Length of Travel

 

Ly Son Crater

Oftentimes when I talk about my travels with someone, I get around to talking about how long I spent in a place. Among travelers the longer you stayed, the more impressive your ‘travel résumé’. Inevitably, there’s a fork in the road and I have to choose a verb. Did I just visit for a few days? Did I stay for a week or two? Or, did I live there? The crown jewel of travel length is to say you lived there.

To my knowledge there is not an agreed upon time frame where one can say s/he lived in a place. Does it count as living there if you stayed for 1 month, 2, 3…6? It’s a bit confusing. Someone may say they lived in a place, but may have only been there a month. They may be trying to make the length of the trip sound more extensive than it was. Or, maybe s/he feels like that amount of time counts as living there. I think many travelers (myself included) have the habit of rounding up when it comes to travel length. Thus, 6 weeks becomes 2 months, 5 months 6, 10 a year… you get the idea.

I have this internal conflict myself. There are a few countries where I stayed for 2 months including Brazil, Spain, and Uzbekistan. During that time, I didn’t feel like a traveler anymore. I became a regular at a small number of bars, restaurants and grocery stores. I greeted my neighbors daily. I learned my way around my section of the city. Yet, I still feel a little disingenuous when I describe my 2-month stay as having lived there. I still use that verb sometimes. Most often, I just say I stayed in X city for 2 months. When I talk about my year (OK…10 months) living in Paris, I feel OK saying that.

Anyways, I don’t have an answer. It’d be presumptuous of me to decide this for anyone other than myself. I’m interested in hearing from you fellow travelers, backpackers and globetrotters out there. Which verbs do you use to describe different amounts of time that you spent in a place?

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