Travel Tips: Road Experience

There comes a point in long-term travel where you have gained your backpacker-legs and have the confidence to help others you encounter on the road, or those preparing. Our three career break couples are at that point in their journeys and share some tips they’ve gained after six-months on the road, as well as what’s next for them.

[singlepic=1700,200,,,right]Two Backpackers (currently in Peru)
One week into our trip we arrived at Panajachel, Guatemala. When our bus stopped, 5 men were already pulling our backpacks off the roof rack and taking them to their own taxis or boats. We asked where a hostel was that we had reserved. The first man assured us that it was across Lake Atitlan, a 1hr boat ride away. We retained our bags and walked away, nervous about the situation. We found a tour shop and asked again. They told us it was a 10 minute walk up the street.

Lesson learned: Whenever you arrive at a transportation station make sure you don’t say yes to anything being offered. Get a hold of your bags and escape the chaos of offerings by finding a place you can sit down and think about your next decisions. Early in the trip we found ourselves being rushed into a bus or taxi with no clue where we were really going.

What’s Next:
Our plans have changed drastically during the last month. We have realized that traveling fast is not what we enjoy. It’s no longer a race to literally travel around the world, but rather to enjoy our visits to different countries throughout Latin America. Latin America is a vast area to explore and most countries have their own unique culture which we would like to experience. So Southeast Asia is off the list of destinations for this trip. I am sure we will get there some day. I am most excited about trekking through Torres del Paine in Patagonia and Aracely is looking forward to visiting the Amazonian Jungle.

[singlepic=1702,200,,,right]Bert & Patty (currently in Malaysia)
The biggest thing we’ve realized is that no matter what you pack, or try to not pack – in the end, you will pack too much. For us, the big question was; how to pack for 13 months, for all climates and temperatures, from beach to mountain, snow, sun and rain?

We realize now – don’t worry, you can buy almost anything while traveling. Clothes, shoes, sundries, electronics – anything/everything you need – and most times, it’ll be cheaper than in the States (don’t forget exchange rates in your calculations). I was surprised by the vast selection of medicines that you can buy over the counter.

Op-shops and second hand stores can also save money while traveling. While in Taupo New Zealand, Bertie needed a fleece/pull over/jumper. She got a cool Rip Curl jacket for $6AUD, and when she was done with it, she was able to leave it behind without worry. While in Indonesia, she bought a few beautifully colored, cotton, light summer dresses from the local markets for $5-6USD each, which replaced her shorts/tank tops. Now she wears them almost every day.

What’s Next:
We are looking forward to traveling through Malaysia, spending time in wacky Bangkok, getting our fill of temples, eating lovely food, exploring Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, checking out the pyramids in Egypt, being dazzled by the landscapes of Greece, seeing friends in the UK, meeting my best friend in Dublin and finally settling in Edinburgh, Scotland. We still have so much ahead of us and from what we hear from other travelers, it’s going to be quite the adventure.

[singlepic=1701,250,,,right]Alonna of Ben & Alonna (currently in Ecuador)
I definitely do not feel like a pro! Everywhere we go is new with different rules and customs, and it always takes a few days to figure things out. But I would say that I have definitely changed my perspective on traveling. Things that previously would have stressed me out (not having a hotel room booked, not knowing how to use the buses or trains, not knowing where our next stop is or how to get there, etc) don’t bother me anymore. When we go somewhere new, we just have to figure out the slight differences or quirks of the place. No big deal.

What’s Next:
I’m so excited for the rest of our trip; to see more of the world and to continue meeting new people and learning about different cultures. We still have many amazing places to visit like Patagonia, Istanbul, Egypt, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Other comments

7 Comments on "Travel Tips: Road Experience"

  1. Sherry Ott on Thu, 18th Feb 2010 4:42 pm 

    Two Backpackers….no SE Asia…boo! However I completely understand. I don’t think I could ever do a typical 2 week vacation again. I feel that you have to really spend time somewhere (a month at least) to feel like I know the culture.

    For all of you – it sounds like you’re doing great! Keep enjoying – it sounds like you all have some fascinating locations coming up!

    I’d love to know if any of you miss work? home? family/friends?

  2. Jason of Two Backpackers on Thu, 18th Feb 2010 6:37 pm 

    Thanks for the interview Michaela! Sherry, we have heard such wonderful things about SE Asia from other travelers, and its soooo cheap! We will definitely get there, just not on this continuous 1 year journey. I do not miss work at all, mostly because I have taken up the blog as a job. Aracely is consulting on the road, so we both are sort of working still. Although, I don’t get paid and I work at my own pace. I know, it’s not the same. I miss family most. I have two nephews that are 5 and 6 years old and growing up fast. It’s tough being on the road for a year and not seeing them for that long.

  3. Alonna on Thu, 18th Feb 2010 6:53 pm 

    Thanks again Micheala for the articles, it’s fun to follow along with the other two couples.
    Sherry – do I miss work?? No way! I actually loved my job, but I love not working even more 🙂 But yes, I definitely miss my family. Similar to Jason I have two nieces 3 & 5 and they change so much so fast that it’s always hard to be away. However, Ben and I split up our career break and added a 2 month stopover back home for the holidays. I’m so glad we did this and got a chance to re-group and see family and friends. I think being gone for an entire year (or more) would be so hard.

  4. CanCan on Fri, 19th Feb 2010 5:48 am 

    I love i when I hear a traveler talk about making the decision to scale back their “to-do” list and take things slow in order to more fully digest the culture around them.
    I’m not a backpacker but my “one year” of working as an expat in Asia has turned into 8 years…no end in sight 🙂

  5. Bert & Patty on Fri, 19th Feb 2010 11:08 am 

    Thanks a ton for featuring us on B2B, it’s a thrill!

    We’ve really enjoyed being a part of such a wonderful site and, even though we think we’re doing some pretty cool stuff, we’re finding it hard to keep up with these other amazing couples. Not to mention the numerous other travelers that we run into daily that are on their own daring adventures.

    Take care everyone and I hope that we can somehow meet each of you as we travel.

    Paul and Christine

  6. Paul of Bert & Patty on Fri, 19th Feb 2010 11:17 am 

    Thanks for sharing our story Michaela! We feel honored to be with such amazing people.

    I think that we’re doing some pretty cool things, then I read about the amazing adventures that these other great couples are experiencing, and I become a touch jealous . . . silly. It’s great to hear these stories as well.

    I agree Sherry – no more two week vacations for us either!

  7. Andi on Sun, 21st Feb 2010 9:43 pm 

    The best advice I have is to view problems as opportunities!

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