It was a long 11 hour flight home, an overnight stay at Heathrow and a 3 hour bus ride home. Very sentimental moment, crossing the Severn Bridge back to the motherland! Was it all worth it, of course!!
It was great seeing family and at the same time I felt so emotional about saying goodbye to travelling. Family means more, but life on the road is so much fun, interesting and comes with less stresses. Although I do recognise we make some of our own stresses with lifestyle choices! I also recognise without them we would not have been able to do this trip.
It is surprising how travelling can tire you out. It may not have the same stresses and strains of home life and not be so physically tiring at times but we did certainly feel shattered at times. For me, the tiredness reminded me of when training for my Counselling qualifications a time when my senses were heightened and I wanted to absorb everything whilst also going through a range of thoughts and emotions.
In the last couple of weeks we talked a lot about coming home, I think we gradually were leaving our travels and stepping back into home life. The saying ‘go travelling and find yourself’ was something that I had little regard for before if I’m honest, but I have a new respect for it now. I can’t say that I learnt very much about myself but after years of Counselling in order to gain my Counselling qualifications I have already learnt a lot about myself, although I Did reflect on some of my traits and strengths and was reminded of how important family are to me. Stuart did find some things out about how he operates in the world which surprised him.
We talked before we left about being together day in day out for so long, nearly 10 months, what would it be like? Actually, we had a ball! There were times when we got sad, homesick, scared, frustrated, even angry but mostly we had fun and laughed. We shrugged off the stresses of home life, which took a little while. Our only stresses really were logistical, getting from A to B, safety at times and the budget, I’ll tell you about that later.
What I did give some thought to was how lucky I am to live where I do, I have much more appreciation for that now. Witnessing various environments, cultures and individuals left devastated by earthquakes, tsunami’s, flooding, hurricanes, restrictions on electricity and not taking water for granted was a humbling experience.
Learning from those who lived or are living with conflict and war was also insightful, thought provoking and saddening. We have had conflict and war in the UK and currently do have issues with terrorism and during my travels I have realised and really become aware of how vulnerable communities can be.
What we have realised is that we want some time to process and reflect on our travels. There is so much we have forgotten in 10 months and we were moving quite fast. Looking at photos, printing this blog which I created because I wanted some memory links (and obviously so you can see what we have been up to) are more important to us than we thought they would be.
Travelling helpful hints
- Travelling to so many countries, trekking, sunbathing, differences in temperature and humidity all take a toll on the body, remember to listen to it, nourish it and protect it. We were shocked at times by those not bothering with malaria tablets and protecting themselves from the awful Dengue Fever.
- Something silly, don’t forget earrings get so hot in intense heat, they burnt my ears!
- Reading many blogs before leaving I thought about clothes that can go with each other and weather, fast drying clothes for trekking but I didn’t give enough thought to clothes that covered my shoulders and my knees (this goes for men too). We needed this type of clothing not just for religious sights in Burma and Cambodia but also for many other countries who as a nation dress far more conservatively than we in the UK. I would go as far to say that if you want to carry a small pack perhaps think about where you want to go as we ended up sending clothes home, giving some away and buying as we travelled. By the time we left Sri Lanka my backpack was virtually all new.
- Definitely do not underestimate this one! Allow more money if moving faster, can’t emphasise this more and then add on internal flight money for good measure. Don’t rely on what you read about daily expenditure on blogs.
- Lonely Planet, did have a fair few mistakes. We learnt to email forward to hostels and ask how to get to them from the bus, train or airport, saves a lot of hassle and cost at times.
- Packing cubes were fab! I like a little order and we had some from Ikea which were falling apart after seven months of daily use but I have to say they were stuffed full and truly bursting at the seams one many occasions! They helped to separate dirty and clean clothes and I used them to stores tops, trousers etc separately which was great when searching for something.
- Get a motorbike licence before you go and I really would ask around in Thailand before renting and driving.
- We purchased a special filter water bottle from Nomad Travel when learning of flooding in Peru and water issues. It was great for saving money on water, which was a little pricey at times. We used it in places where they said you could use the water but we didn’t feel confident in doing so.
- Photo storage, don’t rely on internet connections!!! Can’t emphasise this enough. I was going to use Google Drive but the internet connections were so poor at times I just couldn’t get them all to upload and eventually we saved a few of each place when we could and saved them all on memory sticks.
- SIM cards can be so cheap and useful, I would do a little research on the best providers though. We didn’t at times and wasted money here and there and got very frustrated!
- Tat shopping, as Stuart calls it! I love it! If you see it, love it and have room for it, buy it! There were several times I saw things and thought I would wait but never say the items again!
- Camera! There were countries where we didn’t want to get phones out due to being robbed, but felt the camera wasn’t so bad to lose (we were careful to update photos often in these places just in case!) I got really frustrated with my camera as it was slow turning on and taking photos, I missed so many great shots and would definitely look at this more closely if/when travelling again.
- My sleeping liner, lightweight was an important thing! It was great on overnight buses to get in and cover me us completely and I could keep valuables inside. It also protected from bugs and mosi’s and of course the emergency bedding for the places we really didn’t want to sleep in but decided we just had to for one night.
- Dont rely on buying clothes in all places, parts of South America were too rural and if there were clothes many were not my style.
- Passport covers. You can hardly see the face of our passports due to them wearing away when being used and kept in money belts against sweaty bodies, yuk!!
- We purchased a plastic box and cups, great for storing food away from bugs, in my case mostly tea bags! And cups for a little ‘drink’ and when we didn’t trust the cleanliness. We also found online travel sets of hard plastic cutlery, although we bought ones with chopsticks not knives in case we forgot to but them in the hold on the plane. These were great, sturdy and again great for when we didn’t want to used flimsy cutlery or some from pots the world and its wife had been man handling.
- Washing line, we lost ours and truly missed it! We had a great elastic one which did not require pegs the clothes went in between pieces of elastic and saved a small fortune on washing costs at times.
- If a room has a fridge and bugs, use the fridge for storage.
- Always do a sweep of the room, Stuart lost a downs foldaway coat, expensive mistake!
- A hang up washing bag, really handy.
- Rain jackets. Due to the high temperatures we didn’t use them except for Machu Picchu and cooler countries. Used my umbrella far more than I thought I would, did the Chinese thing at times for the sun too!
And the big question people have asked on our return…. HOW MUCH
Before reading on it should be noted that our son did join us in the US and we estimate with hiring a larger car, extra food and hotel and we did treat ourselves quite a bit we could have saved £1200 here!
We didn’t always stay at the cheapest places, although they were generally only a little higher, except in Sri Lanka and Kuala Lumpur and we did buy quite a bit of tat! We also bought cheap birthday presents for the family and sent them home, together with some of our clothes and purchases so you could take off another £200 easily.
Our Machu Picchu trip is included and was £1500 for the two of us. We didn’t do this cheap as we wanted a good quality. There are other tours that do not mean you have to buy permits in advance and which are much, much cheaper, a few hundred pounds each. You also do not have to buy the Inka Trail Permit months in advance too if you do another trail as no permits are required fir them I believe.
We did book quite a few internal flight where buses would have been cheaper but we decided to do this due to time, safety and tiredness at times.
Get two different credit cards preferably one visa and one Madtercard as some countries they worked, so they didn’t, we never figured out why! And hide some dollars somewhere for emergencies.
Put all your bills at home on direct debit and set up internet banking to monitor everything, but make sure you only use your mobile SIM card for security not hostel internet, you never know who’s watching etc!
We have been asked about this so often since coming home.
Our two tickets for 11 flights cost £2500 each. You can buy much cheaper tickets, some as little as a £1000 but we had a specific itinerary and didn’t want to go to Australia, Canada or New Zealand.
Spending money £19636
It looks a huge amount, and it is, but this was for seven months for two people so we think we did okay… would we do it again….
Definately, we already have a new list, there is so much more we would love to see, experience and do!
Well, it’s time to say goodbye! Thank you all that have followed, commented and been there. Thank you for your patience, I know each blog has been a mini book at times but there was so much to say and remember! We hope you have enjoyed it and perhaps even got you thinking about doing something similar.
Hasta Luego (generally means see you soon) perhaps!