31 Things You Absolutely Take for Granted Before Spending 6 Months Traveling Around the World
31 Things You Absolutely Take for Granted Before Spending 6 Months Traveling Around the World
From the most random to the most obvious, these are the 30 things you’re probably taking for granted right now…and will learnt to appreciate very quickly if you decide to travel long-term like we did.
If you’ve been following Jeff and I for the last year you’ll know we quit our jobs in Dubai in June 2018 to travel the world and haven’t looked back! It was the best decision we’ve ever made, and while scary, has lead us on an amazing adventure around the world where we visited over 25 countries, hiked to Machu Picchu, camped at the Grand Canyon, drove the Salt Flats of Bolivia, explored Serbia, drank at Oktoberfest, did yoga in Bali and even trekked to Everest Base Camp in Nepal.
While we enjoyed every second of our trip, there are aspects of long-term travel that few ever think of hiding behind the glamorous Instagram photos and happy social media posts, and while all aren’t bad, some you may never have thought of while comfortably living in one place.
1. A Comfortable Bed
This one is quite obvious, but you forget how used to your own bed, and especially pillows, you become until you don’t have either of your own for 200 days. Weird creaks, creases, lumps and bumps are to be expected - some good and some not!
2. Clean Bed Sheets and Pillow Cases
Almost as important as a bed itself are the sheets you sleep in, so forget sleeping with the comfort of knowing when they were last washed while staying at an AirBnb in Montenegro or in a salt hotel in Bolivia - your guess is as good as ours!
3. A Functional and Efficient Washing and Dryer
You don’t know the struggle of not having clean clothes until you wake up and realize you have none and have no idea where to get clothes washed in Slovenia. The struggle is real. Cherish that little washing machine you have, friends.
4. Drinkable Tap Water
Living in Dubai we certainly never dared drink the tap water anyway, but having to Google “is the tap water in Peru potable” over and over certainly made life more exciting - and not in a good way.
5. The Sun on My Face
Traveling can be chaotic, hectic and exhausting, and while you may find yourself lost for weeks and weeks in winter climates and literally never see the sun, you can also simply forget to stop for a second and enjoy it.
6. A warm and Comfortable Blanket
This is another one of those things you never think about until you are freezing your buns off in a hostel in Romania with only a paper thin sheet. See that blanket on your couch right now just waiting for you? Never take it for granted again.
7. Warm Shower
We were gifted the chance to be reminded of this one over and over and over again while traveling around the world. It became so frequent actually that it was the exception to have a warm shower, let alone a hot one. And don’t even get us started on poor water pressure. No matter how warm the water is, it’s hard to enjoy it when it just feels like someone spitting on you from a ladder…
8. Functional Kitchen
If you know Jeff and I you know we are far from master chefs, but this doesn’t mean we don’t still require simple plates, bowls and silverware to eat a proper meal, we aren’t animals. But when you’re trying to open a can of tuna with a salad spoon or eat yogurt with a fork you really miss the simple pleasures of having basic kitchen tools and appliances.
9. Knowing Where Your Belongings Are
This one is a HUGE one! You know how you wake up in the middle of the night to pee and your hand goes perfectly to the light switch in the bathroom even though it’s dark? Nope, not in that hotel room in Arizona it doesn’t. While having new surroundings is understandable, and expected, not knowing where your basic belongings are is a constant pain in the neck. The sentence “Ohh yea, that paper…hmmm.. I know for sure it is probably in this corner of my backpack.” is not always reassuring, especially when you’re in line at immigration in a new country.
10. A Full Fridge
Being in control of your diet is one thing you’ll take for granted before you travel full-time but having no food in your fridge, if you even have one, is an entirely other matter. Nothing is worse than arriving to a new city in a new country you’ve never been in and realising the only thing in the fridge at your AirBnb is some old honey.
11. Ability to Think Long-Term
When you’re traveling long-term you really only think until the end of that day, or week if you’re lucky. And while you may dream about the future, it’s never real while you’re on the road, “the future” is just some far off mystical land that doesn’t exist, because you’re living in the moment man! Right? Well, let me tell you, after 200 days of doing this, being able to plan to go to that wedding or set a gym schedule for 3 months from now is a luxury you simply do not have.
12. Ability to Plan for Next Month Based on Last Month’s Data
I like numbers and charts, like really, really like them, they make sense to me. But when you’re traveling long-term and in a new country every other week it is really hard to be able to keep track of, and predict, how the next month will play out, especially as your data and expenses are changing so often and unpredictably. “Ok, how much do we spend on drinks?” you think to yourself looking over last months expenses. “Ohh, that’s right, we ended up in Germany for Oktoberfest, so this data is flawed.” It’s very frustrating.
13. Having a Transportation Card
This is one of the pet peeves, but how nice is it to just whip out your wallet and scan it on the machine in one swipe as you walk onto the train instead of trying to Google translate an entire wall of info to help you buy the right city pass to get you around who-knows-what-city? The amount of left over transport cards with way too much money left on them in my purse is absurd.
14. One Currency
You probably think new currencies are fun, huh? Wrong. Just wait until you get home after a night in Denmark and think to yourself, “You know, I think we did pretty good tonight? Didn’t spend too much.”, and then realise the next morning that the Danish Crone is, in fact, not equivalent to the Euro and you’ve spent three times as much. No, those beers weren’t that cheap mate!
But for the record, Israel and Bolivia have the coolest currency :)
15. Knowing Where to go Running
Don’t get me wrong, being able to strap on your running shoes and explore a new country on foot, while building up a sweat, is sometimes awesome! Other times, like when you end up walking on the side of the highway in a construction zone with no way to escape in Lima, Peru, it is not! Being able to simply jump outside your house and go for an easy run without having to look up routes, street signs, highways and walking paths is a pleasure we always took for granted until we spent 6 months traveling around the world.
16. Understanding a sentence or Two in a Foreign Language
It can be super frustrating to simply not be able to communicate what seems to you to be the most easily understood concept. When all you want is a bed not being able to understand what the 350 year old hotel owner is repeating over and over is a real way to kill your mood. The same goes for never being able to order your coffee the way you like it because you don’t know how to say “decaf” or “milk on the side” in Thai. Sigh, the struggle is real.
17. Knowing Where and When the Sun Should Hit the Windows
You know that magical feeling when you’re all curled up on your couch, probably with that blanket we talked about earlier, and at the perfect time of day the sun peeks from behind the neighbouring house and hits you smack in the face in all it’s glory? How nice it that? Now imagine you’re in a dingy hotel room somewhere in Indonesia and realising that although you are in one of the hottest and sunniest places on Earth, there is not even one minute each day when that window in your room gets even an ounce of sunlight. What a bummer.
18. Knowing Which Light Switch Switches Which Light
If I had $1 for every time Jeff woke up early to read, make coffee or go running and turned on what surely must have been a government issued spotlight directly in my face, I’d have like $32. Not knowing which light switch goes to which light is something you figure out in a new house or apartment in about one day. Now imagine moving into a new apartment every other day for six months. You get the picture.
19. Having a Constant Temperature Inside
Ohh what a fun surprise it is to wake up at 3am in Bolivia and realise it is the coldest you’ve ever been in your life. Or the same, but boiling hot, while camping at the Grand Canyon. It’s the seemingly tiny things that stand out like a sore thumb when you’re traveling long-term and they never seem to get better.
How nice is an automatically deposited pay check on the 25th of every month? You might hate that job, but you’ll sure think twice when the 25th passes for six straight months and some omniscient being hasn’t electronically sent you more money for the next one. Pros and cons, amirite?
21. Discovering and Saving Favourite Restaurants and Bars to Take Visiting Friends and Family
This one is so frustrating! There is no more exciting feeling than finding that PERFECT rooftop bar or lounge in Belgrade and then realising you’ll probably never be there again, let alone be able to take your parents or best friends when they visit, because in case you forget, you don’t actually live in Belgrade, you’re just spending 24 hours in Serbia. We’ve had great love affairs with coffee shops, cafes and bars all around the world that sadly are more like one night stands we’ll never speak to again.
22. Memorising Routes
The amount of times Jeff and I have ended up in cities we’ve never heard of only to head out and start walking before we remember we don’t know where we’re going and have no internet, is truly laughable. You simply always take for granted that you’ll have at least some sense of where you are in the world or at least an easy way to find out - but not all the time! And that’s been us about one hundred times this year.
23. Planning Weekends Ahead
When your best friend tells you she has a long weekend off later in the month and asks where you’ll be, you can’t really respond with “I dunno, probably on an overnight bus with a headache in Nepal?”. Being able to have an actual schedule and being able to plan your time, life, relationships, events, etc ahead of time isn’t to be taken lightly.
24. No Time Change
In 2018 Jeff and I changed time zones 21 times, and I don’t mean “Oops, its 8am not 9am.” I mean wide awake at 3:15am because your body thinks it’s lunch time. Being able to set your body clock to a set time zone and stop worrying about trying to relocate all your friends around the globe based on how many times you change time zones is a fantasy that is sadly not within reach when you’re traveling long-term.
25. Chargers Always in the Same Place
This is gigantic pet peeve #2! Before we left Dubai we had set chargers everywhere. We each had both an iPhone and watch charger permanently attached to each side of our bed, one by the couch, one in the kitchen and one at work - and we always knew exactly where they were. But the second you step on an airplane, those sneaky little white cables head for the hills and simply vanish. Thought you put in in this zipper in your backpack? Nope. Sorry. It’s gone.
26. No Need for Adaptors
Adding insult to injury on the missing iPhone charger front, not being able to plug it into the wall once you find it is a new level of frustration. The next time you run into us on the street ask us about the time we blew the entire apartments power off at an AirBnb in Greece and how long it took to get someone to fix it, and all because of a faulty converter.
27. Knowing Where to Buy Favourite Food and How Much It Costs
Jeff and I are creatures of habit, if you can believe that. We like the same foods, same groceries and ordering from the same delivery places. But jump on a plane and land in a new country and that all flies right out the window. This results eating nothing but nasi goring and coconut water while filming our 48 Hours in Bali or Jeff’s weird obsession with Lemon Coke Zero in Croatia. Yes, it’s fun to find new and exciting foods when traveling, but sometimes you just want to make a damn tuna sandwich without it turning into a huge production because trying to buy mayo in India is a nightmare.
28. One Main Bank Account
When you start planning a trip around the world you think you’ve got it all sorted out financially and it’ll be pretty easy. Then you find out that your Emirates NBD card will mysteriously get declined in Oregon, or that the Dutch don’t often accept Visa cards. Sometimes you’ll reach a hotel and they only accept credit cards, no debit cards or cash. This of course means you’ll end up traveling with two credit cards from Dubai, a debit card from France, a MasterCard from the US and trying to pay for flights through PayPal.
Remember how much I like charts and numbers? Tracking expenses from multiple cards and accounts between different countries isn’t ideal.
29. Payment Rent Once a Month
What are the worst things in life? Peeling hard-boiled eggs, putting pillows in pillow-cases and paying rent, right? While it might seem like the ultimate fantasy to stop paying rent when you head out to travel around the world for six months, you’ll soon find yourself wincing multiple times a week when you spend hundreds of dollars on accommodation. We ended up in Amsterdam for two nights and the cheapest Airbnb or hotel in the entire city cost over $200 a night. Yes, some traveling folk hide out in dirt cheap hotels in Phuket for months at a time, but either way it all adds up!
30. Health Insurance
What are you going to do when you knock out a tooth after eating it on your motorbike in Ecuador or when you can’t stop throwing up in India? These things happen, and while we never like to think they will, when you’re traveling you are far more likely to end up in a situation where having good health, and travel, insurance is going to be an absolute lifesaver. Wherever you live you likely have to carry some type of insurance or, if you’re lucky, get it through work. But out on the road there aren’t any such assurances so you’d better plan ahead and make sure you’re covered. Plus it’ll make you, and your Mom, sleep much better. Haven’t read our “Staying Healthy on the Road” article? We’ve got some good tips in there.
31. Reliable 3G
How on Earth are you going to post that Instastory of your breakfast chia mango green smoothy bowl from Ubud without having solid 3G internet or wifi? You’re not - and while the world won’t care, you will and that’s all that matters. We all need internet, that’s just a way of life in 2019, but you especially need it for far more practical matter than posting to social media while traveling. There is nothing worse than not being able to connect and pull up an important scan of a document, reservation, flight info, etc. when you need it. Sure you can get a new SIM card in each country, but being able to just whip out your phone and Google “Season 8 Game of Thrones trailer” is kind of nice, right?
So that does it! The 31 things you absolutely take for granted before spending 6 months traveling around the world, phew glad we got through that. Which ones surprised you the most? What would you add to the list?
For all those who are curious, Jeff and I are happily settled in Amsterdam in a long-term apartment, each have our own iPhone cables by our bed, know where the light switches are and have all the kitchen appliances we could ever want, only spend money in Euros and know when the sun comes in the kitchen window.