How long do you need to stay somewhere to get a real sense of the place? The longer the stay perhaps the richer the experience; but, is it at the cost of experiencing fewer places overall?
I thought it would be fun to discuss length of stays! Have you had a trip which was far too short, or perhaps far too long? Here is your chance to share!
I have been living in a suburb of Tianjin, China for 3 months now. It certainly doesn't take long to hit the tourist destinations. I quickly started to think how much more interesting it would be to live elsewhere, Beijing, or somewhere more rural. But in the past few weeks I feel Tianjin is opening up to me suddenly. I am becoming more acquainted with the history (quickly being built over) of this city which has survived many attacks and occupations. I am also more aware of the culture of this city, and how they view themselves as being very different from Beijing. Finally, I will be here long enough to volunteer in the community. I do work at a Group Home for developmentally challenged youth and at a hospital. I could stay here for years, and still be encountering new, enriching experiences. I want to leave here being able to say, I have a good sense for what China is about (at least right now...its changing so fast), but I also want to see other countries.... I am constantly stewing over this question..."how long is sufficient?"
So I'm opening it up! How long do you like to spend in one place when you travel? Any good stories of having stayed too long? Or is there somewhere you are dying to get back to, you just didn't have enough time to do it justice? Lets hear it!
I totally identify with this topic....
I am a people and experiences type person and keep annoying my husband with my ideas of living in different countries... So I think the longer the better in places is the optimal experience around the 1 year mark minimum.
HOwever you can not possibly do this for every destination that you ever want to see - time restraints or the physically impossible to live/find work in some countries.
SO... I think everyone needs to do a round the world trip stopping for short time in all the places you ever want to see ( I have not done this yet, still dreaming!) and then go and live in chosen places.
The best of both worlds!!! hee hee
Hello Beth and Craig :
When I am actually travelling around I think a month is an ideal amount of time, because of the burn out factor involved in travelling. I like to travel for as long as the fresh excited feeling lasts, and before the worn feeling sets in.
For staying put in one place, I would stay anything from a few weeks to years. However I would want to earn my money in a first world country. I would not like to be struggling to earn enough in a place which pays third world wages. So I suppose the answer is, I would stay for as long as my money lasted.
I guess "long enough" totally depends on each person. When I went away to South America for my first trip, I planned on packing a LOT more into 3 months than I actually did. I had met people who were travelling for similar amounts of time than me who were covering almost the whole continent while I only made it to Ecuador and Peru. Then there were people who were on their 4th week in a single city/town. Sometimes I regret not getting to Bolivia or not seeing more, but then I think of how much more connected to Ecuador I feel (where I spent 2 months) compared to Peru, and I know it was worth it to just get a better feel of a place.
One guy I met that really stood out had been traveling for around 6 months, and had been to a fair number of countries, but he would just kind of find a city he liked, and would settle in for the long haul. He liked it because he got to know the community better, he made friends, and shop owners began to reckognize him and wouldn't always make him pay up front. It sounded like a nice way to travel and a good way not to get burnt out.
I wrestle with this topic everytime I travel. Especially when I know I'm rushing through a place and just seeing the minimum, I always tell myself: you're just getting an introduction to the city, and next time you're here you can slow down and really find out what it's like.
I haven't been outside of North America (yet) and I rarely stay in one place long when I am travelling; however, judging by where I have been, honestly... I think it depends on what exactly you want to get from a place. If you really believe that people are the same all over the world, it probably won't take long to feel like you know where you are. You may discover different ways people live in the details... and the change in how you feel about your environment may be internal. You may change the way you view things and therefore feel like you know the place better. Others may not begin to feel like they know the place until they know the history, layout, and innerworkings of the area just like a local. For others, and I think the majority of people, it's a combination of the two.
Really I think that after a point--be it a week, a month, a day even--you know the place and everything after is just exploring the details. I do think that you compromise a bit by staying in a place longer than that threshold of how well you know it... but what a wonderful opportunity cost it could be, to really invest your time and life to a new place. I guess it's really a matter of personal choices and trying to make the best of the short time we all have. 😊
What a great way to put it "opportunity cost", I was teaching this in economics earlier this year 😊
One of the points I've been wrestling with has to do with China vs Asia. When I announced to friends and family I was moving to China, I started receiving suggestions, "you must go Thailand" "you have to go to Cambodia", "what a waste of you don't make it to Japan"! I think their point is I'm so close, its easier than at any other time. However, having not even set foot in China, I was a little disgruntled. "Do you have any idea how big China is?" I would ask. If I spend my holidays hopping out of the country, I wont even make a scratch in what China has to offer.
HOWEVER, I can't deny that with a week's vacation looming ahead in December, part of me is wondering, will Hainan be hot enough? Is a visit to the river Kwai maybe in my future? So much to see! So much to do! So very little time...
Hey - interesting forum thread!
Elizabeth - What you say is so true about people advising you on where to go - armchair travelling - I remember when we were planning our trip and all the helpful and heartfelt advice we'd get, I often wondered if people were living vicariously through us when they suggested or dismissed places they've never been with such passion!
That said, sometimes I get so cosy somewhere that I have to be rousted out with a spoon, and many of the suggestions have actually introduced me to fascinating places I mightn't have seen otherwise.
We're in China at the moment and only have a while until we have to head South - every country we've visited so far, I haven't wanted to leave.
As you said - if only there was more time! I think there should be a new philosophy of life - instead of nationalism, why not traverilism, whereby you spend your life travelling from one place to the other. To spend a life on the road, now wouldn't that to have been living!
I do not thing the is a right or wrong answer to this as everybody is different and thats what makes life interesting, if everyone left on a trip and they all stayed in Peru for example, it would pretty boring for anyone else with Peru full of travelers who only got as far as Peru. But if the odd person out of the many who visited stayed their then it would a different story.
I think you know in your heart how long or short to stay anywhere😊
Great discussion people! I definitely believe in Traverilism...I think most people subscribed to this site must also, question to ponder...do we believe in it, or do we suffer of it...?
To keep this thread alive and kicking, I would suggest the following are also valuable discussion points: what kinds of events/situations bring us back from abroad? Are we ready to come back or are there forces acting beyond our control? I think it still fits the general vein of discussion.
So, what brings you home? Were you ready to come home? Are your feet itching to go back? AND, if you are suffering from itchy feet (and not just a nasty case of Athlete's Foot contracted at the last hostel of your trip), are you planning on heading back to the same geographic region, or somewhere altogether new...and why...?
I think im really not career minded and that once i finish my upcoming big trip that i will be saving for a trip round Africa with my girlfriend. I think the only things that bring you back are running out of cash and family?
lol i haven't been on my latest trip and my planning my next
Haven't read all the posts, but....I think you have to live in a place to appreciate it properly. Obviously this isn't possible when you're travelling from place to place....every place I've been, I would return to, there's no way I could say that 'I've seen it all, it was enough'....
Of course everything is relative but I think there are some factors that need to be considered as 'minimum requirements' if one wants to really get the deep sense of a place. As you will soon notice, all these factors will change the length of the necessary stay that will probably depend on the difference between the cultures:
- the language: you cannot get deep into a place without speaking the language of its people, thus being able to meet the true natives, go to a theatre or a movie, read a book, enjoy a dinner party;
- the work: I was amazed when I discovered how deeply you go into the culture of a country if you work there, even as a language teacher. After all we are not only what we dream, but also what we do...
- love: let's say the truth, if you go into a country with your partner, you will never get the same in-depth impression that you get if you end up falling in love with a local! Of course one cannot change partner to get a new passport stamp, right?
Anyway, the longer the better!
Personally I feel it all depends on what a country has to offer as regards to its history and cultural background. Ive lived in Scandianavia for 5 years and while I admit it is a beautiful part of the world, after about 2 years id simply had enough of it and it is only family responsibilities that have kept me here up to now.
Compare this to say India or New Zealand and you could probably spend 5 years in each of these countries without reaching your boredom threshold.
I haven't had the chance to travel longer than 3 weeks so all I can say is it wasn't enough!
But "enough" and "not enough" are 2 very subjective notions, depending on taste, expectations, even weather. For instance, in one of our travels to Greek islands we spent 2 days in Athens. After we had seen the Colesseum and the old part of the town (very, very interesting !!!), wondered along the streets and spent wonderful time in a taverna or just looked at people, we considered we got the picture of Athens. Others may say, hey, are you crazzy? We spent n
days in Athens and didn't see all we planned to see!
But then we had 2 weeks in Crete, rented a car and drove 3,000 km just to see everything on the island. Well, we didn't manage...
Normally when we plan a trip, first we try to find out as much as possible regarding the places which should be seen, then we try to squeeze those places in the no. of days allocated to that trip. We don't always succeed in doing that...
I think "enouh" is not directly linked to the number of days/months but to your soul and mind; "enough' is then when you don't feel comfortable any more in a place, when things which used to appeal to you in the trip began to annoy you, when you feel tired, when you are eager to get back home...