I’ll admit I’m a huge fan of short term traveling (2-3 weeks) through a few countries — I spent 3 weeks in Southeast Asia in 2008, 2 1/2 weeks in Europe this past fall, and 2 weeks in Asia this spring. But, now that I’ve been on an extended travel experience in Santorini for the entire summer with 4 friends, I can say I’m an even bigger fan of long term travel. In reality, I’m a fan of any sort of traveling that I can get — but that’s not the point. Based on my experience living in Santorini this summer, there are four primary reasons I enjoy long term travel:
1. Long term travel allows you to take it easy and get a better feel for the location you’re in. You’re never rushed into feeling you HAVE to go do something just because you’re traveling. Heck, if you don’t go cliff jumping today, just go do it next week — or next month; you’ve got time.
2. Being in Santorini all summer, I got to know many of the locals at the businesses I frequented on a regular basis (such as Atlas, Soul Bar, Beach Bar, Bob’s Bar, and Yazz). When visiting a bar or cafe once or twice in a span of a few days, you just don’t get the local experience. By the end of the summer, the staff at Beach Bar referred to us as “one of them”. If you’re doing short term travel — you’re stuck with, well, the “tourist” experience.
3. One major component to traveling is accommodation, and my friends and I certainly saved an immense amount of money on accommodations due to the fact that we were in one spot the whole summer. We paid 75 Euro per room (split between two people) per week for most of the summer — though we paid 120 Euro a week for the last two weeks during high season. Normal accommodations would have cost 10-15 Euro per person at a minimum.
4. By far, my favorite part of long term traveling thus far is friending the local expat community. I met so many amazing expats from Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, the US, and England this summer in Santorini; people that will be friends for a long time. I went sightseeing with a friend from New Zealand living in the UK while in London, and an Irish friend while in Dublin last week — both of whom I met in Santorini. I’m headed to the La Tomatina festival on Wednesday with the Drifting Duo, 2 Kiwis, and 1 American who were in Perissa Beach some or all of the summer. With short term travel, sure, you’ll sometimes meet a traveler you instantly click with and keep in touch — but it’s no secret that relationships take time to build, and long term travel gives you the time to really get to know people and build lasting friendships.
So yes, I can easily understand why Nomadic Matt has been traveling for 4 years. I don’t know how long I’ll be traveling, but it’s been a fun ride so far and don’t see an end in sight in the near term.