Long Term Travel: A Day in the Life of a Travel Couple

Selfie while hiking from Barichara to Guane near San Gil, Colombia!

It’s been almost 2 months since we put our belongings in storage, said goodbye to steady paychecks and friends, and embarked on our year long extended honeymoon. Before this trip, the longest either of us had traveled anywhere was 2 weeks. True to form, around the 2 week mark is when both of us started to feel like we were ready to go home. We were tired, we wanted a couch, we wanted not-our-cat to come cuddle with us, we missed our friends and family. But we couldn’t go home. Home doesn’t exist anymore. Not-our-cat is probably bunking up with some other cozy laps (he’s kind of an asshole) and we sold our couch on Craigslist. So, we soldiered on. Once we made it over the 2 week hump, we started to settle into a kind of routine – or at least, things started to feel less horribly foreign to us as time went on. We’ve gotten a lot of interested questions and surprised reactions from friends and family when we describe our lifestyle nowadays – mostly I think they’re all shocked that we’ve managed to stay showered and groomed, not to mention fed and constantly reachable by WiFi. So, we wanted to give a glimpse into a life we’ve just barely touched the surface of: what’s it like to be a long term traveler? Or in our case, a long term travelling couple?

 

Selfie while hiking from Barichara to Guane near San Gil, Colombia!
Selfie while hiking from Barichara to Guane near San Gil, Colombia!

A typical day in a typical place, thus far, goes like this. Our alarms go off at 7am, but we both hit snooze. There is no reason to ever wake up early anymore unless it’s for something we’ve paid for, like a flight or a tour, so there’s nothing in the universe that can force us out of bed before 10am. Honestly, it’s gotten problematic.  There’s no actual reason for us to need 10+ hours of sleep every night, but our bodies don’t seem to understand that. Anyway, we hit snooze, periodically wake up and look at our watches and consider stepping out of bed, and then don’t manage to actually wake up until 10am, at which point both of us blame the other for not waking us up. Spoilers: it’s always both of our faults.

Around 10am we finally crawl out of bed, or maybe it’s a pod, or maybe we climb down from a bunk bed. The other 8 people in our dorm are usually functioning adults who have managed to already make their ways out into the world; or maybe they’re still sleeping off a hangover from the night before, so we speak in hushed voices and try not to wake them. Dorm life in a constantly revolving set of hostels isn’t so bad; the worst part is that we can’t usually share a bed, and we’re on our honeymoon, so that kind of sucks. Still, it’s not so bad. For around $10 a night, it’s well worth it.

Most of our hostels offer breakfast free with the price of a room; some of them cost a little bit extra. Either way, we shuffle to the kitchen in our pajamas. If breakfast is free, it typically consists of a fresh juice – mango or blackberry or pineapple – some toast with butter,  tea or coffee, and some kind of eggs. We ate so many eggs in our first month that we couldn’t touch them for weeks. Sometimes, breakfast also includes yogurt, or granola, or fresh fruit, or a pancake. If breakfast costs money, we typically just eat cereal with bagged milk, because we’re on a budget, dammit.

Watching blue footed boobies feed in the Galapagos Islands
Hard at work creating blog content… AKA watching blue footed boobies prove that nature is the exact opposite of majestic.

Once we’ve got enough breakfast in us to be mildly awake, the first thing we do is post something on Instagram. We typically have a photo pre-chosen with a caption already set up, and I’ve done a freakish amount of hashtag research (we’re talking spreadsheets, y’all), so actually posting a photo doesn’t usually take very long. But after we post, we spend a while commenting on other Instagram accounts; building a following takes engagement! (PS: follow us!) After that’s done, we start talking about our plans for the day. Usually we have either a rough idea of what we might want to do, or a couple of options to choose from. I’ve already done research as to what’s to see or do in each of the locations we visit; it’s Jeremy’s job to sift through all of my research and come up with a plan of action and a transportation. He usually presents a couple of options, to which I say “mhmm sounds good” while I’m actually still on Instagram and not paying attention. Eventually he gets sassy and demands my attention.

When I’m actually listening, we talk about what to do that day: what will we see? How do we get there? What’s our budget looking like that day? Can we eat lunch out or do we need to pack snacks? We have a strict 1-meal per day rule: one meal at the hostel or a restaurant, and the other must be cooked food or groceries.   This helps us keeps food costs down. We like to think it might help us lose weight, but the first month all we cooked was pasta. We’re no longer allowed to buy pasta. Anyway, we figure out a rough guideline of the day, and then go get ready.

Drunk birding.
Sometimes our daily activity is Drunk Birding, in which we drink wine and look at birds through our binoculars. Because we’ve both turned into my mother.

Our first priority is water. Each day we convert tap water into drinkable water using a SteriPen, which saves us tons of money and also saves copious water bottles from being thrown away. We fill up our reusable Sawyer water bladder and magically drinkify it. Next, clothing. There are not a lot of options to choose from in terms of our outfits, since everything we brought fits into a 50L backpack each. Essentially, there is “active wear” or “looking like a real person,” and warm and cool variations of each. We figure out what to wear based on our activities that day and pack a day bag. If our activity involves being out for a long time or a lot of walking, we’ll typically bring two bags: a hydration pack with 100oz of drinkable water, and a tiny backpack. If we’re just sightseeing or not planning to be out for long, we’ll just pack the daypack. Our usual daypack includes cameras, rain gear (we each have an ultralight Marmot Precip jacket, and no, that’s not the only item of clothing we have that matches), a water bottle, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray,  tiny binoculars, phone chargers, and a Kindle just in case our phones die. We keep the bag locked. On our person we carry our passports, cell phones, credit cards, and cash. Mine is tucked away into a pocket that fits under my shirt; Jeremy has a money belt under his pants; and we both have backup cards and cash stashed in various other places, including some that stay locked in our locker at the hostel. That way in case we get robbed, we have multiple backups.  Read more about our numerous travel precautions here.

Matching married couple at the Quilotoa Lake in Ecuador.
Nooo YOU’RE a lame matching married couple. Sigh. This is what you get when you have the same taste in neutral colors and are both obsessed with REI. We have 3 pairs of the same shoes with us ….

When we’re all dressed  – sometimes, okay often, we’re accidentally matching – and daypacked and ready to go, we finally leave the hostel. If I’m being honest, this is usually no earlier than 11am. Sad, I know. Every day is different: some days we have some adventure booked like a bike tour or white water rafting. Some days all we’re doing is taking a bus from one destination to the next, which is usually around 7 hours of sitting on a shaky bus listening to warbling songs about various dueles del corazon. Some days we’re sightseeing in a city and have a list of museums, churches, and coffee shops to see,  so we walk to a train station and try to figure out how to get where we want to go using deductive reasoning and hand signals. Some days, all we want to do is sit around and do nothing, or maybe just work on the blog all day long. Whatever we’re doing, we’ll typically eat lunch out somewhere – which needs to be $5 per person or less to fit our budget – and take a lot of pictures.

Basílica del Voto Nacional in Quito, Ecuador!
A day in the city means visiting places like the Basílica del Voto Nacional in Quito, Ecuador!

We usually get back from a day of touring or sightseeing before dark. Being close to the equator (or literally on top of it, currently) sunset is always around the same time each day, between 6 and 7 pm. The minute we walk in the door we immediately change into sweats or PJs – this is a habit  of ours that is unaffected by travel. Then one of us (Jeremy) cooks dinner, while the other (me) does blog stuff: writing a post, editing photos, doing social media promotions, touching up code, there’s always a ton to do. I probably spend about 20-30 hours per week working on the blog, but we only have one computer, which has proven to be a pretty big mistake on our part.

We eat, drink a bottle of gas water (we both have a newfound addiction to gas water. It’s just sparkling water, but it’s called agua con gas, aka gas water), do more blog stuff, and then curl up in bed and watch Netflix (with headphones if there’s anyone else in the room). Our first month we worked our way through Jessica Jones, then Daredevil, and now we’re watching Narcos even though we already left Colombia (oops). After a satisfying day of whatever it is we did, we brush our teeth, set our phone alarms (which is more of a prayer than something that actually affects us, but still) and climb into bed – sometimes together, but more often, separately in bunk beds.

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Approximately .05 seconds after we return to our hostel, this is what we look like: cozy alpaca sweater. Sweatpants. Socks. Comfy AF.
Approximately .05 seconds after we return to our hostel, this is what we look like: cozy alpaca sweater. Sweatpants. Socks. Comfy AF.

Once question that hasn’t been addressed yet: aren’t you guys sick of each other? It’s true that we spend an absolute inordinate amount of time together these days. We went from seeing each other maybe 6 waking hours of each day, to 16. Back in our normal lives, I needed one day per week of “alone time” – time spent totally by myself, doing me things, without anyone whatsoever to talk to, including my husband. As an introvert, I need time to recover my energy after a certain amount of human interaction. Inexplicably, I don’t find myself needing that here. My theory is that without the socialization requirements of a job or a country full of people who speak the same language as me, I haven’t been hitting my “everyone needs to fuck off for a while” threshold. I can count the days that Jeremy and I have spent apart in the last 2 months on one hand – and it was always exciting to be re-united after a few hours of not being together. If anything, we’ve gone from an annoyingly sappy and lovey-dovey couple to an annoyingly sappy and clingy couple. I have no clue how we’re not sick of each other yet, but we aren’t. Maybe eventually, after the 800th time Jeremy tells a slightly altered version of a “beach cevich” joke (for the record, today gave birth to both “beaches and ceviches, bitches” and “beaches get ceviches”, do you see what I’m dealing with here??) it’ll happen. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Hopefully this sheds some light on our lives, and removes a bit of the mystique of the ~travel blogger~. It’s not as glamorous as you’d think! At least, we aren’t. If we’re missing out on some glamour please let us know. These days the most glamorous it gets is when we put on the free slippers we both took from our single solitary stay in a Marriott (I had a free night – thanks work travel!) and shuffle around the hostel with fuzzy feet, lounging in various hammocks. Ok, I guess that’s a little glamorous.

If I missed something you’re curious about, please leave a comment!

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Since we embarked on our year long honeymoon we've found that travel life is totally unlike our regular lives, but it's not as different as you might think.

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