It’s been a year since I left home to travel the world. Exactly on the 12th of January 2015 I got on a plane to India. I’ve visited 14 countries since that day, but the numbers aren’t important. After being on the road for four months I realized that jumping from one country to another isn’t exactly how I want to travel. So I decided to slow down and stay in one place for a bit longer, get to know the locals a bit better, and share my feelings about how a place affected me with travellers I met along the way instead of you, my readers. I needed to live in the moment.
It hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns, but I thank God for everything that had happened in the last 12 months. I made some mistakes, got myself into troubles, but most of all I had an amazing time. I believe you can always turn a bad situation to a good one. They have important lessons hidden within them. And if you’re intelligent you’ll find a way to grow from your mistakes. I stayed true to myself, I don’t regret anything (ok, almost anything), and now I’m living a happy life in Australia, writing a book and looking forward to my long-expected trip to South America.
Round the World Trip. Expectation vs. Reality (12 lessons):
Expectation: I’m not going to spend more money than planned. I will stay in a shitty hostel, but pay for a kayak sunset tour. I’ll make sure I’ll never get stuck for cash.
Reality: You overrun your budget in a second week of your trip. You stay in a fairly nice and clean hostel, but try to find free things to do with other backpackers. You spend a lot of money on food and beer, especially when eating out with new friends.
Expectation: I’ll meet amazing people and make everlasting friends on my travels. I’ll find a soul mate.
Reality: You meet lots of backpackers briefly, always talk about the same things (where have you been, where are you going next). You add some of them on Facebook and then you stop talking to them. Nobody can beat your friends and family back home who you think about the whole time you’re away. You might make one real friendship (I did!).
Expectation: I’m going to take notes every evening, write down my raw impressions of a destination, share my thoughts with my readers, edit photos and delete bad shots.
Reality: You have no time to write because you’re busy exploring and hanging out with some travellers. In your spare time you sleep and eat. You promise yourself to do some writing tomorrow. And that never happens.
4. Travel project
Expectation: Locals will share their stories with me, agree to be filmed and photographed. I’ll collect a great material.
Reality: Locals are not as open and talkative and as you thought they would be. Language and culture barrier negatively influences your relationship with them. You spend more time with them in order to get their trust. You’re thankful for each and every conversation.
Expectation: I’m going to eat healthy, possibly five times a day, and only in local, authentic restaurants.
Reality: Because of your busy lifestyle you end up having two meals a day – toast with jam for breakfast and fried rice for dinner. After two weeks of eating fried stuff you go to a western restaurant and order your favourite pizza with extra cheese. You don’t care about the price.
6. Going with a plan
Expectation: I’m going to stick to my plan, spend the same amount of time in each country, see all the things I’ve read about.
Reality: With each new country you visit, you realise that the world is big, and you’ll never see it all. The more you see, the more you realise you’ve seen nothing. The good thing is that you will never run out of places to explore.
7. Exploring the unknown
Expectation: I’m going to visit places that not many people go to. I’ll live with a Buddhist monk and find a deserted island.
Reality: You get caught in tourist traps. This is your big overseas trip and you want to see as much as possible. You find yourself in the most touristy spots all the time. Even though it’s not your first journey you make every mistake first-time travellers make.
Expectation: I’m finally going to get some rest! I’ll be spending most of my time on the beach doing nothing. I’ll stop thinking about the job I quit and what I forgot to do before leaving for this trip. I’ll try to relax.
Reality: Round the world trip is no holiday. After a few months of running around you don’t feel like doing anything at all. You have dark circles under your eyes, your skin is dry, and your body is covered with bed bugs bites. You need to get some rest. Why didn’t you come up with this earlier?
9. Loving everything you see
Expectation: I’m going to like every city, every beach, every landscape. I’ll find beauty even in the ugliest place.
Reality: It turns out you don’t enjoy staying in some places. And that’s ok, because you don’t have to love every place you travel. Just like you don’t have to love every guy that comes your way.
10. Travel bug
Expectation: When I finally set off on the biggest adventure of my life I’ll stop coming up with new trip ideas, places to visit etc. I’ll see everything I’ve always wanted, so the travel bug will die.
Reality: You realise that the travel bug will never die. Even though you are already traveling you find yourself searching for cheap flights to countries you didn’t plan on visiting, you sleep at airports and volunteer to save money so you can travel more.
11. Friend’s visit
Expectation: When one my girlfriends comes for a visit I’ll show her photos from my travels, talk about my adventures, and cook an authentic meal from one of the countries I went to.
Reality: You talk about guys, drink (too much) wine, and wish you could go back to high school.
12. Your own country
Expectation: I’m going to talk about my country only when someone asks me what it is like. Why would I be thinking about home when traveling around Thailand, Indonesia or Australia..?!
Reality: You learn that your own country is pretty damn special, too. It’s big, diverse and very beautiful. You miss it a lot and regret not going on a trip around your country before setting on a trip around the world.
The reality ended up being a different experience than I expected, but I wouldn’t say worse. Before I finish this post I want you to know that I enjoy my life very much. This year has been incredible and I’m thankful for every moment. I realised that travel is a privilege and it’s important to remember that we are some of the lucky ones.
Now go and explore the world yourself!