Monday, August 11

Extended Travel FAQ

We are past the six month mark on our one year trip. So, we thought we would do a FAQ entry and answer all the questions we are often asked by other travelers and in emails from home.

Q: Where else are you going in the next six months?
A: 9 weeks split between Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos – 1 month in Nepal – 1 month in Australia – 1 month in New Zealand – 2 weeks Fiji (budget dependent)

Q: How detailed are your plans for upcoming countries?
A: We started the trip with 19 booked flights (required by
oneworld). We are free to change the dates of our flights but we cannot change the route without paying a fee. So, we have a rough idea of where and when we are going to be in a general area. In regards to what we do when we get there, we only plan one city ahead. For example, the day before we left Bangkok, we booked our hotel in Chiang Mai and read up on things to do. For some countries, we have a rough list of things we want to do which is based on reading we did at home and tips from other travelers. We have done some limited advanced planning to meet up with friends and family.

Q: Are you on budget?
A: So far so good. Europe was definitely tough, particularly with the weak dollar, running ~60% more per day than South America or SE Asia. Assuming Australia/NZ is on par cost wise with Europe we will be on track.

Q: Are you homesick? (What do you miss the most?)
A - Mike: My homesickness comes and goes in waves. It seems to be directly related to how fulfilled I feel in a given destination. This fulfillment is tricky for me to quantify but seems to be primarily related to how different and unique a place is versus home along with things like new experiences, breathtaking sites, history, culture, meeting interesting people, great food/drink, value for money (I really love a good deal) and how well Trin and I are getting along.
A - Trin: I thought I would get homesick more than I have. As long as we are busy and seeing new things, I am fine. It's when things are repetitive or I don't feel well that I miss home the most. Of course I miss my family and friends but I also miss macaroni & cheese, good Mexican food and sitting on my couch (it's a comfort thing).

Q: How well are you getting along with one another?
A - Mike: I gota say generally great, better than I expected. Before we left I truly thought we would run out of stuff to talk about and have endless awkward dinners staring off into space which hasn't been the case. Unlike home, with distractions like work and mountain biking, if one of us is upset we'll both be down and not enjoy where we are. Working through conflicts quickly, comprising, and not sweating the small stuff have been important themes. Also I think the constant group decision making has brought us closer than ever to being a cohesive team.
A - Trin: Traveling together non-stop isn't always easy but I think we are doing great. If I am honest with myself, Mike deserves most of the credit. He is much better at dealing with adversity. I have a tendency to get mad when I am lost or things go wrong. I think he's figured that out and just ignores me when this happens. Just like at home we each have responsibilities and if one of us starts to slack we let each other know. Sometimes there is a little tiff but nothing major.

Q: What is your favorite place so far? Travel experience?
A - Mike: Tokyo really stands out for me. Generally we prefer small towns to big ones but there is something special about this city. Our 10 best things of Tokyo entry goes through the specifics but the key thing was that the simple things such as walking around and eating were experiences in themselves. I've noticed there is a vibe between Trin and I at each location that is effected positively or negatively based on how we like it. If one person is really into it, the vibe will be muted if the other person isn't. I think Tokyo was were they really combined to hit a trip high.
A-Trin: This is a tough one. Patagonia was really beautiful and the scale was massive. I think it also stands out because it was a challenge. Lately, I have been excited about diving but I don't have a favorite dive spot yet. Tokyo was by far my favorite big city. We tend to like places that are different. It's like a race against globalisation.

Q: How has the trip changed your perspective?
A - Mike: Previous to this trip I spent little energy learning about politics, world events or the global economy. I often blindly felt US and capitalism to be the good guys and opponents of them the bad ones. At a minimum I think I'll be more sensitive to the fact that there are two sides to every story.
A - Trin: Yes, mostly in regard to consumerism. It's easy to preach when I am not at home faced with twenty varieties of soap or zip lock bags. It's like, do we really need all that stuff? Time will tell but I would like to simplify my life when I get back.

Q: What do you think is the most difficult thing about long term travel?
A - Mike: I'd say a two way tie between lack of routine and lack of satisfying brain exercise. For me, there's something subconsciously great about this process: wake up in the my own bed, commute, work, commute, eat at home, relax, sleep, repeat. On the brain topic, sure we are constantly deciding where to sleep, eat, go, etc, plus supplemented with reading/blog but it still doesn't give me same satisfaction I derived from a tough day at work.
A - Trin: Downtime. I struggle with it. It just feels like we're wasting time and money. I realize we can't be on the go all the time and sometimes you need to take a Sunday. But, I can't help feeling guilty when we slow down. To this Mike says We are running a marathon. Not a sprint.

Q: How do you pack for a year?
A - Mike: It sounds intimidating but really isn't too bad. We packed like we were going on a one week trip and do laundry often. The tricky part is when your destinations have a wide range of weather (hot/cold/rainy)and if you need any specialized gear (diving/camping). We shipped our camping gear ahead to Hong Kong (for Nepal) and since then can comfortably fit our cold-hot clothes, snorkel gear, 1-3 books, and electronics + laptop between two large backpacks and a day pack for a total of around 75 pounds.
A - Trin: Well, I started with a big box and every time I came across something I thought we would need or want on the trip I threw it in there. When it came time to actually pack, I eliminated over half of the stuff in the box. We basically have everything divided into smaller bags: clothes stuff sacks, dirty clothes stuff sack, extra stuff sack (travel towels, sleeper sheet, cold weather gear), electronics bag (ipod, adapters, water purifier), utility bag (clothes pins, headlamps, gerber, camping spoon), pharmacy bag, first aid kit and cosmetic bags. All these smaller bags fit like a puzzle into our packs along with our hiking boots and books. I also arranged ahead of time to have our visitors bring us supplies (diving masks, medicine, books).

Q: Do you know what you'll do when you return to the US?
A: We're buying a dog. Right away. We both plan to return to similar jobs. Mike's company will be a factor in our location. Ideally, we'll live in Los Gatos, CA. We'll rent and then, market willing, purchase our first home. After that, we'll start planning for a family. Basically, normal life again just one year later.

Curious about anything else? Post a comment. We love those.


robyn said...

This is awesome! So interesting to hear about this stuff. I love all the posts about what you guys are doing, but it is great to hear about how it all feels to you. I can't wait for you guys to get back so I can hear more in person.

scang111 said...

I love this post! Keep it up... I look forward to hearing about your hikes in Nepal.

Shondra said...

Trin I had a hair appt with Rhiann (Acabello Salon) today and her and her fiancee are seriously considering a 3-4 month trip around the world before they have babies. I gave her the website, she's really excited for you to get back so she can hear all about it :)

BobN said...

Dealing with currency would seem like it would be painful, with so many countries each having their own. I've heard a lot of places like the US dollar but it doesn't sound like anything you could count on. Probably with how the dollar is doing, it isn't as popular anymore.