1. Less is more
I learned this lesson over and over while traveling. The less ‘stuff’ you have, the easier traveling will be. I cannot count the number of times where i got fed up with the weight of my backpack and just left articles of clothing in random hostel rooms. Some pieces of clothing or other items that I just had to bring, suddenly become worthless to me when I knew I had to carry them on my back.
When it came to accommodation, all you really need is a place to lay your head at night. We always opted for the cheapest bed we could find. Sometimes it meant that we were living pretty rough, but all we thought about was how every night that we could save some money, just meant another day that we could use that money to keep traveling.
Even when it comes to food. We never ate out three meals a day. We lived off of local fruits, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and oatmeal. Foods that were easy to get, easy to travel with, and actually kept you full longer. Again, this saved us heaps of money over time.
We still continue to have this mentality now that we are settled in a bit more. We still live very minimally. More ‘stuff’ just means more clutter, more mess, more to clean and less space to breathe. If we don’t absolutely need it, then we live without it.
2. Go with the flow
Most of our travels we had absolutely no plans. No idea where we would go to next. Where we would be the next day. I think that this was the most exciting part of our plans. When we were in Indonesia, for weeks we had talked about doing a trip through Southeast Asia and decided that we would fly to the Philippines in a few days. After a brief conversation with a woman running dive trips, we went back to our room and booked a flight to Guatemala for the next day. This woman did not tell us not to go, but made us realize that we had a stronger desire to go to Central America instead. And just like that, we were on a plane the next day. (We actually flew to San Fran first, for a day or two, to see a friend and to get sandwiches)
Most of our trip looked like that. Changing our minds at the last-minute and going with our intuition. Not getting on a single flight that didn’t feel 100% like the right decision. We gave ourselves the freedom to decided exactly what we wanted to do, where we wanted to go, and how we wanted to do it. Almost 90% of the flights that we took were booked the night before. This kept the trip exciting. Some people fear the unknown, they hate not having a plan and a clear vision of what the next day, week or month brings. I simply find the unknown exhilarating.
3. Tough days are part of the experience
Not everyday of traveling is perfect and carefree. Long layovers, hectic travel days, lack of accommodation, border crossings, etc. This is all part of the experience and it causes you appreciate everything more. These were the days that Tom usually thought that I was nuts. He would sometimes get frustrated with the long lines or wandering the streets with our backpacks looking for a place to stay. But these were the times that I couldn’t help but just laugh. I always saw it as a new experience or a good story to tell in the future. I would usually just say to Tom “There are a lot worse things we could be doing right now. You could be at work!” And that usually snapped him out of his mood and made him embrace a chaotic time.
We had various times throughout our travels that were hard and made us question what we were doing, but we always found the positives. Always talked about what we could be doing instead that would be worse. We could be sitting at a job we hate, living in a place that doesn’t ignite our souls, not have the freedom that we have. I think that is always important to have perspective and see the bigger picture.
4. Do what YOU want
After all, this trip is for YOU. You are the one that saved the money and decided to go. Do not get influenced by others to change your plans or morals or sway your decisions. We really had to stick to this when we were in Utila, Honduras doing our Scuba Divemaster training. It is a small island with 2 things that you can do, go diving or go drinking. It had a big party scene with some new drinking challenge that happened every night. But we were not here for that. We had both done our days of partying and drinking and it just was not what we wanted to do at the time. Everyone we were training with probably thought that we were the weird ones but we didn’t care. At the end of the day, you feel better that YOU made a conscious choice to choose your own happiness, instead of trying to please others.
5. Appreciate every moment
Sometimes people try to pack so many activities and excursions into their plans. They want to see everything and do everything in a short amount of time. Do all of the ‘touristy” things that they saw on Instagram or Trip Advisor. We were the opposite. We wanted to do what the tourists weren’t doing and be in places with as many locals as possible. We would find a cheap place to stay and then just settle in. No rushing. No urge to leave. No timeline. We spent most days going for a surf, eating when we were hungry, sitting on the beach, laying in hammocks, and Tom’s favorite thing, having a siesta (an afternoon nap).
Learning to appreciate the simplicity and find the beauty in everyday things became really easy. Spending the evening watching the sunset or laying in a hammock looking up through the canopy of palm trees, all seemed like magic. Being conscious and taking the time to appreciate all of the little things surrounding us, made me truly feel the infinite abundance of our beautiful world.