6 Questions a Real Traveler Doesn't Want to Answer
Posted on 21 October 2017
There’s nothing like booking a one-way ticket and not knowing when you’re coming back “home”. If you’ve never booked a one-way ticket to a far away destination...I suggest you add that to your bucket list ASAP. It’s a feeling you can’t put into words. A long term trip (we’re talking 6-9 months, or even a year or more) can take a lot of planning. It’s not that you have to have every destinations mapped out, or book all your accommodation and transportation. But, you do have to do some logistical planning - such as visas, vaccinations, and packing the right clothing, to name a few.
Once you finally step foot in that foreign country and have a few months under your solo-long-term-trip belt, you’ll have to endure questions that you’ll get from the 2-week vacation crowd. Don’t get me wrong...ANY traveling is an amazing experience, but there is a noticeable difference between a two-weeker and a long-term traveler. Once you past that threshold of a 6 month trip, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Here is a breakdown of the 6 questions that I got over and over and over again on my 4-year excursion in South America...
- How long have you been traveling? The awkward start to so many conversations when staying at a hostel. Really?? That’s like leading off a dinner party with “What do you do?”. Can’t you be a little more creative and less generic when coming up with a question? For long-term travelers, this question gets a severe eye roll. For one, if you say you’ve been traveling for 4 years (like was my case), you know you will get a million and one more questions on this topic. It’s not how I want to spend my night after spending my day marveling at the incredible Machu Picchu in Peru.The beautiful Machu Picchu!
- How many countries have you visited? Do people really count how many countries they’ve visited? For me, it’s not about how many countries I’ve visited. It’s about the countless experiences and meaningful interactions with people who I’ve met along the way. Ok, ok...I have counted how many countries I’ve been to, (and stop-overs in airports don’t count by the way) but to be honest, I don’t even know the number off the top of my head. It’s not about counting countries. It’s about the experiences you take from them, don’t just go into a country so that you can say you’ve been to “X” amount of countries, travel, learn and explore the place.
- What’s your favorite country? That’s like asking a mother, “Which child is your favorite?”. Even if they did have one, they would never admit it to a stranger. How can you pick just one? I like every country for a completely different reason. I don’t want to put my experiences in a box and try to explain my reasoning. I can’t choose...and I won’t.
- When are you going home? Another way to quickly end a conversation with a long term traveler. If someone has to go to the bathroom immediately after you asked that question...they probably just needed to get away from the other annoying questions that were going to follow. It’s nothing personal. But, a real traveler will never ask that question. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s defining an end date to your trip, or make you think about home, or make you realize you don’t want to go home anytime soon, or maybe you just want to be present and enjoy the experience you are living right now, in this moment. Whatever the case is, don’t ask this question!Home sweet home...Sarah visiting me in Seattle!
- Don’t you get lonely traveling alone? When you travel alone, you get to know parts of you that you don’t see in the normal world. You are tested, have to get along with many different personality types, have to be in awkward and possibly dangerous situations, but most importantly, you have to let go and live in the moment. Just because you’re traveling alone doesn’t mean you’ll be lonely. At times, sure, I was homesick. But then I got over it and realized I was experiencing things that maybe none of my friends back home would ever experience in their lifetime. You have to be grateful for every opportunity. Life is short - live it how you want to. See my post on “5 Tips for Traveling Alone” if you’re scared to take that first step towards your solo trip.New friends after I flew to Myanmar ALONE!
- Don’t you have a job? I never understood how a complete stranger would feel comfortable asking this question. But, trust me, a lot more people ask this question than you would think! First of all, my finances are none of your business. Secondly, don’t judge me because I’m doing something that doesn’t follow the normal “life path”. The short answer is, my full job is traveling right now and sometimes I need a vacation from that. With all jokes aside, traveling is hard work at times, but so worth it.
There you have it...6 questions to try and avoid asking! The most important part is to be genuine. Try not to ask judgmental questions. If you are truly genuine about learning about someone’s experience, it’s ok to ask questions. Just be unique and try to ask interesting questions. Go out there and dream, prepare, and explore!
Co-Founder Global Citizen Designs