So you've got the travel bug too? Welcome fellow wanderer, for you are not alone.
Travel provides each and everyone of us with the opportunity to learn about the world, to learn about ourselves and to feel that our lives can change via a one-way plane ticket, a backpack and a thirst for the new and the undiscovered.
But, we know, that planning an adventure can be difficult, frustrating, even exhausting at times.
Sometimes, sitting with your laptop, a crisp new guidebook and and endless supply of coffee, is one of the most enjoyable aspects of travel. At that moment - the rainy Sunday at home or the stolen hour at work - the world is at your fingertips and you feel alive at the endless possibilities laid out in front of you.
That cooking class you'll take in Peru, the eco-hostel perched over a secluded beach you simply have to book in Thailand, the three-day hike through the Amazon you know you'll simply have to squeeze in somewhere - you want to do, see and live everything a country or a continent has to offer. That, for us, is the pinnacle of wanderlust.
However, at some point, life's limitations kick in: time, money, relationships, commitments. You realise that you won't be able to see everything you liked on Instagram in only a few weeks. You find out that the only way to take that hike through the Amazon is going to cost half of your planned monthly budget. You understand that, despite your heart willing it more than anything in the world, that won't be able to see, feel and photograph everything a country has to offer.
And that's why, instead of letting the despondency wash over you, you have to stop - take a minute - and realise just how lucky you are to be travelling in the first place. And the next thing you have to do? Adopt a kick-ass travel philosophy (travel-osophy?!) to ensure that you, no matter what, will make the most of every trip you take and every experience you make.
what's our travel philosophy?
It's nothing complicated. And we're not writing it here to show off or anything, but we thought you might like to hear it.
Firstly, for us, that feeling that only travel gives you can happen almost anywhere. Of course, it helps if it's on a six-month long trip through a drop-dead gorgeous faraway land (preferably with the sun on our backs and a drink in our hands); but it doesn't have to be. It can be achieved on an afternoon walk in the hills at home, or a long-weekend in some god-awful tourist trap with you parents.
What's important, is the recognition that having a 'worthwhile' adventure can be done through adopting a few simple principles towards how you view travel as a part of your life:
1. That you are lucky enough to be travelling, hopefully, with good health, some hard-earned cash to spend and time to do something special in your life.
2. That you don't have to see everything.
3. That it's about making the most of each experience or place you are lucky enough to visit.
4. That pushing yourself out of your comfort zone - trying a new food, being the minority, not speaking the language, being uncomfortable - is a core part of why we should all travel.
5. That you will make mistakes.
6. That you shouldn't spend your time on one trip simply wishing you were at that place that someone else on Facebook or Instagram just posted about; enjoy the place you're in.
7. That you have never 'done' a country; you've only experienced it at that moment, at that time and through your own interactions.
8. That going slow is always better; we would rather spend time in three places in fourteen days than four places in seven days.
9. That the journey is often the most fulfilling part, rather than the arrival.
10. That some of the best friends you'll ever make will be those you'll never see again.
11. That every destination or adventure has its downsides, its disappointments and its dickheads.
12. That nobody else might care about what you've done.
Your parents may never enquire about your adventures, only asking when you're going to come home to the 'real world'. Colleagues, when you walk back into work, won't give two hoots about how you kissed the sky and found love atop a volcano in Central America or discovered the meaning of life whilst being ripped off buying mangoes from a wrinkled and near-toothless Vietnamese lady - nope, they'll just ask if it was a 'good trip' and why you haven't got more of a tan.
Our little travel philosophy is to try and ensure that, even if nobody else cares what we did or wants to hear about the amazing stuff we saw, we will always have the knowledge that we experienced a little part of the world like nobody else has. That moment, that place, that time - that was ours.
ELEMENTS TO BRING TO EACH TRIP
Aside from the above principles, there are lots of little ways to travel which we try and incorporate into every trip, to make it as fun or as worthwhile as possible. They're nothing complicated or too ground-breaking but, taken together, they've always helped us to make the most of every adventure:
1. Visiting local markets.
2. Taking meaningful photos (which double up as our main souvenirs / memory-makers).
3. Reading at least one book about the country or by an author from the country before or during our visit (or good quality journalism).
4. Watching at least one film or documentary from or about the country before or during our visit.
5. Learning hello, goodbye and thank you in the local language.
6. Eating street food.
7. Taking public transport wherever and whenever possible.
8. Spending money on at least one decadent authentic and traditional meal.
9. Trying the local alcohol (often far too much of it) at a local's hangout.
10. Only taking a tour if it's completely necessary or adds significant value to the experience.
11. Keeping to a budget - a great trip shouldn't be about the amount you spend.
12. Being aware of sustainability and animal welfare.
13. Being respectfully curious.
14. Walking as much as possible in cities (safety and common sense permitting).
15. Trying to take at least one off-the-beaten-track adventure on our own.
If we do all of the above, alongside a lot of research (we'll come to that bit in a future post), then we stand a good chance of, firstly, not being that dickhead traveller who everyone hates and, secondly, of making sure that we've travelled in a way which gives us a good chance of having had a memorable and worthwhile trip.
It's not a perfect travel philosophy by any stretch of the imagination. Some of you may be reading it thinking that we sound like two of the dullest people imaginable, whilst others may be thinking that the above is a surefire way to catch diarrhoea, gonorrhoea or for something very awful to happen. Or you may think we're the travel dickheads.
However, this approach has served both of us well through the US, Vietnam, the Philippines, Morocco, France, the UK, Australia, Sweden, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, China and a two-year trip through Mexico, Central America and South America on a budget of £15 each per day.
And, if you like the sound of it or think that it sounds a lot like your own travel hustle, then there's a good chance you'll like our work here at Along Dusty Roads.
Whether you agree with all of the above or not though, we truly believe that thinking about your own travel philosophy and your personal travel style is important. If you're reading this because you're just about to start your first major trip, or even if you're a seasoned traveller, we recommend taking the time to reflect on what travel means to you and what are the elements which combine to make any journey meaningful or worthwhile.
Now, go out there and see the world. You never know, you might just like it.