When the Thrill Is Gone 12

I was recently inspired by a thought-provoking post from Seth Godin about how new things we experience in life lose their thrill over time. He says the definition of a thrill is temporary excitement, usually experienced for the first time. It’s true. After all, how can repeating something be as thrilling as the first time?

White Sandy Beaches in Langkawi Malaysia

What It Means To Lose The Thrill

I was struck by how accurate of a description that was for me at the moment and where I am in life. We are all aware of milestone events in our life that lose the “new-ness” over time. We all experience it. Things like jobs, cars, love, sex, haircuts, shopping, and even favorite hobbies can lose their “Wow” factor over time. It doesn’t mean it’s bad or not enjoyable anymore, it just loses the thrill.

Some of the most impressionable advice for businesses and relationships that I’ve heard that really hits the nail on the head, is choose to make it work. Choose to be happy, choose to love, choose to progress. Choosing to “go to bat” for the cause is so important because the thrill is always going to fade. It’s expected to fade.

It’s the same with travel. 

Tired of Traveling?

Landon and Alyssa looking over hills in Bolivia

We didn’t realize until it was a little too late to change our plans, but we lost the thrill of travel. (Wait…What?) No, I’m not talking about the thrill of arriving to a new place, meeting new people, and trying new foods. Those are all still pretty thrilling (to a point- I’m still not seeing the thrill in eating dog in Vietnam).

I’m talking about the motivation to get out and really explore a city, making the effort to get to know the locals, and chasing yet again, another waterfall. It always involves figuring out a lot of transportation links, studying a map, and researching online or books about attractions to see that aren’t too touristy and places to stay that are more than a blank room with a bed. It’s downright exhausting! Most people even feel a bit of a slowdown in their motivation after a fast-paced 2 week vacation to somewhere amazing like Hawaii.

Our friends and family say, “Oh, you must be tired of traveling now!” We’ve been on the road for over 2 years so it’s a correct assumption, I must say. But we are not tired of traveling, we LOVE traveling. It’s become a part of us because of this lifestyle we have chosen to live. We’d never be able to turn our backs on it. But… a break would be nice. A break to reconnect and experience “normal” again. Let me explain.

Finding Motivation – Where Are You?

Halong Bay Vietnam

Over our 2 and a half years of travel, we realized that we had lost touch with what our own society considers amazing, paradise, or the dream vacation. Some of the destinations we were visiting were all of that and more! Yet we found ourselves surprisingly lacking in energy and motivation to go out and explore it all.

Take for example, Bali.

We arrived a few days before Christmas. Bali had been one of our dream destinations for years and here we finally were! We checked into our adorable hotel and loved it! And then….we didn’t leave for a few days. We were just content to stay at the hotel, swim in the pool, walk to the beach for sunset, have a nice meal, and get some work done. That is so NOT like us! We are usually the hit-it-hard-see-everything-you-can type of travelers. What happened in Bali?

We were out of touch with what Bali was supposed to be. For example, if we had come to Bali over the holidays on a 2 week vacation fresh from the U.S. Bali would have been the ultimate vacation – with pure thrill for the new experience, driving around 12 hours a day on a motorbike.

From parasailing to gorgeous ocean beaches, it would be the paradise we’ve been dreaming of. However, we arrive to Bali after 2+ years on the road from Thailand, and think “Oh, this has nothing compared to _____________ place we were at.” or “Wow, this is such a touristy destination with so many people.” or “This seems like a nice place to relax since we’ve been on the go so much.”

It’s not that it wasn’t beautiful and we didn’t enjoy ourselves, because we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our travels in Bali. We had a blast! But after a while, it all seems the same and blurs together.

Each individual destination doesn’t get the thrill factor that it deserves because the thrill of travel has faded after traveling a long time.

And like I explained above, it doesn’t mean it’s bad and that you can’t still enjoy it. It’s just that the exciting thrill has been reduced.

Disconnecting to Reconnect Again

Costa Rica Frog

When you are from a country where traveling long-term is considered very unorthodox and strange, how do you relate to your friends and family? The majority of them have never been outside their country or maybe only once! How do you explain to your families about another elephant you saw, island you dived at, or sunset you saw without it seeming redundant? Or heaven forbid, bragging?

You can’t. They can’t relate to things like that because it seems so strange or exotic. Like seeing a monkey in the road – that’s as common in Thailand as a deer crossing the road in the midwest US. People really think we’re exaggerating when we tell them that.

We realized we had to reconnect with our American life and relationships again in order to better appreciate the places we were visiting. 

So we came back. After 2 and a half years of long-term travel we came back.

Do we regret traveling long-term? No way. Slow travel and long term travel is one of our most favorite things to do! It’s the best way to travel. It’s really an eye-opener and helps you see the world differently then if you were to just pop in to a tourist trap for a few weeks.

It gives you a deeper meaning to travel and worldwide friendships. It’s invaluable.

The Hidden Pressure

Landon Alyssa Phuket Kiss

I guess we felt like we needed to travel as much and as far as we could “now.” Before it’s somehow too late. This hidden pressure built every time someone would say to us, “You’ll never have a chance like this again.” or “Do it now while you can.” or “Once you start a family, you’ll never be able to do this again.”

It felt like an imaginary time bomb was being held over our head. Travel now or you’ll never get the chance again.

It’s not true.

Like the people who haven’t traveled long-term would know… Like we should have ever listened to them or paid them any attention…

You don’t have to get all your travel done or “see the world” before you settle down. Why do we all think that? The biggest lesson we have learned during this adventure is that if you truly want something, nothing is impossible. Go for your dreams! Why do we feel like we have to sacrifice travel for settling down or settling down for travel? Can we have both? I know it’s easier than it looks.

We’ve experienced uprooting our life in the U.S., selling our belongings, and saying goodbye to our family. I know it can be hard. But it wasn’t that hard. We knew what we wanted to do and the process went really smooth. Because we had a vision. And because of that, I know it would be easy to do it again. Of course, a lot harder with kids, much more challenging with a family, etc… But it’s not impossible. And travel will always be in our hearts.

So this doesn’t mean we won’t travel long-term again. It was one of the most exhilarating times of our lives! We can hardly imagine how fun it would be with our kids tagging along some day! If we can give them the gift of travel, we’ll have accomplished one of our missions in life! We can’t wait for the adventures a year from now, 5 years from now! Right now we’re stoked to be able to travel and explore some more in our home country!

Maya Bay Aerial with Boats

We appreciate all the support we’ve had from YOU, our followers as well as friends and family along the way! There were those who believed in us even when they thought we were crazy. Thank You. Uneven Sidewalks has become a HUGE source of travel information and motivation for thousands of people around the world each month. We will continue to provide our best knowledge, tips, and stunning pictures from our travels because our goal here is still to get YOU out there and traveling the world!


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12 thoughts on “When the Thrill Is Gone

  • Abigail Hobbs

    I love this advice. People are very negative about how “settling down” means never pursuing your dreams again, never getting to go on an adventure, or never doing something exciting. But I really think it’s about our mindset– if we decide, “well I’m just never going to have fun ever again” then that’s how we’ll feel. But if we embrace each day as a blessing and an adventure in its own right… then that will be our portion.

    • Landon Post author

      Thanks for your sweet comment Abigail! It’s so true. Embracing each day as a blessing and adventure is the choice we have! It helps to see beyond the day to day and go for what you want! It’s all about our mindset. Great thoughts, thanks for sharing!

  • Sara Blakemore

    Aaahh, I love this! Well written, heartfelt and true! So happy you guys were in Costa Rica when you were, or we might have never met! We have loved travelling with you through your pictures, thankful for your advice, and excited for what the future has in store for you. I think you next “in country” exploration should be New Mexico!

    • Landon Post author

      Thanks Sara! It certainly has been so much fun getting to know you and meeting you in Costa Rica! We have loved our friendship since! We definitely need to come visit in NM soon! Thanks for all your encouragement and love!

  • Pam Foster

    Well written. There does come a point to settle down. Does this mean you’ll never travel again? Of course not!!! With four kids we traveled all the time. Always took trips. Mid-winter break, spring break, summer break, and yes, even before they were in school. Maybe we didn’t take them out of country but there is lots to see right here in the USA. And I did take Anna to Europe for graduation letting her choose the countries she wanted to see. We were only gone a month there but saw and did a lot there. I traveled before I got married too. Travel is great!!! Just because you’re stopping now, it’s just a break. You’ll go again! Love the pictures and blog.

    • Landon Post author

      Thanks Pam for always having a nice word to share with us. We appreciate you! I know we will always love traveling and are excited to see what the future holds! It’s amazing how much there is to see right here in the USA and what great travel deals there are to international countries as well!

  • Frank

    Great post, lots of truth to everything you wrote. We’ve been at it now for almost 2 years, the same time as you. But honestly, we couldn’t imagine going back (we are however older and have had many years of settling down). We travel slow, often staying somewhere 1-2 months, so I think its one of the reasons we haven’t burnt out. We look at it more like “living” in different places and we’ve really enjoyed that. But it’s true certain things have lost their appeal: we’ve been all over Europe now, we can barely stand going into a museum anymore ;) Don’t like taking tours either. And sometimes like you say, we can be in a beautiful place and just do what we did before full-time travel – veg out at ‘home’.

    I think the trick, short term, is to keep places as different from each other as possible. Leaving Europe and going to South Africa for example was a whole different experience and got us excited. We were there 3 months – and are now happy to be back in Europe. But longer term I think we’ll be looking to have more of a base to call home, probably in Croatia. A place where we can live but rent out when we feel like travelling – because I think we would want to continue travelling the way we do at least half the year.

    I was thinking just recently about what a shame it is that this is human nature. We all remember those experiences when we were young and everything happened for the first time: getting on a plane, the butterflies arriving somewhere, a first job, a first date etc…and as we get older we lose that thrill, for all things. A bit depressing come to think of it.

    Anyway, great post.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Landon Post author

      Great thoughts on traveling for different types of experiences. It’s also good to have a reason and a dream to travel to different places – meeting someone on the road, planning to work or volunteer at a certain place, seeing that favorite waterfall or pyramid, or for us finding geocaches that bring us to the behind-the-scenes less-known cool places in a city/country. Also, as younger travelers, there’s a natural instinct to want to spend time with friends back in the USA or settle down, for a few years at least, to have a family. It’s all a matter of perspective, and once a house with a normal job gets boring, living out of a backpack again will be appealing again!

  • Brittany @ TheTradingTravelers

    This is so spot on. I feel like I was reading my own story. We are 2.5 years in as well and just returned home 2 weeks ago from Bali and Thailand. We were in Bali over the New Year and had the exact same realization. We found ourselves so unmotivated to get out and see anything and stayed holed up in the comfort of our air-con guest house. We’ve realized over the past 6 months that we were losing that thrill. We made the decision to come home and settle down for a while – also taking a much needed break. Normal feels so great for once! We do plan to do some short jaunts around the US, but we are primarily sitting still for the remainder of 2016. Travel is wonderful but it is also exhausting! Sometimes I feel like a bit of a failure after preaching how great travel is and then returning home. But the truth is, travel is great and I will always have that passion for it but we don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations. We have to do what makes us happy. Anyways..excellent read and good luck to you!

    • Landon Post author

      Thanks for your great thoughts Brittany! It’s always nice to know you aren’t the only ones! I’ve realized with that it’s not failure to come back and take a break. We just think of it as reconnecting. It’s like you said, a passion for travel that will never really fade! For us, it’s all about cultures and getting involved again with the culture that we understand again. It will be good for you guys to get in a normal feeling of routine again. We are definitely looking forward to it again too!

  • John

    Good read! I can definitely relate to a lot of this particularly the “Hidden Pressure,” and I really like your perspective there. Looking forward to continuing to follow your adventures both near and far!