The co-founder and CEO of Airbnb.com Brian Chesky has a lot of interesting ideas regarding the future of travel and the industry as a whole. He said that the industry is undervalued and travel as we know it will change. Gone will be the days where travel is seen as your 2 week escape from the real-world. Rather, travel will be the real world. With people becoming more mobile than ever, earning their living via the web anywhere on Earth, there is no reason to stay in the same city or even country for your whole life. As the world is opening up, becoming more accessible and with the advent of peer-to-peer companies like Airbnb.com, now more than ever, there are more reasons to ditch the desk and start seeing the world.
The benefits of long-term travel are numerous and as it becomes easier and more cost-efficient to travel more often, there is no reason not to consider hitting the road for longer-spurts. Below are 5 benefits of long-term travel:
1. You achieve a great sense of place: First impressions are everything. When you walk off the plane in Hawaii, you smell the sweet, succulent flowers and feel a cool ocean breeze sweep across your face. Then you are whisked away to your hotel and rental car where you barely give a second thought to what exactly ARE those sweet, beautiful flowers or learning about the trade winds which make paradise cool and breezy. When you stay a bit longer you make connections. No longer are you left to wonder why a place is the way it is. You take leisurely strolls through upcountry where the flowers grow wild. You have time to get a library card and research local flora and fauna or volunteer at a local farm. You take up sailing and learn about the trade winds. You have enough time to become the essence of the environment you’re experiencing. That’s something you’re not likely to forget anytime soon.
2. Your memories are more engrained into your being so that you can carry them around with your whole life: When you spend longer than a week or two somewhere, it becomes less of a vacation and more of real life. When you retire and start really traveling, you have less years to carry those experiences around with you. But, if you do long-term travel while your young, the fantastic memories you have stay with you and influence your entire life ahead of you. The value of your travels are then ten-fold.
3. You tend to make long-lasting relationships that stay with you for a lifetime: Making friends might be easy, but maintaining and keeping them is something that requires time and effort. Rarely do you make life-long friends with somebody in passing, but just stay a while and make it a habit to maintain the relationship and now you have something that will resemble a lifelong friendship. The friends you meet in your travels, especially the ones you have taken time to really get to know are especially valuable to your future. You can meet up with them later and stay with them in their new place of residence, reconnecting and reminiscing about the old times. They help preserve and keep your travel memories alive.
4. You learn insiders’ and locals’-only secrets you might have otherwise overlooked: I spent 3 months in the Yellowstone National Park area before I saw a grizzly bear. There were many people I met that hoped to see a grizzly bear in the short 5-7 days they were on vacation. And 90 percent of them did not experience seeing a bear, sometimes the main motive of their trip. I waiting patiently for my first grizzly encounter and it was worth it: I fished for trout along a riverbed with two young adult grizzlies in a locals-spot I didn’t even know about until a local clued me in. Had I not been there as long as I was, I may never had had that life-enriching experience. Same goes for intimate little spots that give your destination its character: the delicious shrimp stand in the country, the small little swim hole tucked in the woods, the unspoken happy hours at corner cantinas you may have just walked past. The secrets are endless and unfold before you beautifully IF you are patient enough to wait for them.
5. You learn what it’s like to really live somewhere as opposed to visiting as an outsider: We spend most of our life trying to fit in. We want and crave acceptance. So why is it enjoyable to spend your precious leisure time feeling like an alien? While it’s fun to be a tourist once and while, more often than not, the locals hate you, but tolerate you because you stimulate their economy. If you stick around, making connections and meeting people, no longer are you alien. You are accepted and an integral part of the fabric that weaves through the community. Gone will be that painful feeling like an outsider, eating at the most expensive places because you don’t know any better. Soon, you will be the local giving visitors recommendations, feeling wiser and more enriched for it.