Highs and Lows of long term travel

Trip Start May 10, 2011
Trip End Apr 15, 2012

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Life on the Road
Thought I would write a wee blog update on the highs and lows of travel since you guys only really read about the great times we have its not always the case.  I meant to do one of these at our 6 month mark but never got round to it so here we are now around 9-10 months into our trip and without a doubt its now taking its toll on us.

The Lows
We probable hit our first noticeable change around 3 months in where we both suffered a bit of homesickness - I think this was highlighted as it was around then we his Vietnam and after India and China there was now loads of westerners and western food and highlighted the things at home we missed, making friends since there was so many westerners and food we recognised haha obviously family too. 

This does pass though and travelling became our way of life, every country was really different and we had loads of cool things to see and do that were changing all the time from wildlife to cities to the beach so it was cool.

The bus/train/tut tut/taxi/mini bus and god knows what else travel.....
The bus journeys in Asia were mostly on average 5-12 or so hours long so were bearable and again always having westerners around meant you always had other people to socialise with although sometimes there was too many and you didn't feel like you were in a foreign country so it was good and bad at the same time.

Now 9 months in the journeys in South America have taken their toll on us, here its an average of 20-30 hours on a bus and we have also now done a 65 hour trip (Sucre, Bolivia to Iguassu, Brazil) and a 79 hour bus trip (with overnight stop for about 7 hours sleep - Rio - La Paz) - see previous blogs for those stories.  The flights here are SO expensive, internal to each country maybe not too bad but still way more than the bus and as soon as you cross borders on average its between 250 - 400 a flight so anyone thinking of coming here look at airpasses that are available for South America before you arrive as these can only be bought before you arrive here.  When you think the average bus trip in Argentina cost us 100 each the air pass doesn't seem so bad it just needs some careful planning.  Although we found out after you can get a Southpass for cheaper travel in Argentina 
http://www.argentinabybus.com/  unfortunately we found out too late.

Every country we have been in no matter what mode of overnight travel you go on and regardless of what time the train/bus arrives in you can guarantee that you will be woken at 5 or 6am by loud music blaring from the speakers and the light fully turned on - it makes you RAGE if you have had a rubbish sleep its horrible.  In South America though every bus plays music ALL the time, salsa, samba, rarely english, you get movies all in Spanish and always really loud too they are deaf here - or just immune to the loud music.  When your travelling 10-15 hours this is truly annoying.

In Bolivia/Ecuador its perfectly normal to wake in the middle of the night to find the whole aisle full of people/animals/babies sitting on the floor with sacks of corn on the cobs/limes/potatoes and god knows what else - noone has suitcases its all in boxes and bags.  This means your constantly checking on your dayback or sleeping with it on your knee, Argentina and Brazil are not like this and the seats are designed that no snooping fingers can get through from under the seat so ur bag is safe at ur feet.

We decided to go to north Columbia as we heard so many good stories of how lovely it is bla bla - this however meant that we had to come all the way back down to Lima in Peru as this is where we fly to Miami, I know this has been bearing down on us too cause it meant 2 of the "aparently worst border crossings and prob 3-5 days of constant bus travel with several different bus companies, the jungle is looming ahead of us we are kinda dreading but I know it will be cool but the 4 day ride through 3 countries is just no fun no more especially when you are doubling back on yourself.

I know you might be thinking well this is part of travelling we know that and its our choices to go to these places but we feel we have come this far and to miss out Columbia even when we had planned to go from the start of or trip anyway meant we would defo regret it when we are back home.  Its just now we are tiring its been a long time and a LOT of hours on buses but you choose to power on eh.

Anyone who knows me knows I am an IT geek who loves my spreadsheets to keep things in order and this trip was no exception.  Many people said ahhh travelling is about taking it as it comes and don't do too much planning, which for me is hard cause I like to know what we are doing when LOL.   However as much as I have learned to chill out and not be that person its completely unrealistic to travel the world for a year do around 18 countries and just "take it as it comes moneywise" - you need to have money left for the end.  So I have a spreadsheet to keep track of what we spend what we have left bla bla, anyone who wants a copy if they are doing a trip just email me for it - if you have a infinite budget then of course you don't need this haha.  I will do a detailed breakdown of what we spent where at the end of our trip for those of you future travellers who have been asking me how much we spent and details of our budgets for countries - I tried to do it at the end of each country but its been hard to keep up as we are always on the move.  I know this is important as its the question most asked!

Travelling as a couple with a joint money fund can bring up its arguments, Marc smokes, I like to buy my expensive shampoo, Marc was a new fancy t-shirt - how does it all work out.....well pretty soon after we left we decided if one person wants to buy certain things for them then we keep note and it comes out of their own personal money - it may sound ridiculous but it works and prevents any arguments.

Aside from that I am 100% sure for anyone travelling who likes alcohol there is no question of a doubt this is the easiest way to blow your daily budget - you meet people you have a few beers a night out and before you know it you spent way more than you planned - of course you should party and have fun - but this is defo the budget buster - at first everytime we arrived at a new place we had a few beers almost like to celebrate our achievement getting from A to B - we now don't have that privilege anymore haha.  Being a "little" over our planned budget for every country eventually takes its toll - you feel rich in Asia as things are so cheap but after all these countries its caught up with us now.

Argentina was way more expensive than we though and also Brazil dorms were super expensive over xmas and new year alongwith the fact its nearing the end of our trip means we have to be more careful with money now - which also makes it tiring that you cant have that few beers today or go for a nice meal.

From eating in "holes in the walls" (cheap dirty looking small places where the locals eat) in India along with every other country in the world there is no getting away from them - they do the job and they are so cheap, SE Asia its hard not to eat western food which is obviously always more expensive than the local dish and Aus well there is no getting away from eating all the "chain" food that you have craved - I LOVE NANDOS - South America hole in the walls consist of chicken and rice and beans or chips and now we are running out of cash we are in these places more and more - again leading to our 9 month exhaustion since we both love our food - although works wonders on the diet cause there is no "take away" food to eat.

Supermarkets in Boliva/Peru are tiny little shops I long for a wander around a Sainsburys to just be able to have a range of food if your cooking stuff yourself in a hostel.

The thing that comes with long term travel is that it becomes you normal way of life you adapt to the packing and unpacking of the backpack (Marc hated this so much the first few weeks but now always packs before me) but its only a matter of time before you pack/unpack in professional time and we only have 50L packs so there is no spare space but its fine.  

We have seen many wonders of the world in our 9 months, been on amazing tours and experience so so many great sights, food, experiences that it has almost became normal.  We move from place to place, country to country so many times its just routine, we talk so casually "ok tomorrow we are doing Machu Picchu" and its as casual as talking about going to the pub.
This sounds so terrible but its defo a downside to long term travel, you start taking things you see and places you go for granted, the feeling you get when you save all year for your two week holiday is the best feeling ever - after being on "holiday" for a year you don't get that feeling any more.  It sounds terrible but I feel you become complacent and what should be really really exciting isnt quite.  Of course these places are beautiful and when your there they are definitely amazing and you have a great time its just the excitement beforehand isn't what it should be - I am 100% sure its gonna be when we get back home that the reality of what we have seen and where we have been will hit us like a ton of bricks.

I think this is why we have hit a "low" now 9.5 months in, we have seen all the major things there is to see now, only the jungle left and thats hard to get excited about - a lot of Bolivia/Peru has been the same and we spent the last wee while at so so beach resorts in shitty rooms and not had anything great to see in almost a month that with the long bus journeys and running out of cash has defo taken its toll on us.  It seems there are very few westeners here or maybe we just stay at the wrong hostels so sometimes its just me and Marc all the time - which is always fine but its nice for him to have boy chat and for me to have girl chat sometimes, we hung out with friends in La Paz boys/girls and it was great for us but not really met anyone since that you would actually want to spent any length of time with. 

The longer you spend on the road the more strange the things you miss are, the obvious family and friends goes without saying, initially its food for us things that we miss but you get used to that or find a fix on the way but more now its the simple things, comfy pillows, a shower thats hot with more that a trickle of water, a washing machine..getting back clean laundry is such a great feeling, just chilling watching a proper LCD TV with a non fuzzy pic we complained that's all we did while saving before we left now some days its all we want to do, fast internet oh how we miss that, Primark I would love just 10 mins to buy some cheap pants, tops and nip back on the road - Oz was far too expensive to buy stuff so its markets in other countries and "one size" clothes which is a nightmare on the road cause I am not "one size", the hairdresser - i got my hair cut and coloured in Oz and thats been it the whole trip, cups of tea..I am not a big tea drinker but in SA everyone just drinks coffee I do not want aromatic flavour tea just a normal milk n 2 sugars please, supermarkets god how I miss just getting everything you need in one place, not having to put your toilet tissue in a bin...everywhere you have to wipe and put it in a bin cause the drainage cannot handle loo roll, I miss easyjet and cheap internal flights (only applicable to S.America as Asia was cheap), I miss that Friday feeling when its woo hoo its the weekend - I defo do not miss the Mon mornings though haha - its the simplest things you miss the longer you are away!

Ok so that sounded like we were totally ungrateful for what we have done and complained loads but I just want to show that its not all perfect all the time and just to say I know it looks great but there are days when you just want to be back home sitting on ur sofa chilling out - you get travellers guilt if you sit somewhere too long not sightseeing its a weird feeling, Marc doesn't suffer with it so bad haha but I feel like I don't want to waste time.

Travelling has been amazing though I think 9-10 months is an ideal time away if not then defo don't cram as much in as we did - spend longer in each place. I guess when planning the trip you dont realise how tired you will be - people only tell you how amazing travelling is and never any bad points - I am pretty sure this is because when you get home you forget about all those shitty bus journeys n bad tours or buses you missed cause you only remember the good stuff right?

Yesterday in Banos when we went out on our beach buggy it gave us a new lease of life we did something different and had a great day, it made us realise that when you feel low you have to pick yourself up and remind yourself how lucky you are to be in this position and get out and do something fun and that defo worked for us yesterday, we will deal with the jungle and looking forward to Columbia and of course Ultra Music festival and Miami, we love america and can't wait for hopefully a trip to at least one theme park in Orlando.  We have around 6 weeks left its time to pick ourselves up - deal with the buses and be thankful we are not sitting back at our desk in a dull office haha.

Doing this trip has definitely been the best decision of our lives, we have learned lots about each other, managing money, dealing with all sorts of transport, different cultures,poverty which breaks your heart, seen amazing places, dealt with emotional highs and lows, ate horrid and delicious food and that's just for start, it does change you it make you stronger.  

Its a once in a lifetime thing if you have any interest at all in travelling you should do it - it doesnt have to be a year or the whole world, travelling Asia for just 3 months doesnt need a lot of money, stop buying new clothes, eating out for lunch at work everyday and stay in some weekends and before you know it you will be off in other countries experiencing new things instead of doing the same shit every weekend.  You have to make your life happen it doesnt just come to you, life is short you only live once ! 
Well thats my rant over for now hope I didnt bore you too much :-)) 
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marilyn on

well i think that was a very accurate assesment of your travels well done xx

Jackie on

Here here! xx

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