After deciding on long term travel (see previous post), the next step was to start thinking about the type of trip we wanted to take. We found the most important thing to consider when going deciding this was to fully understand our travel style. Ryan and I were honest with ourselves about our personalities and what we are comfortable with when traveling. We’re generally open to trying new things; different cultures, foods, customs; all of it is exciting. Usually we keep to cities. We’ll decide on a “home base” and explore from there. This means exploring neighborhoods on foot or by public transit within the city and taking day trips to other regions. We also tend to seek out areas less visited by tourists or during low tourist seasons. All-inclusive resorts and hotels aren’t very appealing to us because it feels like being in an isolated bubble, away from the actual place and people we are visiting. Some of our more memorable experiences have been when we left things up to chance and chosen to go off the beaten path. Forinstance, one of the best meals we had in Taipei was when we ignored the recommendations of a friend and headed into a small food stall tucked away in an alley for lunch. We felt safe and weren’t worried about getting ripped off so we went for it and it paid off; it was one of the best meals of the trip.
Aside from the types of experiences we were are open to, the weather, accommodations, activities available, and safety are important. For this trip, that meant avoiding unbearable heat, cutting out locations that were going to be too difficult to get to, and watching the World Cup from Argentinian bars (assuming Argentina plays well). Once we looked at our travel style it was significantly easier to start tackling all the itinerary. If you consider a trip like this, we’d say be honest with yourself about what you are open to and what you aren’t. It will make all other decisions much easier to make and possibly give a sense of whether long term travel is right for you.
Some of the decisions directly affected by our travel style were:
Accommodations: Apartment Rentals (AirBnb)
Lets be honest: we are a little too old to deal with dorm room hostels and hotels are too damn expensive for a trip like this. When we looked into private rooms for two at hostels we found that they weren’t actually that cheap. AirBnB rentals (whether a private room or entire apartment) were the best option for us. They can be relatively inexpensive (in a lot of cases cheaper than hostels), offer all the amenities we need, and put us in direct contact with locals who can make recommendations and provide us with insight into day-to-day life of the residents.
Luggage: Carry On Only
We decided this was best for us because it made flights simpler and less stressful (especially connections) and in the end gave us cheaper flight options as well. We also recognized that doing laundry was inevitable so packing more clothing really didn’t make sense. We also did some tests to make sure we were comfortable with what we could carry; both the weight of the pack and the number of items in them.
Weather and Seasons: Spring / Fall
We don’t care for crazy heat (Ryan will burst into flames if it goes above 90 degrees F) and loads of tourists, so to us it made sense to travel to areas in their lower seasons. An added bonus is that things tend to be cheaper during those times.
Duration: At Least 2 Weeks in a Destination
Because we don’t like turbo-touring and because we were going to be traveling for nearly a year, we decided that to even consider a destination for our trip we’d have to want to spend at least 2 weeks there. If we didn’t think we would want to do it, we crossed the place off the list.
Activities: Limited Excursions
Originally we thought we’d check out the Amazon or the Galapagos while we are in Ecuador. After researching, we decided that these types of excursions would not only put stress on our budget, but they really deserved more energy and time than we could afford on this trip. We felt we’d enjoy them more if they were stand alone trips in the future.
We’ll eat pretty much anything so this posed no problems for us.
All other considerations regarding travel style directly affected the amount we wanted to save and were willing to spend.