Before embarking on our travels with just a one-way ticket, we had no idea what the future held for us. We thought we were well prepared for travel and ready to conquer the traveller-blogger world, and enjoy every single day.
With the highs and lows, we revelled in every moment of the 8 months of our travels around SE Asia. However, not without these 3 main life lessons learnt along the way.
The first and the most valuable lesson we learnt during our travels is the importance of slow travelling. Especially if you are planning to do some work along way.
We totally fooled ourselves into thinking we could easily travel around, and work. And really, how hard could it be to write a post after exploring?
Believe us, after riding a motorbike all day or exploring 17 temples within 3 days, all you will want to do is put your feet up and have a beer. And that’s exactly what we did!
It wasn’t until 3 months into travelling that we discovered how amazing it actually is to travel slowly. After our 2-day boat trip in Laos, we decided to anchor in Luang Prabang for at least one week and stop moving.
Only then did we realise that we need to do this, otherwise we will never catch up with writing content, let alone starting building a blog.
Since then, while travelling in Vietnam we made a conscious decision to stop in beautiful Hoi An for 1.5 months, and we spent our last two months in SE Asia living in Bangkok. To build our blog further, we are now planning to stop in Malta for the next few months.
While it’s fun to jump from place to place and experience the travel rush in a short space of time, we now appreciate how amazing it is to travel slower and learn a little bit more about a place, the people and culture.
A piece of advice we can give to anyone wanting to travel and blog is to choose the place carefully. Make sure there is speedy wifi in the flat/house and plenty of places to pop out for food. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to travel too far to buy some food if you are in midst of inspiration and the fridge is empty.
Travel Complacency. Avoid!
Travel complacency is a dangerous business. We experienced it first hand at the Cambodian/Thailand border and it wasn’t fun being stuck in between two borders. This was the time when we were happily chatting away about our upcoming two months in Bangkok and how much we’ve missed the city, when Kristina was denied entry to Thailand.
We simply became too complacent about the rules and didn’t check the regulations before making our way to the border.
While Charlie, as a British citizen, was easily stamped into Thailand, Kristina, a Lithuanian citizen, was unceremoniously pulled to one side for further investigation. Not only do Lithuanian nationals need proof of a departure flight when crossing the border overland, but they also have to pay $30 for a 15-day visa on arrival.
We were lucky the officer was kind and gave us a couple of choices to sort ourselves out. We do not wish it on anyone to be stuck in no man’s land trying to book a return ticket to ‘anywhere’ and then trying to print it out just to get into the country. Finally, 5 hours later, disheartened and exhausted we were granted entry.
Make sure to check and double-check the rules. Even if you’ve ‘been there and done that’, things change, rules changes and places change. There won’t be anyone else to blame but yourself!
There’s a useful tip that came out of all this mess: if you ever need to cross at the Krong Poipet/Aranyaprathet border in the Thailand direction then go in the afternoon where there is little-to-no waiting. And if you ever get pulled aside, stay cool, keep calm and try to think clearly no matter how scary the situation might seem.
If we have learnt anything during our travels, it is to be flexible. Sometimes, no matter how much you plan, things don’t always work out. We made plans and had to change them many times during those 8 months on the road, sometimes due to ridiculous things like weather.
It was reaching +40° Celsius when we were exploring Vientiane, the capital of Laos. We wanted badly to visit the 4 Thousand Islands to the south of Laos, but the heat was sweltering and most of our days were spent inside, hiding from the sun.
It soon became clear that we were just wasting our time and money and going even further south would only get worse temperature-wise, so we fled the country. We made a rational decision to fly to Hanoi in Vietnam and it was one of the best decisions we’ve made, hello rain!
Just remember that you will always be able to go back and explore further another time. In our opinion, it’s always better to adjust the plans instead of fighting things you simply can’t change.
If you feel like you are not enjoying the moment, let go and move on, otherwise you risk resenting the whole travelling experience.
This is what travel is all about, not only exploring the new and rediscovering the old, it’s also about learning, improving your old ways of travelling and finding new ways to remain on the road.