When I was 20, I had a 22 day time-span during the summer in which I could afford to take a trip somewhere. I took the time off work and convinced my then-boyfriend to tag along. We decided traveling the entire length of Central America while visiting three different countries sounded like a good idea. We climbed ruins and volcanoes in Guatemala, explored the beaches of Costa Rica and island-hopped in Panama, and in order to do so, also spent about two whole days on buses. I also got food poisoning, but found myself with no time to really recover. Luckily, I was young and healthy and powered through.
Regardless of the amount of ground we managed to cover and fascinating cultures we (quickly) saw, it isn’t anywhere near how I’d plan a trip nowadays. Times have changed!
I spend longer periods of time in places
When I was backpacking around Asia, we averaged about 3-4 days in each location. Big chunks of the trip were flexible, and all we had to do was make a flight in a few weeks time, or try to move onto the next country a whole month later. If we decided we weren’t really feeling a location, those four days somewhere would end up being two, and if we really liked a place, those four days turned into six.
Overall, I felt like 3-4 days was usually the perfect amount of time to spend somewhere. I got to know the location and wasn’t rushed, but also wasn’t allowing myself to get too comfortable.
Traveling is exhausting, especially when you’ve created your lifestyle around it. Taking a flight or an overnight bus every few days sounds like a nightmare to me now. While I would do it if I had to, I much prefer the ability to rest every couple of days. If I don’t, I get burnt out and exhausted.
I can be oh-so lazy
Sometimes I land in a new location without even knowing how to get from the airport. There have been other times when I’ve arrived in a country without any local currency at all, and no clue what the exchange rate might be.
I’ve become the person I never thought I’d be.
These days, when it comes to sightseeing and planning for short trips, I actually plan little-to-nothing. If I do arrange something in advance, its only for the sake of saving money. Now, while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (or a good thing), I’m shocked to see these habits coming from someone who used to plan everything (and take joy in it).
It sounds ignorant, but when you travel a lot, you realize how easy it can be. It’s amazing what you can accomplish anywhere in the world by only reading gestures and street signs. Everything usually just works itself out.
In travel it’s sink or swim, and everyone eventually swims (even if it means an extra hour of roaming around or an over-priced taxi ride).
Before I know what to see, I find out what to eat
My love of food was either a gradual change or maybe just a constant from birth. I can’t ever remember a reason for loving eating (do you need one?), but I didn’t make it a priority in travel until getting to South Korea. While living there I realized just exactly how much food influenced culture, and when it came to Korea, it would take me years to taste it all. In fact, after two years I still hadn’t tried everything– I probably didn’t even come close!
Eating is a social thing. You feel it and you experience it. When you dine like the locals in a country, you are getting a peak into their daily lives. The spices they use and the foods they eat are representative of the geography they live in and the history they’ve been through.
The flavors you experience attach themselves to the memories of that destination and you get a sensory experience unique to anything you’ll ever feel again.
Unless you decide to become an expat, then you can just repeat those happy and delicious memories and discoveries over and over again.
Food has become such an important part of my travels that I research the important dishes (and specifically where to get them) before any of the tourist attractions. Sightseeing constantly can be so exhausting and sometimes I’d rather just search for a good meal.
I love apartment rentals
Hostels are great. It’s a cheap bed and an easy way to make friends. They are also far less scary than most people imagine them to be. I’ve happened to stay at some of the most amazingly clean, hi-tech and comfortable hostels (even though I was still sleeping next to 6 other people).
But sometimes, you just don’t want to do it.
In the past six months I’ve fallen in love with a new kind of travel: apartment travel. In Porto, some friends and I stayed in a nice apartment about 10 minutes outside the center. In Rome, Simon and I stayed in a local’s apartment while he and his roommate were out of town which we found on AirBnb. As you can see, I’m starting to make this it a habit.
You probably remember how a few weekends ago I was staying in an apartment with three other bloggers (who I now believe to be my blogging soul-mates) provided by GowithOh. I had such an amazing time that I actually missed that little home away from home once I was gone. We had long breakfasts around the kitchen table, slept in the comfiest beds and didn’t have to be quiet, lose sleep or make small talk with anyone we didn’t want to. We could be our own crazy selves and just spend time hanging out (and in reality getting to know each other, since we had actually never met in person). It was the perfect weekend vacation.
I love being able to choose the people I’m rooming with. I love having a coffee maker at my own personal disposal. I love not wondering if I’m going to get athlete’s foot in the shower.
This doesn’t mean I’ll only choose apartments while traveling from now on. In fact, I’m sure I’ll be staying in a fair share more of hostels (especially during a trip I’ll announce soon. One hint- they won’t actually be hostels but “albuergues.“) Any guesses where this could be?
How has your travel style changed since you began traveling?