We’ve now been on the trip for a total of 66 days! Wow! Time is flying. When we first started out in Japan it seemed like things were going pretty slow but they just keep moving faster. Now that we’ve been a few places it’s all starting to blur together a little more. We’re definitely enjoying it but it’s not all unicorns and rainbows either. I wanted to do a quick update about what it’s really like traveling now that we’ve been at it for 66 days total.
Staying in Hostels and Airbnbs
When we stayed in Airbnb’s in Osaka we really enjoyed it. Having a place to yourself where you can pick up food and cook made it feel a bit more like home. Every single Airbnb we stayed at went smoothly. We would book a place and pay in advance. The owner would send us instructions on how to get in and it went perfectly every time. I’m sure we’ll be staying in more Airbnb’s as we go because they were a great option in Osaka.
Staying in hostels has been a bit all over the board. Some hostels feel like you are simply in a really cheap hotel. There’s no real social area and people just go to their rooms like a normal hotel.
Other hostels have a bar/restaurant or some other social area where travelers tend to hang out. We’ve found these to be a mixed bag so far. Sometimes you’ll get a great hostel where everyone is social and you end up making friends and going out to see things with them. This happened to us in our hostel in Beijing. Others have the social area but there aren’t a lot of people too interested in making friends or there aren’t many English speakers around.
Overall hostels have been a great way to reduce the cost of staying places. Compared to a hotel, most are just a little more run down, a little dirty, or are simply really small so they aren’t really up to the standards of hotel. For this kind of trip it is definitely worth it to save the money and you get used to the small things that might be annoying compared to a hotel.
We have yet to stay in a dorm room but we have one coming up in Fiji to cut down on cost there.
Traveling from place to place
We’ve found that finding a place to stay and sticking with it for a while works better for us than constantly moving around. In Osaka we stayed in 5 places over about 20 nights which had us moving around a lot. Each time you have to pick up and move you have to repack everything and it eats up a good chunk of the day moving. We’ve been trying to book places for 5+ days unless we know we are just stopping through for a couple nights.
What we do every day
Every day is a little different. We seem to alternate between days when we’re being tourists and days when we’re just sort of hanging out in a city. On days we are being the normal tourists we just get out and see some of the major things in each city. Some days we’ll get out and walk a lot to explore a part of the city to try and see something new.
On days we hang out, we get up, get some work done, plan our next activities, plan part of our trip, or zone out with some movies. There’s a surprising amount of days where this is literally the entire day. Today is one of those days! We’ll sleep in for a bit then grab some lunch and get on our computers and get to work. We’ll usually take a break at night to go out and grab dinner somewhere in the area.
One of the things that we didn’t realize before the trip is that being a tourist every day is hard work! When you’re on a 1 week or 2 week vacation, you’re excited about the trip and you’ve been anticipating it for a while. You get there and everything is new and interesting so you’re motivated to get out and see everything.
When you’ve been traveling for 1+ months, those “new and interesting” things can create a challenge each day. We don’t have time to plan the whole year in advance so we have to figure out what’s in each city as we go. Figuring out even the most basic things like where to eat and what to do next can take time and energy and it will slowly wear you out over time. That’s the main reason why we end up taking days to simply relax, do some research and figure out what’s next, and then get back to it the next day.
Challenges when traveling
There are a number of challenges you encounter on a long term trip that many travel blogs seem to conveniently leave out. World travel has been very rewarding for us, but it also comes with it’s own set of challenges. Here are some of the main ones we have experienced so far:
Accommodation: Figuring out accommodation can be a very tricky process. You’re going to a city that you’ve done no research on so you don’t know what things you want to see. How do you pick where to stay? Are you going to feel like being social in a hostel or want some privacy in an Airbnb? Is the place you picked close to the action or will you have to spend 2 hours a day on metro’s to get to the cool places?
Navigating: Once you pick out what you want to do for the day, now you have to get there. Do you walk? Take a bus? Take the metro? How much do each of these cost? How long will it take? If we leave now will there be a metro back before they close? Did communist China cut off google maps?
Language Barrier: This varies greatly by the country and who you are talking to but the language barrier can make it difficult to get around, order food, etc. The language barrier isn’t just about talking with people, it’s everything. Things like reading a food menu, finding the price on something, or figuring out a subway can be complicated.
Activities: Figuring out what we want to see and do can be a time consuming task. Each time we show up in a new city we’ve done almost no research about what’s there and what to see. We spend a decent amount of time figuring out what options the city has to offer then planning which ones we want to go see.
Next Destination: Flying by the seat of your pants is great because you have so much flexibility! That’s true, but you also have to figure out where you are going next. If it involves flying the sooner you book the better. You may not have your whole trip planned out, but you do have to have a general sense of what’s on deck next for your trip!
All of these things on their own aren’t a big deal. However, these are all things you have to take into account as you go. These things take up a shocking amount of your time and energy as you travel. It’s absolutely worth it in the end but it’s worth noting that you’re not sipping Margaritas on the beach all day, at least not til Fiji 🙂
The awesome bits about travel
Alarm Clocks – Since leaving 66 days ago I have set my alarm a total of 4 times, once for each flight I’ve taken. That’s a lie, I have set it about 8 times but the other 4 I just turned it off and went back to sleep and laughed at myself for trying to make me get up early. I list this one first because not having an alarm clock go off every day is amazing.
Freedom – One of the best parts about long term travel is that we have the freedom to basically do whatever we want whenever we want. You get to pick exactly what you’ll do that day, what time you’ll do it, or decide to scrap that plan and do nothing at all. We sometimes have a plan to do something, wake up the next day, and end up doing something entirely different. Traveling comes with a lot of freedom which is truly one of the best parts.
New Experiences – We are constantly finding ourselves pushed outside of our comfort zones and experiencing new things. Whether it’s trying new foods, seeing new places, or being completely miserable in a place you don’t like, you get to experience new things you wouldn’t have been able to (or wouldn’t have chosen to do) before. Every day you wake up and you have to figure out life all over again. There is no set routine every day. That’s a challenge, but it forces you outside your box and forces you to experience new things.
Learn about yourself – One thing I didn’t expect to happen is how much you learn about yourself. When you’re in Japan and you can’t talk to anyone, you quickly learn that you actually do like talking to people. When you’re in non-western bathroom in an emergency situation, you quickly learn that western bathrooms play an important role in your life. When you’re in China and people cut in front of you on the subway, you learn how much you appreciate a polite society. Those examples are just scratching the surface. When you take away all the things you are used to, you start recognizing small things in life you didn’t really recognize before or that seemed unimportant because they always seem to be work a certain way.
Meeting new people – We haven’t met as many new people on this trip as I would have guessed so far, but it’s still been fun meeting people in hostels. In particular, during our time in Beijing we hung out with a small group of people for a few nights. It’s fun meeting travelers on the road and hearing about where they are from, where they are going, and the different walks of life each person comes from.
Bucket list – This trip is giving us an opportunity to check off a lot of bucket list items. Visiting lots of countries we wanted to see, trying new foods, scuba diving the great barrier reef, and many others will be checked off after this trip is over.
Facebook/Instragram Gloating – Perhaps one of the best parts about world travel is that you get lots of internet points. We get to update facebook and instragram with amazing photos and details about our world travels while completely ignoring the challenges of travel and anything to do with reality. Feeling down? Just take a selfie, add a filter, tag yourself in an exotic location, and hashtag #travelislife and wait for the likes to roll in. You won’t be down for long.
Our trip is getting a bit more structure as we go. We would still love it if people wanted to join us along the way! Below are some of the dates we are going to be in certain places. We are obviously flexible so if you see a date/location that looks close to something you could meet us on just let us know!
- November 2nd, 2015 – Fiji
- November 18th, 2015 – Cairnes, Australia
- January 25th, 2016 – Costa Rica
- February 10th, 2016 – Bangkok, Thailand
- September 28th, 2016 – Munich, Germany
You may have noticed that I’m not the best at updating our blog! I’m going to get better at that as we go and you should see more regular updates coming through. I hope to knock out South Korea quickly before we go to Fiji. Apparently the internet in Fiji isn’t the best so there’s a good chance I won’t update for a bit again. However, you can still keep up with what’s going on daily!
Timeline – In case you didn’t know, Ashley is keeping up a timeline where she details what we did each day. She’s much better at keeping this updated as we go so if you want a quick look at what we’re up to this is the place to check! Go to the time line page and check it out.
Stats – Per Jessica’s request, the stats page has been updated through 65 days of our trip.
Travel Map – The GPS log of our travel map has been updated! Check out our travel map page to see everywhere we have been through 10/31/2015.