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The stages of travel

Updated: Mar 17

What makes me travel or live abroad for some time? I sometimes ask myself the same question. Going out of ones comfort zone and into the unknown, is certainly never easy.

It brings the confrontation with one self on all different levels, but therefore also the potential for massive personal growth.

Who are you when nothing you have built around you is the same anymore?

Who are you when you get into a situation that feels very desperate and helpless?

Who are you when you do not have your close circle around you anymore?

All these questions will come up over time and can help you rethink and redefine, who you truly are. With the possibility to reinvent yourself, keep what is serving you and letting go what no longer belongs to you.

In my personal observation I found that I am moving through different stages when being abroad. You might wanna observe if you have a similar experience and hopefully this article can help you move through it with more ease.

1-3 week: The Honeymoon Phase

Unless you landed at a spot you really dislike or the timing is off, you will probably experience a lot of bliss and excitement in the first weeks. You will want to use your time wisely and go on a lot of adventures and activities. Money is spend easily, as the currency exchange is not fully integrated yet and you don´t know the pricing. You also might want to spoil yourself with some treats you usually wouldn't get.

Everything is new and there is so much to see and do. If you only go on holidays for a few days or weeks, thats probably gonna be your full experience.

3-6 week: Seeing the Shadow

If you stay longer then approximately 3 weeks in one location, the honeymoon phase will slowly start to wear off. You probably start to miss your routines and trusted people around you. The downsides of the place will slowly show up and you might not like it as much as in the beginning anymore. Your personal challenges show up again and you might feel them more intensely than in your home environment, as there is no safety structure set up yet.

You also realise that you might have spend a lot of money in the first weeks and have the need to slow it down a bit, which makes you less active. It is also difficult to maintain the same energylevel that you had in the first exciting days or weeks, so you might be more in hermit mode or slowing it down. You wonder and question yourself why you are here and have some home sickness showing up.

6-12 week: The Integration Period

If you have worked your way through these more difficult times, in my experience, a sudden shift happens. You have understood how the other culture works and now find it easy to move within that framework. The first reliable connections have formed and make you feel safe and connected with the place. Which sometimes also means that you distance yourself from people you hung out with first because they actually do not align with you. Routines start to establish, as you have found your favourite places to hang out at, where to buy and what to do. The new place starts to feel like home.

Starting from week 12: Settling period

By this point you probably have a quite good insight of the place where you have stayed. You can see it clearly with all its positives and negatives, have made some solid connections, lost the ones that were not supposed to be. Everything starts to seem "normal" to you and you forget about the things that made you excited in the first place.

This is usually the crucial point where you decide if you can see yourself living here or not. Which results in either staying or moving away.

The timeframe might differ from person to person and the stages can repeat itself over time. It is never easy to take that big step to move away or spend some time abroad, but in my view so worth it. You will learn so much about yourself, life and the world, which no school can teach you. In my opinion, we are here in this human experience to grow and expand our consciousness. Not to stay stuck in comfortability. So don´t be afraid for what will show up for you. Its all part of the bigger picture and your learning lesson.

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