– Written by Emily –
This post may be interesting to some, or you may just close the page without reading anything & that’s totally fine but for the people that may want to read more than just tips and ideas from each city we visit, I wanted to share a more personal touch to the blog this time around, talk about some highlighted experiences, how I got to be here and how lucky I feel to be doing what I’m doing.
I feel like a broken record when I use the phrase “I would never have expected to be where I am today” but it seems to fit at this present time.
Growing up I was fortunate enough to be taken on family vacations, travel for sport, travel to visit my family in the USA or siblings living and working overseas, I guess you could say the “travel bug” may have been embedded in me from an early age.
Both my sister and brother along with their partners embarked on a similar trip that Jacob and I are on now. Looking back as their younger sibling I thought wow that’s really cool.. how on earth could you travel for more than 2 weeks at a time, where do you find the money, the stamina, how do you pack, won’t you miss mum and dad?
All of these thoughts ran through my mind, I was envious hearing their stories from afar, let alone when they returned home.
Returning home with more than a backpack of clothes; they returned with so much more life, so many memories that they still talk about. I really want to do that. I want to go out there but there’s no way I could. Working 8 hours a week at a fish shop? This wasn’t going to cut it, not to mention I had school to finish so I just continued on with life, battling the struggles of growing up and just dreamt of doing the same thing one day in the back of my mind.
15 years later as I lay sunbaking on a beach in Greece, I can’t help but feel so happy, so lucky that I made it here too.
I’m doing what I’ve always dreamt of, what I always thought was so far out of my reach & I’m doing it with the only person in this world I would want by my side, my husband. Jacob and I have always had the same passion for travel, the same passion to get out and explore, so doing this together was the best thing I ever could have hoped for.
How we got here?
For Christmas in 2013, Jacob bought me a giant size world map that took up our entire lounge room wall. Braving the NYC winters meant many nights spent indoors, so night after night we would stare at the map and talk about the places we wanted to go, how we could do it, deciding the route we would go, figuring out the seasons ( i.e. following the summer around). We were determined to put a figure into our savings account and get this trip underway.
Whilst there’s no denying that travel is expensive, there are always cheap options. You don’t have to do everything the luxurious way, the resort way, although this is by far the nicest it really isn’t the best. I quite enjoy looking for the “budget” in things now, cheap eats, staying at local’s apartments, finding a bargain. Any meal that is over $10 is almost quite traumatizing and quite a splurge, comparing this to the lifestyle we used to live in New York, it’s much different. If you don’t enjoy an alcoholic beverage then you could travel the world on an even smaller budget. We are still trying to figure out the best way to spend our money and it does involve a lot of trial and error. The easiest thing to budget on is food. Setting ourselves a limit for the day we try our best stick to it. It also helps me not to overeat… not Jacob because he is somehow losing weight but it helps me 😐
I often find myself thinking that as long as I am not living in the streets or going hungry, then I really don’t “need” more money. It would always be nice and of course its helpful at times but you can do it with less than you think. If there was one time so far on this trip to make me realize a few things (although it was at the beginning ) it was our time in Morocco.
It made me have a whole new look at some aspects of our funds and what it can and can’t bring you. We spent enough time driving through such rural towns in Morocco with local guides who are actually living on next to nothing but having such a full life, they weren’t jealous of our trip nor envious. Their lives were just as complete. Everything that is wonderful about life doesn’t cost a penny, and the rest is way cheaper than you think it is.
It has only been 3.5 months but I’ve seen and done more than I could have expected. We’ve slept in caves, boats, tree houses, overnight trains, airport floors, buses, hostels & apartments, we’ve been in hot air balloons, ridden on camels, transported by rickshaws, gone paragliding, rented boats, driven mopeds & scooted along in WWII era sidecars. There isn’t any one of these that haven’t left a memory, a story in my mind and it would be impossible to pick only a single one of these as a highlight. If I had to pick a couple of highlights from the trip so far, it would be our camel & camping experience in the Sahara, Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia and paragliding over Oludeniz beach in Turkey. My favourite country so far would have to be Spain because of the food and the people & my favourite city would be Barcelona because it has something for everyone- history, beaches, awesome people & city life.
It takes a lot of patience to travel, for the people that know me, patience is something that comes and goes in waves. It’s something I can openly admit I am always working on and in baby steps becoming better and better. I still find myself being irrational at times but luckily I have Jacob to shift me back in line. It is very easy to freak out if plans don’t go the way they are meant too but it’s all part of the experience.
When there are language barriers, I personally find it tricky. Trying to communicate over what ticket to buy, or when the train/bus will arrive can sometimes be frustrating but I’m trying to remember when people don’t speak English, it doesn’t make them any less than me, “why cant she speak our language”? I’m sure they ask themselves too. When I find myself becoming flustered I try to speak slower, use hand gestures (which can sometimes be an epic fail) or I just expect that I won’t get what we need and figure out a way to get by. We’ve been around so many different languages and cultures the last 3 months it has been really fascinating.
There has been times I’ve made mistakes, I’ve read the wrong time tables & sent us to the wrong place but my map skills are slowly improving, especially now I’ve learnt how to properly follow that damn blue dot on Google Maps correctly.
Allowing me to take the lead in new cities & navigate our way through the small alleys in European cities has given me the confidence now to go exploring on my own at times. It took a forced 3 days away from Jacob whilst he attended a conference to gain this confidence but it worked.
Although regrets aren’t healthy and it doesn’t achieve much to look back, I have to admit if I could have one regret, one thing I didn’t bring on this trip; it would be that I didn’t learn Spanish. We had ample time to learn whilst living in NYC and a lot of opportunity to practice. We have downloaded an app to try to learn along the road so as soon as we get to central and south America we can start to use the basics. I recently read from another blogger that the best way to learn a language is to practice with people who speak that language, that no matter how terrible you sound, the locals will always appreciate the attempt and you will be respected at a new level.
Jacob and I have been side by side, every meal, every activity, every sunrise and sunset and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It has only made us that much closer and we are still learning new things about each other all the time. People always questioned us spending this much time together, getting under each others skin easily but we have our own system and when we get “that look” it means hey I need some space.
I can’t put into words how lucky I do feel to be where I am, most days I find myself reflecting on the day we’ve had or the activity we just did realizing “I’m living the dream”.
The life we will have when we move back home is unknown but I know that in 10 years time I’ll never regret the travel we did or the money we spent. A recent survey done in a nursing home proved the one thing elderly people regret in life is not traveling enough.
It doesn’t have to be a trip to 50 countries but if travel is something you long to do, do some research a find a trip suitable to your needs and don’t think twice about booking! I promise you won’t regret it.
If you got this far, thanks so much for reading! To finish off I wanted to share a few of my favorite travel quotes.
“It’s not what you spend or pack that makes your trip memorable; it’s the state of mind you bring. … Savor the differences. … Be ready to ad-lib, to be imaginative while conquering surprise challenges. Make an art out of taking the unexpected in stride. … Good travelers – like skiers bending their knees to make moguls more fun – enjoy the bumps in the road. … Don’t complicate your trip: simplify! Travelers can get stressed or waste time over the silliest things, which, in their niggling ways, can suffocate a happy holiday. … Avoid unnecessary burdens. … Ask questions all along the way. Make yourself an extrovert, even if you’re not. … Don’t be afraid to butcher the language. … Be a catalyst for adventure and excitement. … Be open-minded. Absorb, accept, and learn. Much of the success of your trip will depend on the attitude you pack. If you can think positively, travel smartly, adapt well, and connect with the culture, you’ll have a truly rich … trip. So raise your travel dreams to their upright and locked positions, and let yourself fly away.”- Rick Steves