Andrew on a Mountain with a Backpack on

This is Not a Holiday…

One of the things we had been looking forward to about Indonesia was the prospect of slowing down after two hectic months of zipping around New Zealand and Australia. Back in London I’d organised 60-day visas so that we’d be able to stop and catch our breath once we arrived in Indonesia. I had pictured us staying in luxurious, cheap hotels where we could go swimming; I imagined days filled with relaxing and exploring combined with plenty of time to write and catch up with freelance work – it would be perfect.

Andrew on a Mountain with a Backpack on

Reality Check – This is no Holiday

We’d been in Bali a couple of weeks when, one evening we finally shut down our computers and headed out into Kuta to find some food. We had the vague idea of going back to a cheap restaurant along the beach that we’d accidently stumbled across when we first arrived. We had spent all day working; I was completing a freelance assignment and Andrew had been trawling the internet for flights to Lombok, researching whether we really needed to take malaria tablets and trying to figure out how we could get to Komodo island without paying a fortune.

Grumpy, tired and lost, we accidently ended up walking through one of the five star resorts which line the beach-front in Kuta. We wandered the corridors while staff smiled and greeted us as if we were paying guests even in our shabby, disheveled state. We made our way out to the pool and it was like stepping into a Thomas Cook advert; all these tanned people were lying around on sunbeds, sipping cocktails and contemplating the lavish dinner they’d be having this evening while kids played in the pool.

For a moment I felt a fierce stab of envy as I walked among these people. They were on holiday, we weren’t – our trip wasn’t a break from our ordinary lives, it had become our normality. As amazing our new nomadic life is, we learnt in Indonesia that it can also be harsh, difficult, lonely and at times, mundane.

When Travel Becomes your Lifestyle

For the first time since we’d left London it began to fully sink in then that we were not on some extended holiday with a job and a home to go back to. This endless, shifting trek from one place to the next is our lifestyle now and it isn’t all fun. There are still days spent working in front of a screen, only in a hotel room rather than an office in London. There are unpaid work invoices to worry about, budgets to stick to, laundry to drop off, directions to find and transport to arrange. There are plenty of long, hot, tedious hours spent travelling on trains and busses, in planes and taxis and treks through unfamiliar streets searching for a place to stay or food to eat.

This is the truth about making travel your lifestyle – it’s all kind of extremes. You can have the most incredible rush jumping out of a plane or sleeping out in the jungle one day, only to find yourself sobbing into a pillow in a brutally strange new city the next. You can fall in love with a place so hard and fast you start fantasizing about living there, while another country can have you reeling in homesickness, ready to chuck it all in. However, amongst it all there are the parts of this lifestyle that are rarely mentioned; the mundane every day chores and tasks you can’t even escape on the road.

That’s another little lesson Indonesia has taught us – this trip is definitely not a holiday.

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7 Comments
  • Alyson
    Posted at 08:02h, 10 July Reply

    For me it is! After the last 6 years being a full time Mum and looking after a house, travelling is SO much easier! I love that I can drop off the laundry, I love that we can eat out every day, it’s perfect,, even with the kids, having to occupy them while I spend the time online you mention, you just have to get creative. I love that it’s not a holiday. Holidays have never appealed to me one bit, but you’re right, you do have to work for it, it takes effort.
    Alyson recently posted..The Two Headed Turtle and Fishing for SharksMy Profile

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:13h, 10 July Reply

      I’m glad you’re finding travel so agreeable Alyson 🙂 I think because we’d just had an amazing two months of exciting and fast-paced travel in New Zealand and Australia (which did feel like a holiday) we got a shock slowing down in Indonesia and dealing with the practicalities of living on the road and catching up with freelance work. We just couldn’t find a healthy balance between days spent working and travel planning in a hotel room and days spent travelling and exploring; it’s been hard to adjust to this lifestyle but we’re finding it much easier now we know not to expect non-stop fun and excitement – like you say, it takes hard work and effort.

  • Patti
    Posted at 02:01h, 11 July Reply

    Thoughtful post Amy – I suspect this happens to a lot of long-term travelers, it’s all fun and excitement until the reality sets in. Keep taking one day at a time and don’t forget to breathe… and give yourself permission to take a day (or two) off to just hang out – that’s important too.
    Patti recently posted..The Iconic Route 66 ~My Profile

    • Amy
      Posted at 15:11h, 11 July Reply

      Thanks Patti, I think we had to go through that tough time in Indonesia to get to grips with what travelling long-term entails and reset our expectations (and learn to take time off too!). We’re still learning and getting used to this lifestyle but since we’ve been in Malaysia things have been much easier and a lot more fun.

  • Our Trip to the Gili Islands in Indonesia
    Posted at 07:37h, 19 September Reply

    […] realising just how tough long-term travel can be, we felt ourselves sliding into a depressed state in our hotel room in Kuta. We knew we needed to […]

  • James World Travel Chef
    Posted at 19:00h, 15 August Reply

    It is for me too! I still work a few weeks a year and my wife is te blogger/photographer/web guru and child educator. I just put my feet up and drink pina colladas! No just kidding, there is a lot of planning, booking, researching, handling money etc. It keeps me busy too.
    James World Travel Chef recently posted..Top Destinations for Travelling DadsMy Profile

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:49h, 17 August Reply

      Yep, full-time travel can be really time intensive! I’m sure you’re busy Chefing right now back in London too, right?!

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