The most common questions I get after 15 months of backpacking
I left England in January 2016 on a one way ticket, so I’ve now been travelling 15+ months on this trip. This now leads to numerous questions that are repeatedly asked daily from travellers, locals and people back home. So I thought I’d write them all in one place! To hopefully inspire, inform and save me having to write the same answers to everyone in messages! (yes I will send you this link if you ask me one of the questions below!)
When are you going home?
If I had £1 for every time I got asked this, then I could comfortably travel the world for the rest of my life and that would be my answer.
Unfortunately I don’t so I best actually answer the question. So here it is quite simply:
When I want to and when I decide where my home will be, as I currently don’t actually know where that is. So yes, that could be anywhere in the world!
Now this is usually greeted with numerous questions and responses so I’ll just deal with them now, as not many people actually believe you can just travel and go home when you want.
How can you afford to be away for so long?
Ah the all important question that every traveller asks me. So I’ll get right to it. I saved my ass off before travelling (you can read how I saved here). I said no to numerous holidays and outings and tried to not buy anything beforehand that would be useless to me when travelling like game consoles etc that I would have to sell at a big loss. You know that few thousand pound, 2 week holiday you booked previously? That will probably get you 4-6 months out in India (that’s 26 weeks travel instead of 2, and I can almost guarantee you’ll have a better time). So your call. No holidays for a year or two, and constant saving can mean backpacking for awhile in Asia. Other continents can, of course, be more expensive.
Travelling really is cheap, like seriously cheap, there’s some days I laugh when I’ve spent less than a Boots Meal Deal on accommodation that has a better view then most of mates will get when they spend £300+ a night on a 5 star hotel. You can read more about my saving here. In India, I’ve averaged around £15 a day, but could do it even cheaper if I really wanted to. Of course India is one of the cheapest countries and I budget £1000 a month usually, and rarely in Asia do I get near that.
I also sold my house a year earlier, and pretty much everything I owned just before travelling. Yes my bed, my TV, my chest of drawers, my iPad etc. Anything that I could. So this gave me a great travelling fund.
I know what you’re thinking, “oh you’re so lucky that you had a house to sell”, trust me, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone what I went through with my ex-fiancée and house selling, so we’ll just leave the definition of “lucky” up in the air.
But surely your money will run out and you’ll have to go back to England?
Of course my travel fund will run out. But you know what? That doesn’t mean I have to return to England if I don’t want to. It always annoys me so much when travellers say they’re going home because they’ve run out out money and not because they want to. You can work abroad some where! There’s so many options.
You can work for accommodation and food (take a look at Workaway for instance), do a working visa in another country, teach English somewhere, or even work remotely among many other things! If you want something to last then you find a way to make it last. There’s so many opportunities out here for work. Think of all the opportunities in England or your home country, now think of that across the world!
I’m going to return to England when I want to return and not just due to money. And for the record I love England, but the world is a big place and after being in England for 29 years, I’ve realised I haven’t really experienced the world properly until recently. So when I say “return to England”, it could just be for a visit and not for permanent!
Don’t you get homesick and miss home?
I’m lucky in many ways. I’ve got the best family and the best friends. My sister and her family have even flown to see me in Bali (thanks sis!). I know they’ll always be there for me, no matter what. It’s hard at times, but we keep in touch via video calls and this helps no end.
I’ve lived in 3 different towns/cities now in England, and all the times I’ve made amazing friends. However, unfortunately, they’re now spread all over England due to jobs and family life. So I don’t have a”hub” as such.
My parents don’t live near my sister and adorable nieces, and in turn, they don’t live near my friends. So I have multiple places I could go back to and live in England so in my head and heart I don’t really have a “home”. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy for me to travel and not get homesick? Also now I have friends dotted all over the globe. Many in Europe but also in Asia, North & South America and Oceania. So many places that I could settle and already have a friend base.
Then there’s the whole work scenario if I do return to England. Do I just go back to where the job that I want is even if I know no one in that location? Or do I base my location on people I know there, and then choose a job that’s nearby? With all these options, living abroad doesn’t really seem that much harder. I’ll never be able to be physically close to everyone I’m close to in life. I faced this fact a while ago.
And as corny as it sounds, I’m a firm believer of “home is where the heart is”. I’m sure I’ll find my home one day.
Don’t you miss certain things about back home and how do you not get tired of travelling for so long?
I met a girl near the start of my travels and after a few days and me telling her that I was thinking I’d be backpacking for awhile, she said “I think you will. You seem to be designed for travelling”. At first I didn’t really know what she meant by that, but the longer I travel, the more I get it (apart from I still can’t sleep sitting down on a moving vehicle!) I just don’t seem to get annoyed or miss the things other travellers do.
Hate packing your bag? Get a decent bag, packing cubes and don’t bring too much with you.
Hate being scammed? Well read up on the local scams, use common sense and if you do get scammed, then just laugh at losing £2 and use it as a learning experience.
Hate the place you’re in? Then choose somewhere you really want to go. Don’t just stay there because you’ve heard it’s “great”. Stay somewhere that you think is actually great.
Having a bad day and want to go back home? Guess what? I can pretty much guarantee you will have bad days back home too. Just move on and look forward to tomorrow. As the saying goes, “your success rate for surviving bad days is currently at 100%”. Don’t dwell on the bad times. They’ll happen wherever you are.
I think it’s important to find a rhythm and routine that’s good for you and do what works for YOU. I can’t laze about for more than a day at most. I hate that. That’s when I get bored so I’m always doing stuff. This keeps me energised for travel as I’m always looking forward to the next activity or place. Of course others I know will rest in places for ages and find travelling tiring if not having many rest days. Find your own kind of routine while travelling and you’re mostly there I believe. That’s a big part of it.
Also those that seem stressed usually have an itinerary! Just go with the flow!! Travelling is to be enjoyed, don’t be stressed by trying to cram so much in before your next flight.
As for things back home, I don’t really miss much apart from friends and family. Occasionally when really ill, I just long for my old bedroom, with privacy, comfy bed, a duvet and something to watch on Netflix while I feel like death. However actual objects and that I don’t miss really. Too busy seeing the world and doing amazing things and meeting incredible people. This week, for instance, I’ve trekked and slept on a mountain, paraglided from a 2400 metres high run off, and seen the Dali Lama. Do I really miss my 50″ television that I sold before coming out? HELL NO!
You’ve been travelling alone this whole time. Do you ever get lonely? Is it easy to meet people?
I WANT MORE ALONE TIME!!! Seriously if you can talk to a human being then you’ll meet people. I’ve been to places this trip where I haven’t seen a tourist or backpacker for a few days. What do I do? Interact with the locals!!! However there’s always backpackers about, even when I’ve been to random places like a surf town in Tawain! I’d say 99.99% of the time I’m with people. That 0.01% I now saviour. Hence why I’m writing this. Finally got some alone time! Just choose good hostels, put yourself out there at times, and if you’re in a group and see someone alone, then reach out to them. In turn, it will hopefully happen to you too at some point.
What made you travel in the first place?
If you don’t know my back story then read here. But to put it simply and concisely (first time ever for me) I got to a point in my life when I just thought “is this really it? Is this me now for the next 40 years? There must be more to life than this”. Guess what? For myself I was right and it’s lead to the best 15+ months of my life.
What countries have you been to so far then on this trip?
Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines, Malaysia & Borneo, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Holland, Belgium, Nepal, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and India!
Favourite country of this trip?
Ahhhh I hate this question. If I had a gun to my head to pick one, then maybe the Philippines? (Just don’t get whale sharked out). Maybe a lot of it was down to the timing in my life, the people I was with but damn I love that country! The locals are some of the friendliest I’ve ever known, always smiling and laughing, the beaches are the best I’ve seen and then for activities it’s up to you! Beach parties, sunbathing, nightclubs, trekking, scuba diving, surfing, boat tours, camping overnight on a deserted island, water sports, the list is endless. You make it what you want! There’s a good backpacker community there, but it’s not overrun with them…yet (I need to stop recommending people to go here!).
However the best bang for your buck has to go to India, So cheap and so diverse across the country from deserts, to beaches to mountains, and so so different to life back home. The country is very easy to travel around due to their being so many airports, train and bus stations, and so many people speak English if you’re ever lost. Oh and the food is just amazing!!!!
What do you think about Brexit?
Argh, it doesn’t matter if you meet a local that only knows 12 words of English, one of them will be “Brexit”. In short it sucks on a personal level, as my pound is now worth roughly 20% less than when I first set out in January 2016, so in theory it’s wiped a few months of travel time off me. Also it now means 27 countries that previously welcomed me with open arms to work and live visa free, now may only allow me to visit for a bit. We’ll see what happens in the future for Britain but I wish we had remained.
Still travelling with no real plan as opposed to an itinerary?
Hell yes!! I hate having stuff planned! How do you know if you’re going to like a country or a place?! You’ll meet people that will recommend stuff all the time out here. You need to just go with the flow.
I’ve done a 2 month backpacking trip before with all flights and some accommodation booked before leaving. I’ve now done 15 months travelling without a plan and they don’t even compare. Just go with the flow! You’ll thank me later!! You can see my route so far here. Flight tickets last minute can sometimes be very cheap.
So they’re the questions I get asked daily. Any other questions, please free to ask in the comments below!