • Hey Steph,

      Thank you for sharing your perspective on the traveling vs living abroad conundrum. :)

      “These two travel styles were so remarkably different and I can honestly say they both worked for the time in which we did them.”

      Well put. I think like David mentioned in the comments, everybody should travel in the rushed “must see everything!” pace just to experience that. Because, as exhausting as it is, it’s also incredibly fun. :)

      Thanks again!
      Karol

  22. I generally prefer to visit fewer places and spend more time in each. In 2007 I spent 6 weeks in Switzerland. I spent two weeks in one hostel, three weeks in another, and one week cumulatively wandering around. Both of the hostels were located in tiny villages (one with 113 residents), and due to being kind of a temporary facet of the village, I got to know the locals quite well, and they got to know me. By my final week in the 3-week hostel, I didn’t pay for a single meal or drink – the locals all were so amused that I spent so much time in their village that they all bought me drinks and paid for my meals before I could even get my tab. One of the major reasons I travel is to develop a relationship with locals, and I have found that staying in one or two places for an extended period of time is the best way to do that.

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