The 10 Stages of Travel Life

As well as life in general, there are also many stages of travel. What surprised me though is how we don’t tend to understand that those stages are.. literally stages. It took me a while to clearly see it too.

We often forget to remember that life moves fast, it doens’t stay still. Meaning, that no matter what stage of travel we are in – it will eventually change. No matter how badly you want it to stay!

Another thing is that we often tend to judge others who are at a different stage. Sometimes without realising and sometimes.. well, because we simply fail to understand.

So let me start from the beginning.

Stage 1 – Dreaming

This is still before travelling. The stage where we’re dreaming of being able to travel. To explore new places and visit an endless number of countries, as many as possible. No matter for how long each visit will be. The more the better.

I don’t want to jump ahead but the ‘the more the better‘ idea won’t last long! Truuuust me.

So this is when you’re researching, daydreaming and planning an ‘escape’. It’s probably most (aka all) you can think and talk about. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. And it’s a really fun stage to be at, even when it’s a hardcore saving time! It’ll be so worth it.

Stage 2 – The Freedom

Then the next stage is when you start exploring, you fall in love with the freedom and the possibilities.

Literally, nobody knowing you means you can try whatever floats your boat – whether you’re looking for things within yourself, such as likes and dislikes or whether you’re wondering what it would be like to do a bungee jump.

The point is that there is nobody there that will compare you and what you do to the ‘old’ you. I cannot express enough how freaking great and important this is – for each one of us.

Stage 3 – The Full-time Travel Dream

All that freedom makes you want to travel full time. Yup, this is the life you want and you will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

You most likely end up backpacking/traveling across different countries and maybe even continents – it’s great and you love every minute – even when they’re not the best, they still are.

This is usually the point when if you see anyone else in a hostel not being social – you will truly wonder what is up with them. ‘Why on earth would they travel if they’re going to sit quietly in a corner reading a book or something?’

You keep meeting more and more people, constant hello’s and goodbye’s, more places have been added to your bucket list and there’s just so much you want to do!

Stage 4 – Done with the small talk.

Ok, it’s been wild and fun. But now.. you kind of want to chill a bit, you’re slightly tired (or simply done) with having the same conversation multiple times a day which goes something like:
“Hi, what’s your name?”
“Hey, Eli, yours?”
“I’m ‘insert name here” but tbh Im bad with names and will probably forget yours haha!”
“Me too!! Where are you from?”
“How long have you been travelling?”
and so on..

These conversations are great!! And meeting new peope is definitely one of the reasons why travelling is so much fun. Saying that, a small break is much needed after some time!

You kind of want to stay in one place for a bit longer at this point. Maybe even get a cheeky job, because let’s face it – you’re probably running out of money and it’s probably months since you’ve left home.

You’ll find a town or city you like and might end up teaching English or volunteering somewhere. You meet people that you might actually spend more then a few days with. It’s great and again, you’re loving life.

At this stage, you might see or hear of people going back home and you truly cannot understand the logic behind that. Why? Why would someone ‘give up’ and go back? Why not stay and live this amazing life?! Crazy.

Oh and the ‘seeing as many countries as quickly as possible’ logic is usually gone by this point. You learn the beauty of slow travel and how it allows you to get to know the country or place on another level.

Stage 5 – Missing the freedom

At this point, you may start missing the full freedom. Because having a ‘job’ which usually is something much more chilled than the standard 9-5 back at home but in the end, it’s still.. a job. It does not seem as cool as travelling full time and giving absolutely no sh*ts.

You kind of start missing the freedom as you fall into a bit of a routine, which you don’t feel ready for. So you start adventuring again, whether it’s visa runs or something longer – you’re feeling the excitement again.

You’re back in the travel mode!

Stage 6 – A space of your own

Stage six is usually a craving for a routine, for a place of your own – somewhere you can call home, home that is not necessarily your backpack and a different hostel everyday or two.

You may also feel quite tired of the constant moving and not putting your selfcare high enough on your priority list. Being tired may take a toll on your health and craving the home comforts and a bed that is yours may come quite a regular thing.

At this point you’re also comfortable with travelling. And that person chilling in the corner reading a book or working on a laptop might actually be you. Because travel had become the norm and your everyday life now. You understand there is nothing wrong with it and actually enjoy a bit of an alone time.

You still cannot bare the thought of going back home however and falling into the same old routine that you managed to escape from.

There is absolutely no way. Nope. So you continue living abroad or exploring.

Stage 7 – It’s home time

At this point, people often go home. Whether it’s for a short while or an unknown amount of time – you’re kind of scared because.. well you don’t want to fall into a trap like everyone else. Like those people who went back and stayed.

So you think of a plan, how quickly you can ‘escape’ again. Even before reaching home. You most likely have a thousand thoughts per second and to be completely honest.. you probably have no clue what’s going to happen next.

Stage 8 – Is when the sh*t gets real

You’re back home. Yup. There might be a few ways that this could go, often you will feel completely out of place. The reverse culture shock is a real thing and happens to many who have been away for a long time. You’re not crazy, so don’t beat yourself down if this happens (please reach out to me if this is you).

After being a ‘celebrity’ first when all your friends and family go through the phase of “I can’t believe you’re here and you’ve done all that you did. You’re so brave and oh so amazing“..

After that phase passes – you’re kind of left on your own, or at least that’s what it feels like. Because you’ve changed so freaking much and unless someone has gone through a simillar process – they simply don’t get it.

Stage 9 – Will you stay or will you go?

Stage nine is when the big question approaches. The question and decision that will make a drastic change in your near future. Will you stay or will you go? Now that is the question.

There are usually two options here, you keep dreaming of going back and living in the past, remembering all the amazing times you’ve had and being hungry for more..

Or.. something changes and you actually love the idea of home. You completely understand what’s going on, you like the home comfort and you have a little awakening that actually, you might just be ready to settle down a bit. Wait what?!

Stage 10 – The deciding factor

Stage ten is the deciding factor. Two choices really – staying or going?

Preferring home or wanting to go back to the adventure and excitement. Going back travelling would mean saying no to the routine and comforts, you don’t feel ready for that yet and there’s so much you need to do and see. Digital nomad might sound like the perfect move, even if you tried it before!

You might want to live abroad or simply continue exploring, but travel at this stage is usually much simpler. Less crazy and simply slower.


Surprisingly, you might start realising that staying home doesn’t have to mean falling back into the old routine, a routine that you cannot stand. Maybe you’ve been here before and are now ready to take a new path.

You realise that you can actually build a life that you want, a business that you’ve dreamed of and a small community of people that truly understand – even if they’re not necessarily close by.

Longterm travel has shaped your way of thinking and seeing things. You most likely would be extremely careful to not get back into being a matrix soldier and see things in a completely different perspective. This is huge.

Staying home might mean being ready for something new, after all the growth you’ve gone through – you feel stronger than ever to create that something, something meaningful and something that truly means the world to you.

You might get a new place, find love and have a routine – one that you truly like and was very much needed. You might feel fulfilled and travelling full time might not sound so appealing anymore.

Travelling every now and then however? Cheeky weekend trips or a few weeks away.. then going back to your place, a place you call home might sound so much more appealing than you’ve ever expected.

At that point you’re not dreaming of leaving and getting away. But usually we’re much more aware of the importance of alone time and mindfulness so a cheeky little trips of course may still be on cards, knowing that we have that place called home to come back to <3

The conclusion

The point is, that no matter what stage you’re at – it’s so exremely easy to judge others, thinking and actually believing that what someone else is doing is crazy, weak and silly. Even if we don’t think we judge – we so often do. I did, and most poeple around me did too. Not to be mean or anything, it’s just how it was.

For me personally, being back and choosing my own home over travelling full time changed everything. It changed my perspective completely and now when people ask me “oh.. so you have like a normal job and stuff..?” I giggle as I understand exactly where they’re coming from.

I also try to not get frustrated as now I clearly see that there is so much more to staying and creating your own dream home than just having a ‘normal job and stuff’.

Staying home can mean creating the life you’ve been craving for after having your dreams of travel life fulfilled. It’s incredible how once one of our biggest goals gets accomplished – the next one might be something completely unexpected.

So if you’re at any of the stages above, rememeber one thing – everyone is on a different path. Someone that will choose to carry on travelling might not be running away, they might simply prefer that lifestyle and setting down is still not on their mind, or may never be. And those who choose to stay – may be creating the life of their dreams. Both paths are different and unique in their own way and that’s the beauty of it.

It’s honestly beautiful when we truly understand this, as often we don’t realise how our ego tries to add it’s little judgment, even if quietly.

So here’s to everyone’s unique journey!! <3

You can follow me on:
↠ Instagram
↠ Facebook
↠ Twitter

x x x

Leave a Reply

1 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
elitravelbugEmily Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest oldest most voted
Notify of

This is written so beautifully Eli. I always wondered about the people reading books! Now I understand. Thank you for sharing, always so beautifully.