Life On The Road: Sustainable Travel

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about how I make travel sustainable over the long term. How have I managed to travel for 14 months so far when few people are willing to travel more than a year? How do I maintain interest in travel for several more years? But these are the wrong questions. The correct question is: Why will I stop traveling?

When I started traveling, the whole experience was so exciting that I could do almost anything and still be excited about the prospect of more to come. But eventually this wears off. The excitement simply cannot be maintained forever. Many people stop traveling at this point, but I have not. What else would I do? I have no home to go back to and I don’t want to return to the same job I had, at least not yet. Yet this is stasis, not contentment. I’ve been in this state of stasis off and on for a fair amount of time now. I want to keep traveling for a long time to come, but something needs to change or the trip will end before I get to some of the places I want to visit. Not necessarily a bad thing I admit, but not a good thing either.

The answer is clarified to me by a work of fiction. In this case, one of my favorite web comics Freefall. Robots in this world have artificial intelligence (AI), but are not considered real people. This particular robot is just finding out that there is a possibility of life after servitude….

Freefall Comic #2194
Freefall Comic #2195

This made me realize I’m asking the wrong question. I don’t need to determine how to make travel sustainable, I need to determine why I will stop. Once I know that, I can decide if that is a condition for stopping I can accept. If not, I can then change something to prevent that situation from arising.

Take the most obvious as an example: Seeing too many new things. Or as I prefer to describe it, being over-paid in amazing experiences. The solution is to travel slower. Instead of doing something every day, stop sometimes and do nothing. Relax and recover. This is the reason I am now happy to spend a week in a place instead of a single day.

My current internal battle is supplies. I have everything I need, even with an undead laptop. Yet this is not the same as being comfortable. So I will probably spend some significant money at some point to buy some new items. It will shorten the trip, but guarantee I will travel longer. Money well spent.

I’m still feeling my way through this. I know there is a balance to be achieved, but I am not quite there yet. Each day brings new challenges and new ways to burn out from travel. Part of the challenge, part of the fun, is in finding ways to keep happy in the face of these.

Freefall is a comic about an intelligent wolf (considered an artificial intelligence and thus not a real person) and a squid-like alien in a space suit (Dressed in blue in the comic above) with morals the Stainless Steel Rat would approve of. One of the best comics on the web and worth the time to read from the beginning.

5 comments to Life On The Road: Sustainable Travel

  • Elizabeth

    I think you have hit it right on the head!! And Garry is in agreement with you. He was just saying to stop in places you like, which you have. You have found some places where you stopped for a few weeks or a month. Others where you left after a night in the tent/bed. Heck, down the road you may even find a place where you can make a few bucks to make the trip last a bit longer and change things up a bit.

    Love the cartoon! Garry had to laugh at the voices I was doing for the characters! 🙂

    P.S. – Garry says get rid of the beard. It makes you look older than he is. 😉

    • othalan

      I’m actually not overly fond of the beard, but it is so much more comfortable when riding on cold days I have no regrets. I had intended to keep it until after Bolivia, but temperatures so far are much higher than expected, probably because I’m here a month later than I expected. So I will probably remove it very soon….

  • Grant

    Well, this is ironic. One of the many places I have been telling people to check out your travel blog is on the fora where Freefall is discussed. Just the other day, I put a reference link to some of your pictures (the leg-warmer trees; there’s a fellow there who is partial to drawing his characters with leg warmers). Now, I shall have to go back and report to Mr. Stanley that he is being referenced here. Nothing is more likely to get you increased readership than people discovering you are a fellow fan of their favorite web comic.

    And who knows… many of them are engineers, several from other continents. They may be able to network you to some trip-extender work when you’re near them.

  • […] recently is that my trip has ended. I am no longer focused on travel. In a previous posting Life on the Road: Sustainable Travel I surmised that I need to determine the conditions under which I will stop traveling. Sucre has […]

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