525,600 Minutes: A Year of Travel

July 3, 2013

Leah: We've been on the road for an entire year--pretty insane to realize all that's transpired in that time. Even more importantly, we're still healthy, happy, married and I'm not pregnant (contrary to what some of my former colleagues bet me in the spring of 2012!). My friend, Amanda, from my former job asked me a while back if we could post on how the contents of our bags have/haven't changed, so we took that idea and ran with it. Please enjoy the hodgepodge facts as we reflect on 365 days of smelly socks, new friends and exotic locales from July 3, 2012 to July 3, 2013.


Birthdays: (2)
   *Leah: Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu, Peru
   *Steve: Chiang Mai, Thailand


Major holidays: (5)
   *4th of July: Guatemala City, Guatemala
   *Thanksgiving: Tucuman, Argentina
   *Christmas: Iguazu Falls, Argentina
   *New Years: Buenos Aires, Argentina
   *St. Patrick's Day: Motueka, New Zealand


Movies seen: (5)
   *James Bond-Skyfall: Cochabamba, Bolivia
   *The Hobbit: Santa Fe, Argentina
   *The Expatriate: Bangkok, Thailand
   *Epic: Chiang Mai, Thailand
   *Hangover 3: Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Old friends met abroad: (4)
   *Amanda: Paihia, New Zealand
   *Katie: Queenstown, New Zealand and Chiang Mai, Thailand
   *Ellen, Kevin and kids: Chiang Mai, Thailand
   *Jess: Cappadocia, Turkey


Regrets: (2)
   *not going to Antarctica when we were in the launch city of Ushuaia, Argentina
   *not going to Sri Lanka when we had a layover there anyway


Biggest fight that led to us being separated in a major city: (1)
   *San Jose, Costa Rica 


Dogs, cats, sheep, donkeys and llamas we wanted to adopt: (too numerous to count)
   *every country


TV shows addicted to while on the road: (1)
   *Game of Thrones


Deaths: (1)
   *Madison "Addie" Hubert


Births: (3)
   *Chloe Aberle
   *Sayje Murray
   *Ashley Murray


Engagements that occurred: (3)
   *Michael and Jackie
   *Guy and Yanling
   *Niki and Jeff


Weddings we missed: (3.5)
   *Michael and Jackie
   *Christina and Nick
   *Alison and Rick
   *Dustin and Shannon (.5 because they'll be married in just a few days!)


Earthquakes experienced: (3)
   *Mastatal, Costa Rica (and a pretty decent 6.9 as well!)
   *Mendoza, Argentina
   *El Calafate, Argentina
 

Countries Couchsurfed in (officially or otherwise): (12)
   *Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Turkey


Total weight lost between us: (45-50 pounds)


Total Countries Visited: 16


As for our packs, I wish I had all sorts of scintillating details on what we would have differently. However, our bags are relatively small as is (I'm traveling with a 65L pack that rarely weighs over 24 pounds--this is the 2013 version of my actual bag, which I bought in 2008. As for Steve, he's using this exact pack) and we've been pretty impressed with how much we've used everything so far. Overall, I know the details of my pack in minute detail and besides the extra shoelaces I've used every single item I originally packed. A few things that do pop out for me though:

   *Tampons. Oh yes, I went there. I packed a giant bag of them, since my previous travels in developing countries (especially those that are quite religious) have proven that they can be tricky, if not impossible, to track down. However, we've had no problem finding them anywhere, so now I still have the bag of them that I brought from home that I'm working through. I can't justify leaving them behind but they are super bulky.

   *Clothes. Since we're constantly jumping back and forth between climates and seasons we've had to cart both hot and cold weather clothes the entire time, which is definitely a pain. We also both caved in midway and picked up a pair of jeans so we can feel less like backpackers on certain days, despite the fact that they weigh a ton and take forever to dry. I don't know where we'd be without our travel compression bags--we just pop in our clothes and roll them up, saving valuable space even if the weight never diminishes.

Something else that's changed for me on the road is the concerted effort I need to make to not keep up with the "Backpacking Jonses". No matter where we go we meet people who are traveling longer, with more money, have had better luck Couchsurfing, have much better blogs than we do, etc. In the beginning I found myself constantly comparing myself to other travelers- Did they have a smaller pack? Had they had a "more authentic" experience somewhere? Was their reason for traveling better than mine?

The list was endless, especially when I got caught up in reading myriad travel blogs and then it just spiraled out of control. I had to make a conscious effort to just let go and stop beating myself up over what others were or weren't doing. Sometimes that meant blocking out a loudmouth at the hostel bragging about some ridiculous jungle experience with a local tribe, or systematically deleting all the travel blog bookmarks on my computer so I wouldn't sit there for hours ruminating on others' travels instead of relishing my own (however, I still follow Ellen's and Kim's because I knew and loved them before our trip!) . It's been a struggle and not one that I always win, but at least I'm aware of it and work to nip in the bud now.

So there you have it- one year down and at least another six months to go. The coming months will take us through Eastern Europe, into Scandinavia, the UK and maybe even Africa. We so appreciate your constant love, support and readership and look forward to several more months of blogging. As always, questions, comments or topics you'd like us to blog about are always welcome!



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Amanda July 2, 2013 at 10:30 PM

I knew it was coming up but I can't believe you've already been a year on the road. Thank you for another great post and peek into your life abroad. Missing you as always. Happy tavelversary and may the road continue to rise up to meet you.

Hugs
-Amanda

Ellen Mann July 3, 2013 at 3:55 AM

Congratulations!
Your second- and third-to-last paragraphs are huge. I totally feel you on it, because, as you know, I do it all the time myself. We all do it in one way or another. Noticing it - and practicing to stop it - really improves our experiences!
I hope your trip continues as long as you want it to, and that it includes another swing through Thailand!
You guys are amazing! xoxo e

Anonymous July 3, 2013 at 6:22 AM

Wow! Can't believe it's been a year traveling! I have so enjoyed reading your blog and all your adventures. I feel I know you so much better than I did before you left. As for your writing skills? Your blog has made me smile, laugh out loud and cry...it's gotten me through some rough nights of my own the past year and made me think about...time that is given. Enjoy and be safe!

Linda

Leah July 3, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Thanks for all the love and comments Amanda, Ellen and Linda! All the best to you and know that you're missed!

Anonymous July 5, 2013 at 5:40 PM

A year! Already? Congratulations you two, and keep these amazing accounts of your travels coming!

Cheers,
Kelly Locke

Leah July 8, 2013 at 9:14 AM

Thanks, Kelly, hope wedding planning is going well! xo

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