Have you ever wondered how we pack for six or more months overseas? I just returned from Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. For this two week trip I packed the same size airline carry-on suitcase and same camera backpack as if my journey was for six months.
My Travel Bucket List
If a task is not written down on a list for me it will likely not get done, or certainly not get done on time. I am a methodical list maker. With that in mind, I created my first travel bucket list.
We are now in the final stages of preparation for our 2016 cruise to Barcelona, Spain. We will explore Spain and Portugal for about 90 days then we will depart from Barcelona for a flight to possibly Romania or Bulgaria. We will travel in a clockwise fashion from Barcelona around Spain and Portugal. The curved line on the map is a flight and the straight lines are trains and bold lines are planned car rentals. Continue reading
Preparing to travel out of the country for six months or more at a time takes a lot of preparation. Everybody has different needs so this list is not one size fits all, rather this list applies to our needs and travel. However, the list below includes some basics which would apply to all.
During our first six month trip many cultural differences were certainly expected between the United States and Europe, including the UK. However, here is a list of some differences which were unexpected, many pleasantly so.
Many people upon learning of our travels imagine all of the many, many sites we will encounter. They recall their last seven or ten-day vacation, where they were ‘on the go’ every day, to our six months in Europe. As the title of this BLOG implies, there is a lot of down time. Traveling for six months and staying at each rental a week, means 25 travel days! These are days filled with some level of stress of trying to make a 10 minute train connection, negotiating a closed train ramp as we encountered in Rome, or boarding the wrong train car entirely and being told we need to move back several cars into economy class. We also spend time planning the next leg of the journey, walking to the train station to buy the tickets, trying to learn what platform to go to, etc. We have pictures drawn in a small notebook to bridge any possible communication problem we may encounter when trying to purchase the tickets.
Many, if not most, working people would likely jump at the chance to travel where and when they wanted, especially those now sitting in a cubicle with no view and a day of deadlines and meetings. I did not always plan to travel in retirement, but that is our current plan. I am no expert yet, as we have not yet started our first big solo trip to Europe and we have only been home free since September 2013. However, there are certain inconveniences with a life on the road you may want to figure into your dreams or plans.
Something we noticed in both China and Mexico was an apparent misunderstanding of trash. In both Mexico and in China we saw paid workers sweeping up leaves in the street (China) and sweeping leaves on our patio (Mexico) then diligently placing these natural leaves in a nearby trash receptacle. Also, in both instances you could count on seeing a large pile of real trash very nearby being ignored. Neither country has yet developed a noticeable regard for the environment and keeping it clean. If one wanted to, I am 100 percent confident a similar trash pile could be found in the States. However, one difference is that it is not at all unusual to see government paid workers in the States walking along a highway cleaning it up. Also, sections of highway are auctioned off in a joint venture between the paying public or corporations and the government for clean up. Kramer on Seinfeld bought such a section of highway and carried the cleanliness a bit too far. I clearly do not understand the many hurdles these poorer countries are facing and I have no solution for this situation. As a new world traveler, I am only pointing this out as something I noticed. Both countries’ citizens were interested in us and helpful in every way, that is just harder to capture by the camera.
Driving into Mexico for the first time, we read and researched what to do. We learned you should exchange some dollars for pesos prior to getting into Mexico as there were tolls booths and a few miles into Mexico you need to buy a Visa which would cost a few hundred pesos.