Today marks six months since I have left the comfort of the house I have lived in for 20+ years in Adelaide, Australia. We are just short of the half way mark of our trip and I thought it might be fun to share with you all some statistics and some of the things I have learnt.
A Quick Overview in Numbers
Countries we’ve visited: 20
Number of flights: 12
Number of trains trips (not including local trains): 24
Number of long distance buses: 13
Number of cities: 46
Number of currencies used: 12
Number of times we have got on the wrong bus/train/tram: 5
Number of electrical devices lost or broken: 5
- I am yet to buy shampoo! With what I took with me, and little bottles picked up at hotels, I’ve not needed to buy any!
- The universal food is pizza. It can be bought everywhere, and it’s almost always cheap and edible (although there was one in Mostar that was a bit dodgy!)
- There are lots of stray dogs and cats, particuarly in the Balkans. But rather than strays, they are more like “community animals”. Dogs with tags in their ears have had their shots and in some countries have been desexed. Mostly they look fed and are reasonably friendly and well accepted by the locals.
- We have only used a taxi six times – and three of those have been since we have been in Turkey. There is almost always a public transport option if we take the time to research.
- Simon and I have not had a single decent argument. As some other travellers we met said, “that’s because you are not driving, and one of you navigating!” Probably a fair comment.
What I’ve Learnt
- Europe gets hot! Okay, maybe not Oslo, but in the Balkans we regularly had temperatures in the high thirties.
- It also rains a lot in Europe. Much more than I am used to. Hence we have been wet a lot. It even rains on those hot days sometimes when I least expect it. The clouds roll in and down it comes.
- Traffic signs, lights, and rules are all mostly mere suggestions. We like our structure in Australia, but in Europe it’s more of a look and learn situation. Cross on a green walking man at your own risk! Or do what the locals do – cross when it’s red and the way is clear.
- To download the new language to Google Translate before we go out shopping. Buttermilk does not taste very good in coffee!
- Book trains in Italy at least two days beforehand (it can be done on-line) It’s much cheaper that way! This is possibly the same for other countries too.
- Jeans can be worn forever before they need to be washed.
What You Want to Know
I asked on my Facebook page if there were any questions about our travel, and here are the reponses.
Q. Are you getting tired of living out of a backpack?
A. YES! But thanks to packing cubes at least it’s easy to pack everything in each day. It’s kind of like Tetris – everything has to go in it’s exact spot or it doesn’t all fit.
Q. Is it still exciting?
A. Mostly yes, especially when I am planning the next country/city. I guess if we weren’t excited to go there we would choose somewhere else instead. Travel days are not exciting! They are exhausting, confusing and just plain not fun! I do not look forward to them.
Q. What do you miss the most about home?
A. Of course my kids, closely followed by my other family. I have a really cute niece and nephew that are growing quickly and we are missing out. I also miss fresh, simple, home cooked food. Veggie soup…I will live on that next winter when we get home. I miss being able to do things like laundry without having to plan it days in advance.
Q. What’s the most random thing you’ve done?
A. That’s an easy one! In Prague I participated in a busking act where they were lifting people cheerleading style. All the other voluteers were teenage girls or little kids. Even Simon didn’t think I would do it. Imagine three strong blokes standing with their arms stretched up above their heads holding me only by my feet and ankles!
Q. Who are the weirdest people you have met?
A. Well, I’d love to say this crazy UK couple we met in Florence, but that isn’t true! Not that we really met him, but the guy carrying his marijuana plant on the train in Austria was definitely on the unusual side. We also saw this busker in Sarajevo who was dancing (I think that’s what he was doing!) to his own tune – it probably would have been slightly less weird if we could have heard the music too.
And What You Were All Dying to Know and Didn’t Ask
How much have we spent?
This is an easy question to answer, but it can be hard to explain. We are keeping a record, and the magic number today is $44,368.
But – the first month we had our kids with us, and madly made our way through the big, Western European cities. We went to some big attractions and because we were moving quickly, time rather than budget was often the most precious commodity. At the end of that first month, we were already past the $20,000 mark. This included the kids return flights, and our travel insurance for the whole year.
The number now also includes some of our forward bookings, like some upcoming flights and accommodation.
I don’t think this number will double, but we are now going to be catching a lot more flights, and travelling to more expensive parts of the world than Eastern Europe. I am also hoping that each of the kids will join us for short breaks in the near future – which will increase our spending again!
So are we on budget? Not quite, but that’s due to the huge first month. But we are well and truely inside of my top-of-the-range figure for our trip, and each week brings us closer to budget. Watch this space to see how we do at the end.
Any More Questions?
Is there anything else you are curious about? Feel free to ask in the comments below and I will answer.
Bring on the next six months!
Josie is a forty-something budget traveller. She only discovered travel in her late thirties, but since then has travelled extensively including taking an adult gap year. She is now based in Australia and loves sharing all she has learned about travelling on a budget but with the comforts a Gen Xer requires.