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.
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.
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.
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.