ON THE ROAD AGAIN – DAY 263


 

REFLECTING BACK ON 500 DAYS OF TRAVEL

We’re headed home. Our flight back to Brisbane left today and now we’re on our way back to Aus and the “real world”. We’ve been on the road about 9 months this time around and have been from China to Scotland; the French Riviera to tropical Japan; ultra-modern Singapore to sleepy corners of Portugal. And it’s been amazing!

 

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It’s been an amazing trip and we’re so grateful to have had the opportunity to see so much of the world, but we’re actually ready to go home now and resume the mantle of “regular life”. After 2½ years of basically not really having to be fully functional adults (i.e. not having to worry about things like bills, mortgage repayments, and serious work responsibilities), we’ve both reached the point where we miss having meaningful work, a stable home, and a more consistent social circle.

 

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We first decided to leave our jobs and set off on an epic adventure in 2013. At that time we were both ready for a change and felt like we needed a break from the demands of work and modern life. Our solution? Sell everything, travel the world, and take some time to reassess our priorities!

 

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Since first departing Australia on 1st June 2013 we have travelled for about 500 days*, and been to 50 countries. Along the way we’ve met some amazing people, seen some incredible sights, and eaten some truly delectable food. We’ve also had our fair share of sleepless nights, physical discomforts, and bathroom-related misadventures, but it’s been worth every moment.
*We came back to Aus for a little while between trips to top up the travel kitty.

 

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We had never travelled long term before but have learned that we actually LOVE Being on the road for months at a time. Short term holidays (i.e. 1-4 weeks) are good too, but It’s a different experience. On holiday you don’t get to settle into the “travelling mode” as much; you still have “adult” stuff to worry about. When you travel long term, however, a lot of that day-to-day stuff gets left behind which frees you up to just lose yourself in the travel experience. And for us it was an experience we loved and are keen to repeat.

 

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For now though we’ve realised we actually really like our lives in Aus and are happy to go back there. We’re both working in fields we love and, having had a bit of a break, have a clearer idea of what we want to do next. So it’s with joy that we prepare to reestablish ourselves in Aus, just bringing lessons learned from travels back with us.

 

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What did we learn from all our travels? A lot. Much of what we gained is difficult to articulate, but the main things would be:
• We don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. In fact, the less possessions we own and the simpler our lives, the better.
• Stuff is replaceable, time is not. We need to be far more conscious of how we spend our time because it really is the most valuable commodity we have.
• Work is important but it’s not the meaning of life. We need to balance time and energy spent at work with time and energy spent playing, exercising, having fun, and exploring the world.
• Travel feeds our souls. Discovering new places excites us in a way nothing else can, so we need to keep travelling.

 

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We have always enjoyed travelling, and these last 2½ years have just highlighted how MUCH we love it. People that don’t enjoy travelling don’t understand our passion – we had quite a few people deride our choices to take a break from “real life”, people that told us we’d be better off saving that money and doing something “useful” with it. For us, however, the time, energy, and money we have invested in travel has been well worth it. We will never regret the time we’ve spent seeing new sights, tasting new foods, meeting new people and peoples, and learning about different cultures, histories and religions.

 

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Our travels have expanded our horizons and helped us see how we fit into the greater fabric of the world. It has helped us appreciate the good things in our lives more, and shown us how we can reprioritise things to make what was already a great life even better. We’ve also become far more confident – day-to-day life is rarely as challenging as travel and you rarely see how much you are capable of until you’re out there in the big wide world with nothing but yourselves to rely on. Through our travels we’ve definitely discovered previously untapped depths of resilience, humour, and generosity in ourselves.

 

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To anyone contemplating a sabbatical, or a break from “real life”, we would say” DO IT! The world is amazing and there is always a new adventure to be had if you’re willing! We’ll certainly keep travelling (and blogging about it), but for now there’s a new chapter of our lives to begin…

 

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DAY 0: THE BIT BEFORE THE BEGINNING


Just 1 sleep to go! 

Greetings world and welcome to our first blog post before we start our sabbatical!  We’re just about to set out on a peripatetic adventure around the world. We like to think of this as a little piece of our retirement, taken early; a sabbatical – a break from “real life”. This is also our reward to ourselves for lots of years of hard work and savings. Most importantly, however, this fantastic adventure is our chance to celebrate our twentieth year together; to shake off the constraints of home, job and responsibility; and to just enjoy being happy, healthy and free.

 

Tonight is our last night in Australia; we’re at a hotel next to Brisbane airport and it’s actually starting to sink in that this is it – we’re really going! Considering we’ve been counting the days to departure since it was “200 days to go”, it’s quite surreal to be on the cusp of The Beginning. After 6 months of planning and sorting, our bags are packed, the rest of our worldly possessions are boxed up and in storage, the car is sold and we are joyfully unemployed. It’s all very exciting, and more than a little daunting. This whole “taking time off to travel the world” thing is very cool, but has certainly brought a few anxieties to the fore. You see, we are technically jobless and itinerant, which means we have no income and no home-base. These small facts have, on a couple of occasions, caused me to awaken in the wee hours of the morning feeling quite anxious and stressed, and questioning our sanity somewhat. Is this really a good idea?! But then I realise that this also means we are free. Free-er than we have been since we were teenagers; free to take some time off to explore the world at our own pace and in our own style, and free to eat lots of yummy foods, see lots of cool stuff and have some fun! So whilst it is a little nerve-wracking knowing we are now vagrants, it’s also AWESOMELY exciting.

 

So our world now consists of two 50L back-packs and two 18L day-packs. That’s not much people! You will have to get used to seeing many, many photos of both Shane and I wearing the same clothes. We are essentially turtles now – living out of the “shells” that we carry on our backs. You can see from the photo below how little you really can carry in a “shell” like this. We have some basic rules to help us keep our back-packs to a manageable weight:

  1. One in, one out. Bought a new shirt? Need to throw out an old one.
  2. Send souvenirs home. Have to have that gorgeous Moroccan leather jacket? Post it home – to be enjoyed upon our return.
  3. Each bears own. As much as I would love for my big, strong husband to carry my stuff around the world, we have decided that it is fairer for each of us to be responsible for our own bags. This should (hopefully) discourage either of us (especially me) from accumulating too much additional baggage.

 

Our back-packs weight around 15-18kgs each, which is not too bad. Though I do think I have over-packed just a bit. We’ll see – I’m sure I’ll be far more willing to cut down my selection of clothing more once I’ve had to carry it all around for a while.

 

Human turtles – our world!

 

That’s all for now – next update will be from Japan! We fly to Osaka, via Seoul, tomorrow; 12 hours on a plane with a 2 hour stop-over in Korea on the way through. From Osaka we will then embark on our month-long self-guided tour of Japan – starting at the Southern end of the country, and ending up North in Sapporo. We’ve only ever been to Japan for brief one night stop-overs on the way through to Europe, so having a whole month to explore this fascinating country will be awesome. I’m sure we’ll only get to scratch the surface of everything Japan has to offer, but it’ll still give us the opportunity to see the main touristy sights, experience the chaos of the big cities, explore some of the quieter parts of rural and wild Japan, eat some local chow and see the countryside hurtling past whilst travelling at 300 km/hr on the Shinkansen “Bullet Trains”. We’ll keep you posted!

 

First stop: Japan!