Let’s face it, for the majority of people travelling (especially South East Asia) you’re on the move a lot. Whether you’re doing the loop from Northern Thailand à Laos à Vietnam à Cambodia à Southern Thailand, or you’re island hopping in Indonesia or the Philippines there’s an ever-growing sense of FOMO – a word I picked up from a spot on backpacking organisation I worked for that is simply: the Fear of Missing Out. There’s so much to see and do in every country you travel through that you really only spend about 2-5 days in any place, and those days are either spent recovering from a hangover or exploring the regions sights and attractions (at least mine are!). Travelling can often become quite exhausting and with a whirlwind of stimulus constantly straining your attention it’s easy to realize that six months have passed you by in a relative time span that’s felt like a few weeks.
This week’s Tuesday Travel Tip is about settling in and enjoying one place. Yes, maybe you only have a month in a country and the thought of spending three weeks in a little beach town makes you feel like you might miss out – but I can guarantee that you’ll share experiences in those few weeks that take time to develop and can’t be experienced on the move.
Whether you realize it or not, having a sense of family or community is an integral part to your well-being, and on the road it’s easy to go without that sense for some time. As you spend longer and longer in one location you begin to recognize familiar faces, just as they recognize yours. You build a network of friends, you get to know guesthouse and shop owners, and you start to relax more and more as you become comfortable with your surrounding environment. Days seem to go by a bit slower, you create more than single-serving friendships, and a sense of community quickly develops. You begin to enjoy the sense of place and attachment, you look forward to Tuesday’s trivia night, or that open mic on Saturday, or just walking into a local bar and being addressed by your first name. It’s the subtle human condition of being connected to a place that allows you to truly experience the culture of a particular area.
Jobs for foreigners are plentiful especially in beach towns where local shop owners want a western presence to attract more crowds, or just an extra hand for construction projects or odd jobs. Working for free accommodation and free food and maybe even a little something on top creates a mutually beneficial relationship that you certainly stand to gain a lot more from than just the savings to your wallet.
So even though you’ve likely developed some grandiose plans and you feel the precious currency of time slipping away don’t underestimate the benefits of settling in to one place – who knows? You might never leave.