We’ve been home for two months now … I can barely believe it! And it’s been wonderful to be home for the holiday season and spend time with family and friends. We talked about our trip with a lot of people, and it was a bit overwhelming at first to try to boil down the entire trip into one conversation. I just end up rambling on about random things!
But these conversations were good opportunities to reflect more on our experiences and to think, after the fact, about more thoughtful and precise answers. Below, my attempt at providing some more coherent answers to frequently asked questions about the trip:
Where did you go and how long were you gone?
All in all, we spent ten months across South America, Australia, Asia, and Europe.
We started with two and a half months in South America—Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru. We then spent three weeks in Australia followed by four months in Asia—Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.
From there, we went to Europe and spent about a month in the Balkans—Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina—and then continued westward for the final month and a half through Hungary, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and the UK.
What was your favorite part?
This is probably the most common question we’ve gotten, and it’s also the most difficult one. It’s impossible to whittle down ten months of traveling across diverse countries and cultures into one favorite part. We believe that every country and city has something interesting to offer the curious traveler, and we truly enjoyed every place we visited.
The question becomes a bit easier to answer if it’s “what were some favorite highlights of the trip”. In chronological order, here are a few:
- Walking on the Perito Moreno glacier in Patagonia
- Touring the Salar de Uyuni and southwestern Bolivia
- Eating all the dim sum and noodles in Hong Kong
- Canyoneering with my cousins in the Philippines
- Celebrating our birthdays with family in Malaysia
- Visiting an elephant sanctuary in Thailand
- Trekking in the rice terraces of northern Vietnam
- Sailing around the Dalmatian coast in Croatia
- Climbing an old sniper’s nest in Mostar, Bosnia
- Taking a street art walking tour in Berlin, Germany
But this list is by no means exhaustive!
Where didn’t you go that you wish you had?
Another hard question to answer because our travel list is constantly growing. But when we left on the trip, we definitely thought we would make it to India. We ended up cutting it from our itinerary because of weather and drought concerns, but we wish that it could have worked out.
We also didn’t make it to Africa, Central America, or the Middle East at all—and even within the regions we did visit, there is still so much more to do! So basically, there’s still a lot of the world that we’d love to see.
How much did this cost?
The total cost per person was $22,169.46 ($73.41/day). This includes everything we spent during the trip itself plus a lot of upfront and “overhead” costs like insurance, vaccines, and phone plans. It does not reflect money we saved by using airline miles and hotel points, which probably accounted for a few thousand dollars. The total cost per person without the upfront and overhead costs was $18,378.37 ($60.86/day).
Because staying on budget (we actually came in under) was so important, we tracked every single expense!
Your parents must have helped pay for this, right?
We each paid for this trip by ourselves, after saving for several years while working.
However, our experiences on the trip made us aware that we are uniquely lucky to have the parents we have. Our parents prioritized our education growing up and were able to pay for most or all of our college expenses, so we were able to get good jobs right out of school and didn’t have huge student loan balances to pay off. We’re also grateful that they were supportive (though perhaps initially a little skeptical) of us quitting our jobs to travel.
Our extended families were also so generous in hosting us in Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and England. We’re looking forward to returning the favor in the future!
How much did you plan and reserve in advance?
It’s highly inadvisable—plus impractical—to plan too much of a trip like this in advance! Part of the beauty of long-term travel is the flexibility to pursue new paths and immerse yourself in exploration and reflection rather than intensive planning.
But we did plan a few things in advance. We had a rough outline of what we expected our trip to look like—start in South America, then fly to Australia followed by several months in Asia, and ending in Europe. We also booked some hostels and flights for our first few weeks, but in retrospect we would have just booked hostels for the first few nights to build in more flexibility from the get-go.
There are a few big things we’re glad that we planned in advance: buying travel insurance, getting vaccines and essential medicines, and getting an international phone plan. We thought we’d have to do more advanced planning for visas, but that ended up being easy to do on the road.
So what’s next?
We are moving to New York City and are currently job searching up there. We’re both excited about this next adventure and the opportunity to explore a new city!