Note: I have uploaded two posts today, this one and “I’m Getting Too Old for This.” Don’t forget to scroll down and read both of them!
For those who wonder about how I’m handling a trip like this, I figured a general assessment of how I’m doing in various respects would help to put things into perspective. It’s really NOT impossible and sometimes it seems even more doable in many ways than a 9-5 workday, regular lifestyle!
Physically I’m doing well. I’ve been fairly sick just once, although I’ve suffered some reactions to foods along the way. The one time I was sick, it was pretty severe for about twelve hours, but full recovery took almost a week and a half, possibly longer. I’ve been fairly consistently plagued by bug bites of varying natures, but nothing serious or infected. Occasionally I get a headache or feel out of it, but am generally recovered by the next day. Twice I’ve felt cold/flu symptoms coming on, but have been able to avoid full-fledged sickness. I twisted my ankle once fairly hard in Thailand, but it was find the next day. I’ve suffered only one mild sunburn.
Mentally I’m also doing well, at least, in my opinion! There are days I feel lonely or homesick, but in general that doesn’t last too long. Oddly enough, I find this hits the most when I’m amongst a large volume of other travelers, due in part because many people travel with friends or partners and therefore don’t always reach out to the singles. One hurdle I passed recently was the “I’m not on vacation” realization. For about two months, I enjoyed my travels as I would any vacation. Then, I started to feel antsy, as if I should be getting back to work. The only thing is… I don’t have a job to get back to! It was a strange feeling, almost like I was doing something wrong. It takes regular reminding that it’s all right to be traveling, and to be doing nothing on some days, even! I have not felt depressed or driven to go home immediately. And thus far, I haven’t begun to worry about my future.
I’m doing all right on my budget. As most of you know, I budgeted fairly high for this trip. I had the great intention of tracking everything I spent and reporting on daily food, lodging and transportation costs. Unfortunately, my dedication flagged after just two weeks of trying this, so now I track my expenditures the easy way: every time I withdraw money from the ATM, I put it into my spreadsheet. This eliminates the hassle of converting the currencies daily as well as remembering every Baht, Reil or Dong that I spend. My mindset is generally that I be frugal but not extra-frugal; that I do the things I really want to do, weighing them against other opportunities that I’ll have in the region; and that the money I put aside for travel is for my trip and if I run out early, then so be it. But, I really hope I don’t run out early!
For those that are curious, here is a general summary of my costs so far.Each country’s costs is an average of the number of days in the country and the total amount spent in that country, to include the transportation for getting there (flight, train, boat, etc), food, accommodations, fun extras, gifts, mail (packages and postcards), toiletries and unexpected costs, like new cameras. Oh, and ATM fees, which have ranged from $0 to $10 per transaction.
- South Korea: 15 days: $71 average per day; overall, well under budget.
- It’s odd that I spent so much, since I didn’t pay for accommodation for most of the trip. Unexpected costs included a new camera when my old one broke. Big extras were a flight to Jeju Island.
- Hong Kong: 6 days: $89 average per day; overall, slightly under budget.
- Again, no lodging costs, but Hong Kong is expensive. Big extras included a trip to Macau and a night-time cruise in Victoria Harbor.
- Thailand: 16 days: $92 average per day; overall, slightly under budget.
- Some lodging costs; traveled with short-term travel friends for half the time; bought lots of souvenirs and some tailor-made clothes; two day trips with a guide.
- Vietnam: 20 days: $58 average per day; overall, well under budget.
- Paid for all but three nights lodging; shared several nights lodging with another traveler; big extras were a trip to Halong Bay, a new camera when I lost my other new one, and a motorbike trip in the countryside for three days; ate primarily street food.
- Cambodia: 19 days: $30 average per day; overall, WAY under budget.
- Paid for all lodging; shared several nights of lodging; ate street food and restaurant food; big extras included three-day pass to Angkor, boat trip to Battambang and a boat day-trip in Sihanoukeville.
- Thailand: 2 days: $72 average per day; overall, slightly under budget.
So, as you can see, I’m under budget! So far I think that I’ll be able to keep slightly under budget in Australia and New Zealand, but I’ll really have to be careful on the big extras. There are just so many to choose from: sailboat trips, sky diving, guided day trips, etc. It helps that I’ll be staying with friends for about two weeks in NZ, but after that, we’ll have to see.
Thus far, I haven’t found anything that I missed packing. There are a few things I haven’t used yet, but nothing that I will send home. I may have to buy some warmer everyday clothes for Australia and New Zealand, because it’s cooler than I expected. My hiking boots are a bit heavy to lug around, but I’m glad that I have them. My electronics have all worked out quite well, although the used cell phone I bought doesn’t hold a charge worth a damn. My hats are the one thing I haven’t used as much as expected. My packs are holding up fine. While fairly unused, my medical kit keeps me feeling safe and comfortable.
All in all, so far so good! I’ll try to remember to do these mid-trip assessments every three months or so, to see what may have changed!