Do we miss long-term travel (or don’t we)?

Long-term travel gives you the opportunity to experience life in a different location, be it close to home or far away. We love the sights, sounds, and smells of far-off lands, but we are always excited to return home to New Zealand (in our opinion, the best little country in the world).

It has been over six months since we returned to New Zealand from our 9.5 months travelling in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. I simply cannot understand where this year has gone! Who is with me?

Now that we are well and truly settled back into life in NZ, we have realised that there are things that we miss from long term travel (in North America), and other things that we really don’t miss.

Here’s a little insight into our thoughts at the moment – have you ever had the same feelings as us?

What we miss about long-term travel

The feeling that anything is possible

When we were travelling, we met so many new people and experienced lots of new things, and we felt at times like we were invincible – that anything was possible. When you are away from familiar situations and people at home, you actively seek out new opportunities and take more risks than usual.

Discovering and exploring new places

Of course, one of the best things about long term travel is discovering and exploring new places. Everywhere we went on our trip last year was new and exciting, and we loved navigating our way around the streets of New York City, trying to speak Spanish in Mexico, and exploring the ski runs of Whistler.

Trying new food

Like the point above, travel is all about doing new things and this includes trying new food. We discovered some amazing local treats including licuados in Mexico (fruit smoothies), poutine in Quebec, as well as the amazingness that is Chipotle in the U.S. and Canada (we don’t have this amazing chain in NZ!).

Learning about different cultures

It’s so interesting meeting people in different parts of the world. From the outside, people from New Zealand and people from the U.S. or Canada may not seem that different (aside from our accents!) but when you get to know them, you find out that there are massive cultural differences. We loved joking along with our new friends about differences between our cultures!


Sorry, but we had to include this! (New Zealanders will know what I’m talking about here – things are so overpriced in NZ). Although shopping in NZ has come a long way recently, we still miss the crazy deals you get overseas and the range of stores, especially in the U.S.. Especially when you’re travelling on a budget, the cheap shopping in the U.S. can really help you out!

What we don’t miss about long-term travel

Being away from friends and family

This is the number one negative about long-term travel. As we talked about in the post about our wedding that happened in a week, people are the most important thing in life. We really missed our close friends and family while we were away, and even though Skype is fantastic, there’s nothing quite like a hug from your Mum or talking smack with your friends over a beer.

American food

Far out, we do not miss (most) American food. We know there is a lot of good stuff there – we actively sought it out – but there is just SO much crap. The cheese is way too orange to be natural, there is added sugar in almost anything, and the chicken breasts are just way too big. We’ll take New Zealand food over American any day!

Vancouver’s rain

The miserable drizzle in Vancouver was one of the reasons why we called it quits on our Canada working holiday. It was so depressing, having to take an umbrella with us every single time we left the house and getting wet feet all the time. Yeah I know, you’ll think I’m pathetic for moaning about this – but until you’ve experienced Vancouver from October to December, you don’t know what I’m talking about!

Living out of a backpack

As much as we love travelling, it can get a bit tiresome unpacking and repacking constantly. Fortunately we generally stayed in places for a decent length of time and so we didn’t have to do this each day, but it still gets exhausting!

NZ dollar weakness against other currencies

Thank goodness we aren’t in the U.S. now – the New Zealand dollar has reached six year lows against the greenback recently. When we were there, it was around $0.85 US to $1 NZ, and now it’s about $0.65 US to $1 NZ! Ouch. But even though we were travelling on a much better exchange rate, it sucks ‘losing’ money when we travel to other western countries – the UK is the worst with $1 NZ worth about half a pound!

Do you have anything you miss and don’t miss when you return home after a long trip? We’d love to know if you feel the same as us – share your thoughts in the comments!

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  1. Hey Petra and Shaun,

    I really liked reading this and am first envious of your 9 ½ months of travel in and around my home. Such a cool accomplishment there! I would love to do that someday. My wife and I are about to do 2 months in SE Asia and that seems long enough! Haha. Of course that’s after 2 stints of 2 years each in Korea, so longterm in SE Asia will certainly be different.

    As an American, I’m a bit bummed that our food didn’t impress you but trust me. I understand your grievances with all the additives and artificial things that are put into our food. It’s almost a polarized political issue and I hope your country doesn’t go the way of our terrible corporate food industry. Aside from that darkness, there’s so much good stuff in certain pockets.

    I grew up in a rural area so we were bordering on food desert, but the cities. Oh man! I’ve had some of the best food ever in NY, Philly, and DC. I see you posted the Love Park photo. Did you stop by Reading Terminal Market in Philly? That and Union Station in D.C. are my favorites so far, and I’ve barely left the East Coast! However, leaving the U.S. for a while has taught me that we’ve got a few things to learn, and I wonder if you feel that way about NZ.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts and will stop my book writing here, lol. Thanks for sharing this wonderful perspective and look back at your time abroad. Take care you two!

    • Petra

      Wow, epic comment Duke!
      We are totally jealous of your 2 months in SE Asia – it’s our favourite region of the world (except for NZ, of course!). Where are you heading to?
      Yeah American food didn’t enthral us, to be honest. Although we had many good meals (Portland OR, NYC, and Portland ME fed us well) we were quite horrified going into supermarkets! The food industry here in NZ isn’t nearly as bad, but things do seem to be heading in the same direction – although being a GE-free country that certainly helps fend off the worst!
      We never went to Philly or D.C. – we are saving those places for another trip. We spent most of our time in NYC, New England and parts of the Pacific Northwest (crossed the border while we were living in Vancouver BC).
      I totally feel the same way – travelling long-term in the U.S. opened our eyes to things that NZ doesn’t have or could do better, but in NZ we definitely have some much better systems in place (e.g. buying and registering a car). Countries definitely have a lot to learn from each other!
      We loved our time abroad but are enjoying being at home (for now!).
      Enjoy your time in SE Asia!

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  3. This definitely sounds a bit familiar – I find I don’t have to be back for long before all the irritations melt away and the great parts stay with me. Family is definitely the big anchor for me (and reason for short trips when it comes to my three- year-old…)

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