The past year has without question been our favourite year ever. Over the last 365 days, we have seen and experienced the most incredible things. So much more than we’d ever imagined when we left Sydney. We can’t quite believe we’ve been to over 65 different cities and towns (see our year on the road summary post here).
We had a dream, and we feel incredibly lucky to have been able to make our dream come true. We were lucky enough to have been born in a country with a good economy and non-controversial passports. Where by working hard we were able to save up enough money to make our dream a reality. After one year on the road and the already amazing experiences we’ve had, everything that happens from here is ice-cream on top of an already amazing cake!
This wouldn’t be a blog if we didn’t mark the occassion with a post reflecting on our year on the road. And so without further ado…
Things we’ve learnt about travel after 12 months on the road.
- Travelling long-term isn’t as glamorous as you’d imagine. On the blog, on instagram and on facebook, we show the best side of our travels. We don’t show you the early morning wake ups to get to the bus station. The hours waiting around for a bus that’s running late. The 10-hour bus trip. The hassle of getting from the bus stop to the hostel or hotel. Travel days are long and often frustrating. You’re at the mercy of the weather, food is usually of the fast kind and unhealthy, and new accommodation is always a gamble. It can be more exhausting than office work ever was. But on the upside, the next morning we usually wake up feeling refreshed and excited to be in a new town – which means new adventures. All is right again in the world – until it’s time to move on again…
- Slowing down. Constantly moving on every couple of days is exhausting, which is why we now prefer to spend longer in one place than always being on the move. It means we can unpack, cook for ourselves, see things at a slower pace and get a better understanding of the place we’ve chosen to stay. We could have seen a lot of Germany in 4 weeks, but instead we chose to stay in Berlin and see all it had offer. It’s not about ticking places and countries off the list, but enjoying the experiences offered.
- Being more adventurous. New countries are always an adjustment. There is a new currency to familiarize yourself with, a new language to learn, a new culture and in some cases new religions to understand. You need to be flexible, respectful and adaptable, otherwise it can be overwhelming. We’re finding the more we travel, the more we crave the more challenging places. The more different or unique the country and culture, the more we get out of the trip.
- Living out of a backpack is not always fun. There’s only so much you can fit into a backpack, so you very quickly get sick of the four t-shirts you own. And the days of wearing something once before putting it in the wash are long gone – underwear included (too much information?). These days we wear clothes until they no longer pass the smell test. And sometimes even then we still wear them. Well, no one has complained yet.. But you also realise just how little you need in this world – and the answer is not a lot. Everything we’ve needed over the last year has been packed within our 55 litre backpacks. Thank goodness for Kindles, or our bags would be a lot heavier!
- Long-term travel puts your relationship to the test! In the last 365 days we have only spent around 3 afternoons apart (all football-related seperations). It goes without saying that we like each others company or we’d have gone crazy by now. The good times are exactly that, but it’s when something goes wrong, a cancelled bus, arriving in a town late at night, that you’re put to the test. Patience is by far the most important virtue when travelling and in a relationship. Patience with each other, and what’s going on around us. It goes without saying that teamwork is also important. Some days you just want a break and so the other person has to take the lead, to the relief of the other. We’re still trying to decide who is the team leader (just kidding, of course it’s Kristen).
- Being lonely when surrounded by people. As I said above, it’s lucky we get on so well, as despite being surrounded by other people, most days the only conversations we have are with each other. Staying mostly in guesthouses, cheaper hotels and apartments, we often don’t meet other travellers. And when we do meet other travellers, the conversation is always where are you from, where have you been, what do you do. Boring! We have had some great conversations with other travellers on this trip, but they’ve been few and far between. In most places we’ve been for the last 6 months, the only English spoken is by the person on reception, and even then it’s not much. So it can be lonely. When our friends came to visit us from London while we were in Berlin recently, we were very excited and had to warn them we might chew their ears off, as it had been so long since we’d spoken to other people.
- Feeling torn between travel and home. The world really is an inspiring and amazing place. We love being out experiencing the world and living our dream. But there is always the pull of home. After a year away, we miss our family and friends. We’d love to sit down to dinner with our family, see our niece and nephew who are growing up so fast and enjoy a drink or 3 with friends at the pub. For now, we’re thankful that we travel in the digital era and it’s easier to stay in touch. And when we need some calm from the rough seas of travel, we know that friends and family are always there for us. Either at the other end of an email, Facetime call, Facebook message, Viber text…(you get the idea).
So, what’s next?
At the moment, we’re honestly not sure what the next few months will bring. We have plans until the end of January (which include friends – yay!) and then – who knows. Will we still be traveling in 12 months time? Who knows! If we’ve learnt anything about ourselves in the last 12 months, it’s that we like to be flexible, as we are always changing our plans. The urge to venture to new and exciting places is always strong. But of course money doesn’t grow on trees, so running out of money will also be a determining factor.
But either way, life would be boring if we knew all the answers, so for now we’re just sitting back, enjoying the ride and looking forward to where it might take us. Whether that’s back to work (boo!) or to a new part of the world (yay!).
And last but not least, if you have been reading Our Wanderland and following our adventure the past few months, thank you, it means a lot to us.