We have recently concluded Year 5 on our RTW journey. We have traveled to all corners of the world and visited some of the most foreign and unfamiliar places. The experiences from our overseas travels have been quite extraordinary. My understanding of the world has changed along with my perspective on many things in life. Barbie and I really feel we have changed from when we first began our journey.
The natural high we achieve from overseas travel simply cannot be duplicated in our home country and the urge to head back overseas to recapture this ‘high’ is insatiable. Some people may call this the ‘Travel Bug’.
Every time I do return back to the United States, it appears to me that nothing at home has really changed and everything feels just so ordinary. Strangely, our vast treasure chest of experiences somehow evaporates into thin air whenever we do return home. Though family and friends have shallow interest in our adventures, it is quite obvious to us they understandably can’t relate to our experiences. Many barely want to hear anything more than some real basic details of our journey. No one actually cares about what we’ve seen and how it’s changed us, and therefore, we are basically alone in our experiences. Barbie and I joke about this lack of interest and inquisitiveness by others in our travels. However, we completely understand that everybody has got their own shit going in the game of life.
“Don’t you guys get tired of traveling”?
The style in which we are traveling is constantly evolving and after 5 years living this nomadic lifestyle, we still do not have all the answers. It is thru continual tweaks of our travel style have we come upon what looks to us like the magic formula. As the trip evolved, we evolved with it. Both Barbie and I now view this unique journey around the world as a lifestyle rather than a trip. One that needed to be crafted to allow us to continue on this journey without burning out.
When we first began our journey during Year 1 traveling thru Southeast Asia, it was really all new to us. There were just so many desirable places to see in each of these Asian countries and we were determined to see everything. Consequently, we rarely stayed over three (3) nights in any single place before moving on to the next destination. The logistics were surprisingly easy as these countries were simple to navigate around with the region being tightly packed together. We covered a significant amount of ground and saw the best of SE Asia. We never anticipated how tiring being ‘on the move’ can get. However, I think we have now found a formula that works for us. We now try to stay a minimum of one month in a given country and at least seven (7) days in any city/town within a country. And when the time arises and our bodies tell us that we really need to recharge our batteries, we like to hunker down for extended periods of time. Maui has served as the ‘go to’ place for us to reset.
I would be remiss not to mention that the Airbnb platform has been indispensable to us. Thanks to the sharing economy, we are able to easily travel on a long term basis. There is no denying that Airbnb has changed how we travel and we only have had great experiences. Renting a spacious apartment or house in a true ‘local neighborhood’, provides a significantly better opportunity to experience the authenticity of a foreign city, town or village. We now stay in Airbnb’s approximately 90% of the time as it makes us feel like we really belong to the city. Whenever we check into an Airbnb it seems to always feel like home to us. We are able to cook our own meals with local indigenous ingredients and hang out in a comfortable living room as we would do in our own home. There is absolutely no way we could have stayed in traditional hotels confined to a small hotel room during the length of our travels without burning out.
“What is your favorite country?
This one is quite difficult to answer. It’s like asking a parent which is your favorite kid. The answer is always, “they are each special in their own way”. To me, the best experiences we have had during our five year journey were the days we did not spend any money (with the exception of food and lodging). They were usually spent in nature enjoying the many natural wonders of this amazing world. Being in the thick of nature, slightly off the grid and not spending a dime somehow makes things seem more real, more liberating, present and raw. Without wanting to sound too cliched, it’s what makes me feel like I’m alive.
We didn’t have all the answers when we started out, and after 5 years traveling, we still do not have all the answers. There is always going to be apprehension if we are doing everything correctly in order to continue this lifestyle. One thing I do know, this is what I know and love. We are rewarded with unbelievable freedom for taking this giant leap of faith and are extremely thankful of this opportunity.
It is commonly known that people live their ‘best lives’ when on holiday. Travel has undeniably made us healthier. We are are able to ditch our mobile phones in favor of beaches, hikes and spectacular views. We eat better, get more fresh air and take in an abundant of sunshine every single day because we are always outdoors. We have little stress and get better sleep as we don’t have much responsibility or commitments. The most important benefit has got to be interacting with the locals in each country, seeing first hand how the rest of the world lives. One thing is for sure, the kindness of people around the world is universal. We have been to some of poorest countries in the world which happened to be some of the happiest places. We exchanged our US dollars for baht, kyat, dong, kip, riel, pesos, shekels, ringgits, yen, dirham, euros, colones and rupiahs. The main takeaway from our travels which became evident to us…….your currency is who you are as a person.
PRO TRAVEL TIP –
We began our RTW back in 2015, our first stop was Bali, Indonesia and then proceeded to flashpack all thru SE Asia. Barbie and I were always researching and on the prowl for the best paid tours that were on offer in each location. As our journey continued, we began to realize the majority of paid activities geared to tourists can easily be done independently and completely free of charge. There’s no reason to pay as you will get a better experience doing it on your own. In many cases, these free options involved incredible hikes/walks to waterfalls, scenic overlooks and hanging out with animals in the wild. DIY or ‘Do it Yourself’ activities were so much more enjoyable than paying for group tours that are constantly being pitched to shorter term travelers. These independent adventures seem to bring so much more fun and freedom. I guess this all brings me back to my budget backpacking days when I did not have the money to spend on all of the extravagant paid days trips and activities.