How is traveling different to “normal” life
For those of you reading my blabs and feeling like your life is not as exciting as mine might seem, that what we have done is so extraordinarily wonderful and life changing that you cant even imagine it, I have one thing to say: its not. Moving houses and riding on buses often does not make your life suddenly worthy of a Hollywood script. And in a sense that is what we are doing.
I am not suddenly doing yoga on a lush rice paddy every morning. Yes, I had dreamt of how this change in my activity level would make me into a carved traveling goddess. Dont laugh. Mr.Blab has not become proficient in Spanish, as was the plan for us before we left and why I spent half a day installing the program on the laptop before we left. It was on the computer before for more than a year without much use. The kids are not making poems about palaces and cultures or soaking up every detail of our adventure with wide open eyes. They will not be looking up to us with amazement for the rest of their lives for the wonderful opportunity we have given them, as I was hoping in one of my dreams. Me, the most wonderful Mother of the most wonderfully worldly and gracious children. Ha!
I am still hoping to exercise more, Mr.Blab still whines when he has to do the dishes and the kids may or may not appreciate the daily dose of wonder we serve, and life on that level is pretty much the same. We are the same people with the same issues just moving houses and using buses and boats more often.
Ok? Take off the rose colored glasses and dont be too hard on yourselves and your “normal” lives.
How is life really different now compared to before?
More time with the family
That one is obvious. Even though we used to be together a lot before we left, now we are almost glued to each other. Super glued in fact. If we dont get sick of each other in this year, we never will.
Less to tidy and clean up
When all you have are a few belongings in your bags, even if you lose your mind and throw everything out and around in an uncontrolled rage fit, the result will still fade in comparison to what just breathing in a normal house achieves. At least my breathing seems to cause a lot of mess and dust. Making our rooms presentable takes no time at all: few shoes, few clothes and rarely any dishes and laundry.
More laundry to hand-wash
I am lazy and before we left everything went in the washing machine. Delicates, wool, bleeding colors never took the best of me and ended up in that spinning metal bowl. Now in two months we have used that heavenly machine twice. That is once a month! Turns out I am not that bad with hand-washing and, dont tell that to anyone, but I have enjoyed it sometimes. There is a special kind of warm feeling in hanging the clean clothes on a line somewhere and feeling accomplished.
No phone calls
None. We have had no phone or mobile phone since leaving and have received not one call since then. And we have survived quite nicely and life keeps going, surprisingly.
More eating out
Before we left we ate out once in a blue moon. Now we eat out every single day, even when we have a kitchen, one of the meals will be made by someone else. If we stayed in the same place for awhile this will become quite an unpleasant fact, but the situation is helped by our constant moving, the search for a new place to eat and discovering new tastes.
The only bills we have are our storage unit and post box ones.Niiice.
..of everything. We sleep in guesthouses, homestays, hotels and hostels; move by bus, train, metro, scooter, crazy small boat, ferry and variety of cars. We eat different things every day. Meet all kinds of new people and feast our eyes on new sights, good and bad, daily. Traveling may be many things, but boring its not.
Less home comforts
I guess if one travels first class this will not be true, but in our case it is. Instead of cruising in our comfortable air-conditioned Subaru, we are likely scrunched up on some underdeveloped public transport. We rarely have a bed each and sleeping on the floor on a mat next to someone else’s feet is not uncommon. Home cooked meal is an unbelievable luxury and we look forward to it every time. Your own space? Ha-ha. Forget it.
More simple pleasures
When life is reduced to its basics like roof, food and sleeping, its very easy to notice the beauty around us. Time is of little interest to us, we are rarely due to be somewhere at some point and enjoying a newly discovered street food to its fullest happens naturally. Browsing colorful shops filled with incense aromas in Little India, slowly and peacefully, the fabric that is sliding between the fingers and the intricacy of its craftsmanship can fill the senses that would otherwise be busy worrying about a million other things. A comfortable bed always cheers us up. A conversation with a stranger in the shops or public transport can keep on entertaining us for the rest of the day. The bottle of extra virgin olive oil tucked into my backpack has been warming my soul and taste buds for the last 10 days or so. Washing machine? Oh, my god!
Another obvious one, but definitely needs to be included. Whether you try or not, museums will inevitably end up on the daily diary. But those are just a small part of the culture attack. Language, customs, different values, food, clothing along with numerous crafts and forgotten to us skills are all around us every day. The experience cannot be compared to any frequent visit to an exhibition hall, gallery or late night Spanish 101 course.
Less good coffee
This part should change once we get into Europe, but so far my supply of coffee has been very unreliable. I grew to love Bali coffee and we left. Malaysia doesnt know what simple black coffee means. Finding the black liquid without milk is a little bit of a work. Without sugar is much harder. And without margarine (yes, margarine!) nearly impossible. I had to get inventive to ensure I get my fix. Thailand so far is good to me, but I reserve the right to complain later.
More outside time
Even though I would like to think we used to have a fair bit of fresh air before we left, its nothing in comparison to what we get now. At least half of our day is outside.
Up, down with backpacks or not, we have given those legs of ours a good go. Few blisters here and there, one fall in a ditch, two twisted ankles, but overall they have proven reliable so far. And there is a long way ahead of us.
A lot more perspective
Its one thing to read about it, but seeing people living in tin shacks, washing on the street and kids playing soccer in between piles of garbage really hits you straight into the reality of inequality. Getting away from over-consumption also reminds us how little we all really need. A big shiny kitchen is lovely, but the same result can be achieved in a tiny room with a gas burner. For some express delivery of perspective try walking into a mall right after/before visiting the local wet market or nightly street hawker carts. Feel the buzz, the reality?
This is not an exhaustive list, but will hopefully give you a better idea of the reality of traveling. Its good, its exciting and full of surprises and a kaleidoscope of new things, but will not turn you into a superhuman. That is, unless you already are one.
And I am certainly not ;)
P.S. Mr.Blab said he wants to start his Spanish now. Myself? I want to eat. Screw yoga and carved goddesses.