Things to Know About Long Term Travel

 

I have to say that after seven months traveling, I was super home sick. Normally, because I live in Belgium, I often miss my family and my dogs but this time around I missed my whole life. Joris, not so much. That man can keep on going and he and his camera will live happily ever after, hahaha.

For me it was very different, after traveling long term, I needed something familiar. To be invited every other week to Joris’ parents and have some family time, riding our bikes around the city, eating in or cooking whatever we wanted. To have our own place, our own kitchen, our own couch, our own bed, our own shower.

My beautiful home country: The Dominican Republic.  Photography by Joris Hermans.

My beautiful home country: The Dominican Republic. Photography by Joris Hermans.

For the past two months, we’ve been taking a break from our planned one year travel, staying with my parents in my home country the Dominican Republic and it’s been just what I needed. It’s also given me some time to reflect about our lives and how they’ve changed. We also needed to plan our next six month trip.

This whole long term travel experience has been incredible. Ever since the “Joanna, do you want to travel with me for one year?” question from Joris, I’ve been hit with tons of thoughts and emotions...

I actually think being a girl made me have more doubts and insecurities about everything.

  • I feel I don’t have my life together.

  • Are we gonna have enough money to last a year?

  • Will I be able to handle going to potentially chaotic countries?

  • What in the world am I gonna pack for a year?

  • Will it be safe out there?

Well, the answers came little by little. 

Get it together

At the time of the decision of traveling for one year, Joris and I had been living together in Belgium for 2 years. I didn’t have a job and Joris had his for nearly nine years and was ready to make a drastic change. Maybe I needed the same, a big change in my life that was meaningful and could help me re-focus.

The point of making a long term trip was to allow us to grow, learn, explore and eventually try to make something about of it. Very soon we realized we wanted to write our stories and use Joris’ photography to complete them. It was a way for us to combine some of our strengths to make a blog not just to document our travels but as a way to share our adventures with our friends, families and later, the world. And that’s how our webpage The World Ahead Of Us² was born.

Our first stop: Bombay, India.

Our first stop: Bombay, India.

After a few months, Joris kept discovering new ways to expand and improve our website to make it more than just a recollection of stories. Today, it’s a platform to inspire travelers and travelers at heart. We want to encourage other people to go out there and try new things and make it easier by offering tips and “tricks” that we’ve learned along the way.

Traveling long term on a budget

The money, at that moment, was also not an issue. Joris has saved 20,000 euros, enough money to get us both out there in the world for a whole year. Of course, this meant that we were going to travel long term on a budget; but we would try to make the most of it by compromising on certain things. Here’s a good article on budget if you’re planning a trip.

At this point, it’s important to have your priorities straight because where you go, where you stay, what you eat and what you do are all going to have a big impact on your budget.

Luckily Joris and I are both very similar people regarding these things. 

Simple but clean accommodations.

Simple but clean accommodations.

We agreed on most of the countries we wanted to visit during our one year trip, most of them cheap to live in. We both wanted simple but clean accommodations. We love trying local foods which is always cheaper. Neither of us enjoy parties or big tours so exploring the cities and spending time in nature would be our main focus and would save us a lot of money.

Surviving chaos

Once you’re out there, nothing is exactly as you expected. Every country, even every city has it’s own feel. People, religion, history and traditions come together and give every place a soul of it’s own.

India was the first country we visited. Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled. I had a lot of mediocre expectations from the little I knew about it. Joris on the other hand, was very excited.

We went from south to north and noticed big differences in the lifestyle of each region. The south of India is slower with it’s fishing villages, surrounded with nature. The more we went up, the more it became incredibly busy, loud and chaotic, not to mention dusty, hot and dirty. HELP!

Having been born and raised in Santo Domingo, the capital city of Dominican Republic, I’ve experienced a fair amount of loud, busy streets. Big cities in India are another level. Having said this, I was able to tolerate most of it and was able to enjoy the beautiful side of India.

Great moment in the Ganges. Varanasi, India.

Great moment in the Ganges. Varanasi, India.

Some of the human behaviors that (like me) you might find annoying in India, is people cutting the line whenever you’re buying something, the men spitting on the floor, everyone throwing their trash on the ground, everyone trying to scam you because you’re a tourist... Witnessing and living through these things was very uncomfortable but at the same time was a lesson on patience, acceptance and tolerance.

After visiting India for two months, every other country was a breeze, hehe.

Especially when traveling long term, just take it one day at a time and focus your energy on how incredible the buildings are, how interesting the people are and how lucky you are to be able to explore the world and learn from it.

What to pack for one year of traveling

This turned out to be much simpler than I had anticipated. Basically, for traveling one year, you have to pack for a week. In some countries like India or Thailand, you get laundry service from your accommodation. If not, just ask for a Laundromat.

Regarding your clothes, you do need to think a little bit about it to decide what kind of pieces you need to take. When you travel long term, it all depends on where you’re going and the kind of places you would like to visit. 

one-year-travel-dominican-republic.jpg

Regarding everything else, just take your daily grooming items with one difference. Try to find small versions of everything. Of course don’t forget your medicines and other prescribed drugs.

Aside from the rest, here is a list of 7 must-have items that we as a couple have found indispensable during our long term travels.

Is it safe to travel the world

What can I say. It all depends on where you go, where you stay and what places you visit during your trip. I think the best tip I can give anyone is to always use your common sense and don’t do reckless things that might get you hurt. Of course, you shouldn’t forget to buy travel insurance for emergencies.

We do always carry with us a Pacsafe Travelsafe and it’s one of our must-have items, especially while traveling long term. Whenever we went to the beach or wanted to leave our valuables at our accommodation, we would put everything in there and then lock it around any fixed, strong object. Opportunistic thieves won’t have a chance and we would get peace of mind every time.

Other than that, go out there and have fun.



My thoughts about long term travel

Ever since we left, people have been telling us how lucky we are to be able to travel for a year. And we are! We’ve learned so much, not just about the places we’ve been to but about the people who live there.

Because of traveling long term, we feel that we’re a better version of ourselves. Happier even. More energetic. More motivated. More open minded.

Personally, I keep being the lazy, critical me but at the same time, a bit more adventurous, less judgmental and more accepting. Joris just feels gooo-ood working hard on his photography and feeling inspired.

We would love to inspire other people to travel as well. We want to let you guys know, that if you really want to travel long term, it’s possible. Set up a budget, focus on saving up that money and go for it because sometimes, the thing that stops us from doing what we want isn’t the money, it’s fear and doubt.

If you can’t save as much as you want to travel for a year, start small. Make big decisions in your life but have a plan. Try changing the way everyone else thinks.

I promise you, traveling long term isn’t scary. If you travel for the right reasons and use your common sense, you’ll find it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

Are you thinking of setting off on a long trip?