We had a break for a while, but it is nice to be back. Although, as I am writing this I am instantly struck with how difficult it is to be writing again. It can get a little overwhelming, especially when I look over my list of things to write about and realize how far behind we are. Aside from the importance of discipline we have learned many lessons on our journey, and we are only halfway through. Here are just a few:
You can’t see everything
I know you are excited. You just got off the plane, and you want to run out and see everything. Well, sadly, you can’t. I’m not just saying that to be mean. It’s just that you really don’t have the ability to see it all, no one does. You have to make some choices. Choose the things you are really most excited to do/see. It sorta boils down to two options: spend a little time at a lot of things or spend a lot of time at a few things. We have done it both ways along our journey and have found that we enjoyed our time more and took away better memories when we slowed down and focused on a few things. We have developed a general guideline of doing at most one major thing in the morning and one major thing in the afternoon/evening. This method gives us plenty of time to enjoy what we are doing without feeling rushed or getting anxious about missing an appointment. With the rest of the time in the day we simply enjoy life and follow our whims. Some days that means sitting at a cafe for a few hours or wandering the streets simply observing life in a different place; other days it means taking a nap. Which brings us to another key lesson:
Be sure to rest
Face it, you are human, and if you don’t rest you get cranky, kinda like this kid. When you’re cranky and running on empty you won’t enjoy the great monuments and sites around you.
Take walking tours
We suggest this to everyone. Nearly all the major cities have walking tours, and many of those tours are free. The guides of the free tours live off of tips, so if you felt they did a good job and you really had a good time then you should tip them. We typically end up tipping around $10-$20 for the two of us. We love taking free walking tours early on in our stay in a city since they are a great way to explore a new city. You can get a good feel for the layout of the city, helpful tips from the guides, and see a few things that you wouldn’t have otherwise (like this statue in front of the stock exchange in Milan).
Try new food especially if you don’t know what it is
Trying different foods was one of the top things that I was looking forward to before we started our journey, and halfway through I am still excited to try the various regional cuisines. Yes, you can find McDonald’s and, surprisingly, KFC almost anywhere. And, sure, check ’em out sometime. It is interesting to see what is the same and what is different from back home (btw, Pizza Hut in China is a legit nice restaurant, you should definitely visit one). With that said, there are amazing foods all around that we never get back in the states. In many places we have simply pointed to the menu. More often than not it was delicious. Besides, if you don’t like it you are only out one meal…at least until you find the McDonald’s.
Bring plenty of digital storage
If you are a photo taker like we are, you will be surprised at how many photos you end up with. My computer has been full for the past few months. Thankfully we have several SD cards and a flash drive to help out. We have developed a practice of periodically going through our photos and deleting bad or redundant pictures just to make room for new ones.
You can’t avoid this. We thought we could. We tried really hard since we knew we would be living out of a backpack for so long. However, even with our light packing we have sent stuff back numerous times. We even asked our family who came over to explore Italy with us to take a few things back as well (thank you!).
I’m sure we still have much more to learn and will definitely share any pointers we stumble upon. What’s something that you have learned from traveling?