01 Mar

Nine Month Check In

We are now past the nine month mark of our trip. Time for another look at how we’re doing:

I think about home more often than I thought I would. I don’t miss home as much as I miss having a home. I thought I would be going home kicking and screaming, wanting to stay on the road forever, but actually I am looking forward to going home. I dream about routine, about sleeping in the same bed night after night, about cooking and cleaning, about running and riding my bike, and yes, even about going to work! I’m sure that within a few weeks of being home the tables will be turned and I will once again be dreaming of the freedom and adventure we have had while away.

Travel fatigue has set in. I have been following travelers blogs since first thinking about this trip 2 years ago. It seemed that they all ‘hit the wall’ at about the nine month point and, sure enough, I think we too are suffering from travel fatigue. The constant work of having to find a room, or a meal, or a bus/boat/train is wearing. We have gotten used to not quite knowing what’s going on and not being able to communicate as effectively as we would like, but it’s tiring to always be trying to figure it out. And, after being in a region for some time, sightseeing loses it’s appeal…we don’t try as hard to go visit another temple, or museum, or waterfall as we do when we first enter a region.

We know now what we need to travel. We may be tired and looking to home a bit more than we thought but we also now know what we need to make us happy. We have realized that the number one thing that affects us is the quality of our accommodation. We like to have a nice room in a nice guesthouse that has space to hang out in and maybe meet other travelers and, if it has wi-fi, all the better. It should have a double bed, it must have a private bathroom with hot water, it should be near enough to everything so we can walk but off the main area enough so it is  quiet. We like to use local buses to get around (and actually prefer them to the tourist minivans that run all over SE Asia), we love to eat at street stalls and markets, and renting a scooter to see the sights (rather than going on a tour) is one of our favorite things to do, but we have learned that spending the money on a good place to stay is more than worth it.

SE Asia is definitely the easiest place to meet people. NomadicMatt told us early on that SE Asia is the place to meet people and he was right! There is a well worn backpacker trail through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia and there are travelers everywhere. We have met countless people on buses and cooking classes, in guesthouses and pubs, and then just keep running into them at various places along the way. I run into more people that I know here than I ever did back home. My favorite though was when Damien and Kara of RunningTowards stopped us on the street in Chiang Mai to ask if we were the folks from OneGiantStep…fame at last!!

Blogging is getting harder. Maybe you’ve noticed that it’s getting a little longer between posts. I don’t know why but it’s getting a little harder to write all the time. Maybe it’s because our time here has been much more laid back – we’re not doing ‘stuff’ all the time and are spending more time just relaxing…not good blogging material. We should be moving more now though and in a few weeks we enter into Vietnam where, I’m sure, there will be lots to write about!

Nine months in and we’re still learning about this travel stuff and how it affects us. Every phase is different and we try to take it all as it comes. We seem to be trudging over a bit of a hump right now but I think we’re almost at the top of it now and will really enjoy the next few months and what they bring.

06 Dec

Six Month Check In

Hard to believe we’ve been on the road for six months…but here we are in India and the calendar is irrefutable proof that six months have indeed passed since we first left home.

I think we continue to learn and evolve, but I also think that we have caught our stride and are traveling much more assuredly now. Here are some thoughts:

Bon Voyage Cake Time passes very quickly. It is hard to believe that it is six months since we left. Time seems to have flown by and sometimes it seems that I can remember every moment as though it was yesterday. At times I wish for the clock to slow down so that the next six months would pass ever so slowly.

Cresting Again

Time passes very slowly. At the same time it seems like forever since we left. We have visited so many places and so much has happened, it couldn’t possibly be only six months. The end seems so very far away…and there are so many places to visit before then.

Found Eric...AgainIntroverts can act extro-vertedly. We are both introverts but have been doing a much better job of acting extro-vertedly. We are meeting more and more people and are both more willing to start conversations and get involved than we were before. We recognized that we were insulating ourselves a bit and so have been putting ourselves in more situations to interact with others. This usually means tours etc but that also works well with our inherent laziness – we enjoy tours because someone will tell us all we need to know rather than us having to read about it!!

Champagne Welcome, Ista Amritsar Budget be damned. We realized early on that our budget was not realistic for our travel style. We are by no means blowing it out now (okay, we might have for our birthdays) but we are traveling more comfortably and doing the things that will make our trip memorable. I certainly did not want to look back on this trip and wish that I had done things differently.

Beer and Pretzel...Does It Get Any Better I now understand why travelers wear elastic-waisted pants. Some people say they lose weight while traveling…that has certainly not been my experience. My waistline has definitely expanded and I am softer than I have been in many, many years. I don’t like it but what to do…stop eating the fabulous food (and it’s only going to get better as we hit SE Asia!)…I don’t think so. I do dream about being in shape again though, but it will have to wait until I return…in the meantime I bought some elastic waisted pants today…they hide a multitude of sins and allow for expansion…I look quite fashionable as all the girls are wearing them!

Along The Ancient Walkway Are we tired of wearing the same clothes over and over and over and over? Probably not as tired as you are of seeing them in the pictures over and over again! It’s surprising how a limited wardrobe is actually quite freeing. In fact, there are pieces that I don’t wear very often. We left some cold weather clothing behind  as we left the colder areas, I sent some shoes home (I never did wear the ‘cute shoes’), and will be ditching those not often worn pieces as I find replacements that I will wear. We are buying some new clothes too (some are necessary…see above) – we knew we would once we hit India and SE Asia – it’s a different esthetic here and lighter, freer clothes are more comfortable. You’ll have to see if you can spot the new pieces as the pictures are posted.

Loaded Up and Ready to Go How is the equipment holding up? We are pleased with everything that we brought. The bags are still working very well and apart from being a bit dusty are not damaged at all despite all the abuse we put them through. All the electronics and associated gadgets have been great – we love having the laptop to surf the net, play games, write posts etc – it has definitely made life easier. The first aid kit is not often used but still necessary. The water purifier has come in handy – we are not using it as much in India…I  think I have some built in biases that cannot be sanitized and so we buy water here. The sink stopper and laundry line are absolutely necessary – we most often send our laundry out but occasionally it comes back still damp or we have to hand wash – we always have a place to hang it to dry. We did purchase one messenger bag – it hangs over one shoulder so causes less sweating than a day backpack does – besides it looks cooler too!

Last Night In Istanbul Are we still enjoying ourselves? Absolutely!! Maybe even more so now…we seem to have synced up and are enjoying the whole experience. That doesn’t mean there aren’t sucky days or locations but we are better able to manage them than we were in the beginning. I will admit to a tinge of homesickness lately but I actually think it’s because we have been moving non-stop for a while now. We have a stationary week planned in the south of India and I think that will make things better for me.

I can’t believe that we are only half way through this amazing journey…I can’t wait to see what the second half has in store for us. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

02 Sep

Three Month Check In

Not only is today the end of our travel in South America, but the end of our first three months on the road. Time for a little review of what’s happened, what’s going well and what’s not, and answers to a few questions I’ve been asked.

  • Morning Sun, Paraty Traveling is easier than I thought it would be. The actual act of getting around, finding a placed to stay, having a meal, seeing the sights…is much easier than I thought it would be. I don’t know how hard I thought it would be, but it’s been easy even without knowing hardly any of the language. We rely on Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor, Hotelz.com, Google, and countless travelogues for information…we don’t always get it right, but it isn’t hard. I hope this part continues.

 

 

 

  • Cresting Dead Womans Pass Traveling is harder than I thought it would be. I knew that it wasn’t going to be all sun drenched beers on the beach, that I wouldn’t always be in a good mood, that not every day at home is great so why would that change on the road, but the reality of it hit me a little harder than I was expecting. Probably magnified by own anxiety I found myself frustrated more often than I expected and I found that I was taking it out on Jason more often than not. I thought about it a lot and determined that it wasn’t because I was homesick but that rather I was just uncomfortable and anxious and I obviously needed to deal with it better. We talked about it and realized that we were at our worst when we didn’t have a plan, however short term that plan might be. Once we realized this we started planning a little bit more and things have definitely gotten easier again. I hope this part continues too.

 

  • Budget Screenshot Traveling is more expensive than we had planned. I won’t go into this too much as I’m planning a post to specifically talk about the budget. Suffice it to say that if you click on the budget link you will be overwhelmed by red font. We have talked about this plenty too and are acting on it in a way that helps us manage the money anxiety and no, it won’t involve putting a ‘Donation’ button on the website!

 

  • After an Afternoon By The Pool, Colca Canyon Do we like it? Yes, absolutely! Have you seen the smiles on our faces? Neither of us is even remotely homesick (sorry guys!). We are continually interested in the new place we are going and learning about the history and culture that we are faced with. We, obviously, feel that we are only scratching the surface of every place but it makes us connected to every single place we have visited and therefore forever interested in what happens there.

  • Official Start of the Trail Are we meeting others? The short answer is no, we are not meeting as many other people as we thought we would. We think we know why and sometimes we try harder but mostly I think we’ve just come to terms with it. Maybe this will change as we change countries, maybe not. Again, I’m planning a post about this specifically.

 

 

 

In The Crowd Are we traveling ‘off the beaten track’? This means different things to different people. I don’t think we’re ‘off the beaten track’ – we’ve been visiting major cities and sights and all the ‘must sees’ within them. To me, ‘off the beaten track’ means getting away from all other tourists and being on our own…no, we haven’t been doing that. We may often be the only ‘white’ tourist around but there are always other tourists around. However, we have stopped in some pretty small towns and have rented apartments in regular neighborhoods to get a feel for a city…to me that’s a little bit off the beaten track, but you won’t find me out in the jungle without a guide trying to communicate with the natives to get some dinner and a bed!

I know that as we continue to travel, our  expectations, frustrations, realizations and style will continue to evolve. This is us at the three month mark…I’ll check in again at six months and see where we’re at.