When we returned home from our trip around the world, our family and friends wanted to hear all about it. It was fun to share our trip with everyone, but after telling the same stories over and over we wanted nothing more than to hear what everyone did when we were gone!
Since people kept asking us very similar questions, we thought we would put the questions and answers down in writing.
What was your favorite place?
This was by and far the most popular question that we were asked about our trip.
The answer was pretty easy for us since we both fell in love with Cape Town, South Africa. There were a lot of great things about Cape Town – the scenery was stunning, there were tons of things to see/do, everyone was extremely friendly and it was inexpensive.
I also need to add in that after spending 4 months in Central and South America, this was the first place that we visited where everything was “easy”. The common language was English and the city was quite developed. I am sure that being able to feel more like “home” after feeling like a foreigner for 4 months helped us fall in love easier than we normally would.
What was the coolest thing that you saw?
I feel like this is a loaded question since we saw so much when we were on the road, many things which were so different from each other that you can’t really compare them. I do have a few favorites though:
- The most beautiful place was El Chalten, Argentina
- Watching wild animals in their natural habitat on our safari was unbelievable
- Egypt had some of the coolest stuff that we saw on the trip and blew our minds when we thought about how old it was
What was the coolest thing that you did?
Again, this is one of those questions that is really hard to answer with a single response. We did so many cool things during our trip, it is way too hard to narrow down. Here are some of my favorites:
- Hiking up to Machu Picchu and watching the clouds clear over the ruins early in the morning
- Going off the beaten path in Bolivia where we got to see Sajama National Park, a beautiful part of Bolivia that very few tourists visit
- Seeing just how many waterfalls there were at Iguassu Falls
- Exploring Santorini during off season, where we felt like we had the whole island to ourselves
Were you ever scared?
I honestly thought that we would be more nervous than we were, especially on certain parts of our trip. Most of the cities that we were worried about were not nearly as scary as the media had made them out to be. If anything, the security was so tight that we felt more safe there than we did in other areas.
There were only a handful of times that we were nervous at all:
- In Ecuador when the man behind me on the bus tried to get into my backpack
- The seedy looking kids in Colombia/Argentina that looked like they wanted to steal our camera
- Flying on EgyptAir, quite possibly the worst airline ever.
Would you ever do it again?
While we had a great time, I don’t foresee us taking another big trip for quite some time. We are happy to be back in America, having our own place with all of our stuff and looking forward to the next phase in our lives.
When we retire, if we have the finances and desire, I could see us doing another big trip. In the interim, we are looking forward to exploring our new area – going on road trips and taking the occasional vacation.
How was it traveling together 24-7?
Spending 24-7 together for 8 months with anyone is difficult. That being said, I think that it was much easier than I expected it would be – a statement that I think Andy may disagree with.
I think we were both shocked at just how much time we spent together. We both had thoughts in our head that we would meet other travelers and would possibly split up to do things with them. Once we were on the road we realized that if we weren’t together, there was no way to communicate with each other. Since something happening to the other person was our biggest fear, we opted to stay by each other’s side.
Sure, we had a few meltdowns and challenges during our trip, but I can honestly say that we got through it a stronger couple.
Was it hard to live out of your backpack?
I thought that it would be a lot harder to live out of a backpack than it was. For some reason I thought that it would be more annoying to wear the same few clothes all the time, but it just became normal life for me.
The worst parts about living out of our backpacks was packing them whenever we left a town and carrying them around, especially when it was hot outside.
What did you miss most when you were gone?
I know that I am supposed to say my family and friends. While I did miss them, they all knew that I was out seeing the world and living a dream that I had. Everyone was very supportive of us which made the whole trip a lot easier.
The hardest part of the trip was thinking about our cat Gingerbread, who was in good hands with a friend, but had no clue where we went and if we would be back for her. I felt awful that there was no way that I could communicate to her what we were doing.
Are you glad that you went?
We are very happy that we took the leap and went on our trip. It was a truly unique experience that we’ll remember fondly for the rest of our lives.
Hindsight is 20/20 but our biggest regret was how we split up our time on the trip. If we were to do it all over again we would add more time in certain areas and less in others. There would be no way to know how we would feel about different places until we experienced it, so it’s not something that we could have prepared for.
Do you wish that you could have stayed on the road longer?
While we had an amazing trip, I almost feel like we spent a little too long on the road. When we were in Europe seeing all of these sights which would normally be amazing and we were bored, I knew that we had gotten the dreaded traveler fatigue.
I wish that it was possible to be more flexible with our schedule. We had to book a few flights before we left for our trip so we were locked into entering/leaving on certain dates. It was a necessary evil for us but took away some of our flexibility. Had we not been locked into those dates we would have been able to spend more time in Guatemala and Brazil, 2 countries that we loved but were rushed in seeing.
Did you ever get sick?
We were lucky in that our 8 months away we only had 1 true sickness.
After our sailing trip from Panama to Colombia, I got a pretty bad cold. Once I started coughing up green mucus I knew that I would need to get some antibiotics. We had traveler’s insurance which would cover a doctor’s visit, but I went the easy route. I looked up what medicine is prescribed for bronchitis and googled the Spanish translation for it. I wrote down what I needed on a piece of paper and went to the pharmacy to have my order filled. For only $16, I had everything that I needed. A few days later, my symptoms were gone and I felt like my old self.
Although I say there was only 1 sickness, we both suffered on and off with stomach issues. Once we started cooking our own meals and spending time in more developed countries, we both felt much better.
How did you do with your budget?
Before we left, we had pulled together a budget of what we expected things would cost on our trip. We came in about 25% under budget overall, some areas spending a lot less than estimated while others, like Argentina were much higher than we imagined.
When on our trip, we did everything that we could to keep our budget in check. This ranged from making meals at home if we had a kitchen to taking public transportation whenever we could. We were able to do the fun things that we wanted to do in the cities that we visited because we had saved on other expenses.
How did you figure out how to get around?
The website Rome2Rio was one of the best resources that we had on our trip. We entered our starting city/ending city and the website pulled together the transportation options (bus, train, plane, etc.). While it wasn’t always exact, it gave us a general idea of the cost as well as the hours needed to get there.
I was born without a sense of direction, but luckily Andy is amazing at getting around. It was on our sailing trip that a fellow traveler told us that you could load Google maps to your phone and the GPS would work, even if you did not have wireless service. This was a game changer for us since we could see where we were at all times and could easily navigate any city.
How did you deal with taking all those night buses?
We took a total of 15 night buses during our trip, a number that seems low compared to how many it felt like we took. The seats on night buses were nicer than a standard bus, but at the end of the day it still sucked to try and sleep on a bus seat. There were 3 times where we were able to book buses with a 180 degree lie flat seat and were our all time favorite bus rides.
We took night buses primarily because it made sense for us. Whenever we took a night bus we would arrive in our new city first thing in the morning. This meant that we didn’t lose a day of sightseeing, could save money on a night of lodging and the trip was shorter than a day bus since there was less traffic.
Did your trip make you want to work overseas?
I know that everyone expects us to say “Yes, we would move abroad tomorrow if we could”, but that isn’t how we feel. While we loved our time abroad, it feels good to be back in America. When we were gone we missed being able to communicate, purchasing whatever we wanted, walking around cities that aren’t littered with garbage and the cultural norms that we are used to.
The only place that we would move to if we could is South Africa. Even if we did get the opportunity to go there, we would have a hard time being so far away from our family and friends.