1. LONG TERM TRAVEL IS NOT THE SAME AS A VACATION. As seasoned travelers, we thought we were ready for this, but the truth is, it’s harder than we expected. Don’t get us wrong, we love it and will never regret our decision but in order to do this, you have to be REALLY organized. You also have to be ready for continuous physical effort and constant movement. The most important part of all is to be ready to deal emotionally with all the changes.
2. THE WORLD CONTINUES TO AMAZE US. There is so much to see, experience, share and learn!
3. HOME IS WHERE WE ARE TOGETHER AND THERE IS A HOME COOKED MEAL (AT LEAST ONCE IN A WHILE). Since this is our life now, we have to make sure we make ourselves feel at “home.” For us that means, having down time days when we can go to a local market and buy things to make a home cooked meal and maybe watch a Netflix movie together.
4. BRING YOUR SUITCASE HALF EMPTY! We can not stress this enough!! As much as we tried, we ended up bringing too much. You can’t leave with a full suitcase because invariably you will buy things and you won’t have a place to put them. You will find things that you like along the way, so instead of getting all those new clothes for the trip, leave the empty space and buy them abroad!
5. DON’T USE YOUR MAXIMUM LUGGAGE ALLOWANCE AT DEPARTURE. We left with a suitcase each and one carry-on for our electronics. Along the way, we had to buy a second carry on, but we are still within the allowed parameters.
6. BRING AS MUCH MEDICINE AS YOU CAN*. Bring things to treat pain, cold, diarrhea, constipation, cough, acid reflux, nausea, antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections, a steroids inhaler, Bengay patches for neck or back pain & Vicks (as any latin mother would haha). Be prepared to get sick at the beginning of your trip. Your system will be adjusting to the change in food, water, weather, environment etc. *Of course, visit your doctor for advice before leaving.
7. AIRBNB IS THE SH*T! We have rented spacious, clean, modern, centrally located apartments at half the price or less than we always paid for hotels. Having a fully equipped place means you can cook sometimes, do laundry (which saves money) and most importantly gives you a “home feeling” which is so important in long term travel.
8. THE CONTACT WE HAVE WITH PEOPLE THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA MAKES US FEEL CONNECTED TO HOME. This communication is even more important than we expected. It is greatly satisfying to know that we are inspiring others and that they like to see the world through our eyes.
9. EMBRACING DIFFERENCES IS ESSENTIAL. Remember that you are traveling to see a different world. Don’t expect things to be like they are at home.
10. YOU CAN GET BY WITH ENGLISH IN MANY COUNTRIES. So far, we have been able to manage perfectly well speaking English in Morocco, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic and Austria. We’ll see what happens when we get to Southeast Asia.
11. HAVE TO BE OPEN-MINDED ABOUT FOOD. We try the local food. We have discovered new flavors that we love and ones we hate too.
12. TRAINS ARE BETTER EVERYWHERE ELSE. Traveling by train is a great transportation alternative. Use them. Also, we highly recommend taking an overnight train with a sleeper cabin. It is a cool experience!
13. IT IS CRITICAL TO HAVE DATA. Wifi is not enough!! Switching to T-Mobile and their free unlimited data plan was the best idea ever. We use our Maps app to find our way around cities, we communicate at all times with our Airbnb hosts, use our phone/Ipad to get train, flight and bus tickets, we have data when the wifi sucks in many places, we use it to get Ubers, to watch Netflix, to work on our blog, post on our social media, etc, etc.
14. USING UBER WHERE AVAILABLE IS GREAT! So far, we have used it in Lisbon-Portugal, Dubrovnik-Croatia, Prague-Czech Republic and Vienna-Austria. No need to deal with the different currencies and no need to talk to the driver when you don’t know their language.
15. THERE ARE MANY COUNTRIES THAT STILL DON’T USE EUROS. That means that you will have to get different currencies in many countries. Best way to get money is from the ATM machines. Get some cash in the local currency but plan so that you don’t have an excess of it. You won’t be able to use it in the next country.
16. ATMs WILL OFFER YOU THE OPTION OF CALCULATING THE EXCHANGE RATE. Always choose NO. The exchange rate they use is almost always less beneficial than the daily exchange rate your bank will use.
17. ALWAYS BE ON TIME FOR TRAINS AND BUSES. They leave sharp in most cases. Be at the station at least 45 minutes before your scheduled departure time. You will need to find out which track the bus/train leaves from, walk there (deal with your luggage and the stairs), find your train car & seats (they are numbered), find out where to store your luggage (in buses you have to pay a fee for each suitcase they store in the storage compartments of the bus) and finally sit down! If you do ALL this in a hurry, you will have a heart attack! Trust us!
18. PRINTED BUS/TRAIN TICKETS ARE STILL REQUIRED. You can buy your train/bus tickets online but allow time to find a place where you can print them. If you are staying at a hotel, it’s easy but if you’re at an Airbnb it’s more difficult.
19. MOST PEOPLE ARE WILLING TO HELP. Don’t be afraid to ask.
20. HAVING GOOD SUITCASES IS CRITICAL. Make sure they are light, with sturdy wheels and good handles. You will have to walk with them in uneven, difficult surfaces.
21. LANGUAGE BARRIERS CAN CREATE MISUNDERSTANDINGS. Sometimes it seems that people are responding to you in a rude manner but keep in mind that maybe it’s because you are talking to them in English and they don’t feel comfortable managing a non-native language.
22. NETFLIX IS EVEN BETTER ABROAD! They have a lot of titles that are not available in the U.S. If you have an account, you will be able to use it anywhere.
23. CURRENCY CONVERTER AND TRANSLATOR APPs ARE A MUST. Make sure you download them. They will be very handy!
24. THE SYGIC TRAVEL APP HAS HELPED US TO BETTER PLAN OUR TRIP. This app allows you to organize your trip by city or country on a daily basis. It provides you a comprehensive list of the main places to visit in every city/country and you just arrange them by day. The thing I like best is that it allows me to keep a record of everything we have done. Once you try it, you will love it!
25. WE HAVE TO LIVE IN THE NOW! Although we do a lot of planning, it’s related to the trip. We are not worrying about what will happen when we return. We are fully living this experience. We are convinced that if the Universe created the path for us to be here, it will also provide whatever we need when we return.
-MARI AND VAL