It’s almost time to wrap up 2013 and start a new year – I can’t believe how fast this year has gone. I’m so impressed about what we have accomplished, the experiences we’ve had, the amount of travelling we did and most of all I’m glad we are still on the road and planning to travel more in the coming year (feeling excited!)

This time of the year I like looking back to see how well or badly we did individually or together and also dream about the possible adventures that might come up for the following twelve months. This year has been a VERY special one for many reasons but especially for some big changes and experiences that marked our lives forever.

A full year of travelling has really changed us for the best in some ways, making us understand something that I’m not sure we would have otherwise. I’m not going to go through the full events of 2013 otherwise you’ll find yourself reading a book instead of a blog post. I simply want to share with you what really changed us and why.

Take a Position and Step on The Other Side

During our month of volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park helping out at the dog shelter, we learnt a lot more about the treatment of animals and livestock, what their rights are and the conditions they’re made to deal with. We decided we didn’t ever want to be part of any of that and changing our diet came naturally with no major sacrifices or regrets. It has been 9 months now since we turned vegetarian and we are very happy we took that street. We probably would have made that choice at some point in our lives anyway, but being at ENP and sharing our time and space with animals opened completely our eyes, put us in front of a reality we never experienced before that shook us and for the best!

Our first Vegetarian Christmas Dinner - How A Year of Travelling Changed Us For Good

our first Vegetarian Christmas Dinner

Help Out Those Who Need It The Most

During our time in Thailand we had our first volunteering experience that made us understand how much we would love to do it more and not because it makes us better than anybody else, not at all, but because it awoke in us both the desire to actively do something to change and improve other beings’ lives. Our first week of volunteering at a dog shelter in Chiang Mai was pretty hard for two beginners like us, but it enriched us immensely. We felt useful, we enjoyed seeing these dogs happy to be loved, we liked being particularly close to the less lucky ones that had some terrible diseases and for that reason lived in isolation.

Volunteering at Care for Dogs, Chiang Mai - How A Year of Travelling Changed Us For Good

volunteering at Care for Dogs, Chiang Mai

Not Being Ignorant Anymore

We loved volunteering with dogs so much that we went for a month to another dog shelter this time surrounded by elephants where we got the chance to also learn about these amazing animals which should be left to live free in the wild instead of being used as tourist attractions. Until than we lived in ignorance not realizing how bad places like elephant’s camps and tiger temples can really be. We understood we don’t need to ride an elephant or go and watch a show where they make them paint, for instance, to get to see these beautiful and amazing animals. We can simply observe and study them without interfering with their lives, maintaining our distance and giving them their own space.

"Elephants roaming freely at ENP - How A Year of Travelling Changed Us For Good

Understanding What Really Matters

We often get comments like “It must be awesome being on holiday all the time”, but it’s not exactly true I’m afraid and it doesn’t really work that way either. Traveling for so long and being away from home, really makes you appreciate more the people we leave behind, how much we love them and how important family and friends really are. Sometimes you need to be distant to realize what is really significant to you and how much you miss these people.

With friends in Rome - How A Year of Travelling Changed Us For Good

What We Want From The Future

Another thought that has come out of our travels is how we see ourselves in the future when this is all becoming a fantastic memory in our lives.

Combining just how much we miss people back home we realised that we too will want to begin to create a home of our own in the future, first starting by doing some kind of work that brings meaning to what we do with our lives rather than the returning to any typical work environment. Dale has plans to go into working with web design, I’m still undecided; but I know that what I want to do is have a job that I can get excited about when I wake up in the morning, something where I can make a difference to something or someone.

Also, we’d be the first to admit that maybe certainly have been thinking more and more that we’ve reached the age where we should be expanding our family group … by getting some pets 😛

Dale and Digsy the pet sitting dog - How A Year of Travelling Changed Us For Good

We are so very proud of having achieved so much in a full year of travelling and very grateful too. We are sure that experiences like the ones we have had and the ones we still have to live are more important than what we were doing previously. Changing for the best is always good right? We feel like we are just doing that and we are so looking forward to what the new year will bring.

With this in mind we wish you all a FANTASTIC 2014 full of a lot of traveling (if it is what you wish for of course!)

What moments in 2013 changed you?