It’s been 6 weeks since we started our World Trip – about halfway through our journey altogether (if you count the North America Road Trip and Asia) and we want to update everyone on how it’s going so far!
(Written by both of us)
The Trip Overall
L: The trip is amazing, exciting and exhausting all at the same time – it is simultaneously everything I expected it to be and nothing like I expected; sometimes (like today ), I have to say to myself, “You are on the World Trip!” because it still feels surreal that we are doing this.
S: An incredible learning experience. Everywhere we have gone, we are constantly surprised. It doesn’t matter how much research/planning you do if you think you have an idea of what a city, a country, or an experience is going to be like, it’s almost always different which 99.9% of the time is the best part of the trip.
L: Backpacking is fun, but it is also HARD. Not the physical act of carrying a backpack – that was challenging for maybe the first week or so but now we’ve become turtles and my 30 LB pack is now a shell that I no longer mind … no, what is difficult is the packing and unpacking every few days, and running (literally sometimes) to catch trains or buses, and then getting acquainted to a new city and when we finally feel comfortable and in a rhythm in said new city, we leave to do it all over again somewhere else! This is a small trade-off for living our dream, and if we had more time (and less pets to miss) we would probably slowww down the itinerary and stay in each place for longer, but c’est la vie. (I will say the best part of backpacking is I no longer care that I wear the same 5 items of clothing on repeat or that I haven’t had access to a proper hairdryer or flat iron in 6 weeks; we even shipped clothing home in Italy because I now value packing-speed and efficiency above all else.)
S: To second what Lu said above, it’s not the physical aspects of carrying your life in a backpack that is exhausting, its the mental toll that packing/unpacking and packing again takes. On the other hand, to add the perspective of a very sweaty individual; if we went back in time, I would invest in some moisture-wicking, non-smell absorbing clothing, because doing laundry every 2.5 weeks means that there are some not so great smelling socks sitting at the bottom of my bag for too long…
Traveling Through Europe
L: What has been the most shocking part about traveling through Europe is that the train system is not as efficient or easily accessed as we thought. We’ve both been to Europe before, but only ever in 1 country at a time and we had only used the trains for day-trips. When planning the W.T. we considered buying the Eurail pass, but because it was so expensive (close to $1000 for the plan we needed) we held off and I’m happy we did. We actually realized early on that buses are the way to go because they are faster (sometimes) or a fraction of the cost or both. But other than that, traveling through Europe has been easier than traveling through America – we’ve used the trains and bus systems as mentioned, but also Uber (in Portugal), BlaBla Car (in Spain) and ferries (in Morocco and Italy). We didn’t book anything in advance and usually only figure our our travels 1-2 days prior to leaving.
S: As Lu mentioned, we have ended up using bus/ride sharing just as much if not more than we have used trains. This has not only saved money but been an amazing way of seeing parts of Europe that we surely would have missed if we were flying or taking a train. One of the most amazing legs of traveling was the bus from Cannes to Genoa; the scenery was spectacular and nearly the entire journey was spent on a road hugging the cliffs of the French and Italian Riviera. We have literally seen the entire southern European coast spanning Tarifa, Spain to Genoa, Italy.
(Funny) European Observations
L: Everywhere we went in Europe, we kept hearing The Police (the band)! In general we’ve never gone anywhere in the world where they don’t listen to American music (not an exaggeration), but specifically in Southern Europe they are still really into Sting. Also, as a vegetarian it was semi-difficult in some places to find food other than a salad (specifically Seville) – a few times when we were at restaurants they would have a “vegetarian” section which I would foolishly get excited about, and when I asked the waiter what was in some of these dishes they would say something along the lines of, “Potatoes, broccoli … ham.” I had to laugh :). #NoMo’Jamon
S: WiFi availability/speed. A big reason our blog is lagging behind our current location is because of our access to reliable and fast WiFi in Europe. No worries though; on this trip, the less screen time the better!
Our Favorite Part(s) of Europe
L: I have so many favorite parts, but #1 has been meeting new people from around the world, and staying with them in their homes around Europe (and Morocco). I love seeing how so many people live their lives in other countries – it’s given Steve and I a lot of perspective on what we need to be happy and we’ve made a lot of great new friends this way. Other favorite parts have been our cooking class in Morocco, our whole week in Capri with Anne and Johnny which was magic (post coming soon) and all the pizzas (+ food in general!).
S: The people we have stayed with! We have met so many fascinating people from all around the world in our travels through Europe & Morocco. To be more specific, I’ll list my 6-week highlights:
-Night out on the town with Lily & Erin in Porto
-Watching Leigha get dressed up in a Flamenco dress by our Andalusian host Pilar in Seville (see photo below!)
-Barcelona…all of it
-Our week in Capri with Annie & Johnny, helped cure a bout of homesickness
Our Not-So-Favorite Part
L: Missing Sydney and Holly. Why hasn’t anyone invented a way for us to telepathically communicate with our pets yet? Second not-favorite part – all the smoking! So much smoking in Europe … in Portugal there were still smoking and non-smoking sections in some bars. I can’t stand it. Please class it up Europe and get better smoking bans.
S: Ditto to what Lu said! Missing the pets is rough, like…soul crushingly rough. When we are tired, hungry, and sitting in some random bus or train terminal, I think of our pets and just want to be vegging on the couch with our furry little goobers. But it makes me happy to know that they are in good hands, and I am sure that they are having a blast with their grandparents!
The Biggest Surprise
L: The biggest surprise for me has not been travel-related … it is that Steve and I have completely switched the roles that we’ve both been comfortable with for the last 10 years in our relationship. What I mean is, I’ve stopped planning the trip and Steve has dove head-first into planning mode. Maybe it’s because I have been planning the trip in my head and on various spreadsheets for the last 3 years? Or because every job I’ve ever had has been based around my planning and organizational skills. Whatever the reason, Steve has really stepped up by handling our travel, booking AirBnBs and making our itineraries, and I’m kind of enjoying being laid-back and winging it for the first time … ever? `
S: My biggest surprise is probably how much different the experience traveling through Europe was using shared apartments through AirBnB. When we had traveled overseas previously, we always stayed in hotels, but when staying with someone who lives in the city you get tips, advice, and sometimes even impromptu guided tours of things you would never see or do using the guidebooks. It has been a great and positive surprise. An additional surprise, no Uber in Spain…c’mon?
Traveling Long-Term With Each Other
L: The best part of the trip is doing it with Steve. Of course we fight – I’m pretty hard to deal with once I get too overheated or hungry and so is Steve. But when planning a World Trip with your S/O, you better make sure that person is someone you not only love, but someone you genuinely like to be around because they are it. We spend 24-hours a day together – every meal, 14-hour flight, bus-tour, boat ride … it’s just us. He takes care of us and makes sure we are safe and calms me down when I have anxiety – in general I don’t think I could have done this with anyone else or without him.
S: This trip would not be the same in any way if Leigha wasn’t here. She is the reason that it is so fun. There is nothing better then sharing a dream with the person you’re meant to be with, and then being able to live it every day.
That’s all for now! Thank you to everyone who has been following along our trip – next stop Asia 🙂
(PS. – most of these are iPhone pics so we apologize for the garbage quality 😉 ).