I finally took a longer break from traveling. I’ve been in Mexico City for over three weeks already, and it’s been great.

Netflix, video games, community meals, groceries… my days right now are very different from my usual travel life. I found a place to volunteer in Mexico City, and I decided to stay here for a month.

Here’s why I took a break from traveling.

Why All Long-Term Travellers Need Breaks

Some time ago, I started a discussion on a traveller Facebook group (“NOMADS – a life of alternative travel“). I asked how other long-term travellers felt about traveling right now. I also wrote how I was a bit tired of the constant farewells that come with traveling.

Turns out, most long-term travellers who joined the discussion had experienced similar feelings. The suggested remedy was almost always the same: staying still a while and taking a break from traveling.

For a full-time traveller, I’ve been traveling quite quickly. I’ve managed to slow down my pace – I even did three weeks of volunteering in California in August – but I knew the other nomads had a point.

I needed to take a longer break from traveling.

Warm Heart Community living room

Warm Heart Community – my current place of stay

Black squirrel at Viveros de Coyacán Park.

There’s a huge park just five minutes away from our community. I love watching the tame squirrels run around.

Mexico City – My New Temporary Home

I wanted to volunteer via Workaway again, but finding the right place took a lot of time. After lots of searching, I finally contacted Warm Heart Mexico, a Christian community in Mexico City.

(For an atheist, I’m spending a lot of time in Christian communities these days!)

I arrived in Mexico City in late October, and I quickly settled into my new surroundings. My volunteering doesn’t keep me very busy. I usually work a few hours during weekdays, depending on the work that I have. I have lots of free time, and that suits me very well.

I previously had a quite negative idea of Mexico City. The population of the Greater Mexico City is almost 25 million, and I come from a country of 5.5 million people. Just imagining a city with so many inhabitants got me wary. Luckily the city turned out to be nicer than I expected.

There’s a constant background noise wherever you go, but Mexico City isn’t as crowded as I imagined. The metro works great, and there are several large parks and museums in the city.

I only wish I could properly see the night sky behind all the smog and the lights, though.

The Pyramid of the Sun seen from the Pyramid of the Moon in Teotihuacán, Mexico.

We visited the pyramids of Teotihuacán during my second week. I was very impressed.

Dia de Los Muertos skeletons in Coyacán, Mexico City 2017.

I also got to experience Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) in Mexico City.

The Benefits of Staying Still

Taking a break from traveling has worked well so far. I’ve found what I’ve been missing: a community. I love having the same people around for longer periods. I don’t need to talk to everybody every day – just knowing they’ll be around makes me really happy.

After almost 18 months of traveling, I’m definitely appreciating the little things of rooted life more. You know, things like being able to buy whole packages of margarine and cheese. When I travel faster, I never have the time to consume big packages of foodstuff that goes in the fridge!

Once I stopped, I felt like I gained a lot of newfound time and energy. I don’t need to think where I’m going to eat and sleep next week. I can do things at a slower pace, without a sense of hurry.

That being said, I’ve kept myself quite busy during my break from traveling. I’ve been working on my blog a lot. I’m resupplying my backpack and I renewed my passport. This week I also returned to planning my itinerary.

Why I Took a Break from Traveling. Old and new passport photo comparison.

In case you’ve ever wondered what five years of travel do to a person… Kids, you’ve been warned.

Cooking vegan pyttipanna with tofu.

In the last three weeks, I’ve probably cooked more than I did in the previous six months combined. Here’s a tofu version of a Nordic dish called pyttipanna in the progress.

A Break from Traveling Doesn’t Change Everything

After starting my travel hiatus, I felt like I had a lot of energy for new things. However, the effect has started to wear off after a while. A change of scenery is revitalizing, but routines quickly follow.

On my first week of volunteering, I spent a lot of time preparing meals in the kitchen. Now I’ve become much lazier about cooking again. I also had many other plans for my break, but I’m getting less done than I first thought.

As I stay in one place, days definitely fly by faster. When I travel, I often think about schedules, dates and timetables. Now I couldn’t even tell how many weeks I’ve been here unless I’d check it from my calendar.

Jean Sibelius concert in Mexico City.

Finland turns 100 this year, but I’m  spending the whole year outside my country. Luckily Finland organized a free concert of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ music in Mexico City, so I was able to participate in the celebrations.

A sombrero hat on a sanded woodwork.

These pictures make it seem like I’m doing physical labour her. In reality, most of my volunteering happens on my computer.

Planning the Rest of My Trip

I’m still staying in Mexico City for two more weeks. I’ve loved my time here, and I already feel a bit sad and stressed about leaving. At the same time, I believe I’m soon ready to move on. This break from traveling has given me necessary time to prepare the following stops of my trip around the world.

Here’s my current plan for the rest of the trip:

I’ll keep traveling in Mexico until the middle of December. After that, I’ll make short stops in Colombia and Brazil before flying to Africa. I recently let you vote for my next destination, and travelling from South Africa to Kenya won the poll. That journey will probably take around three months.

After Africa, it’s finally time to return to Europe in the summer. I’ve been on this trip around the world for almost 18 months now, and I still have over half a year to go.

The end is still not nigh, but it’s getting closer.