12 Things to Appreciate Before Long-Term Travel

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Feet sticking out of comforter in bed
© Juan Antonio Flores Segal

The minimalism of living out of a suitcase and the raw experiences of trying new things in new places are part of what makes travel great. One more benefit: you learn to appreciate the little luxuries of being at home.

Life abroad is high and exciting, but in those few weeks before leaving for extended travels, remember to savor these creature comforts while you can:

  • Small appliances. Spend some extra time with your electric toothbrush, hand blender, iron, and coffee pot. None of these things are practical to take with you or very likely to be found on the road.
  • Comfortable showers. Although there is something kinda fun about getting shocked by an electric shower water heater for the first time, the variance in water heat and pressure while traveling will make your own shower that much better when you get back.
  • The public library. Although it is possible to get a library card in other countries, it’s not easy to get into the habit of using unless you’re sticking around for awhile. Check out a few last books and DVDs (then be sure to return them!) before you take off.
  • Drinkable tap water. If you live in a place where you can drink the tap water, enjoy it. Put lots of ice in everything, and order water at restaurants. Once you’re traveling for months, especially in developing countries, it’s bottled water or filtering from here on out.
  • Fast internet. Overdose on streaming YouTube videos at home while you have the chance — Internet connections are always a wild card abroad, even in places where you’d expect them to be better.
  • Familiar recycling systems. You know your hometown’s recycling system, what goes where and when. Once you’re traveling, you’ll see the whole range of recycling infrastructure, from zero to advanced. Enjoy the system that you already know.
  • Live music. People play live music everywhere in the world, but some places attract fewer touring artists, or their venues might not be as great as you’re used to. Catch one last major show and local artist at your favorite hometown spots before you go.
  • A complete wardrobe. For the week or so before leaving on long-term travel, wear all the frivolous clothing items that you know you will not be taking with you. A cowboy hat, plaid tights ”¦ any of those one-outfit items are all fair game before boxing them up.
  • Good beer. In many countries, one or two national beer companies have a monopoly on the market. Say goodbye to beer variety and craftsmanship by finding the best microbrews available to you and making a night of it.
  • Your own mattress and pillow. Before you go, take an extra twenty minutes to roll around in your bed each morning, savouring its smoothness and lack of bedbugs. You have no idea what you’ll be sleeping on for the next few months.
  • Tourist spots in your own hometown. Check out what travel guides suggest in the place you live, and go do it. This way, when you’re abroad, you’ll be fresh and well-versed on what brings people to your lovely corner of the world.
  • Home entertainment systems. On the road, if you indulge in the occasional movie night, it will probably be on the screen of a laptop or some awkward hostel rig with dubiously upholstered furniture. Bond with a HD big screen a few last times.

2 Responses

  1. Zoe

    Good grief, you make travel sound awful.

    Realistically, any of those things can be got on the road if you know where to look.

    Fast internet? If you’re going to Asia, its practically warp speed compared to Australia.

    Live music? Thailand has a massive live music scene, and ANY capital city in the world will have international touring bands passing through town.

    A complete wardrobe? Get a whole new one made when you pass through Malaysia, China, Vietnam or Thailand.

    An iron? Seriously?? When you can have your clothes laundered and returned for $2 in any developing country?

    The items on your list are exactly what I don’t miss when travelling.

    Reply
  2. Cynthia Ord

    Hi Zoe,
    Nice counterpoints! I definitely agree that whatever you leave behind can be found in local form and in fascinating variety wherever you go. That’s what I love about travel too. I guess there’s something about the convenience and familiarity of having them at home that makes coming home something to look forward to. In all honesty, have there been many pillows you’ve really enjoyed while budget traveling?

    Reply

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