Long term travel sounds so glamorous – you tell someone you travel most months out of the year and no matter what you follow it up with they’re picturing brooding ancient temples, blindingly white sunny beaches paired with clear blue waters and an endless cocktail party with friends from all over the world.
And those idealized travel images? I’m not going to lie, they’re true. Wading in the pure white sands of the Whitsunday Islands transitions in my memories into a sunset bike ride through Angkor Wat and then the beers shared with the lasting friends I’ve met along my travels.
But those are just snapshots of travel. What about the other days?
I offer up the Days of the Week, Traveler Style:
Monday AKA Deprivationday
The rest of the world starts their work week and you’ve just switched towns in some remote area of the world. That “restful” 12 hour overnight bus ride to get there has left you twitchy, tired, hungry, and bleary-eyed as you schlep your backpack (yet again endlessly grateful you’re light packer) from the bus-stop to your next guesthouse.
Food and sleep are tops on the list this day and perhaps some a beer as a nightcap before you drop onto the thin mattress by 8pm and check out of the world for ten hours.
Tuesday AKA Sightseeingday
Ten hours of sleep puts a pep into your step on Sightseeingday and you wake at the ungodly hour of 6am – perfect to get an early start on those nearby temples while the light is still ideal for photographs and the over-sized tour buses haven’t yet vomited out hundreds of mobbed masses following a waving flag through the temple-grounds.
Your itinerary takes you through the “must-sees,” UNESCO sites, and anything else your dad would lambaste you for missing on your next Skype call – tourist-centric food stalls pepper through your day and you snag some postcards for your ever-loving niece/nephew/brother/sister/mom/dad/grandma/favorite aunt/aunt’s dog.
Wednesday AKA De-Smellifyingday
The previous day of sweating at the tourist attractions all day long used up the last ounce of “clean” you pretended your clothes had before you set out – now they’re truly stinky. Laundry day dawns and you strip out of your PJs and scrounge through your bag for the cleanest and least useful of your travel clothes. Donning those purple leggings and workout shirt you then pinch your nose and tip your backpack into a bag and cart it off to the nearby laundress.
Not daring to venture far in such a bizarre outfit you snag you log some computer time blogging, working, and eating.
Thursday AKA Friendsday
The day before you bonded with several other hostellers and backpackers (they didn’t even bat an eyelash at your laundry day outfit) and planned an outing to some nearby cave/beach/waterfall. Friendsday is about having fun and sharing a day doing whatever the collective group decides.
By the end of the day you’re eager to prolong the hanging-out and hunt down a nearby “hotspot” of entertainment, pub/bar/club/dancing/bowling, for drinks and conversation.
Friday AKA Eatingday
You’ve already found all of the great eats near your guesthouse so today is about exploring the markets and finding regional treats proffered by the smiling locals standing behind the dozens of street-food-carts and market stalls. Also a great photography day your camera is charged and ready for a day of meandering and exploring wherever the meandering streets take you.
Saturday AKA Businessday
Those postcards you bought earlier in the week aren’t going to write themselves, your camera’s memory card is full three times over and photos are still unsorted, blog posts need to be queued, websites maintained. You’re leave town the next day and transportation needs to be planned and booked.
Though you’ve been working a couple of hours each day this week it’s time to buckle down and plough through work. Besides outings for tasty foodie treats you’re holed up answering emails, Skyping, and writing until your fingers cramp.
Sunday AKA Transportationday
You spend the morning hitting all of your now favorite local eating spots between repacking your trusty backpack, checking out of the guesthouse, and executing any other leftover tasks from Businessday. By late afternoon you’re happily skipping down the street toward the bus station for an overnight bus ride. You’ve packed some fruit and treats for the ride, an extra sweater in case the bus blasts the AC. The iPod is charged, your book was swapped out for a fresh one on Businessday so you’re ready for that 12 hour over-nighter.
And there you have it – a grossly simplified look at a week in the life of a long-term traveler. :)
Any other day of the week I overlooked?!