After a six week break in the States, we’re back on the road – literally, driving along the winding paths of the Iberian Peninsula in a long loop from Portugal through Spain and back again. It’s a bit strange to embark on Leg Two after being home. It’s as though we hit pause for a time and now we’re trying to get back into the swing of things – getting back some into some sort of schedule, planning for the year, and, more generally, trying to figure out what we want to do with ourselves in the long-term.
Going home was, for me at least, an eye-opener. Maybe turning thirty while we were there has spurred something in me that’s less ok with not having a concrete plan for the future. Some days I’m consumed by panic over all the not knowing, and some days I can just roll with it. But it’s good, at least now we’re both pretty certain that while we could just go back and pick up where we left off, it’s not something we’re likely to do. That’s a start, right?
Anyhoo, enough introspection for one post. Back to the trip.
Overall we’re feeling like Europe is…can I say this? Compared to Asia, anyways, Europe isn’t always so exciting. Aside from the part where Eric had his wallet stolen in Barcelona, which is NOT the type of excitement we’re after.
In Spain we understood quite a bit of the language and we didn’t find ourselves being challenged in the same ways we were in, say, China. And things cost a lot. For example, going into the Gaudi Modernist Museum costs €21.50 ($30 USD) each, but our daily budget was only $100 overall. Most everything is priced this way, so we ended up skipping a lot of major sights and fancy meals out in an effort to save money for the rest of the world. Thankfully many hostels and apartments had kitchens, but that means we ate a whole lot of my cooking and only skimmed a major component of Spanish culture. In short, I think we’ll be sticking to the original plan of coming back to western Europe when we’re old and rich.
With all this time in we’ve started making some badly needed updates to the website. We’ve changed our “About Us” page, but since our regular readers may not see it I’ll copy most of it here:
Up until now, it doesn’t look like our site has answered the three big questions everyone seemed to ask when we were home – questions about how we afford traveling, what it’s like to travel as a couple, and what have been some of our most memorable experiences. Those certainly are three major pieces to this puzzle, so it’s high time we addressed them!
How Can We Afford to Travel the World?
Before leaving Denver, Eric worked as a software engineer and I was an accountant. We saved every possible penny over the course of 18 months, sold almost all of our possessions including our cars, furniture, and Eric’s condo, and rented out my property for rental income. I also had some spare dollars left over from my time as a student that went into our savings.
But for the most part, the only way we were able to quit our jobs and travel was to make saving money our top priority for a very long time. There have been a lot of financial sacrifices, both before and during our trip, but we believe that most everyone can travel long-term if they’re really dedicated and make it a priority.
Do You Get Tired of Being Together All the Time?
Well…yes. We’re pretty-much together 24/7 and that much togetherness can take a toll on even the best relationship. What’s good about it is that we’ve gotten to know each other on a much deeper level since we left, and we get to see the world with someone we love.
It helps that we have our own interests and hobbies – Eric is always travel-hacking flights or learning new programming skills, and I do a lot of writing and flirt with things like knitting and ukulele-playing. Also, we have very different talents when it comes to the trip itself. I track all of our expenses and Eric maintains the website. I’m the big picture “Where to go, what to do” person, while he figures out the daily logistics that make it all happen. We make a good team. Will we need separate vacations after all of this? Probably!
What Have Been Your Favorite Places and Experiences?
There are a few towns to which we’d probably never return, but for the most part we look back fondly on every place we’ve visited. It’s as you might expect: Places that challenge you also teach you the most. The Chinese food in China is nothing like the Chinese food back home. Big cities can get crazy expensive.
But if we have to narrow it down, here are some of our most memorable experiences from our first year of travel, in order of occurrence:
- Our 52-hour first-class journey to Colombo, Sri Lanka
- That time we rode camels with Caroline in India
- Sunrise over the Ganges River
- Trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal
- Cheering on the Doosan Bears in Seoul
- A whacky fun day with friends in Tokyo
- Climbing Mount Fuji
- Discovering Tibetan culture in China
- Eating absurd quantities of jamón in Spain
Bonus Question: What are we Most Looking Forward to on Leg Two?
The coming year will be a big one for PTC. After a couple months in Europe we’ll fly to Oceania before stopping back in Asia…and then back to Europe (but further east this time)! By autumn we’ll be in southern Africa, and then we plan to finish up the leg with yet more time in Asia. We promise there’s some rhyme to our reason with regard to routing…
Here are some highlights in our plan for the year:
- Eating Peking duck in Hong Kong
- Diving the Great Barrier Reef
- Hiking with friends in New Zealand
- Shopping in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar
- Finding accordionists in Bulgaria
- Seeing the Big Five on a safari in southern Africa, and…
- Laying on beaches. Many, many beaches.
- March 4th – Hong Kong
- March 11th – Australia
- April 10th – New Zealand
- May 12th – Fiji
- May 26th – Myanmar and Thailand
- August 1st – Eastern Europe (TBD)
- September 15th – Turkey
- October 14th – Southern Africa (Zimbabwe – Botswana – Namibia)
- December 17th – Southeast Asia (Vietnam – Laos – Cambodia – Malaysia – Indonesia)
If anyone out there is interested in this level of detail, here are our travel dates for the year.
That’s it until the next time it changes!