The Round The World Trip
“If travel has momentum and wants to stay in motion, then adventure has the gravitational pull of a black hole. The more you do it, the more you find a way to keep doing it.” – Josh Gates
As you can probably guess from previous posts, my trip with Trek America gave me the travelling bug. For the first time i was feeling an overwhelming need to travel and i was plotting my next trip from the departures lounge of LAX. I suddenly realised that i was capable of travelling solo and i decided that a big trip was in order to try and satiate my wander-lusting.
Over the years i had specific places in mind that i wanted to visit, but i never thought that i could manage to backpack my way around them. As embarrassing as this is to admit, i could barely catch the train to London by myself when i was 18. As a shy, timid teenager, the thought of negotiating the UK rail system was terrifying. Now i have turned into a wander-lusting monstrosity who barely bats an eyelid at the thought of a 16 hour journey through Asian border crossings. So, if you are in that mindset where that travel itch has begun but you are unsure of how you will cope, as cliche as this sounds…if i can do it – you definitely can.
The journey itself began from a conversation that was sparked over a Starbucks coffee with my Trek Buddy, Lisa. This meeting was only about a month after we had returned from our America trip but the planning didn’t start until early 2012. The trip was hashed out over frequent Facebook messages, a plan that was altered many times over the following months. These alterations were mostly due to financial costings whilst we attempted to calculate the price of flights, travel insurance, gear etc. But there were also other factors to take into account such as weather and the cost of daily living.
I am aware that some travelers choose not to prepare trips, but we didn’t fancy getting caught short in a monsoon or risk missing out on something spectacular along the way. There seem to be two main types of backpackers on the road; there is the traveler that plans and scrutinizes their itinerary and the other that buys a plane ticket and makes it up as she/he goes along. I began as the first type but once i got going, i naturally fell into the latter. The itinerary we had carefully planned was promptly screwed up and left in a Base hostel somewhere on New Zealand’s North Island.
However, we did have a basic plan. Our trip was to run from the end of November to May, or whenever our finances dried up (which ended up being a lot sooner than expected) We were to spend a definite month in New Zealand, a month in Australia and the rest of the time exploring the cheaper countries of South East Asia. The flights were booked in June with STA Travel and for the last few months before our departure, we scrounged as many pennies out of our paychecks as possible. In no time at all, it was November 29th and it was time to leave the comforts of home. I do not have the literary capacity to express what i felt on the lead up to that day. The anxiety and the sheer excitement was a lot more concentrated than my Trek America trip, despite going alone. This time i was travelling with a friend, but we no longer had that comfort of a group tour or guide. It was up to us and it was an entirely different experience.
Overall it was the greatest three months of my life. I learnt a lot, met some amazing people and saw some unforgettable places. There is a sense of freedom being able to carry your possessions on your back and head off to another new destination at a moments notice. Initially this can be rather challenging and physically demanding but it soon becomes a way of life. And its a pretty good life! I mean, just look at this beach!…
But as any world traveler will tell you, things do not necessarily go to plan, but that’s all part of the fun. You will encounter difficulties, your plans will change and you may even find yourself in potentially dangerous situations. The biggest change in the trip was that my travel bud decided to go home half way through our month in Australia. The prospect of being on my own was initially terrifying and all these backpacking fears resurfaced. Yet it turns out that you are never really on your own, especially when you stay in hostels. There is always someone to talk to and i actually met a lot more people this way. Well, either that or i was just forcing my friendship upon unsuspecting victims. So now i have seen both sides of travelling; with and without a travel partner. Both have their positives and their negatives and i’m still not sure which one i prefer as they are two completely different journeys.
The other problem that i ran into was my finances. It turns out that i had too much of a good time and six months turned into three months. I was home by March instead of May. Believe me, i did hours of research on costs and spending, but you can never really have an accurate idea until you reach your destination. Budgets will vary from person to person; what i spend in a day, may be double what another individual would spend. I could have ate ramen noodles for the entire duration of the trip, but i probably would not have enjoyed the trip as much. I just like food too much! I also ended up doing activities that i had not planned for but ended up doing anyway, such as my bungy jump. Although i am VERY glad i got persuaded into doing that one!
Despite all these challenges i faced, i would not have changed anything about the trip. It was a roller coaster at times, but it was an incredible journey that has given more than just memories. If you are currently thinking about going travelling, i cannot stress enough just how much you should just take the plunge and go for it. The saving and sacrifices are hard work but they will be worth it. The new games console or expensive dress you couldn’t afford will not matter once you are on that beach sipping cocktails under a palm tree. A Facebook status from my friend summed up travelling for me, it simply said;
“Experiences > Things”
And i completely agree.