8 highlights from half a year of travel

8 Highlights from half a year of travel

I’m writing this post from Qantas flight 143 from Sydney to Auckland. After 17 flights, 26 beds, 6 countries and 15 cities, this is the final leg of our journey. After half a year of travel, it’s a weird feeling to be going home and heading back to reality.

The last half year has been the biggest adventure and one of the happiest times of our lives. Hayley and I feel so fortunate to have been able to go on this journey and have so many fantastic experiences.

Our travel adventure has allowed us to learn and grow not just as individuals but as a couple. In this post, we’d like to reflect on the many highlights, lessons and takeaways from our time overseas. While I (Paul) and writing this post, these are the combined thoughts from Hayley and I. We wanted to get these thoughts down onto (digital) paper so we could remember them long after our trip.

1. Living in a bubble

One of the nicest things about traveling as a couple has been that we’ve lived in a bubble for the last half year. It’s been just us, no one else to worry about. No other responsibilities or commitments. No one telling you what to do. Each day we get to wake up and decide how to spend out time.

While this might sound a little selfish, it’s been a great opportunity to focus 100% on ourselves as a couple. I didn’t think it was possible, but we’ve become closer as a result. We already had a very happy and healthy marriage before our trip, but this journey has given us the time and space to become even closer.

Coming into the trip, some couples may feel nervous about spending so much time with their other half. But not us. We absolutely loved it! And the worst part about going home and Hayley going back to work is that we won’t be able to spend all day, every day with each other.

2. Discovering new places, cultures and history

During our time overseas we were able to visit many natural wonders, world heritage sites and historical landmarks. We were able to learn about different cultures, learn how different people live and discover the history of so many places.

  • We felt right at home in the relaxing atmosphere of Canggu and loved watching the sunrise from the top of Mt Batur.
  • Our jaws dropped at the site of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
  • We loved the busy roads in Hanoi and the little ancient town in Hoi An.
  • We loved the beautiful cities of Japan and taking hot spring baths in Matsumoto.
  • We were stunned to learn more about the history of Hiroshima.
  • And we enjoyed taking selfies with the locals in Galle.

Going to all these different places it’s interesting to see the different cultures but also how no matter where you are, people are really just the same. Most people have smart phones and like taking selfies. Most people are happy to help you out and want to know where you’re from. It’s amazing how cultures can be so different and yet so similar at the same time.

3. Developing perspective and appreciating all that you have

And on that note, when you go to all these places and see how people live, it makes me appreciate just how fortunate we are to live in a beautiful and safe country like New Zealand.

In most of the places we visited, the locals generally earn a low income, live in smaller houses and have a lot less in the way of possessions. This has helped us to realise, you don’t need all these “things” to make you happy. Your family, friends, experiences and what you do with your time, these are the things that make you happy. This is something most people know already, but traveling (with pretty minimal “stuff”) has helped us to really understand this a lot more.

You also learn to appreciate the little things like clean drinking water and toilets that you can throw the paper down. Things like this we take for granted in our day to day life and it’s only when they’re taken away do we realise how fortunate we are.

4. Getting out of your “normal” routine

Every day has been an adventure. I get bored of routine pretty quickly and living on the road and exploring or working from new places every few days has been so much fun.

On this trip there’s been no “living for the weekend” or “Monday morning blues”. It’s like every day is a Saturday. We’ve been able to work when, where and how we want. Whether that’s from a Starbucks in Tokyo, a coworking space in Bali or simply in an Airbnb wearing nothing but swim shorts.

We’ve worked about 20 hours per week on average. Hayley’s been helping me with my business and being able to really get this off the ground while traveling has been something I’ve been aiming for since I first read The 4-Hour Work Week in 2011.

5. Making new friends

On our trip we’ve met made some fantastic friends. Especially in Canggu which is thriving with travellers and digital nomads. The Dojo coworking space has introduced me to so many smart people and CrossFit Wanderlust is a bursting community of friendly fitness fanatics.

Hayley made a good point which is that the people you meet while traveling are particularly welcoming because they’re away from their friends and families, just like you. So we all have to make new friends and become each other’s families.

It’s great to be able to connect with people from all over the world and hear their stories. We’ve made friends with people from Italy, the US, Austria, the UK and Australia.

6. Learning and growing

During our travels there have been plenty of opportunities to learn and grow. I like to think I'm a pretty confident person already, but the trip has helped me to get better at dealing with language barriers and communicating with others. I feel like I'm now better at dealing with tricky situations, negotiating and handling the unknown.

Of course, when you travel, you're completely thrown out of your comfort zone and Hayley and I have both gotten much better dealing with this kind of uncertainty.

7. Realising you can do anything you want

I feel like my social feeds are full of motivational quotes these days. We always hear how “life is what you make it” and “if you want something, go get it”. On this trip, we’ve come to learn just how true these cheesy quotes really are.

Above all else, this trip has taught us that, yes, you really can do anything you want in life. If you’re unhappy with your job, don’t like your boss or want to do something you love then it’s up to you, and you alone, to make the change. You are 100% in control of your happiness and people that blame other people and complain about their income are simply hiding from this fact.

This adventure has opened our eyes and now we feel like we can do whatever we want. It’s as if a huge weight of doubt has been lifted and now, if we set our minds to it, we can achieve any goal we want.

8. Overcoming new challenges

On this trip, each new destination has presented new challenges. Whether that’s dealing with the incredible heat in Sri Lanka, navigating the busy roads in Hanoi or trying to navigate a tuk-tuk driver in Cambodia.

It used to be that we’d arrive somewhere and be anxious about being in an unfamiliar place. Now we feel excited to land somewhere new and establish ourselves.

I loved the challenge of being dropped off in the middle of Ho Chi Minh City. We’d just finished a 15-hour journey from Cambodia and we jumped off our bus in the middle of a brand new city and country. We were tired, hungry, had no local currency, no internet, no transportation and couldn’t speak the local language. Learning to deal with these kind of situations has helped us to grow more confidence and now we feel like no matter where we are, we can handle it.

Where to next?

Now that our trip has come to an end, we're already thinking about what to do next. We can definitely see ourselves planning another trip in the future or spending a prolonged period of time in Bali. Who knows, maybe we'll do something completely different.

I'll finish by saying that if you're considering doing any kind of travel… do it! You won't regret it and the experiences and lessons you learn along the way will be incredibly special.