It may seem glamorous, but it has its dark sides too.

Do you remember when we were walking through the rice fields of Sa Pa and sliding/falling in the mud? Or when the kids giggled the whole time clambering behind that waterfall in Banos? Or the sunsets on Koh Lanta?!! 

White Water Rafting in Banos was cheap and awesome!

Sigh… Such good, good times. 

It is kind of “be careful what you wish for” isn’t it?

Knowing what we do now, I would go back to long-term travelling in a heart beat.

The sunsets on Koh Lanta, Thailand are burned in my brain

The element of slow travel, of exploration and our plan of no planning/go-where-the-day-takes-us suited us wholeheartedly. As a family we became wicked close. As a couple we were bonded in the desire to make this the best experience of our lives.

And man, was it ever.

But as I wistfully reminisced this morning about all the amazing experiences we had, the hubs reminded me that I was looking at our trip around the world through travel-coloured glasses.

Shit. Yes. I totally am.

There was a magical beauty to being able to see Darwin’s Finches every morning as we ate breakfast in the Galapagos

I am in the trenches of my very first #NaNoWriMo experience. NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month is the concept that you can write a novel in one month if you dedicate the time and energy to doing it. Your goal is to get to 50,000 words by the end of November and can enjoy a community of fellow writers who are talking, supporting and encouraging you through the process. It is way harder than I thought, an average word count required to be written daily in order to stay on task that is a bit daunting. Especially when you haven’t quite found the flow yet. I am writing about our trip and as I write I am deep in reflection mode, working on what nuggets should be pulled out to inspire others to do a similar adventure.

If I can convince people to go here because of our writing, I will consider that a success.

Travel is absolutely something special. Yet there are times that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. We create this sunshine and roses ideal, but here are a few piece of reality that made me giggle today as we talked through those funny/not funny moments of our trip.

    • I peed my pants at a World Heritage Site.
    • Lauren threw up all over the bus station in Lima (as we left our backpacks entirely unmanned as we went to clean up the puke off of her, me and every piece of clothes we had on).
    • Chris paid $30 for 3 apples in Vietnam. Sometimes currency conversions just don’t quite work out.
    • Spencer went to the equator but really he just lied on the grass and didn’t move, our very first adventure and he had some kind of flu the whole way through.

  • We got to an AirBnb in the middle of the night and there was zero, absolutely NO toilet paper. None. (Ha! You try and hold it!)
  • We had headphones stolen off a bus in Bolivia.
  • Having to choose meats that are hanging out in hot sun and vegetables in markets that have flies everywhere gives you a stronger sense of “Just deal”.
  • We almost didn’t get on our flight to New Zealand because we didn’t have our visas to Australia sorted (an important note if ever you are going both places).
  • Chris thought he might have died in Sri Lanka, I thought I was going to in Cambodia, Spencer was convinced he was in Ecuador. You will get sick at some point. It is what it is.
  • There will be tight quarters. Claustrophobic level rooms or sharing of beds or kicking one out of bed.

    Our first night in Sri Lanka & yes, that foot was in my face all night and Dad slept on the floor
  • There is absolutely NO such thing as air-conditioning in developing countries at 40+ degrees. It is called a window. Just deal.
  • We over paid for cabs/tuk tuks in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Thailand, Vietnam, Greece and Morocco. Shit happens. You can’t get upset. It just all works out in the wash.
  • We watched corruption at its best in too many countries to count.
  • We saw really hungry kids and families with nothing. It will make you desperate to want to fix it somehow and yet you will start to realize you can’t.
  • We witnessed countless piles of garbage, plastic in the ocean, heart-hurting climate change.
  • Every fish market will always smell bad.
  • We fought in Napier, New Zealand and the kids were convinced we were going to get divorced. (We hardly ever fight, I was hangry and we were living in a close-quarter caravan for a month. It takes its toll).
You try living in this 24 hrs with your family for almost a month and see how you do 🙂

We can laugh at it all now. Sure, we had some minor challenges along the way but it will never take away from meeting some of the most wonderful people in the world.

We used and AirBnb a ton for our trip and as I look at the bad, the opposite is how amazing these hosts made our experiences throughout our travels. It was the people and mother nature that made our trip as special as it was, and I can’t tell you enough how much these folks make me smile.

Alejandro in Quito, Ecuador who dealt with my tears on election night, took us on a tour of Northern Ecuador and introduced us to Otavalo market, local food, hot springs and Bizcochos.

Alejandro our awesome host and tour guide

We got to see how Bizcochos were made from scratch. So much fun.
Maria in Galapagos, Ecuador who coordinated transport and tours and recommended us to local eateries to enjoy life on the island.

Victor in Banos, Ecuador who painstakingly walked us through everything fun to do in Banos and organized zip-lining, white water rafting and cabs (& has the sweetest smile).

Victor was unbelievably kind and we met a TON of fellow travellers at this hostel.

Giovanna in Mancora, Peru who was so welcoming and open to us adding days onto our stay, as well as coordinating pick ups in the middle of the night as we go off the bus.

We adopted or got adopted by a lot of cats & dogs
Normal life became propane stoves and bottled water.
Life & school on the road.

Alfonso in La Serena, Chile  who not only picked us up but helped us go shopping at the local grocery stores as soon as we arrived. Plus he spent time in Edmonton so he already knows how awesome Canada is.

Pamela in Puerto Natalas, Chile who introduced us to Matcha and chatted with us about entrepreneurship, femicide and explained all things Chile to us.

The crew at the Circus Hostel in Buenos Aires who took us local to learn to tango & helped us navigate the currency situation in BA.

It was not uncommon for us to share a bed (2 to a single or 3 to a double) This became one of my all time favourite pics of the trip
Hue in Hoi An  who helped organize scooters for us and took us on a total off-road adventure in the rain..

Hoi An off roading

Wasunt in Bangkok who gave us an epic back alley scavenger hunt to make Bangkok fun & interesting for the kids and Grandma.

Our back alley adventures took us on a long boat trip through the centre of Bangkok

Ruwan in Ahangama, Sri Lanka who (along with Kumara our tuk-tuk driver) went so far above & beyond in hosting us including being part of a 2nd birthday party, bringing oils when Chris was sick, going over to their family’s house for dinner and for taking me across hell’s half acre translating and trying to get my computer fixed (& also for teaching our son to drive a tuk-tuk!)

Spencer became BFF’s with Kumara and we have been able to keep in touch.

Harrison in Dubai  who made us feel fancy as we arrived in Dubai and organized our trips where we needed.

This was by far the fanciest place we stayed on our whole trip. It was perfect. Right beside Dubai Mall and looking out at Burj Kalifa.

Mohammed in Marrakesh who made countless arrangements for tours and meals and talked openly about being muslim and teaching us more about the Koran.

Riad Julia in old town Marrakesh was simply stunning
Mohammed was a lovely host and a genuine human being

As I look back on what we did, I am forever grateful to the human connections we made. They were really the best part of travelling. They are what make me want to do more.

Tags : dangers of long term travelfamily adventure travelhow to prep for a RTW triprtw tripslow traveltravel as a family around the worldwhat can go wrong on a trip around the worldworldschooling
Jenn & Chris

The author Jenn & Chris

Jenn & Chris are #TeamPowell Two adventurous souls who love the off-the-beaten path part of life. Mom & Dad to two kooky kids, they focus on living life without regret, living in kindness and living in the now.

1 Comment

  1. I love this post Jenn. You’re absolutely right. Travel has it’s fair share of tough times. We’ve dealt with food poisoning, terrible accommodations, and unscrupulous salespeople. But it’s always the good times that make the memories.You learn to laugh at the struggles because they often make the best stories. But it’s the little moments that stand out as something magical.

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