As part of our new Frequent Flyer series, we will be posting follow up stories from previously spotlighted travelers. Eunice and her husband are currently on a long-term adventure with plans to travel the world extensively for two years. Her travels throughout Morocco were previously featured and she’s back to share some of her experiences on what it has been like living on the road for an extended period of time.
What have you been up to since you were last featured on your time in Morocco?
We’ve since traveled to countries like Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, Ireland, UK, Russia, Scandinavia, Poland, South Korea and Qatar in the Arabic Gulf. We're now two months into our travels around China and halfway into our planned two year worldwide travels.
Has the trip been everything you’d envisioned it would be?
Mostly yes and a small part of it no. The sights have been mind-blowing, the people we've met have been inspiring and we recall them very fondly. Some aspects of the trip have crept up on us unknowingly; for instance dealing with isolation, homesickness or minor annoying health issues.
What are some things you wish you had known (or brought with you) prior to your trip that you now know?
I would definitely pack less (most things can be bought if and when needed). Also, friends will move on and find it hard to relate to your current lifestyle; however, the impetus is on you to stay in touch with them despite the distance and differences.
What are the top three things you've learned while traveling for an extended period of time?
- You can survive on a small wardrobe (it used to be my worry as I love my clothes) and few material things (the latest gadgets don’t matter anymore).
- Stay in touch with friends; even if they have moved on to other things, and even more importantly stay inspired by your travels. Read travel blogs/stories and find inspiration from social media or the internet so you don’t become distracted by the things you think you might be missing out on back home (e.g. career progression, weddings, or babies).
- Stay spiritually connected and grounded. Since you are not accountable to anyone during your travels, it is up to you to keep yourself spiritually grounded. This will become most important when the going gets tough and when there is no one around to lift you up.
Traveling can appear to be very glamorous from the outside, however that is not always the case. Can you share any of the most frustrating (and unglamorous) moments you’ve experienced while traveling internationally? How did you overcome them?
I’ve always had a suspicion my friends back home (excluding some close ones whom I communicate frequently with) have an image of what our travels are like: consistently sitting by the side of a pool or by the beach under an umbrella with a cocktail in hand. In reality we hardly drink cocktails and never stay in hotels with pools. A lot of the times we are lugging our heavy backpacks and walking from train stations or bus stations, sometimes in the rain, heat or cold, finding our hostel or Airbnb accommodation. I still whine when we end up lost or the walk mapped on Google turned out longer than expected. But it is part of travelling and I tell myself that the budget way we’re travelling allows us to travel longer and see more places. We do allow ourselves the option of catching a cab if things turn to custard, which hasn’t happened often thankfully.
What has been the most memorable moment for you thus far?
It’s hard to single out one moment from so many, but I think back fondly to the days when we rented a teeny tiny studio in the center of Paris and spent our carefree days cycling the streets or having a picnic by the Seine. It was the thick of summer and the days were long, hot and lazy. We had only just begun our travels so everything was fresh and invigorating, with a lot to look forward to.
What has been your funniest memory?
Groping around in the dark with a girlfriend in the middle of the Sahara Desert in the midst of a sandstorm, searching for a pee spot far away enough from the campsite so the boys don’t see us, and getting sand all over our bums.
Favorite travel experiences thus far:
- Favorite city and/or country: Paris, France
- Friendliest locals: Ireland
- Favorite destination for food: Spain (tapas!!) and Italy
- Favorite type of accommodation: Airbnb homes of locals
What advice can you share for individuals who want to travel but have no idea how to start?
Start small and start saving now. You don’t have to push yourself to travel for a very long time if you’re unsure. Start with a 3-month trip or even a 3-week trip. Every travel experience counts. Also, traveling on a budget is easier than it sounds. It takes a bit more discipline, research, and organizing but you’ll feel so proud that you could see the same sights on a shoestring budget as compared to someone who splashes out (nothing wrong with that either!).
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about yourself through traveling the world?
I’ve learned to be more open to other cultures, races and way(s) of life. In the past I’ve only been able to relate to people who were of my background, but now I can communicate with people from the countries I’ve been to and connect with them on a deeper level.
Of all the images you’ve captured throughout your travels, which would you say is your favorite or represents your most memorable moment?
This picture (see above) was captured recently when we travelled through a Tibetan town in the region of Sichuan in China. It reminded me of a very eventful day. We had just seen a sky burial in the morning, stumbled upon a traditional Tibetan wedding in the afternoon and just as we were heading back through some back streets, a group of young boys passed us and happily yelled 'Ni hao!' to us. They were irresistibly cute and I had to stop them to ask for a photo. The older one seemed to be the leader of the pack and answered all questions on their behalf. When I asked their ages, he confidently pointed out every boy's age like he knew it from the back of his hand. It was a short but very memorable interaction with local Tibetan kids.
What’s next for you?
We are planning to continue on our journey through Asia: Tibet, Nepal, India, Southeast Asia, and possibly South America/Africa. Check back with me in a year's time and I will probably have a whole new perspective on traveling. China has already challenged a lot of our travel mindsets, which I'm sure the rest of Asia and the world will do because they are such different parts.
Images Courtesy of Eunice Tan