6 things we have learnt in 6 months of travelling

1. The backpack does not maketh the backpacker.

For some reason I had a romanticised idea that investing in a 55ltr Osprey and strapping it to my back would instantly melt away the debilitating neuroticism that I had been nurturing over the last 43 years, and magically transform me into a happy-go-lucky carefree hippy type.

This does not happen.

Though I have no doubt travel has taken a couple of turns out of my spring, it’s clearly a gradual process. I still can’t sleep if someone drops a pin in the next room, but at least now I don’t stay awake worrying that someone may drop a pin.

Backpacks
Backpacks

2. There’s no place like home.

Well actually, there are some pretty nice places out there. New Zealand and Bali are a couple of beauties. But it wasn’t until we had been travelling a while that we realised just how many gems there are back home. The diversity and beauty of Europe is staggering, and I’m not sure either of us fully appreciated this when it was on our doorstep, not to mention the Peak District just 20 miles from where we lived!

Peak District
Peak District

3. We won the lottery.

The sky may not always be blue, and semi-permanent drizzle may not be our first choice for weather, but the freedom, and quality of life which we once took for granted in the UK starts to look pretty special when you see first hand how hard people in some other parts of the world have to work to make ends meet. And seeing them do this with a smile on their face and a spring in their step is actually a little uncomfortable for someone who constantly moaned about his very easy, very well paid job back home.

Old Life
Old Life

4. Clothes wear out.

No surprise right?

Well it was a surprise to us as clothes don’t wear out if you lead a sedentary lifestyle and have a large selection to choose from. Some of the clothing I threw away when I set off on our adventure was 10 years old. But if you wear the same pair of shorts repeatedly, and walk for miles in them each day, the life expectancy of the crotch is maybe 1-2 months.

Newsflash, the soles of your shoes also wear out!

5. We don’t like travelling on a budget.

It became pretty obvious, pretty quickly that “roughing it” was not gong to be an enjoyable experience for us. In fact I can tell you exactly how far into our travels we realised this. 1o days.

We booked in to some cute little authentic bamboo bungalows for our week in Bophut, Koh Samui, and lasted 1 night, before leaving and checking into the resplendent Bandara Resort and Spa.

Bamboo Bungalow
Bamboo Bungalow

10 days was all it took us to realise that the sacrifices that would be necessary for us to sustain long-travel just were not worth it for us, and we would prefer 1 good year to 5 years of eking an existence.

6. We’re never satisfied.

When we were in the East we missed the infrastructure, and order that we had become accustomed to in the West. After 2 months back in the West we have just made a dramatic U-turn and are heading back East! I’d like to say something profound about living in the moment, and embracing the positives in your current situation, but maybe it’s just that we have short memories, and reflect on the past through rose-tinted spectacles. Or maybe it’s just that I miss the $1 beer…….

Lamai Beach Koh Samui
Lamai Beach Koh Samui

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s all gone

Let the Gap Year Begin

  • It’s been a stressful week there’s no denying it. I must admit previously when I’d heard people talk of the stresses of moving house I’d been pretty dismissive. Even whilst living in the UK we’ve been semi nomadic, moving house whenever the whim took us, and we never found the experience particularly traumatic.

But this is different.

We aren’t neatly packing our belongings away, in anticipation of releasing them into their new home. No. With the exception of what we can fit into 2 Osprey packs we are selling, giving away, and throwing away everything we have accumulated in 16 years together.

Understandably we were reluctant to do this until the house sale was nailed on, so we were in a kind of limbo until the solicitors exchanged contracts.

With a completion date tentatively agreed for the 8th July we failed to exchange contracts on Thursday 30th June, then on Friday 1st July, then again on Monday 4th, then Tuesday, then again on Wednesday, by which time we were both jibbering wrecks.

We always thought we would have at least a week to get our affairs in order, however on the morning of Thursday 7th July and still with no guaranteed sale, we decide we cannot wait any longer, and start to clear the house.

By the time we get the call at 2:30pm saying that the contracts have been exchanged the house is almost empty, and the relief is palpable.

And by 4pm the next day we are half way to Manchester airport after making a stop off at our local webuyanycar outlet, to relinquish the last “necessity” from our previous life, when we get the call from the solicitor confirming that the money from the house sale is in our account.

So was it all worth it.

I hope so, but that page isn’t written yet……..

Preparing for our late gap year

Einstein once said that time is a relative concept.

einstein3

I could almost feel the great man mocking me as I dragged my reluctant frame into another day of serfdom. It’s been 2 weeks now since the sold sign went up at our house, and let me tell you, it has been a long 2 weeks. We’re so close now that I can taste fragrant oils and exotic spices in the diesel plumes from the snaking traffic which delivers me to my place of toil.

I’m sure there’s a certain satisfaction in being content with the 9 to 5, but for me work has always been a necessary evil to be endured between vacations. There’s a chalk board on the wall in our kitchen, which ordinarily displays the number of days to our next holiday. But now things are different. Now there is a drawing of the world, but no countdown.

It’s an uncomfortable position we find ourselves in, we could be starting our adventure in as little as 4 weeks, but until contracts are exchanged; nothing is certain.

So how have we spent our first two weeks in limbo I hear you cry?

We’re anti-social.

Well that’s not entirely true. We had recently found Twitter, and I had a Facebook account, but Snapchat, Pintrest, and Instagram, were all new to us, as was, more importantly, blogging.

So the majority of the last two weeks has been spent getting us up to speed. Fortunately there’s a lot of good information out there. We used the free guide published by Mark Wiens at Migrationology.com but Nick and Dariece at goatsontheroad.com produce an equally excellent guide.

How to Start a Travel Blog: Follow These 5 Steps Now

How To Start a Travel Blog – A Guide for Beginners

Setting up, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest and Snapchat, was a doddle; that said I’m not sure I quite get what Pintrest is all about as yet! We did struggle a bit with Facebook. Once you get your head around the fact that you need to set up a public “page” for your content which sits on top of your homepage, it kinda falls into place, but we did struggle to find the same quality of information for Facebook as was available for bloggers. Perhaps a post for the future once I’ve worked out how to use it properly myself.

Lategapyear

Should it stay or should I throw?

The things you own end up owning you. Tyler Durden says that in the movie “Fight Club” so it must be true.

We’ve been filling our home with assorted clutter for around 16 years now. Some of it should have been in the bin years ago, but some of it, furniture in particular, is actually quite nice. About 12 months before we decided to go travelling, we attempted to fill our void with new possessions, unfortunately consumerism is a fickle mistress and we were soon to return to our previous slump, albeit with nicer, if not necessarily more comfortable, furniture.

So the question is do we put the stuff in storage, or sell/give it away? Well firstly, back to the limbo. It’s a bit of a Catch 22 (unless I have to pay Joseph Heller a royalty for saying that, in which case it’s just a difficult question).

We can’t sell the furniture until we exchange contracts on the house, as any time up to then the sale could fall through. It’ll be devastating if that happens, and the situation won’t be improved if I have to curl up in a ball on the bare floor of an empty room to cry because I’ve sold my sofa, and my bed is in a skip!

To complicate matters further it transpires that long term storage is the last refuge of the sheepskin wearing dodgy geezers that trolled used car forecourts in the 70’s. Their prices are sacred knowledge, and a gauntlet of trails ye must pass to prove thyself worthy.

We did eventually crowbar prices from 5 of our nearest facilities. Storage King supplied us with the most competitive rates.

£35 per week for a 150 sq.ft unit,

£25 per week for a 100 sq.ft unit,

£20 per week for a 75 sq.ft unit.

I should however point out that these rates are only available on the 3rd Thursday of the month, when there is a south-westerly breeze, not exceeding 3kph, and Jupiter is descending in the 5th quadrant.

If you are considering putting your possessions into storage I would urge you measure each item you want to store, and calculate the footspace required. Using this method we cut our original estimate from 150 sq.ft to 100 sq.ft.

This also allowed us to work out the cost to store each item. 100 sq.ft at £25 gives us a cost per sq.ft of £2.50 per week. Therefore our divan bed, measuring 6′ x 3′ (stood on its end) would take up 18 sq.ft costing us £234 per annum to store. (Yikes!)

Carrying out this exercise actually made the decision not to store our possessions a no-brainer. If our travels extended beyond one year, which is certainly the intention, the cost of storage would soon outweigh the value of the goods.

So there we have it. With the exception of a handful of sentimental items, what we can’t sell we will give away, and the rest will go in a skip.

FullSizeRender

It’s happening!

Me & my husband met whilst working in Spain (Majorca) in 2000. We married in 2009 and in 2015 we decided we had had enough and wanted to get away.. 😫
We have loved to holiday and have travelled to some great places including Mexico, Hong Kong, Hawaii, USA ( yes, I know Hawaii is in the USA ) and lots of Europe, but the depressing part is returning home and having to get back to the daily grind.
So, we’re selling up! Yes, Selling our house & car and jetting off. We don’t really know what will happen or where we will go…but the house is sold (subject to contract), so all we know is; it’s happening! 🙌
Join us on our adventure, on our Late Gap Year!

image