Five Months and Five Countries: An Introduction to Our Long-Term Travels
On November 8 of 2017 my partner Bryan and I took sabbaticals from our jobs, left our home, said farewell to our families and headed to the other side of the world. It started as a four-month venture, but turned into a five-month venture, though had we been granted more time we would have taken it!
We bought one-way tickets to New Zealand, one-way tickets to Australia (to satisfy New Zealand’s entry requirements), and booked a camper van for one month and that was about as much planning as we did before we left. Sure we did research on things we wanted to see and do along the way, but apart from those three bookings that was really it.
I remember as the venture approached people would say, “you must be busy planning” and I remember responding, “Well, not really!” Traveling for a week or two is a heck of a lot different then a few months and you really can’t plan out every day ahead of time – so much can change! After reading many travel blogs we knew that winging it was the way to go, we wanted to leave room for spontaneity and flying by the seat of our pants. Though conditions weren’t always ideal, things always worked out.
We had a loose idea of the places we wanted to cover and used that as our guide. We had planned to travel New Zealand, Australia and most of mainland Southeast Asia including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. What grand thoughts we had at the beginning!
The funny thing is, whether it’s one week of travel or five months of travel, there is never enough time to see it all. It took us a couple of months to realize this. Sure, you can be busy every single day if you are on a one or two-week holiday, but to keep that pace for a longer period of time is exhausting.
We were traveling at what felt like lightening speed trying to fit it all in, but were lacking in the relaxed slow-travel vibe we had initially hoped for. It was about two months into the trip that we realized there was no way we would fit it all in. Trying to hit all of the places we wanted was going to not only be expensive (because the more you move the more costly it is) but it would mean traveling very quickly with little time to savour the experience, absorb the culture and most importantly relax.
The first half of our trip we were definitely running at high-speed, the second half we slowed down. We accepted that there just wasn’t enough time to see and do it all, and we didn’t get upset about missing out on places or things others raved about. Once we accepted this the pressure was off and there was room to relax. We became more selective in the places we chose to spend our time and the activities to participate in, and sometimes we let practically and proximity guide the way.
So what countries did we end up hitting you might ask?
Well, here it is:
- New Zealand (5 weeks) - most of the North and South island.
- Australia (8 weeks)- most of the east coast from Sydney to Cairns and Cape Tribulation, the south coast including Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road and the west coast including Perth down to Dunsborough and Margaret River region.
- Indonesia (2 weeks) - Bali, Lombak and the Gili Islands.
- Thailand (4 weeks) - Small parts of the south Island region including Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Khao Sok, Khao Lak and the Similan Islands, northern mainland including Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
- Cambodia (1 week) - Siem Reap and Angkor ruins.
Over the next couple months I will be writing in more detail about our travels over the five months including how we traveled, where we went, what our itinerary looked like and some of the particularly excellent activities we did. In addition, reflections on some of the lessons we learned on the road; what to pack, what to leave at home, our favourite gear and the like.
Stay tuned for the next post where all of it began in the beautiful and unforgettable New Zealand. They say to leave the best for last, but we screwed that up and went there first, I think you’ll quickly see why it was completely and utterly amazing!