A sad event – the untimely death of my father – was the spur that led me to give up a secure and well-paid job in order to see the world. From 2005 to 2011 my husband and I spent between 6 and 10 months each year travelling and summer here, visiting our families and planning the next trip.
To begin with it was all about the sights. And with such amazing things to see, why wouldn’t it be? We dived with sharks in Borneo and to the stalactites deep in Belize’s Blue Hole, we were deafened by the roar of Iguassu falls, saw the Galapagos turtles, walked with yaks high on the Tibetan plateau and were rendered speechless by the beauty of Chilean Patagonia. We have the cheesy photos of us above Machu Picchu and in front of the Taj Mahal.
After the first couple of years we slowed down. We visited fewer places and stayed longer, choosing to stop in dusty transit towns rather than rush to the next big thing. With no major tourist sights, there are still a wealth of less obvious attractions in small towns: all kinds of fascinating markets, odd fiestas, local dining specialities and the option of staying with local families. It was locals who would take us to places we’d never have found and advise us on what to see or do next.
As life on the road became simpler, so did our kit. If you have a pair of trousers that are suitable for anything you’re likely to do, why take more? If it’s hot I wear my Rohan Roamers rolled up with a pair of flip flops. If it’s cold I wear them over pyjamas or a pair of tights. I have ultra silver t-shirts that dry almost instantly and a micro-grid fleece that will wash in the tiniest hostel washbasin. One of the enduring lessons of long term travel is how little ‘stuff’ we actually need, especially when what we have just works. My advice is to take a core outfit of clothes you trust not to let you down and buy any extras en route.
Another sad event – my mum’s ill-health – brought us back again. We feel very lucky to have enjoyed such a long journey but also for many small things we took for granted previously. We now have a life that is simpler but much happier.