Holy sh*t. My husband Bryan and I just finished traveling around the world and there is so much I wish I could tell you right now. I want to write a novel about this journey but already have writers block on where to start. It’s currently a jumbled mess of craziness and memories in my mind, and endless scribbles in my journal.
We traveled around the world for 168 days and technically “homeless” for 209 days living out of 21-inch roller suitcases and medium-sized backpacks (evidence below). Me, the one who packs like a maniac for a weekend-away lived out of a 21-inch rectangular box for almost 7 months. I prefer to call it “one with the world” vs homeless. #nomads
PS: How to pack for a long term trip post coming soon… I only practiced packing for this trip ~50 times.
I guess our suitcase size foreshadowed our goal of reaching 21 countries in that time period. Some places consumed a week of exploration and some several weeks. We spent 1 month in Bali which is a place I have now visited 3x (you might say I’m obsessed with that island). Between these 21 countries and 5 continents we flew on 26 airplanes, sat on 9 train rides including an overnight train, 4 boat rides including 1 that shipped us from Europe to North Africa, and we rode 2 camels into the Sahara Desert.
As for sleeping? We slept on 49 different beds in different cities including one in a tent under the stars of the Sahara. Needless to say the first thing we did when we arrived back in NYC is purchase the biggest and comfiest mattress we could afford.
Map of our 2018-19 six month world tour:
Where I have been around the World
Everyone would always tell us “you must be so extremely relaxed and carefree”. However, long term traveling is not relaxation & should not to be confused with vacationing. I mean yes, we strategically allocated time to relax on our route: we posted up in Sri Lanka for a week and turned off all technology to zen out by the beach and decompress after our previous overwhelmingly awesome weeks in Nepal and India. We also spent new years with our family in relaxing in Bali. You have to plan for relaxation to recover from all the chaos.
When you travel long term you have to think carefully about every single thing you do, say, eat, or drink. If you read my Machu Picchu instagram post here, before we got to that starry-eyed view we went through so many obstacles that tested us on so many levels. However, Machu Picchu needs to be at the top of your #bucketlist despite the obstacles — I will tell you why once I finish journaling our full experience in Peru. As a sneak peek, here is me sucking my daily oxygen canister…
Let me be really honest with you about traveling around the world:
I was uncomfortable and restless 50% of the time. We woke up in the most unfamiliar places and beds, there are language and culture barriers, I pretty much kissed all of my dietary needs goodbye, safety is always a concern and I spent a lot more time in my own head all the time.
It’s a trip.
But let me tell you nothing can overpower the incredible high-off-life feeling you get when you touch down somewhere new and unknown. Exploring new places brings so much natural adrenaline and euphoria. Our world is such a crazy amazing gorgeous planet and I never want to stop exploring it. Ever.
Everything I journal about here @ If the Sun Set East is all about personal perspective and experiences because I love to tell stories and give my well-traveled and well-rounded two cents. If something is seriously amazing I want to share it with you. If something is truly concerning or challenging, I want to share it with you too. However:
My biggest piece of advice is to travel as often as you can with zero expectations and a completely open mind
Don’t be blinded by all the overly filtered digitized pictures you see online or what you have been told through someone else’s experience.
Let me paint some real-life traveling pictures for you:
I heard raving reviews about Morocco and scrolled through all the pretty pictures online when planning our Moroccan road trip, but the reality of actually being there felt very different. We had a few too many personal experiences that didn’t make us feel totally safe nor comfortable (included on my part 2 segment linked @ the bottom of this post).
However, there were definitely some major highlights of Morocco: the countryside is beautiful, Moroccan Riad decor is top notch, and the biggest highlight was camping in the #SaharaDesert which made the ENTIRE 10 day trip, 30 hour car ride worth it for us: pretty picture here
And the happiest we ever felt in Morocco pictured here:
However, behind the lens: the evening before these pretty and happy pictures were taken we only slept for one single hour because there was a huge storm and our riad’s central “roof” was made solely of a tarp and metal pots — the noise was unbearable.
Our riad was also surrounded by so many hollering stray cats and hecklers which brought discomfort even before the storm. My lack of sleep made the 5 hour drive to the desert the next day super fun… not. Car sickness is very real and I almost fell off my camel from exhaustion.
I honestly don’t see myself ever going back to Morocco unless someone can helicopter me into the Sahara, but I don’t regret exploring that country one bit. I’m so happy we went because we learned so much and have so many unforgettable [and now thinking back] funny memories.
I really encourage you to go explore Morocco for yourself through your own lens! I can definitely provide so many tips and recommendations including our Sahara campsite and favorite #riads.
Keep in mind that anyone can have a personal “bad experience” anywhere in the world whether it’s at customs, a bad meal, sickness, storms, or maybe crossing paths with someone having a super crappy day. Sh*t happens; it’s life and traveling around the world opens your eyes to all the life thats out there.
This leads me to the other end of the spectrum when we were told not to go to India for sooo many reasons by way too many people, but we followed our hearts and went anyways. We were a little nervous on our way there because of the stories we had been told, and we admittedly had a bit of a rough start in Delhi that made us think “uh oh they told us so…”. However, after our first couple days we fell in love with India because we felt something so unfamiliar and so magical. When we arrived at the Taj Mahal it felt like a mystical dream– you can see my mystical Taj Mahal post here.
Beyond seeing one of the truest wonders of the world, walking down the streets of India was so eye-opening and captivating. I loved every real life moment we had in India especially moments with the people we met. I honestly can’t wait to go back and explore more of India’s fascinating culture. But, it’s not for everyone… you just need to find out for yourself.
I journaled every single day during our around-the-world journey and documented the GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY scenes of traveling around the entire world. You can read about those Behind the Lens experiences here: Around the World in 6 Months — the Truths Behind the Lens PART 2
You need to share how you packed everything in such a small suitcase! I consistently overpack 🙂
Joanna, I ALWAYS used to overpack too haha! I practiced packing for this trip for an entire month and still downsized along the way. I am actually almost done with my writing piece on “How to pack for a 6 month trip” so SO happy you asked 🙂