It’s hardly possible to believe, but today (February 9th) marks a whole year since I started my round the world adventure. So far I haven’t made it quite around the world (I’m halfway there, from the UK to New Zealand), but I’ve travelled a lot more slowly and taken in much more than I thought I would when I started.
My boyfriend Alex and I sold everything we owned, apart from a few books and a smattering of clothing, and took off to South India to begin our adventure. Neither of us knew exactly what to expect, whether we would end up loving or hating it (or each other), but it’s been an incredibly eye opening experience.
So from 365 days of travel through a lot of Asia and Oceania, here are a few of my ponderings.
1. You need to pace yourself
Long term travel is a marathon. As well as actually seeing all of the wonderful places on your bucket list, there’s the inevitable need for planning as you go: Looking ahead at places to stay, how to get there, things to do, ways to save a few pennies here and there. So unless you’re one of those people who never plans anything (wouldn’t recommend that, by the way), sometimes you’ll just need somewhere quiet to sit and some decent WiFi.
2. Not every day is the best day of your life
It’s just not possible to be on top of the world every day, and that’s OK. Some days you’ll be horrifically homesick, some days your travel buddy will be doing your head in, and some days you’ll feel sad and you just can’t pinpoint why. Being on the road is not a magic fixer for all of life’s problems, and it’s OK to take your down days too.
3. But sometimes it really is
I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, so I totally need to balance the above by saying that yes, sometimes you really will have some of the most incredible days of your life. After all, the whole idea of travelling is to see some amazing new places and thrill yourself by doing things you wouldn’t normally do at home. Like flying a plane over Sydney Harbour or canyoning through a dense jungle in India, or swimming with wild dolphins in New Zealand and thinking ‘how the hell did I get here?’
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4. Trust the system, even though there is no system
This is key to maintaining a clear head when you’re on a road for a long time (especially if you’re travelling through chaotic countries such as India). Although things might not go exactly to plan, trust that everything will be OK in the end, and usually it is. Chances are, you’re not the first person to ever get a bus from Amritsar to Dharamshala, so although there’s a massive delay and no one speaks English, you’ll need to be patient and let it work itself out, or you’ll just go mad.
5. Cheese is still the best thing in the world
6. You’ll never have to pay for accommodation again
OK you probably will, but meeting people from all over the world means you’ll have tons of new friends scattered all over the globe which you’ll be able to call on for a bed or a couch when you pass through in future. Just remember to return the favour when you finally settle back into a ‘normal’ life (whatever that looks like), and have a couch of your very own!
7. You need to make time for family and friends
Just because you’re off gallivanting around the world it doesn’t mean that time stops at home. All the people you know and love are still living their lives, and if you want to keep up your friendships you’re the one who will have to make more of an effort. You can’t rely on your friends and family to know which time zone you’e in or when you can get good enough phone signal or WiFi to call home, so make sure you touch base every now and then to see how everyone is.
8. You can cram a LOT into one day
When you spend most of your life working a 9 to 5, you kind of get into the groove of achieving things on maybe a weekly or monthly scale. Did you hit targets this month? What do the quarterly sales look like? That type of thing.
When you travel, it’s like time opens up and you’re able to achieve loads in just one day. Picture waking up early, taking a yoga class, going for a hike, visiting a museum or gallery, having a leisurely lunch, going on a road trip in the afternoon, and then watching the sun set over rice paddies. This is a typical day in Asia really, and crams so much in without being too tiring. Awesome.
9. But time still moves too fast
Has it been a year already? Seriously? How did that even happen?
10. Laundry day is the best day
Having fresh, clean clothes is simply the best feeling, and even though you’re still wearing those same old saggy shorts you bought six months ago and wear EVERY DAY, you love them to bits.
11. The world isn’t as different (or as scary) as you might think.
If you’re picturing most the world being incredibly different from your daily life, you might be surprised that in a lot of places you’ll still find pigeons wandering around and people chatting away to their friends on their smartphones. Unless you’re visiting a very different or under developed country, then you’ll be amazed at just how many similarities there are across the world.
12. No matter how you store milk, it always spills
So don’t even try.
13. Money becomes so important, but then suddenly it isn’t
One day you’ll spend ages bartering something down by 50p, insisting that you get the absolute best deal possible, and other days you’ll think ‘sod it’ and blow 30 quid on a bottle of wine just because you feel you deserve it. Money takes on a whole new personality when you travel long term, I swear.
14. You miss the creature comforts
Like having a comfy couch to sit on and tuck your legs underneath you whilst you read a book. Or having a kitchen with everything you need to cook a kick-ass meal. Or roast dinners with Yorkshire puddings and gravy… I’m going to stop right there before I make myself sad.
15. Bugs become less scary
Honestly, when I left home I was the biggest wimp when it came to bugs. I mean, I’m not totally in love with them now of course, but sharing my room with creepy crawlies of various varieties over the past year has at least made me more tolerant. I mean, yesterday a moth flew right into my eyeball and I barely flinched. One year ago I would have been flapping around like a mad woman. Life goals!
These are just a few of my mad ramblings after a year on the road, but I’d love to hear what you learned from a long term travel experience! Feel free to leave me a comment below!