Let’s start with this…. Married Days Survived: 365 !
We made it! One year ago we left on an adventure that would change our lives forever. It seems like yesterday we waved (& cried) goodbye to our life in NYC and jumped on the train to Newark Airport.
After 34 countries, 109 towns & cities, 7 million buses (we lost track), 35 flights with 2 free business class upgrades, 15 ferries, 23 trains & living out of a backpack, we’re still going strong, so much so that we decided to extend our trip by another 6 months so we can spend part of the summer in Barcelona and attend Tomorrowland in Belgium.
It’s been 8 months since I shared my Reflecting post and 6 months since we summarized our European Highlights. Since then, this world has continued to surpass my expectations. Central & South America were adventurous to say the least. Each country offered something even more crazier than the other and I found myself right out of my comfort zone more than once.
Adding to our European highlights, there are 2 things that stand out to me the most about the last 6 months and they would have to be hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (& finishing it) and spending 7 amazing weeks working our way through Brazil.
I have never been one to love nature, mainly because of, well nature! Bugs, they lovvvvvee me just as much as I haaaaaaaate them. I can barely go anywhere without getting eaten alive so I brought along the strongest repellent and tackled them head-on.
Not only was it my fear of bugs, the actual prospect of the hike terrified me. I’ve never been on a hike before, I don’t own hiking shoes, hills aren’t my best friend so can I really do this for 4 days? No shower? No proper toilet? Walking up and down mountains for 10 hours a day? Ahhh, OK I totally can and I’m so glad I did. I felt so proud at the end and believe it or not, it was easier than I had anticipated. Guess it helps to psych yourself out a little bit ?!
Brazil, on the other hand, blew my mind. The Brazilian beaches gave Australian beaches a run for their money. Their food was delicious, the drinks were cheap as (& sugary), the people were beyond fun and accepting of everyone from everywhere and an added bonus, the weather was 95% perfect the whole time. It almost felt like I could make it home.
Travelling is something that opens your eyes and mind. You find out more about yourself, your insecurities, fears and struggles and it takes time to figure them out! If it wasn’t for this adventure, who knows if I could ever face or tackle these challenges head-on.
For someone who loves to have things overly organised and kept the way they are first planned, without disruption, it’s definitely taken me some practice to realise that nowhere and nothing is smooth sailing and things will inevitably go wrong, it’s how you approach them that makes the difference. Let’s be calm about this situation now Emily … calm …
Plans & Patience – Jacob being as patient as he is, is usually never bothered if things don’t go ‘as planned’ so this helps to keep me from turning into a head case if and when things change along the way.
1 year ago, I would’ve had a meltdown if we missed a train, or lost something, but now I’ve really learned to try shrug it off and realise there will always be something else or some other way and sometimes it’s even better than what you had originally planned. I’m also slowly learning to allow things to happen as they do and stop forcing a plan. If you have no plan, then there isn’t any room for disappointment.
Fear – Someone once asked me, aren’t you afraid of travelling to all these foreign counties? Especially when I only speak English fluently. No, I’m really not, and the more I get out of my comfort zone, the more I learn. I find some people are more afraid of the change in their regular routine or making the initial booking for travel than they are actually travelling. Worrying if things will go the right way or if the hotel is right if everything will add up. Sure, it’s stressful sometimes but you have to jump over the fear hurdle at some point in your life. Why not start now?
Where art thou home? It’s no secret we’ve crossed off numerous countries in the last year and some of them have been faster than others. During the second half of the year, I was getting tired. Tired of packing up after only a few days somewhere, lugging our bags from the bus terminals every other day. I was searching for the ‘secure’ feeling again. That feeling you have of having a home, no matter where in the world you are.
A mild routine with a visit to the supermarket, cooking in an equipped kitchen, a familiar neighbourhood or even a gym. So since the new year, we slowed down our pace and we’ve spent considerably longer in some select cities. It doesn’t take a lot, 7+ days can do the trick, but it really gives us the time to recharge, take a breather and regain that home feeling.
We spent 8 days in Chile in the town of Valparaiso, 2 weeks in Rio, 2 weeks in Salvador and it was so wonderful. It was exactly what we needed and it felt good to feel like I was coming home again after a day out.
Body Image – One of the biggest struggles I’ve found in this whole 12 months is being very hard on myself, my image, how I look and how my clothes fit. I know this sounds silly because it’s generally just a complete waste of energy but hey I can’t deny it doesn’t cross my mind more than I want it too! It doesn’t help when you have a husband who eats more and worse than you and yep still loses weight… Where’s the balance in enjoying the countries’ food but still being realistic on how much you really need to eat?
Thankfully, one day, one of my best friends said to me “If a genie came up to you at your home in NYC and said “Yo, do you want to travel the world for 2 years but you won’t fit your jeans, OR have those jeans fit but you’re staying here in NYC? What would you choose Emily?”
I would choose to travel the world for 2 years!
This was such an interesting way to put it and definitely something that pulled me in line. I mean, when this is over, I’ll never regret the foods I tried or the way my waist expanded, I’ll remember all the things that allowed this to happen and all the adventures I had whilst this was happening! I’ll make those damn jeans fit when I move home, so thanks, my friend!
Married Life on the Road
A couple of our friends joked about us travelling together for so long. How long would we last before we got pregnant? Before we killed each other? Whilst I’m sure there was some joke to that, there’s no lie that travelling alongside someone like this day-in-day-out, can just as easily break a relationship as it can strengthen it. Fortunately, ours has only strengthened and for that, I am so grateful. Sure we have arguments. We fight over small insignificant things that are generally forgotten within minutes, I mean we would be robots if this didn’t happen!
I’ve never spent this much time with anyone before and not a day goes by that we don’t say ‘I love you’, kiss each other goodnight, that we don’t laugh together or reminisce on all we’ve done. We’ve accumulated so many personal jokes over this year that we often find ourselves speaking another language, ‘our language’ and it doesn’t get old.
Apart from the fact that he is the most patient, caring, supportive husband in the world, it helps to travel with someone that is like minded. We enjoy the same things, we dislike similar things and we work together as a team. Whilst Jacob maintains his business, I maintain our travel plans and our next moves. All Jacob needs to know is when we are leaving somewhere and when he needs to wake up. Too easy!
It makes my life easy and allows him to focus on his business. So in answer to everyone’s questions… yes, it is very possible to travel alongside your partner but my god, you have to communicate! Jacob and I have grown up together since before we were teenagers and believe it or not, we’re still learning new things about each other but it makes and keeps our relationship interesting. Keep talking to your partner and you’ll be surprised what you learn!
What have I achieved and learnt over the last year
In the last year and especially the last 6 months I have conquered & learnt more things about myself and the world than I could have dreamed of. Some are strange, some are unique, some seem so obvious but it’s all these smalls things that make travelling so wonderful.
I’ve learnt to sleep almost anywhere; on the floor, spring laden mattresses, upright, in tree houses & airport floors. I’ve learnt to deal with sharing a room with 8 complete strangers who sometimes snore louder than I even thought was possible. I’ve learnt to use the bathroom in some of the most unsanitary places. I’ve learnt to teach my stomach to appreciate street food. I’ve learnt to expand my palette with foods such a raw fish, beetroot & prawns/shrimp (this is quite an accomplishment for me here). I’ve learnt to drink red wine and actually enjoy it. I’ve finally learnt to read a map correctly and get us to where we need to go. I’ve mastered the overnight buses when the thought of a 3-hour bus ride used to kill me. I’ve added at least 30 words to my Spanish vocabulary and learnt how to use universal hand language (or animal noises) for almost anything else. I have a new found love for spending hours in foreign supermarkets. I’ve hiked up mountains I never in a million years thought I would ever do. Walked on glaciers, swam in beaches right out of postcards, seen scenery I had to pinch myself in and met people I only wish I can see again. However, most importantly, over the year, I’ve learnt that everyone’s still learning!
The best lessons are learnt by experiences, adventures, failures and uncomfortable situations. As opposed to learning everything from a book or a blackboard. I was never one to do well at school, but throw me in a situation or teach me first hand and I’ll learn almost right away. It excites me to teach our children about the world, about what’s out there and even have them read this blog in the years to come.
So has a year on the road changed me? Can I see that change in myself? Absolutely. I am not 100%, but I have made leaps and bounds with patience, I am more positive in life than I have ever been, I look back to the girl I was 6 years ago and I am almost unrecognizable. I appreciate even smaller things in life and I am beyond grateful for the life I was given by my parents and the support from JC.
What does 2016 hold for us?
So what’s next? 2.5 months through Africa, 2 or so months in Europe, a few months in South East Asia, and to finish off our year, an Indian wedding in Goa for one of our closest friends from home.
We’ll be spending some time in Cape Town before embarking on our own road trip towards Johannesburg. Bungy jumping on the world’s highest bungy and shark cage diving are 2 activities on the agenda so far, although I’m not quite sold on the bungy jump just yet… but we’ll see.
Africa is big and there are long distances between countries so we decided to take another tour with Tucan Travel and we’ll be travelling for 32 days through South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. If you like, you can see the itinerary here.
I am the MOST excited I’ve been all year to hit this continent for many different reasons. The main ones being; seeing very close family friends, spotting the big 5 and volunteering with children. From an early age, it has always been a passion of mine to work with children. At 19 I worked in the Mother Teresa Orphanage in Mumbai, India and I’ve always wanted to do the same in Africa. After reaching out to a few organizations, we will be spending some time with the children at the Langbos Creche Centre and will hopefully have the opportunity to volunteer at a very well-respected organization in Durban, LIV Village.
Cheap flights = Happy Travelers
One day on Sky Scanner, I stumbled across a flight that went from Durban to Barcelona for a measly $308 USD, and with Emirates! Say whaaaat? We couldn’t have booked it fast enough. We always said we wanted to go back to Barcelona 🙂
Well guys, that’s it from me. Thanks again for following our 2015 adventures, we hope you’ve enjoyed our posts so far and we look forward to sharing the next year with you! Here’s to a happy, healthy 2016 of travelling alongside the coolest kid in town.
Married days survived: 366!