What we’ve learnt from a year of travel

Wow. Today marks one year of travel.

We left London on the 22nd of May 2013 for Croatia and haven’t looked back since. It has been an amazing year – the best year of our lives – and we’ve learnt so much about each other, ourselves and the world that I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the lives we were living before.

First of all, just for fun, I thought I’d take you through some of the highlights of the past 12 months by showing you 12 photographs.

 May 2013

Split Croatia Double-Barrelled Travel

First stop was Croatia where we met Dave’s parents while they were travelling around Europe. We spent two weeks with them in sunny Croatia before heading back to London to grab our stuff and have our final goodbyes.

June 2013

Montreal Double-Barrelled Travel

June was spent on the east coast of Canada, exploring Toronto, Montreal and Quebec. We loved all three of these places and they’re all so different from each other that it’s hard to believe they’re in the same country! This photo was taken in Montreal outside a sweet shop.

 July 2013

New York Double-Barrelled Travel

We drove into the US in July and spent time in New York. I fell in love with the city and can’t wait to return at some point. We also spent time house sitting in New Hampshire.

August 2013

Yellowstone Double-Barrelled Travel

Heading west, we spent some time in Traverse City, Michigan before house sitting for two weeks in farm country in Wisconsin. Then we went to Yellowstone where we discovered our love for hiking.

September 2013

San Francisco Double-Barrelled Travel

We spent time in Seattle and then house sat in Port Angeles which is close to Canada’s border. It was a peaceful two weeks. Then it was back in our van and we headed west driving along California’s coast and landing up in San Francisco.

October 2013

Grand Canyon Double-Barrelled Travel

The government shutdown nearly put a stop to our plans but we managed to backtrack and enjoy the Grand Canyon, Arches and Monument Valley before driving through Texas and New Mexico.

November 2013

Mardi Gras New Orleans Double-Barrelled Travel

We hit the deep south and discovered New Orleans – a city that captured our heart and a place we’d like to live one day. This photo is from the Mardi Gras museum there!

December 2013

Scuba diving Dominica Double-Barrelled Travel

We flew to the Caribbean to house sit in Dominica for two months. Mum and dad joined us and Dave and I learned to scuba dive, getting our PADI qualifications.

January 2014

Dominica sunset Double-Barrelled Travel

We made lots of friends in Dominica and by the time we were due to leave we didn’t want to – we’d had such a great time living on this Caribbean island not many people have heard of.

February 2014

Salt Flats Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

After a glorious week in Guadeloupe we kissed the Caribbean goodbye and flew to Bolivia. Here we explored the Salt Flats and spent two weeks living just outside of La Paz, Bolivia’s capital.

March 2014

Hiking the Inca Trail Double-Barrelled Travel

We night bused our way to Peru and spent a month hiking in stunning landscapes and ticked one item off the bucket list – the Inca Trail. We ate our way through the delicious seafood and discovered ceviche… how did we live for so long without ceviche?!

April 2014

 Seal and pelican Double-Barrelled Travel

We spent a blissful 10 days in the Galapagos and loved every moment discovering this land that is like nowhere else in the world. Scuba diving with hammerhead sharks was a highlight! We then moved to Quito for a month and got lots of important work done to bring more travel funds through the door!

USA road trip map Double-Barrelled Travel

A map of our epic road trip through North America

Over the past 12 months we’ve changed. Our outlook on life is very different and what we believed in a year ago isn’t the same belief system we hold now.

What we’ve learnt from a year of travel – about the world

Nearly everyone in the world has kindness in their hearts

Time and time again we’ve met people on the road who’ve gone out of their way to be kind to us. They’ve offered us directions, advice and shared stories with us. Some of them have even invited us into their homes and have expected nothing in return.

The generosity of these people has amazed us and made us reflect on how generous we are ourselves. If anything, it’s inspired us to try and be more kind to strangers.

The world isn’t half as scary as everyone thinks

If you watch the news you’d think the world was a frightening place to be. But the more we travel the more we discover that this simply isn’t the case. Sure, there are dangerous places you can go but if you keep your wits about you, you’ll hardly ever come across these places.

We haven’t had any incidents (touch wood) and yet we’ve supposedly travelled to some ‘dangerous’ places. I guess it’s important to keep in mind that the news only ever reports the bad stuff!

Travelling isn’t expensive (if you don’t want it to be)

Every month I’m amazed at how little we spend to live. And not just live – have adventures to fascinating places that excite us. When we were in London we spent £1,200 a month on rent alone. Some months of travel we’ve spent that amount of money for everything – transport, accommodation, food and activities.

Most people think travelling is a great expense but that’s simply not true. You can travel really cheaply if you want to – you just have to be careful with what you spend.

Dog cuddles Double-Barrelled Travel

It wasn’t just humans that showed us kindness this past year…

What we’ve learnt from a year of travel – about the way we live

Fear can control you

When we told our good friends in London that we were leaving to travel the world they said, “Good, you’ve been talking about it for ages and you’re finally doing it.”

They were right. We HAD been talking about it for ages – for YEARS – and we hadn’t made any steps to getting there. We realised this was because we were scared.

Our main fear was money. What if it ran out? We’d have to retreat back to Australia and move in with our parents with our tails between our legs.

This was a worst-case scenario situation but the fear was controlling us and stopping us from buying our one-way tickets. Once we got over this fear we realised anything was possible.

Which leads me to our next point…

There’s no limit to your dreams – and if you work hard you can live your dreams

I read a quote the other day that said, “Your life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I couldn’t agree more with this.

If you want to live the same life day-in and day-out, is that really living? To have an unremarkable life is seriously dull and most of the time people opt for the boring path because they’re either scared (the aforementioned fear) or they’re lazy.

This year, the main thing we’ve learnt is that no dream is too big. And if you work hard enough any of these dreams can become a possibility. And there’s nothing more exciting in life than this multitude of possibilities.

Montreal lake Double-Barrelled Travel

Beautiful lake in Canada

It is possible to make money while you sit on the beach in some romantic part of the world

When we left London we weren’t really thinking about making money while we travelled. We had a vague idea of working for ourselves at some point, but we had enough savings to last for around 10 months so we weren’t focused on it.

But soon we realised that we could make money while we travelled and this opened up a lot of doors.

We also realised that we need more than just a jam-packed itinerary of travel excitement to sustain us for a year. We also needed to use our brains and creativity while we moved about.

So this led us to working while we travelled long before our savings ran out.

Working for yourself is a billion times more satisfying that working for someone else

I don’t think Dave and I could ever work for anyone else ever again after this year. The freedom, responsibility and enjoyment that comes from working for yourself gives you such a high that it’d be something that’d be very difficult to let go of.

We really don’t need any material possessions

Well, obviously we need clothes to keep us warm, toilettries and medicine, etc. but a lot of the material stuff that fills up our lives is really unnecessary.

The longer we travel the more we realise we don’t need objects and possessions in our lives and the less we desire to have these things.

The consumer world makes us aspire to have a large house, fancy car and designer clothes but the more we travel the more we realise that these things just aren’t for us.

Wisconsin Double-Barrelled Travel

The world is a stunning place. This was taken in Wisconsin

What we’ve learnt from a year of travel – about ourselves

We get lonely sometimes

We’re not going to lie – we get lonely sometimes. Going to a foreign place where you know no-one can make for some lonely days. The past month we’ve been working hard in Quito, Ecuador and because we aren’t yet fluent in Spanish – and there’s not a very large expat scene here – we’ve hardly made any friends.

To be honest, we haven’t tried that hard but what it has made us realise is that we need more interactions than just with each other.

We’re off to Cuenca to house sit for two months next week and are very excited because we’ve signed up to a language school for six weeks and are optimistic that this will lead to new friendships.

Sometimes the guilt is hard to swallow

We’ve living a life not many people would feel comfortable with and sometimes we feel guilty about it. Mainly it comes down to being away from our families and friends for so long. When you miss another wedding or Skype your baby cousin each week and she keeps getting bigger and bigger it’s hard not to feel bad about what we’re missing out on.

We’re not into conventional living

That said, we just don’t think a conventional lifestyle is for us. Sometimes we shudder at the thought of doing many things people love – like buying a house that we’d have to live in for at least five years, or staying in the same place for a long period of time.

We want to have children at some point but feel conflicted about how we should raise them. Do we settle in one spot or keep travelling?

Sleeping Bear Dunes Michigan Double-Barrelled Travel

The past 12 months have been awesome!

We like to travel slowly

After travelling for a year we’ve come to realise what we love and loathe about travelling. And something we’ve discovered – mainly through house sitting – is that we like to travel slowly and get a routine happening.

For our next year of travel we are probably going to stay in each place for a month because not only is this a cheaper way to travel but it allows us to really get under the skin of a place and live like a local.

We can adapt to different situations easily

After travelling for so long we’ve realised that we are able to adapt to different situations smoothly and comfortably. I only realised this the other day when one of our clients said that we should market ourselves this way, if we could figure out a good way to do it.

She said we are so comfortable with speaking with different people from a whole range of backgrounds in a whole range of different environments that it’s something that makes working with us so appealing.

This put a smile on my face and made me feel like these past 12 months have allowed us to really grow as human beings.

What has travel taught you? Share your thoughts below!



About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

5 comments on “What we’ve learnt from a year of travel”

  1. Anne @ Pretraveller Reply

    Carmen, thanks for sharing your wonderful year of travel. It is great that it has really opened some new insights and doors for you. I wish you all he best as you move forward!

  2. Pingback: How to make a routine while travelling: Double-Barrelled Travel

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