If you Aren’t on the Move, Are you Still a Traveler?

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A question asked of me recently by a reader, and possibly especially pertinent now that we are looking at staying in Australia after a year here already, may be: Are you still a traveler if you’re not actually…traveling? You may wonder how I can satisfy the title of The Professional Hobo if I am in essence “settling down” for a year or two.

This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. 
Spoiler Alert: I stayed in Australia for a total of about 18 months, and it was one of many bases I created during my 12 years of full-time travel.

I would like to explain by way of a movie I saw recently called “A Map For Saturday”, which is a documentary about a solo traveler who took a year-long break to travel the world. Although he loved every minute of his travel adventure, he (and other travelers he interviewed) became a little apathetic after a number of months. The beautiful sights and amazing locations started to lose their luster, as the travelers’ itineraries constantly kept them on the move.

Even a slow pace of long-term travel can be dizzying, as your passport fills up and you never stay in one place longer than a few weeks. For the main character, one destination began to blend into the next, and by the end of the year, the experience in essence became one giant blur.

Can you imagine Stonehenge being a blur? The Egyptian Pyramids – a flash in the pan? Temples thousands of years old, architectural feats of wonder, and even just a special moment with a local with whom you can only communicate via body language – the specifics of which are all lost in a tizzy of traveling?

This is why we have chosen to be among the world’s slowest travelers, a term coined by a caretaking friend of mine about her own life that makes perfect sense. When you have a chance to set some roots in each place, not only is the experience more fulfilling as you really get to know the people and culture, but you can depart for the next destination refreshed and ready to explore again. This is a pace that can be maintained for years at a time (as is our plan), instead of the standard backpacking itineraries that rarely exceed one year.

As such, we are not looking to permanently relocate to Australia. But for now, it fits the bill and as long as it feels right, we will be here!

Travel is a state of mind. I believe you can even return to your home country and continue to call yourself a traveler. If you are constantly exploring, are willing to move shop at the drop of a hat (or rather, a great opportunity), and have a lust for new experiences and adventure that keeps you on your toes, you are traveling. If you always see things with new and fresh eyes, and can make unique observations about everyday life and events, you are traveling. And if wanderlust is an ingrained part of your vocabulary and internal make-up, even if you are still (or back) at home, you are traveling.

Are we still travelers? Heck, yes.

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6 thoughts on “If you Aren’t on the Move, Are you Still a Traveler?”

  1. I believe it’s very very difficult to be a non-stop traveller, even if you had the financial resources to do so. There will come a point where you find “the perfect place” and will want to stop for a bit. You will make friends. Living out a suitcase gets to you. Not being able to own anything that won’t fit in a suitcase gets to you.

    So it’s not a knock to say you’ve found a place you’d like to spend a few years in. You’re just not a hobo or a full-time traveller. You’re taking a break from it. That’s ok. I think it’s human nature to put down roots.

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  2. You are a traveler or traveller if you continue to explore new places. I have been a full time traveler for nine years . Sometimes we settle in a place for a few months to a year but continue to explore the area around us in greater detail.
    I am looking forward to reading of more places that you visit in Victoria.
    This winter I am in the Adelaide Hills but exploring the entire region on my days off. Last winter we parked for 4 months at a Marina south of Belize City but still traveled the whole of Belize. I will do so again because that is what travelers do. Stop and really see things.
    Tourists come in and out on a fixed itinerary and tend to see exactly what they came for. Travelers move in and see the places for what they really are.
    Safe travels, Keith

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  3. @Scott: I hear you. I’m still fighting against the concept that I might no longer be a hobo (for now), as I simply feel so very (very) far away from everything that I have known to be home. I continue to feel my continental roots drawing me towards Canada, even though I haven’t been home in a few years. But I can understand your perception as well.

    @Keith: One of the reasons we chose to get our own place here in Victoria was because we weren’t getting enough time off to explore the area with our caretaking arrangement plus other obligations. Now that we have our own digs, we’ll be taking time to go to Philip Island, New Zealand, Bali, Queensland, and other places. Yay for exploratory travel!

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  4. Amen sister, and I came across your blog at the right time – my husband and I have been traveling a year through Latin America, and sadly, things blur. I still had some excitement about walking in the bazillionth-hostel, church, these past few weeks, but let’s face it, the excitement was mainly about looking forward to settling in for a while.

    Ditto your thoughts that settling in a foreign country temporarily is still traveling because it’s all about your mindset.

    Cheers & happy settling in from Buenos Aires!

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  5. Funny…

    Things Blur because you are not living traveling, you are still living a vacation. When you can travel perpetually, then the reasons to travel fast disappear and you go slower. The comment about money is the correct problem.

    Blur always means you are on vacation, not a traveler.

    For the sake of argument, I must accept that nobody travels forever, although the majority of Travel Blogger portray this, it just is not true, 99.99 percent lie.

    As a person who truly has traveled perpetually for over 11 years this is annoying, because everyone calls themselves a traveler when they go on vacation for over three months.

    Travel for fun, if you decide to go Pro, here is a rule I made up because I as tired of listening to people discuss this.

    Here is a real funny, I had an advertiser who wanted to be on a travel Blogs write, I said, be very careful when you find travel bloggers, they will all stop. She started laughing, she wanted to advertise for a long time, not for three months or one year or even two.

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