We learned a lot about traveling during this trip. We learned how to cook good food, how to bargain and keep expenses down, and how to get along with each other. We also learned that our trip could have been better. Here are the ways that I would do things differently in the future.
- Travel for a shorter amount of time – Whoa, surprising, right? We wanted to do a year, and that’s what we’ve done. But we are burned out. I think I first started to notice it around the 8 month mark. Up until then, we were talking about crazy things like extending our trip! We decided to cap it at a year, but in retrospect, we probably should have gone home sooner. I have no problems with our pace, so future trips might mean seeing less, but I don’t think I’ll want to do anything longer than 6 months in the future.
- Build in a long break – We met people who were traveling for 3 months, then flying to Australia to look for jobs, making money that would enable them to travel longer. Someone joked to me the other day that Australia was overrun with foreign backpackers working off the books. But I think they’re getting something right. You can’t keep traveling without breaks. I thought our two week stops in various towns would be enough, but I don’t think that anymore. A month or two in a single place could have been rejuvenating for us – offering us a chance to put down some temporary roots somewhere. Next time we’ll build something in. Maybe taking language or dance courses, maybe house sitting, maybe volunteering at a non-profit, or teaching English.
- Spend more money – This one is closely attached to my first point. If we traveled for less time, we could spend more money. More money usually means more consistent fun down here. Better accommodations, better food, more activities that cost money. At times I’ve thought that could have been a solution for us.
- Avoid the rainy season – In the south of Peru we made a decision to continue north instead of turning back south. The reason was that it was getting colder in Bolivia, Argentina and southern Brazil, and it would be more comfortable (temperature-wise) to keep heading north and circle back around. But we didn’t fully appreciate what the rainy season would be like. In Colombia, we had rain storms everywhere we went, almost every afternoon. We got trapped many, many times. In Bolivia, instead of blindingly sunny days and freezing cold nights, we’ve had wet and cold days, with (almost) freezing nights. Perhaps if we traveled for less time, we wouldn’t have to worry about changing seasons, so this one circles back to numero uno once more.