Should Christians Do Long Term World Travel?


This is a question I have been wrestling with for a few weeks now. As I’ve spent the last 3+ months tramping all up and down Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, I’ve come to a point where I am mightily fatigued of being a tourist. I’m still enjoying being abroad and exploring, but a part of me really desires stability, structure, and just to feel like a normal person again.


My life for 26 days

My life for 26 days


I feel like I’ve hit the point where I’ve realized, this is no longer just a vacation. This is my life for the foreseeable future. When you’re on vacation you do things like cram as much as possible into a tight time window. You set up itineraries and book flights and make hotel bookings. I haven’t made an advanced hotel booking in over 10 weeks. Even when I crossed into Vietnam and arrived in Saigon at 3:30 am, I just took a mototaxi into the city and wandered around and made noise until someone from a guest house poked their head out. It’s a completely different mindset when you become accustomed to another culture and begin to understand how things operate. You start to lose your fear.

But while that’s all grand and well, some days I daydream about mundane things like going to a park to play frisbee golf. Or Chick-Fil-A, I daydream about their sandwiches. Or even the other day I went to see a Hollywood movie with friends, and it felt really nice to experience something familiar again.


IMG_1437


Back home, the struggle was always trying to avoid boredom. Out on the road, the struggle is to not romanticize how that boredom felt and want it back. Because at least the boredom was familiar, it was predictable. You knew it was there if you wanted it, and sometimes even if you didn’t. Schedules and routines felt like cozy fireplaces. When in reality, at the time you thought they felt more like shackles to a life you weren’t entirely sure you wanted.

I suppose “the grass is always greener” aptly describes the traveler and non-traveler’s struggles alike. We tend to want what we don’t have, or maybe even what we used to have. But what we have now is never fully appreciated in the moment.


Hanging Around on Monkey Island

Hanging Around on Monkey Island


And finally, that brings me to the title of this post. Should Christians travel? Specifically solo long-term world travel? Is it possible to have a balanced and thriving spiritual life while your daily life, your bed, and your relationships are constantly changing? Is continual movement the catalyst for growth? Or does structure foster stability which in turn yields deep roots in a community?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, nor am I particularly looking for advice into my personal life. I’m just curious if anyone else has experienced similar thoughts.


Vietnam-Sunset


For the time being I am resolved to travel a little slower, see a little less and soak up a little more. I’ll let a place show me what is, rather than always running around trying to find out for myself. Because after all, I have a pretty darn good life right now. And while I think our desires morph and change as we get older, gratitude and appreciation for what you have is beneficial no matter your age or what you want out of life.

So for now, I’ll just breathe. Breathe in the moments of life while they’re still here.

Vietnam_Coastline

The Villagers Got Me Drunk, and Other Jungle Stories


Well I swear I didn’t plan it this way.

Last week I took a 3 day/2 night jungle trekking trip into the Nam Ha National Forest in northern Laos. Adventures ensued, including getting thrown in the river twice due my poor kayaking skills, and the aforementioned escapades in the village we stayed at the second night.

Jungle Biker Bro

It turns out, the day after we arrived they were electing a new chief (who is actually the same chief they’ve had for the last 8 years), and a celebration was in order. I slept horribly that night, and so decided to forgo the last day of trekking and instead stay in the village.

Bon Appétit!

Bon Appétit!

Little did I know just exactly what I was in for.

It turns out, Laos is hot; and the jungle is steamy. In order to cope with this, the men (and women) partake of a certain locally distilled rice whiskey affectionately known as “Lao Lao.” And they are especially generous in sharing this creation.

"Who Make Party" indeed

“Who Make Party” indeed

But it was election day after all, how could I refuse their generosity? So we drank and we danced (Lao traditional), and I got to be part of something only a minute percentage of westerners will ever experience.

These girls were adorable

These girls were adorable

The people here are beautiful.

Their lives are much different than ours, but their spirit is incredibly welcoming. Never once have I felt unsafe or in danger, even walking around the streets at night. There is a beautiful quality of simplicity that pervades the mountainous countryside.

As they say, this is Laos PDR – “Please don’t rush.” I’ve learned to let go of my western schedules and timetables, and be open to traveling on a bus that takes 9 hours to go 300 km, and stops frequently to pick up various people and cargo along the way.

Looks pretty. Don't eat.

Looks pretty. Don’t eat.

I’ve currently been in the same city (Luang Prabang) for almost a week, and feel like it has been a good amount of time to soak up and experience the vibe. Since I’m blessed enough to not have a set return date (yet), I’m able to walk around and spend more time in places that other backpackers might have to rush through.

Success!

Success!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts 🙂

Khob chai!