I honestly cannot believe it has already been so long but in less than a month it will be exactly two years since we left the UK and the life we had there to happily became the two travel nomads we are now. The travel bug has definitely got us both and, even if we sometimes think that eventually we’ll have to settle somewhere, we keep going and finding excuses not to stop travelling, finding new opportunities to visit new countries. A lot happened in these two years and if I think of the kind of travellers we were before I almost cannot recognize ourselves now. Our way of travelling has changed so much since our first trip together to Berlin and it has evolved to be better, or at least I’d like to think so.
I still remember that first 5 day trip to Berlin, we had the accommodation booked in advance for the entire stay, we also bought the plane tickets months before and of course booked our days off work with the necessary notice. Once we arrived in Berlin we wished we hadn’t paid for the place we were staying in already because we didn’t really like the area and we’d have happily gone somewhere else but it was too late for that. If we think about it now, we would have done so many things differently.
Even when we started this long and still ongoing trip we were inexperienced, naive and I guess we still had to find out and understand what style of travelling we liked. I guess two years have been enough to shape our travelling style which has evolved so much and it might keep changing in the future. Nothing ever stays the same either because of us and how we change or because of other circumstances out of our control. So how has our travel style changed and why?
When we started this trip the only thing we were interested in was visiting as many new countries as we could and learn about their cultures and customs. We were both thirsty for everything that was NEW and that had nothing to do with the lives we left behind. Eventually that changed.
Don’t get me wrong we are and will always be interested in new places to discover but differently. Since we volunteered in Thailand at two different dog shelters, our way to look at the places we go has changed. We are more responsible travellers that we were before, always looking to see if we can do anything to help the locals (no matter if humans or animals). We buy our food only from local shops, markets and if we go out to eat we avoid completely big multinational chains, the small local restaurant is always our choice. We want to leave something to the local communities and do whatever we can with our limited resources to help them grow.
Slow Is Best
I will never forget how fast we travelled at the beginning, spending only few days per each city we went to. I remember in Japan we wanted to maximize our Japan Rail Pass to make it worth the money it cost us, and we travelled very fast. It was great, we saw so many different cities but at the end of our month there we were exhausted. We definitely prefer the slow travel style now, not only because it’s less tiring, but mainly because in this way we get to know better the places we go to and really embrace the local culture. It makes a huge difference in terms of quality of our travel and what we get from it. We do occasionally find ourselves having a couple of hectic weeks where we move from one place to the other quickly but it is now what we would normally do.
Housesitting Opened a New World for Us
We went from staying at hostels because they were the cheapest option, to try to avoid them if we can. There is nothing wrong with hostels, they are just not for us anymore. We prefer to have our own privacy and space if we can, sharing isn’t a problem at all but when travelling becomes your lifestyle you find yourself missing having your own spaces more and more.
Thanks to housesitting not only can we have an entire house to ourselves which means plenty of privacy and a kitchen all for us ready to be used –you gotta believe us, we do cook like crazy-, but we can also afford to stay cheaply and longer in places which goes perfectly with our slow travel style. We tend to choose assignments with pets to look after to compensate not having our own (something we miss a lot). We only wish we started housesitting way earlier.
Go With The Flow
That we aren’t big planners isn’t a secret and that changed especially during this trip since we said goodbye to our idea of taking the Trans Siberian Train and we had to rethink at our itinerary because we couldn’t get the Russian visa. Since then we realized that planning isn’t something for us, which completely changed our travel style. We simply go with the flow, in this way we are open to any opportunity that might come along and we can literally leave tomorrow for a destination without thinking we’d lose the money of the flights we’d already booked. The only reason I can think for planning ahead would be to save some money and get better deals, but that rarely happens to us.
Not Knowing Much Ahead
When we go somewhere we don’t do much research beforehand, we might look at a couple of photos on Pinterest but we don’t read travel guides or any other info. When we first started this trip we were carrying some Lonely Planet travel guides that soon ended up being left at a hostel. We like to discover the places by ourselves or following someone else’s personal recommendations, most likely from our Couchsurfing hosts. We know this can be dangerous because we could end up going to places not to our liking, but that isn’t such a bad thing because it can only help us to understand what we enjoy the most and what we don’t.
Places For Veggie Lovers
One of the things we do check before going somewhere is which options we have in terms of vegetarian or vegan places to eat. In fact since we turned vegetarians, our travel style has changed too and it’s one of our main concerns. In Asia we found it was very easy and we didn’t need to look in advance for vegetarian restaurants but in some part of Europe like France and the North of Spain we found out it can be a little bit more challenging. Luckily there are always markets and supermarkets as an option.
There are few things that haven’t changed though and that are still shaping our travel style as they did two years ago: our love for Couchsurfing, our constant need to look for some cool architecture no matter where we go, engaging with new local art and interesting design places that can inspire us. If there is a band playing in town and we can afford the tickets, we would definitely go for it, especially if it’s new music. That’s the only thing that remained the same since we set off in June 2012, perhaps I was wrong before and there are things that never change.