When we started planning our year-long extended honeymoon around the world, we didn’t really know what to expect.
We had a lot of hopes and dreams: we wanted to become wiser, healthier, better versions of ourselves. We wanted to become the sort of people who climb mountains regularly and do yoga at sunrise every day and read books instead of surf the internet and write deep, meaningful things about life, the universe, and everything in a leather-bound travel journal.
We wanted to be the kind of travel couple you see on Instagram, their blissful lives centered around nothing but looking attractive in different places each day.
Well, none of that happened. Except we did do yoga at sunrise exactly 1 time.
But we did gain a lot by traveling as a couple for a year. Frankly, most of what we gained was stuff we never asked for and are still trying to get rid of. Here’s a list of 25 things we never asked for from traveling together for a year!
We traveled the world together for a year and all we got was …
1. At least 5 friends on Facebook that we don’t remember meeting
Like, I’m sure we hit it off that one night in a hostel somewhere but maybe one of us was drunk or possibly you kidnapped my phone and added yourself because I have no idea who you are or where we met. But I’m going to keep liking all of your photos from Bali and Malaysia anyway.
2. A bunch of obnoxious anecdotes that start with “when we were in …”
Cue some long-winded story that we spend 20 minutes retelling together (complete with
adorably obnoxiously interrupting each other like “no, YOU tell this part!”) to some poor friend who has to nod politely and smile while secretly rolling their eyes as hard as they can.
3. The burning need to interject whenever we hear someone mention a place we’ve been to
All you have to do to is say “I was thinking of taking a trip to Colombia…” into the mirror 3 times and we’ll suddenly appear behind you with 15 blog posts and a 50-minute long monologue about how amazing it is/where to go/what to do/where to eat/which bus company to use/a recommended itinerary/a suggested budget/what to pack/where to stay/…
4. An enormous sense of entitlement
Whenever some poor victim asks us an innocent question like “so how long are you visiting for?” and then doesn’t seem appropriately impressed with our story of quitting our jobs, gallivanting off on a year-long honeymoon, and backpacking our way through Alpaca World ™, we’re like, “ugh, that waiter/barista/cashier didn’t even seem impressed by us. What a dick.”
Entitlement rating: too damn high.
5. An appreciation for ice water
Ice water feels so f**king luxurious now. Spending months having to purify every sip of water that we drank and carefully pushing aside dangerously wet lettuce leaves has given us a newfound appreciation for ice. They just GIVE it to you in the USA. Like, for free. Amazing!
6. -10 pieces of clothing
When we started this trip, we painstakingly packed every piece of clothing carefully with an intended purpose in mind like “this is my Hiking Shirt ™” “this is my Casual Dress ™” (and made a bunch of crucial mistakes, but still) but then we had to do laundry in sinks and move from hostel to hostel all the time and somewhere along the way all of my carefully chosen clothes were lost and replaced with random t-shirts, a giant scarf with an eagle on it, and 3 pairs of sunglasses I’ve never seen before in my life.
7. +10 lbs each (at least)
We had this idea that during the course of our ~travels~ we would both magically turn into the tanned, 6-packed, blonde travel couples frolicking up mountains and lounging on beaches together that are all you ever see on Instagram (like these 50 romantic AF Instagram #couplesgoals) or in the Google Results for “travel couples”.
We figured through an intense regimen of Really Difficult Hikes, using our feet as our main form of transportation, and carrying 40+ pounds on our backs every day, our bodies would shape up into tan, sculpted Travel Bods. Instead, we both developed addictions to beer and croissants and my only tan line is from my beloved Tevas.
8. A raging sugar addiction
You know when you’re on vacation and the waiter asks if you want dessert and you’re like “F*ck it Cheryl, I’m on VACATION, so let’s DO have some creme brulee cheesecake and a wine spritzer marg!!! #YOLO!”
We’ve been doing that every day for the past 12 months.
Like we have to actually stop ourselves from having breakfast dessert or replacing entire meals with cake. RIP, Travel Bod dreams.
9. The unreasonable expectation that every hotel, Airbnb, and hostel have a pet
After befriending countless dogs, cats, alpacas, and chickens in hostels, we get extremely disappointed whenever a hostel, hotel, or Airbnb doesn’t have a pet. It’s officially one of the determining factors we use to decide which hostel to book. “This place is $100 a night for a 10-person dorm, but there’s a German Shepard puppy! Let’s book it.”
10. A deep resentment for everyone else sleeping in our hostel dorms
We’re too cheap to spend more than $20 a night on a place to sleep, but we’re also too old & too petty to not throw shade at the asshole eating a bag of chips in bed at 11 pm or the douchebag who woke up at f***king dawn to loudly changed into his f***king yoga gear after insisting everyone turn the lights out at 7 pm because his circadian rhythm had been reset at a Vipassana retreat (YES YOU, American douche in our hostel in Arequipa, Peru: YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).
11. 10 hours of sleep every night
I’ve always wanted to be a Morning Person ™. I look at travel pictures on Instagram and they’re all captioned “arrived at dawn to take pics before everyone else showed up #butfirstcoffee” and “woke up at 4 am purely out of excitement for the day ahead #travel” and I just figured, like, that’s what happens when you travel. Your circadian rhythm like, resets, and you just wake up magically at dawn ready for the exciting day of ~travel~ to begin.
Well, let me tell you: magically becoming a Morning Person™, much like Travel Bod, is a f**king lie. Since the literal day after I quit my job right up until this morning, I have been completely unable to wake on anything less than a princessy 10 straight hours of sleep. And it’s not just me – we’re BOTH Rip Van Winkles. What is wrong with us that we need 10 f**king hours of sleep every single night?!
No art museum or empty beach or Insta-worthy photo op has ever been able to drag our butts out of bed before 9 am. I have no idea how I’m going to explain this to future employers: “sorry I’m late again, it’s just that when I was traveling for a year my circadian rhythm reset, you understand.” Ugh, do you hate us kind of? I do.
- 2018 update: I don’t have to! I work for myself now, so I’m allowed to be late EVERY DAY. Dreams do come true!
12. The loss of all of our most expensive items
Bringing something that costs more than $100 on a long-term trip is basically like signing a contract that says “this item will serve as a sacrifice to the Travel Gods.”
From the expensive prescription sunglasses Jeremy lost on our first week in the blinding Caribbean sun, to the Kindle I left on an overnight bus in Peru, to the fancy technical hiking pants that got “lost in the laundry” the night before we left to hike to Machu Picchu (probably the root cause of our failure to hike the Inca Trail, tbh) nearly every single expensive item we brought has mysteriously vanished during our travels.
13. The ability to speak Spanish conversationally to taxi drivers
I’m really proud of this, actually. When we stepped out of the airport in Cartagena last July and got into our very first ever taxi in South America, we spent 45 minutes circling around Getsemani trying to helplessly point at buildings and communicate via hand gestures to our poor, sweet driver who had no clue where our hostel was and no idea what we were trying to tell him in our terrible, broken Spanish.
Flash forward months later as we ride to the airport in Santiago, I’m in the midst of a spirited political discussion about Trump’s win and the Chilean democratic system with my taxi driver (he assured me that Trump would have never won in Chile). These days, I prefer to sit up front in taxis just so that I can impress them with my conversational taxi Spanish.
14. Lots of feelings about backpacks vs. suitcases
We’ve tried both, and at various points during our travels, we’ve loved and hated each. On the one hand, backpacks are much easier to carry around and they limit the amount of stupid, useless sh*t you can burden yourself with – especially expensive sh*t that you will definitely lose. On the other hand, getting anything out of your bag requires a 20-minute long exercise in unpacking and re-packing (thank goodness for packing cubes).
When we don’t have our backpacks with us, we feel nostalgia for their ~character~ and yearn for the days when we could simply throw our things on our backs and go. When we do have our backpacks, we yearn for the days when we didn’t have to climb 3 flights of narrow, hot stairs carrying 40+ pounds of sh** on our backs or worry about getting stuck in short doorways.
15. A maxed-out tolerance for tourist attractions (sorry, museums & cathedrals).
When I was planning our year-long honeymoon, I created this massive travel document where I researched each place we were going during our trip (before that all went to sh*t and changed a zillion times) and listed out all of the cool, fun stuff to do there. There was a museum to visit in each place we went – sometimes more than one. We’ve always been the sort of travelers who enjoy perusing art museums to learn about local culture and history. So I figured, we’ll hit up a lot of art museums. Art museums are great.
Well, f**k that. We went to like 3 art museums before we were like “let’s just f***king Google the history and culture.” Or better yet, take a food tour and learn about the history and culture while stuffing our faces.
Museums are great when you’re not going to one every f***king week. Nowadays, if it’s not free, and it’s not rated 15/10 on Trip Advisor, it’s not happening. In a similar vein: statues, churches, and cathedrals that aren’t world-famous, Arc du Triomphes, and ruins that aren’t literally Machu Picchu.
- Ahem: a notable exception to the Museum rule is Brussels, Belgium, where we f**king BINGED on museums. Brussels has rad museums.
16. Snobby insider knowledge about various alcoholic drinks
Before this trip my opinions on wine could answer the question “red or white?” and that was it. Beer? Gross, no thank you. Pisco? Literally no idea what that is. Then we realized how much we love booze travel.
Turns out, we LOVE going to distilleries, breweries, and wineries. We LOVE doing guided tastings, food tours, food pairing tours, you name it. And through our newfound obsession with booze travel, we’ve gained a huge amount of snobby insider knowledge about booze.
Wine? Well, we’ve been wine tasting in 4 countries, so which terroir are you referring to? Beer? Let me tell you about the 9-step pouring rule for Belgian beers (or just read this entire Belgian Beer guide we wrote). Pisco? We’ve tasted it straight from the barrel AND learned how to make Pisco Sours from scratch.
It’s like all of our douchey travel stories have converged with all of our drinking habits, turning us into absolutely the most irritating drinking partners of all time.
17. Several pending insurance claims
I’m so grateful that we bought Traveler’s Insurance because it turns out that we’re incredibly accident and bad-luck prone. Sure, we managed to get rescued off of a waterfall and horribly lost in the Andes, but we also had more expensive accidents. Like the time someone handed us the keys to a BMW in France and within 20 minutes of this incredibly expensive car being placed in our care, the front headlight managed to somehow smash itself – and then somehow got stuck inside a medieval castle. Insurance claim #1.
Although our insurance claims aren’t all due to our own bad luck. At one point we had to cut a portion of our trip short to take care of my ailing 93-year old grandfather, who is fine now and also, it turns out, possibly immortal (but that’s another story, which you can read about here).
- 2018 Update: Literally a month after writing this post, on our VERY LAST adventure, I got a massive ear infection. We were in Costa Rica and our flight home was in 2 days and I was like “hey, you know what doesn’t sound like a terrible idea? White water rafting!” …. Spoilers: it was terrifying, and it also gave me the world’s most painful ear infection. I had to get a painful shot in my butt and push our flight back. Insurance Claim #3. Seriously guys, DO NOT skip out on Traveler’s Insurance! We got THOUSANDS of dollars back from our various disasters thanks to World Nomads.
Not sure if travel insurance is worth it? We’ve got a detailed guide to travel insurance that will help you decide.
18. Whatever the opposite of “a routine” is.
It’s been so long since we had anything resembling a routine that I’m worried about our ability to re-integrate into society in the future. There’s the “unable to wake up before 9 am” thing. There’s also the “we made plans, but then we didn’t feel like doing them so instead we bought plane tickets to a different country” habit that we seem to have developed.
And then there’s this Boy-Scouts-esque thing where we feel like we have to prepare for every possible situation each day “just in case” we feel like changing plans midway through the day and end up needing a jacket/snacks/computers/cameras/nail file/lip balm/our passports/cell phone chargers/raincoat/etc/etc.
Every day, each of us carries a fully packed day bag, as if we’re going on a hike to somewhere that has WiFi and outlets. One day we’re going to find ourselves standing in a grocery store or a bank or some other totally ordinary place with giant packs on our backs like “why the f**k did we bring all this sh*t?”
19. Sooooo many pictures. Too many pictures.
We haven’t even had a chance to look through our wedding photos yet (ugh I feel so bad but they all got sent to us after we left and we just haven’t had time but ugh they were so expensive) and by now we’ve easily amassed another 20k+ pictures of sh*t like random cute dogs on the street and every plate of food we’ve eaten for the past 12 months.
I have no idea if any of this stuff is even remotely usable, but we have to document everything Just In Case one day I get desperate and write a blog post like “all the dogs we took pictures of in South America” or “every plate of food we ate for the past 12 months.”
20. A weirdly high tolerance for time spent in transit
After a zillion miserable 18-hour overnight bus rides on cliffside unpaved roads while watching poorly dubbed Fast and the Furious 18: A Series of Fast & Furious Events and trying desperately not to hurl, anything shorter seems like a walk in the park.
Spending 8 hours cramped and thirsty on a budget airplane? Pssh! Ain’t no thing. Bring it on, Ryanair. 6-hour drive to go see some random roadside attraction I found on Atlas Obscura? Reasonable day trip. Our transit time tolerance is insane.
21. A weirdly low tolerance for when laundry needs to be done
Back at home it was pretty common for us to re-wear the same pair of jeans for a couple of weeks straight. Now? It’s everything. Laundry day isn’t even the day we run out of underwear anymore. It’s several weeks past that.
You may call it gross, but we call it economical – laundry costs money when you’re traveling! Precious money, that could be otherwise spent on things like croissants and beer. But don’t worry, showers are free.
22. Strong opinions about carbonated water
While backpacking South America, without realizing it, we suddenly found ourselves completely addicted to agua con gas. Gas water, as we lovingly call it, costs the same amount as buying regular bottled water – which you have to do anyway if you don’t feel like spending almost 2 minutes purifying your water with a Steri-Pen, which I’m not ashamed to admit we were sometimes too lazy to do – and so we found ourselves craving the bubbly, room-temperature bliss of a grocery store aisle gas water.
And what’s more, we became brand snobs. We’re like those douchebags who refuse to drink anything but Evian and Perrier, only our brand of choice is only sold in Ecuador: nothing comes close to Guitig, which is snow-melt filtered through the Andes and naturally carbonated in mineral caves deep under the earth and then hand-bottled by tiny herds of magical alpacas. We long for the sweet, bubbly bliss of Guitig as much as we yearn for the marshmallowy finish of a perfectly poured Westvleteren (see: #16).
23. 5+ years of marriage
Through various incredibly scientific calculations, we’ve deduced that the amount of time we’ve spent together as newlyweds (all day, every day, for the past 12 months straight) versus most normal people who have other things to do (jobs, friends, errands to run on their own, lives, etc) has given us the equivalent of roughly 5 years of marriage in an 11-month span.
I can actually count on one hand the number of occasions when we’ve been not-together for more than 10 minutes in the last 12 months. And it shows. When we started this trip, we were that sickeningly cute couple that does sh*t like play-fight over when to hang up or who gets to eat the last bite.
Now we’re like that sad mid-40’s couple who has run out of things to say and is so exhausted by raising children and paying bills that conversation is actually too much of a hassle to even bother. All of our conversations start out like “How was your day? … never mind, I was there.”
We stopped actually talking months ago, finding that vague hand gestures and eye contact are just as effective.
- Side Note for concerned family & friends: obviously, this is a humorous exaggeration. We do occasionally get crankier with one another than we used to and we are greatly looking forward to not spending every waking minute up each other’s butts, but don’t worry, you won’t be getting your wedding gifts back anytime soon.
24. A burning need to “nest” somewhere, anywhere, everywhere
Picking up our stuff and moving every few days to go explore a new place is as exhausting as it is exciting. And so while we’re not lamenting the massive quantity of wonderful places we’ve had the privilege to explore, we’re also physically craving a home base with every travel-spent fiber of our beings.
We’re at the point where we casually browse Craigslist apartment listings like we used to shop online for our next travel destination. We read blogs mocking overpriced McMansions and secretly wish we could have one even though they’re awful.
We hate-watch HGTV and quietly rage every time Tammy or Linda or Bryce says something like “this basin sink is just a real deal breaker for us” or “we really need a big backyard for Jayden and Brayden to play in, and this 1,000sq foot plebian dog patch just isn’t cutting it” or “we’re really looking for a home with character.”
If there’s so much as a solitary shelf in our hostel room, we carefully arrange our packing cubes on it and then snap at each other when we inevitably leave our s**t strewn everywhere like “that shirt needs to be put back on the shelf where it belongs.” We’re THIRSTY for somewhere to live.
25. The realization that we’re actually basic as f**k
We traveled around the world for nearly a year, living out of backpacks, hitchhiking through the Andes, catching rides on chicken trucks to cross borders, road tripping through French wine country, living the f***king dream life … and we realized that what we really want now is a house, a couch, Netflix, and maybe like, a dog. Long, boring walks at twilight. A daily gym habit. A regular coffee shop where they know our order. Wine glasses. Pieces of reclaimed wood with decoupaged maps and inspirational quotes plastered all over our walls.
You know what? It turns out we’re really f**king basic after all. And after this crazy, amazing, exhausting adventure is over, we can’t wait to settle down, pop out a bunch of kids, go on weekend trips and family vacations, and then – once the kids are gone and we’ve had a good long rest – pack up our old, worn-out backpacks and do it all over again.
- 2018 Update: We now have a very nesty house (WITH A BACKYARD) but instead of going back to work like a regular person, I made travel into my full time job. Read more here!
Have you ever ended up with something you never asked for after a long trip? Tell us about it in the comments!
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