I’ve been back from my round the world trip for almost six months. It was a dream I held onto for years, and I’m so glad I was able to make it happen. But it didn’t look like what I imagined it would. I traveled through 13 countries in 136 days, and that taught me a thing or two about myself and about travel.
Travel slowly. I heard people saying it and read it on tons of blogs before I left. But I thought spending four or five days in one place was slow since my normal way of travel was to spend two or three days in one place. If you’re traveling long term, constantly moving around gets really stressful. It’s probably better to aim for at least a week in each place, sometimes more depending on where you are. I figured this out eventually and spent 10 days in Melbourne.
The act of traveling can be both exciting and exhausting. I was on 31 planes, 20 boats, 11 trains, and countless buses and minivans. The short flight from Siem Reap to Pakse was interesting because there was only one other passenger besides me. We still swap emails occasionally. The train from Wellington to Auckland was 12 hours of gorgeous New Zealand scenery. The Milford Sound overnight cruise was a fun look at another end of New Zealand’s landscape. But my 43 hour travel day to Melbourne had me in tears, and the whole time I was on the bus to Luang Prabang I thought we might fall off a cliff.
I don’t want to travel without Andy. Maybe a week or two tops if there’s a good reason for it, but I kinda like having him around. Despite the first year of our relationship being long distance, I really missed him when I was traveling and it was tough. Solo travel is an amazing thing, and I’m so glad I’ve done it several times. But now that I have a travel partner, I’d rather hit the road with him.
Don’t plan so much. I really love the planning aspect of travel, so even if I don’t book everything, I still usually have a rough idea of where I’m going and when. But sometimes that backfires. I used miles to book a round the world ticket, so I was locked in to a handful of flights. As happy as I am that I saved so much money on those flights, it kept me from being as spontaneous as I could’ve been.
Pack light. I packed carry-on only, and I loved it. But I still had to check a bag on a few flights because of strict weight limits for carry-on bags. I’ll keep striving towards less weight in my bag to try to avoid this problem in the future.
It’s ok to take a day off here and there to relax. Sometimes it’s good to push yourself, but there are also times when it’s better to just take a day off from sightseeing. If I’m feeling burned out and tired, I know I won’t enjoy running around a city, so sitting at a cafe with a book is time well spent. This goes for short trips as well as longer trips.
Travel for the right reasons. I held onto this long term, round the world trip dream for years, but it turns out I might’ve been trying to prove something to myself, or to everyone else. I couldn’t have figured that out without actually going on the trip, so I have no regrets. I do love to travel and I have no intentions of stopping. But long term travel isn’t for me. Don’t travel to impress other people. Travel because you love it and you couldn’t imagine NOT traveling.
Travel how you want to travel. Many people like to brag about their experiences with roughing it, the 24 hour bus rides they’ve endured, that somehow you’re not really traveling unless you’re doing it their way. Don’t listen. Everyone is different, everyone has different limits and comfort zones, and everyone has different goals when they travel.
Take lots of pictures.