I guess this question doesn’t apply to everyone. The working individual obviously doesn’t have time to take one big 3-6 months trip around Asia. I, for example, probably won’t find the time for it anymore.
So I know this might not be something that is interesting for everyone but when traveling Vietnam and meeting so many people who did one big trip all around Asia it reminded me of my big trip in 2013/2014 and it made me wonder: What way is the better way to travel?
Spoiler: There is no better way. Both ways have their ups and downs. But let’s talk about them.
Like I said, I did one big trip a couple of years back. And I loved it. But I also think that it has its disadvantages.
I remember when I got to the islands in Thailand I wasn’t really in the mood for beaches anymore. I’ve seen so many different ones along my journey – city beaches, lonely beaches, crowded beaches – and they kind of lost their spark. That’s why I added Cambodia on to my itinerary (which I don’t regret a single bit!).
I guess that changes from person to person but I also know that I met a lot of people who said they just couldn’t take any new things in anymore. And isn’t that why you travel? Taking new, beautiful nature in? Exploring new sights every day?
On the other hand, if you only do one country at a time, you might have to rush through it and miss some of the beautiful nature or sights. Especially if you are on a tight schedule, which is the case most of the time. Let’s take Vietnam as an example – I was there for (only) 18 days. And because of the long distances, I couldn’t really stop everywhere I wanted to. If you, on the other hand, had planned one big trip around South East Asia, you might have more time to discover it all.
But then again, when do you ever have ENOUGH time to explore, right?
Another disadvantage for one country at a time (and at the same time an advantage for one big trip) is the fact that you meet people on the way that might do a bigger trip (as well). When I was in Vietnam, I met so many people that met up along their travels multiple times because everyone is going along a similar route in Asia. I, on the other hand, only did Vietnam and therefore wasn’t able to meet up with people over in Thailand or Cambodia afterwards. It’s very sad, but I still met great people and even though I didn’t meet them a second (or third) time in Asia, I might still meet them again somewhere else in the world. That’s the beauty of traveling, right?
Packing might be an issue that is very annoying (and therefore a disadvantage) when you do one big trip. I started off in the US and Canada in November (=Winter) and ended up in Asia in March (=Summer). Therefore, I had to pack stuff for every weather-y occasion. Into one backpack. Well, I kind of cheated and met my parents half way through, so they could take all my winter clothes back home and bring me a bit more summer stuff. But still, the first 2 months, when I was traveling from the US to Canada to Peru to Sydney, so through a few different seasons, I had to do it all with one backpack. You learn to live with only a few things, I guess.
Coming home… This is a topic where I wouldn’t even know if any of the two types of trips have an advantage. Coming home is always hard.
Coming home after one big trip brings the challenge of accepting that everyone went on with their lives and everyone might have stories to tell, not only you. Sometimes travelers forget that (me included). In the end nothing has really changed, no matter what.
But coming home after visiting one country only, you feel like you missed out on things. You feel like you are not done traveling. And you need to bridge the time until you are back on the road again, even if it’s only for a little while.
Well, in the end I guess it doesn’t really matter which of the two types you choose. Or have to choose. Because the only thing that matters is seeing the world, no matter if it’s one tiny step after the other or in a race around it. Appreciate that you have the sources and the freedom to travel and make the best out of it. Even if it’s only with a weekend trip a year. It’s worth it!