How do you afford to travel for 8 months?
I get this question quite often as most people cannot imagine how I can afford to travel for so long. The answer is simple: I’ve saved money since I started my first job as a baby sitter. I didn’t necessarily save up for this trip, but I was always very careful with my money, probably because I knew that I would want to invest it well at some point in my life. This trip has definitely been the most expensive thing I’ve ever done in my life, but the experiences I’ve gained have been absolutely worth it.
Most people think that my parents are paying for this trip. Sorry to prove you wrong, but they don’t. I could never travel knowing that I’m actually spending someone else’s money as I truly believe that everyone has to work for his own goals. It is true that they supported me while I was studying, but I paid them back every single penny.
I just finished my studies, but since I was always working part-time, I was able to save up a lot. To be honest, everyone can do it as long as one is willing to work hard and to commit for one’s dream. No excuses, as nothing is impossible!
Are you really a backpacker?
First of all, what defines a backpacker? People have so many different perceptions of a backpacker. Is it a person that stays in hostel while travelling or is it a person that simply travels with a backpack instead of a suitcase? I’ll let you decide on that because there are so many different views on what a “real” backpacker is.
I do consider myself a backpacker as I’m an adventure-seeking, easy-going, independent woman that loves to explore the world in many different ways. In the majority of cases, which is like 90% of the time, I’m staying in hostels as I love the exchange with other travelers. Yet, every once in a while, I’m staying in nice hotels as I do need some privacy every now and then. The hotels I book are usually nice because I’m an SPG Platinum Member and like to make use of it while I travel the world. I was lucky enough to travel a lot for my previous job, which helped a lot to achieve that status. It now opens quite a lot of doors as I get some pretty good deals.
As aforementioned, I have absolutely no problem with staying in hostels though. On the contrary! I’m actually super surprised about the amount of really hip and trendy hostels in Asia. I have not had a single bad experience so far, which is why I will continue staying in hostels for the majority of time.
Why did you book all your flights in advance?
I have repeatedly been judged for my travel style as I’ve already booked the majority of my flights. First of all, why do people constantly judge other people for what they do or not do? Second of all, I’ve been travelling multiple times and know myself best. I know what I like and what I don’t like. I know my expectations on this trip and how to satisfy them. Based on that, I planned this trip. My goal was to see as many places as possible but still have enough time to immerse into the culture of these places, meet new people and simply enjoy myself. I’ve done a whole lot of research in advance in order to evaluate the time of travel. As I said, I’ve been travelling a lot before I embarked on this trip and thus knew how much time I would need to explore each place.
Another reason why I already booked my flights is an economic one. Booking flights in advance is so much cheaper than at short notice. Also, I didn’t want to worry about flights while I am travelling. I’ve had a month off before I started this trip and used this time for most of my travel planning. I’ve never regretted once that I’ve already booked my flights. On the contrary, it’s been extremely liberating to know that I don’t need to worry about it. Instead, I can fully enjoy the time that I have at each place.
How do you stay fit?
Well, this is a tough one as it’s actually been very hard to stick to my work outs. Honestly, working out has been one of the biggest challenges so far. Before I embarked on this trip, I worked out almost every single day. For the last few months, I have not been able to adhere to that schedule at all. I generally prefer to work out outdoors, but that has been really challenging as the conditions in Asia are so different to the ones at home. I did a lot of walking in China and Japan as the cities were easy to explore by foot. Yet, many countries haven’t had proper pathways or walking in the streets has been too dangerous.
Furthermore, as I learnt in the last few months, my circular flow is really sensitive, which basically means that I react extremely badly to sudden weather changes. My body also doesn’t really like hot and humid weather and so I often feel dizzy and start trembling. Thus, I often find myself in situations where my body is craving for some exercise but at the same time it is also too weak to actually work out. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride.
It’s definitely easier to work out in a gym, but since I’m mostly staying in hostels, I don’t usually have a gym that I can go to. I usually try to find local gyms, but that’s quite an endeavour for most of the time.
Eating healthy has been another very big challenge. Everyone who knows me will confirm that I love salads or light food in general, especially during summer time. Well, eating healthy and sticking to a diet that entails freshly prepared, light and healthy food has been almost impossible. It’s definitely easier in some countries than in others, but definitely not as easy as at home where you can prepare your own meals and actually know what’s in it. Don’t get me wrong, I do love exploring all the different cuisines and trying new dishes as I love to eat, but it can also be quite hard and overwhelming at times. Thus, whenever I visit a new destination, I usually use Tripadvisor to find cafes or restaurants where I can enjoy healthy local cuisine. Tripadvisor has actually been super helpful with that.
What are your travel essentials?
Apart from the obvious like passport, wallet and mobile phone, two of my essentials are a light sleeping bag and a microfibre towel as some hostels do not provide blankets or towels. You can get these for very cheap at Decathlon or any other sports shop around the world.
Another item that has come in very handy is my ocean bag. In beach destinations throughout Southeast Asia, these waterproof bags are available in all different sizes and colours. My ocean bag has been super useful for all the water activities I’ve done in the Philippines and Thailand. Also, I used it quite a lot in the countries where it has rained a lot due to rain season, like Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. You can easily fold it together and pack it up in your backpack whenever you don’t need it.
Travelling through Asia means being exposed to pollution all the time. The extent of the pollution varies from one country to another, but you want to make sure that you free your skin from all the dust at the end of the day. I got the Garnier Pure Active Matcha De-Tox, a pollution and oil deep clean foam, and I absolutely love it. My skin has been so much healthier and clearer since I’ve been using it. Definitely a win!
Another essential is my power bank. I use it almost on a daily basis to charge my mobile phone, ebook or other electronic devices that run out of battery while I’m travelling. You should definitely get one if you don’t want to run low on battery.