Sunday 1st October marked our 2 month travel-versary. It’s a weird feeling having done and seen so much every day for 2 months. Being in the USA feels like a distant memory and we only left under 4 weeks ago. I often wonder if we’d flown home after that trip would it seem really recent? Our first destination, New York, feels like years ago. Sometimes this makes me feel a little sad that maybe I won’t remember everything but I guess that’s life and that’s why we take photographs and write blogs.
We’ve had some of the most fantastic days and some pretty miserable ones. From exploring Yosemite National Park and riding the Alishan Forest Railway to spending 14 hours in a car and seeing 3 different doctors at Taipei hospital. I wouldn’t change any of these days, they’re what help us to learn and grow.
The longest I’d travelled for before we left was 6 weeks and coincidentally around the 6 week mark I felt like perhaps it was time for me to come home. I remember hitting the 6 week mark just before I left India last year and I was so excited to return home, see my family and friends and have some normality back in my life. This time though, we weren’t coming home. Sure, we could have booked flights if we had really wanted to but we decided to persevere instead. One day we will return home and I’m sure then that we’ll wish we could have this time over.
One of the things that’s been the hardest to adapt to, especially since being in Asia, is my change in appearance. To the outside world it’s probably not that obvious, but I haven’t had my hair or eyebrows done for over 2 months and this really pains me! Similarly I can count on one had the amount of times that my hair straighteners have left my backpack in the past two months, it’s just not worth it in this humidity. My waistline is still recovering from the USA gluttony and I don’t feel quite as confident as I’d like to on the beach.
But all of this is okay… part of me loves not having to struggle with my hair every morning, instead just throwing it up into a messy ponytail. My eyebrows are over grown but I’ve learnt that I’m a dabhand with a brow tint. I keep reminding myself that a bikini body is any body that’s inside a bikini, mine included, and I’m slowly starting to feel more confident. Plus, I preempted this and bought a size up, go me!
Some of you may think of backpackers as being out partying most nights but actually most nights were home by 8pm and watching Netflix or a VICE documentary. I’ve watched more Netflix since being away than ever before! Similarly, I’ve read more books in the past two months than I have in the past two years and I love it.
Although it doesn’t seem typical of backpackers, we’ve spent more time in hotels and airbnbs than hostels. In reality they are often far cheaper than booking 2 beds in a hostel dorm and I really appreciate having our own space to come back to. Aged 25 and 28 we feel worlds away from gap year travellers and we appreciate a good nights sleep and a private bathroom far more than a hostel bar.
Some days, we make great plans and have great adventures and others we don’t feel 100% and we stay in our hotel or airbnb. We have spent the past few days up in the mountains and we hoped to visit lots of waterfalls and do some hiking but actually we’ve spent most of the time feeling sickly in a hotel room. It’s easy to become sad that you’re missing out but it’s important to remind yourself that there will always be lots more waterfalls.
Previously we have befriended lots of fellow tourists on our travels but as the USA and Taiwan aren’t the usual backpacker routes we haven’t really had this opportunity. We’ve been in Vietnam for a week now but we haven’t seen many backpackers here either. I find the lack of other female company a little lonely at times but I have constant text messages from my amazing friends at home and I know that my mum and friends are only a FaceTime away.
Before we left, Conor and I had read blogs and articles about how travelling could put a strain on your relationship. We both lived apart, were very independent and appreciated some quality time apart. The constant being together was something that concerned us and we thought of things that we might do separately to give ourselves some time out. In reality, we’ve never really used any of these strategies. We have pretty much done everything together for 2 months. Things that we might have previously done separately we do together. We go to the gym together, we read side by side on beaches, we write sat opposite each other in coffee shops, we edit photos whilst glued to each other on cramped buses. A year ago I think this may have freaked both of us out, but actually we’re stronger than ever.
We still find new and interesting topics of conversation through what we’re reading and researching and we make each other laugh more than ever. Interestingly, we’ve both adopted individual roles to make our travels run more smoothly. I look at the macro details; booking flights, places to stay and deciding our next destinations. Conor looks at the micro details; figuring out which bus to get from town to town, deciding which restaurant to eat in and how to find that temple we saw on instagram.
Despite a lot of illness and the worry that we’re becoming acostomed to seeing amazing sights day after day, we’re planning on travelling in Asia until mid December. We’ve put plans in place to see Laos and Cambodia but are also hoping to see Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
Travelling isn’t always as exciting as it is perceived to be and some days I’d love to go home and have a cup of tea with my mum and eat some food that won’t make me feel sick. Despite this, I still feel like what we’re doing is worthwhile. I’m spending time with the one I love, discovering new favourite places, trying different activities and learning new skills. Long term travel is such an invaluable experience and I’m sure one that I’ll never forget.