Is Indefinite Travel All That Great?


Is Indefinite Travel All That Great?

Three years ago, I was trying to figure out how to avoid working in a cubicle from 9am through 5pm every day.

I had been hearing about people who were traveling the world as they pleased while making money from their laptops.

They were supposedly working whenever they want, wherever they want.

At first, I brushed it off. It sounded too good to be true. Plus, I didn’t personally know anyone living such a lifestyle at the time.

They were simply anecdotes from people writing books and blogging about how great their life was. Surely they were either exaggerating what was really going on or they were trying to scam some poor sucker into buying a $20 product.

But no, it was real.

And somehow in 2013, I entered this world myself (although an employee at first). Then jump forward a year and some months later, I was running my own business.

I spent a year in Southeast Asia, came back to the states for six months, and spent another four months abroad.

During all that time, I met countless entrepreneurs, made lifetime friends, and had some adventures that would be completely unrelatable–unbelievable even–to people back home.

I’ve gone to some of the nicest bars and had bottle service in the best nightclubs in a couple different countries before I had even turned 21 (the legal age to drink in the United States).

I’d met and befriended some of my personal heroes.

I’ve hopped around to a different city every couple days in Japan, a country I had been in love with since childhood, and even drank in a very hippie-inspired bar that supposedly had some pieces of the famous Abbey Road on its own wall.

Yet, as I sat surrounded by my friends in yet another nightclub with alcohol freely flowing, I couldn’t help but think to myself one thing. It was something that was always at the back of my mind. Something that would get criticism and force myself into defense every time I brought it up.

This wasn’t what I wanted.

I didn’t need the bottle service. I didn’t need to jump to a new city or country again and again. I didn’t need the constant adrenaline, which was made so readily available, that traveling had to offer.

Everywhere I looked were travelers who were 100% convinced this lifestyle was superior and ideal. These were people who strongly believed that “back home”, whether that was the United States, Europe, Australia, or elsewhere, couldn’t provide them the same levels of happiness as whatever country they had a ticket for next.

But what was wrong with home?

I kept trying to get people to give me the answer to that question. All I heard were different reasons as to why they enjoyed traveling but nearly none of it was applicable to me.

That’s when I realized that, no, maybe traveling isn’t for everyone after all. In large doses, it became a burden for me.

I like my life back home. I have fun there.

Back home always had a certain charm to it that I never found regardless of what I was doing abroad.

There were so many firsts for me while I was away. I don’t think I’ll be heading off to 5-star resorts and jet skiing again anytime soon, or renting out boats to island hop, but that’s fine.

Travel certainly enlarges your perspective and teaches you a lot of valuable lessons but there comes a point where too much of it becomes draining instead of energizing and impactful.

I’m not avoiding international flights forever. I’ll still hop on a plane and venture off somewhere, just not now.

Arizona has my heart and has had it since I first visited as a child. There’s something about this place that made me compare every other city I’ve been to back to here. I keep returning to the conclusion that home is better for me.

For now, this is where I’d rather be. It’s not homesickness, it’s knowing where I’m better off.

If you have the ability to, then certainly travel. Get out there and see if that’s what you like and need.

The only way you’ll know for sure is to live it. Any conclusions you attempt to draw before then is a wild guess at best.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll find yourself at home anywhere but home.

A lot of my friends will tell you about how going back feels boring and unexciting when they return after long periods of time abroad. They’ll say home is ruined for them.

Meanwhile, I’ve only learned to appreciate how great it is to be back home.

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway and founder of Growth Ninja, a digital marketing agency that specializes in Facebook Ads. Voted "Most Guapo" five years in a row (lost during 6th year to a hand model.)

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11 responses to Is Indefinite Travel All That Great?

  1. Hey Vincent. You know I love your writing… and your articles… but this one was superb! I just spent 2 months biking across the USA… and in the last three months I have made 3 trips to Seattle (by car… from Arizona) by way of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Colorado.

    I agree with your article… that it is not the fancy hotels… or the cool restaurants that matter. For me (and I know it is the same for you), the best part of those trips was in the meeting of amazingly nice people that I (we) would have not met otherwise. That was the reward.

    And, like you, I mentioned in my journal what I knew to be true: That there are amazingly wonderful people right here at home… across the street… in my own city… or just passing through.

    Thanks for this article (and for so many others that inspired me and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and live life more fully).

    Bob R.

    • Wow, that sounds like an amazing adventure!

      It’s always, always about the people. As much as I enjoyed SEAsia (good or bad), it was the people that made the experience so good. Take away the good folks and I would’ve been out there far sooner.

      Great people are everywhere. Now that I’m back home, I’m meeting new ones. They’re not that rare. Just gotta look out for them. 🙂

  2. Hey Vincent,

    Funny I just wrote a similar article for Life After College. I found myself feeling the same way you did just three weeks into my current trip when I was in Nha Trang watching a sunrise of all things – I wasn’t happy.

    Like you I once thought that those living the digital nomad life were just trying to scam me into buying their $27.77 product. Then also like you I lived that lifestyle as you know (also as an employee).

    Like you I thought that freedom to choose where I wanted to be when I wanted to be was the ultimate of human freedoms. It is not. I understood after some time reflecting that I know why people feel the way you mention “A lot of my friends will tell you about how going back feels boring and unexciting when they return after long periods of time abroad.” For them traveling was to escape the lives they had at home. Like but not as dangerous as alcohol, travel is a temporary escape from where they didn’t want to be. Instead of looking for an escape, I found those who are happiest are those who found a reason to want to live their current life and if they don’t, they find a way to fix the problem instead of hiding it.

    We’re both lucky to have communities we want to be at and with. I believe that is the ultimate freedom: being with the people you want (even if that is home). I think you’ve discovered that as well.

    No wonder we get along so well.

    Great article as always Vincent.

    – Davis

    • Dude, totally wish we ran into each other in VN. Really would’ve been nice to finally meet up in person and hang out!

      There certainly a lot of folks trying to “sell the dream” by putting out courses and products on the lifestyle (without having much substance of their own), but there are also tons of legit people.

      I think I was trying to escape something in the beginning too. Then, I grew out of it and realized what I was escaping was actually internal. The heavy weights follow you everywhere you go.

      Contentment starts within.

  3. Really inspiring story, Vincent! Sounds like you had quite the adventure, and managed to find out a few things about yourself in the process!

    I guess it’s true what you say about different people requiring different lifestyles – some just like it back home.

    I think a big part in this is also where in life you are – for instance, during one part of my life, I couldn’t imagine anything other than constant traveling, but now I am quite happy being back home in Sweden.

    You never know how you’re going to change in the future. Thankfully, the world is open for exploration in any way you choose!

  4. Hi Vincent,

    Loved the ‘speak’ of this article. Personally , it really resonated with me, since I believe ” where I go there I am!” I fully believe, for myself, that I need to be happy and at peaceful in my everyday life at home- and then I will enjoy myself where travel takes me too!
    Enjoyed reading it- thank you!

  5. Found your post from George’s blog – you nailed it!

    The longer I live abroad, the more I find myself craving the environment in the U.S. where I grew up. It’s funny, as much as I’ve knocked the whole “American suburban lifestyle”, there is something to be said for having your own home, with green space for a garden or whatever, and no need for fences/walls to protect your property.

    The type of place my American parents live (a small city with plenty of cultural/social things going on) simply doesn’t exist in Brazil. Here you’ve either got small towns with nothing much to do, or big cities which are urban, dirty, and dangerous. Or isolated farmland. Not much middle ground.

    The beauty about being location independent is that you can CHOOSE to be in the place where you thrive, while also taking short trips whenever you want 🙂

    • Welcome!

      Crazy to see how our minds can change like that, eh? I know several people who absolutely love living abroad and can’t even fathom wanting to live back at home. I am not one of those people.

      We’re all different and all want/expect different things. Nothing wrong with that! 🙂

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    […] like everything else in life, the benefits of travel have a point of diminishing returns, and I passed that point a while ago. There are some things – many things – that you […]

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