What just happened?
I took seven months out of my professional career, a well paid, respectable job then sold my car. My family thought I was bonkers and they were saying I could put a deposit down on a house and settle down.
I wanted to do all my travels in one go due to my career path. However people thought I had thrown in the towel and I had become a travel hobo. I don’t regret the decision at all, it was difficult to adjust back to working life but it reminded me there is more to life than just work but that you need work in order to survive.
Wait, where again?
I started in Vancouver (Canada), down the West Coast of America through Seattle, San Francisco, Los angeles, Las Vegas and Miami. I made my way through Cuba, Peru, Argentina and then across to South Africa. I landed in Australia making my way down the East coast, did a road trip in the Southern part of New Zealand. After that, seeing parts of East Asia like Indonesia, Phillipines, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Then the reality hit me of coming home and here I am, blogging to you while enjoying the British weather.
How has my perspective changed?
I feel that meeting different people, seeing how different parts of the world live and seeing some amazing sites, that I feel very grateful for having the experience. There are more youth doing it and enjoying life as it comes but I truly learned that although you have these little escapes that you need to have something to come back to as well. I always talk about balance and I think that everyone should have a few months travel in their life and then return to working life so that (if its what they want), they can buy a house, have children and settle down. Some people may choose to travel on and off throughout their whole life and that is their life choice but then you sacrifice having a stable life and potentially a family if you don’t settle.
However a friend wisely said, “what is the point of life, it’s different for everyone”. He was right, for some people it may be to well respected in their field or to start a family. For another it may be to travel the world or help others.
Tips for travelling
- Don’t plan it – when you’re working and take two weeks off, you need to plan most of it to make use of all your time. However if you have no time limit then plan everything spontaneously. You won’t get tied down to anything.
- How long – for me, I didn’t want to take too long a career break but you may want to take months or years out – it depends on your situation. I would say 1-3 months travel is good for one location, you can cover alot of ground in a week.
- Planning – Although winging it is a good plan, you should do some rough research into weather, sites and excursions. Alot of travellers like to book two nights at a time somewhere and then extend or move on.
- Meeting people – at the start, you’ll want to make as many friends as possible. Some people may chat to you but don’t get offended if you don’t exchange details. If you really connect with someone then you should exchange details but some travelers prefer keeping it superficial and moving on.
- Talking travel. Travelling is super common now and you’ll meet alot of people. No doubt, “where have you been and going to” question will pop up. Be humble! I met alot of people who interrupted conversation to let you know where they’ve been and done. Don’t put anyone down or be negative about an aspect of someone’s trip.
- Chat. I’m quite an introverted person so I like to just sit and watch. I usually don’t make the initial move when starting a conversation but if you see a group or person you might get along with, just say hi and introduce yourself. You will soon grow as a more social person during your trip.
- Tips. Although not all cultures expect a tip. If you feel like the food or service was good then give a tip. It doesn’t have to be excessive but just as a gesture.
- Pack light.
What I learned after the world tour
- Ear plugs are the saviour. If you are hostelling hard then you’ll meet a lot of like minded individuals and you might make some lifelong friends who are from a different part of the world! However we all need our beauty sleep and our newfound friends may snore like satan. Don’t bring a pair of earbuds, bring a bag. Thank me later.
- Toiletries. Bring small items first and if you have to buy anything out there, a supermarket will be easy to find. Toothbrush, toothpaste, mini shower gel, wet wipes and tissue packs should be enough. I would advise bringing some medication in case of a bad tummy, paracetamol and plasters.
- Towels – a microfiber towel is super compact and dries quickly. However in damp climate, it won’t dry and smell abit but still a good item.
- Rough plan – have a rough idea of where you are going and improvise around that.
- Travel insurance – if you cannot afford travel insurance then don’t go. I paid £400 for my insurance via world nomads as they came highly recommended. I met a few travellers who didn’t have travel insurance and got their phones nicked and their money stolen. They were stuffed. They were stuck in Peru and their family couldn’t even wire them money because they had no access to their cards!
- Don’t hesitate – if you really want to go do a certain activity or go somewhere but you are worried about the cost or time. Then don’t think just do. When I was in Australia and New Zealand, the prices were sky high but I soon learned that this was inevitable. If you want to skydive, bungee jump or take a helicopter tour. Just do it, you’re there already and you’ve saved enough money to do it. You’ll save more in the long run. Just imagine returning years later just to do it (you’ll pay the air fare and accommodation twice).
- Stay in touch – this is probably obvious but send your family a message every few days just to let them know you’re alive and not stuck on some island like Castaway. I just sent my family photos of my trip which let them see where I was and they could sleep easy. Also keep in touch with your mates! You’ll soon find out who your good friends are when they stay in touch with you after 4 months!
- Rest – not every day has to be jam packed. Take a day just to watch tv or eat junk food. It is exhausting just being a tourist/traveller and although you’re getting a huge life experience, you need to take it easy after a few months of being constantly on the move. I remember huge blisters on my toes which ached for weeks upon end and I knew I needed to spend one day to chill.
- Hostels – hostelworld app and google maps are the best resources for seeing where accommodation is. However the hostelworld app is complete shite. The app has so many glitches that it will change your booking dates or hostel, I would use it to research location and reviews of the hostel. I also recommend booking.com as you can book a place for free and pay later which is handy!
- Chat to the locals. During the early months of my trip, I planned it carefully and I stayed with locals in each city. They gave me insight into what their country was like and how they lived, it was so interesting and they might take you to hidden local spots or events. I remember my host Laureano taking me to salsa and tango spots whilst drinking mate.
- Eat – it can be difficult to find food you like and this is just my opinion. I like to eat the local food when I’m in the country and im sure a lot of people agree but some may shy away from it sticking to European food. Give the local cuisine a go! It is part of their culture and you will find foods that you cant find back in your home country.
- Transport – I walked a lot in the more developed countries as I knew they were generally safer. I took the tube and train which were cost effective but if you are in an unfamiliar setting then use Uber/Grab/Ola. I got really excited about getting a tube card in each city and made a collection out of them!
- Bring a combination lock (or two). This will be really useful and saves you carrying a key you might lose. I would put all the important stuff in small bag and shove that into the locker.
- Only bring what you need. If you follow me then you will have read that I lost my debit cards in Lao because I carried my wallet with me everywhere! Luckily it was at the end of my trip but I learned an important lesson. Take the cash you need for the day and a little extra, water and a battery pack.
- Don’t bring a sleeping bag. Sweet baby jesus, I lugged my sleeping bag with me for 4 months before giving it away. I only used it in two destinations. Peru and New Zealand. It didn’t weigh much but it was enough for me to walk around questioning life and it was awkward to pack.
- Compartmentalise. I separated my underwear, trousers and tops. I would suggest getting waterproof bags for each of these and the underwear stuff should go at the top of your pack!
- Pack light. If you go over 50L then you might be carrying too much. If you are travelling for a while then the weight of your pack will eventually wear you down. I would suggest a 50L bag and a smaller daybag to carry with you. Also buy a drybag for when you are doing your watersports.
- Bargains. If you are going for an excursion, daytrip or buying souvenirs. There is always room to bargain. If you think you can get a better deal or you feel something is fishy just move on, you can always return if you think it really is a good deal.
- Get something for yourself at every major stop, I always buy a fridge magnet wherever I go as its small and decorative. If you are buying for friends or family, I’d advise getting small items and if you find you’re carrying Santa’s sack around then you can ship it back home.
- Embrace the night buses– although tiring, I always enjoyed the day after catching the night bus as I was tired enough to fall asleep but had enough energy to walk about and then conk out when nightfall came. The night buses will also save you money on accommodation.
- Back up. I brought two phones and two wallets in case I lost anything and I kept the back up in my bag. I actually used my back up phone in South Africa as I was quite anxious that I might get mugged but it never happened.
- Set up a blog. I have been blogging for over a year now and I enjoy it, seeing where my travels have taken me and hopefully I am helping other people out there. I like reading blogs and getting tips from other bloggers which is the main reason I set up my blog. Having a blog is like keeping a diary (which a lot of travellers do also). I took my laptop with me and updated my blog as often as I could.
- Take a tablet or small laptop. This will help you blog and also connect online. If you want to unwind or have a long journey ahead then I would highly recommend downloading a bunch of movies (dare I say 100) – classics, new films and series. As the internet may not always be available. Also bring a book along to read or buy a book, you can usually swap them in the different countries at some point.
- Don’t rush. Sometimes you may not have enough time to do everything. Don’t fret, there is always time. The country, city and culture won’t disappear and you can always go back.
- Enjoy yourself. You might worry about whether you’ll be able to do it, if you have enough money and what you’ll do when you get back. I would just sit back and enjoy your journey as it will soon finish in the blink of an eye. Be grateful you were able to go on an adventure and don’t look back thinking you wished you were still travelling as you have to face reality as some point but at least you did it where many do not!
That’s all folks. Good luck on your adventure. If anyone needs advice then send me a message, I look forward to posting about my next trip!