I’ve seen quite a lot of bloggers writing about things they’ve learnt and regrets they have recently so I figured I’d jump on this band wagon as well. As I write this we’ve been travelling for 8 months and have recently cancelled our flights home as we couldn’t afford the charges for a date change. Good times to think about learning curves as we’ve travelled the world!
1. I don’t like budget travel
Starting with the fact that budgeting when you have a lump sum in the bank and no income is really fricking difficult and it turns out we’re we’re crap at travelling on a budget. We went from quite a comfortable life where as long as we weren’t ridiculous we could afford more or less what we wanted to, to one where we needed to keep an eye on all of our spending. We failed miserably at doing this and have had to raid the savings account more times than we’d like to admit. Luckily we’re now able to work freelance and find our travels but it’s still no easy feat. After a few weeks splurging on nice accommodation we’re broke again and recently stayed in a particularly grim hostel in Penang, Malaysia for £10 a night. I’m not a fan of budget travel it has to be said.
2. I’m the worst person when I’m tired
I can deal with no food or rubbish food, long delays on transport links and haven’t had too many issues with the many uncomfortable situations we’ve found ourselves in. But when I’m tired it’s game over. A few too many night buses or big nights and early mornings, or even just burning the candle at both ends for a few days leaves me feeling terrible and leads to so many fights and bad days which is really rubbish.
3. I’ve learnt to love reading again
After leaving uni following 3 years of reading books I would’ve been happy to have never seen one again. Whilst this feeling faded with time I never got that love of reading back in 7 years after graduating. I’d read chick lit to pass the time and spend more time browsing the internet than I’d like to admit but rarely settled down with a ‘good’ book. While we’ve been traveling I’ve made the effort to read more with some degree of success – and slowly from reading Steinbeck in California, Orwell in Burma and various novels about the war in Vietnam I’ve really started to love reading again. This is one of the things I’m happiest about and I hope I can stay in good habits over the coming months.
4. And writing!
I felt so cringey when I first started blogging and those feelings definitely still crop up from time to time, but I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve enjoyed writing these posts. Less so the more personal ones as I’m not so used to writing these, but I love writing the itineraries and all the tips and advice blogs. It was so hard to keep up with for the first few weeks as we adjusted to travelling, and the internet was so bad in some places it was really tough, but since touching down in Asia and enjoying great wifi it’s been fab to sit down and write about what we’ve been up to.
5. Possessions are more important to me than I thought
I’ve written about this in my post on 10 things I plan to buy when we get home but it’s worth including here as well. When you go so long without stuff or with crappy things you’ve bought from markets in random countries you appreciate the nice things you own so much more.
6. I need to fix my teeth
I hate my teeth so much, they’re really crooked and despite 2 rounds of braces I’ve never liked them. Hence I now have pictures of myself in incredible places across the whole world with my mouth firmly clamped shut to hide them – barely a photo exists where I’m full on smiling which is a bit silly. I’m determined to get them sorted once and for all when I go home so I finally feel comfortable enough to smile properly.
7. I strongly dislike the sea
I harboured a few fantasies of learning to surf and perhaps even taking a dive course on our travels but sadly it’s not to be. We’ve visited some of the most beautiful coastlines and ocean spots in the world – from Fiji and the Great Barrier Reef to the Galápagos and the coast of Vietnam – yet any time I set foot in the water I was uncomfortable, scared and couldn’t wait to get out. I’m pretty pleased that I tried snorkelling and swam around in all these places regardless of how afraid I felt but it’s definitely something I’d rather avoid if I could.
8. I’m more of a people person than I realised
I don’t think anyone who knows me would describe me as a ‘people person’. I’m definitely an introvert and much of the time can be guilty of being downright antisocial. The thought of endless small talk and meeting constant streams of new people was something I was not looking forward to. Turns out though it’s been amazing and we’ve met brilliant people from all over the world, many of whom we’ve been lucky enough to catch up with in different countries and are still in touch with.
9. I love hiking and being outdoors
I’ve always believed that fresh air and being outdoors is good for you, but it’s something I’ve often struggled with, especially in the miserable British weather. One of the many reasons we decided to get a dog was to have a motivation to get out for a walk every day which was a great life style change. While travelling I’ve loved getting out every day to explore new places and have found that I love hiking and walking. Being outside with just your thoughts and a beautiful landscape is one of the best things you can do for mental wellness and physical exercise.
10. Being a ‘Digital Nomad’ is pretty cool
That makes me sound like a prize dick, but bear with me! We kind of took for granted that we would be able to pick up some freelance work if we wanted to on the road, but I don’t think I quite appreciated how lucky we are to have found ourselves working in industries where we can work from anywhere in the world as long as we have a computer and internet access. As we’ve met more and more people who have asked what we do we’ve been stunned by how amazing people find it and how envious they are that we have that freedom. It definitely wasn’t an intentional choice, but we’re so fortunate to be able to earn money to continue travelling rather than having to head home when the money runs out.
11. If I don’t eat enough vegetables I get grouchy
Weird but true. I’ve always been one of those people who loves fruit and veg – although of course I also enjoy a good fry up and burger as it’s all about balance. At home we cook and eat fairly healthily, the Body Coach recipe books are used 3/4 times a week at least, but when travelling it can be really tough to eat well. If I go a few days without eating any vegetables I feel so rubbish – lethargic, irritable and just generally a bit crap. There’s been times we’ve had to go off in hunt of a juice bar, veggie restaurant or find a street food stand serving vegetables when it gets too bad!
12. I can’t read maps or deal with foreign money
Truly I’m hopeless and have no idea how Rob copes with me. I fumble around with small change and odd coloured notes whilst forgetting the exchange rate continually and would spend at least 90% of my time lost if I didn’t have my own personal navigator and money manager. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit but I’d never be able to travel alone based on these two simple failures! It’s not improved in 8 months so I’m pretty well resigned to the fact that these are just not my strengths.
13. Not as brave at trying new food as I thought
I used to be pretty brave at trying new food, always keen to sample a new experience and chalk up another odd flavour to the list, but on this trip I’ve been a bit of a wuss. Sure I’ve tried some weird things, like llama in Perú, silkworms in Vietnam and crickets in Thailand, but there’s been way too many times I’ve sat down to enjoy spaghetti bolognese or pizza for dinner because I’m not up for trying the local delicacies. Whilst Rob’s enthusiastically embraced the food in every country we’ve visited I’ve backed out of trying new things more than I expected to. We recently embarked on a street food tour in Taiwan and I was so nervous when we got started that I was actually shaking when we arrived at the first stand – ridiculous!
14. Proactivity is everything
I’ve struggled at times in my life with being proactive and at times have been far too passive – especially when it comes to jobs and friendships. I mentioned this in my new year’s post, but this trip has taught me that proactivity is so important and if you don’t make an effort time slips by far too easily. Not that my life before travelling was all negative by any means, but I definitely don’t want to end up in a position again where I’m looking back and wondering where 2-3 years of time actually went.
I’m sure I could add more than this to the list, and perhaps I’ll write about this topic again in the future but for now I think that’s all the main points covered. It’s weird, travelling can make you a little introspective at times, resulting in those horribly cliched ‘far out maaan’ tipsy conversations, alongside writing lists of things that you may have learnt about yourself. This isn’t a voyage of self discovery for me by any means, but I’m surprised how much I’m learning along the way!