Do you ever think about what if you didn’t do something where would your life be now? For me, this is one of them. Last year around this exact time, my husband Jamie and I were getting ready for our last day of work so we would travel the world for a year! We left in September and it’s crazy to think it’s already been one year since we left. Yes, our plan was to travel for a year, however we did get burnt out after 4 months and I’m really happy we did because COVID happened 3 months later… I’m happy we ended our trip on our terms rather then having to be stuck in another country wasting money until who knows when we could have gone home.
I wanted to do a travel reflection and write about the places we went to and share some of my favourite experiences and maybe some stuff I would change… because let’s be real; not every travel destination is all that we expect it to be. I will link the travel guides below so you can read more on what to see and do in the places we went.
I’m really happy that we did get to experience backpacking around the world for 4 whole months. It really opened my eyes. It made me get out of my comfort zone every day and it lead me to where I am now, which is a full time travel and fitness blogger with some huge plans for next year. 🙂 I always dreaded having 9-5 jobs, because I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do and to be honest it was really stressful thinking about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Until I started blogging, and realized, I’m not a bad writer at all and how it wasn’t about the money, it was about how passionate I was about sitting here and throwing out my fitness and travel experiences for you guys to read.
September of 2019 we headed to our first destination which was New Zealand! If you have never been there, I suggest you put it on your bucket list because wow, it’s just beyond breathtaking and the stuff to do is endless! Google said September was early spring, but it was pretty cold and rainy, but we still had a magical time. I would definitely rent a camper van for more than 2 weeks next time. We did miss a lot of things due to the weather, but we still got to experience the most magical place on this earth.
The scenery is endless on both islands. Rolling green hills, sheep everywhere, huge snow topped mountains and never ending curvy roads. I highly recommend you go here one day. This is the perfect vacation for anyone. It has that thrill of adventure where you can pull-over your camper van, get out and take in the beauty and even cook lunch at a magical spot. Go bungee jumping, sky diving or boat rafting. There’s also an endless amount of hiking and nature to take in! The water here is some of the clearest I’ve ever seen with this amazing gatorade like blue colour that is so beautiful you need to see it for yourself!
New Zealand To Bali
From New Zealand we went to Bali… For a full month… Mistake number 1. I’m not going to bash people who love Bali, but Jamie and I had it set in our minds that it was going to be the most romantic, gorgeous place ever because of social media. However, we honestly didn’t like it at all and the best part of that whole trip was the food.
Does Bali have gorgeous things to see? Ya of course. But most of the things we wanted to see we didn’t end up going to because it was packed with “IG influencers” in their ballgowns and we had to purchase “selfie tickets” in order to take normal pictures. We did do some touristy stuff like the tree house in Nusa Penida but we didn’t have to wait in line for anything since our tour guide rocked!
If you want to go to Bali I’d do more research and actually read more reviews on certain places. There are A LOT of beach clubs there which we would have liked since Jamie and I met at a rave, but we didn’t research enough. We found out that at a lot of places you had to pay over $100 CAD each for the chair, a towel and each place had a minimum spend on food and drinks. We had planned on travelling for a year so we did skip the clubs so we could save some cash for our other destinations.
If you asked me if I would recommend going to Bali, I would personally say no. We really felt let down because we had 0 “zen” experiences. Bali was suppose to be peaceful, clean, a place to be spiritual, when in fact it was a lot of drunk people, locals burning garbage everywhere and not to mention lots of rats… We got this gorgeous airbnb resort in Ubud and had to change rooms 3 times!! THREEE TIMES because of rats, which chewed through my Lulu leggings and protein powder bag.
The one positive is that the restaurants and cafes are adorable and the food is to die for! Every type of cuisine just blew my mind. So if you do come here, eat your heart out! Bali has lots of cute stores, but they are very expensive and pretty on-pair with Toronto prices.
One thing that needs to be mentioned and made me really sad was the amount of garbage. It really brought my heart; especially when we would be walking on the side of the road in Nusa Penida, and you could see the mounds of garbage everywhere. It really opened my eyes to see a whole forest covered in plastic.
This was just our opinion and a month was a very long time to experience Bali. Just because we didn’t like it doesn’t mean you won’t. Everyones opinions are different and that’s ok! 🙂 I’d rather be honest than say it was perfect because it really does seem that way on social media. However, we did get some great pictures. Practicing our photo skills was the best thing we did!
I hate when people ask me how Bali was because I feel like a total negative Nancy, but I would rather hear the truth than find out certain things by myself. While Bali wasn’t my favourite, Jamie and I shared some amazing experiences like seeing monkeys in the wild (not the Ubud forest because we didn’t want to get bit). We got to see some incredible sunsets, and got to go on a million date nights because the cafes and restaurants are endless!
Bali To Vietnam
From Bali we went to Vietnam!! Vietnam was amazing!! We went to 7 different destinations in 3 weeks. Yes, it was a lot of travelling! Every place we went to from Da Lat, Hoi An and Sapa they were all so different and very unique! I highly recommended checking out Vietnam! The food was beyond delicious. The pho was sooo good! We tried some new dishes like avocado ice cream, Bún thịt nướng and more. There was literally nothing to complain about except that we had to leave! If you do plan your trip here one day; don’t forget to splurge and go on a Ha Long Bay boat cruise.
Vietnam To Thailand
This was our second time back in Thailand. We went before on vacation and wanted to go back as our plan was to get our scuba licence, however this is when we started feeling burnt out.
We love Chiang Mai because of the Lantern festival, and this time stayed a bit further out of Old Town to save some money. We thought we were being smart by staying in a place outside of the main tourist hub, which was only 10 minutes away, but we got stopped 2 times by the police in 2 days, driving through a “tourist check.” It was the worst experience we’ve had with cops in Asia. They were aggressive and were just pulling over tourist and asking for bribes. We paid them off the first time and then the second time, Jamie had left his international license at the hotel by mistake and we were pulled aside when we drove through another “tourist stop”. Jamie had a copy of his licence on him, because a lot of the time, if you don’t give a cop a bribe, they will try to keep your licence or even worse your passport! We did give him a photocopy of the licence and he wasn’t happy with that and wanted money, Jamie said no and the cop kept the photocopy of the licence and we drove off. He took the licence out of Jamie’s hand and was being rude. He even asked for our passport which we thankfully didn’t have on us.
After experiencing that, we both felt unsafe in a way because we kept getting pulled over and we couldn’t afford forking over money every single day. After the lantern festival we did check out some new places like Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son. Chiang Rai was just the same old temples and Mae Hong Son was a cool looking place but not too much to do. The ride going there was brutal since we had to go up through Pai, and our bus had to take the only road that goes there which was a 700 and something turns on the road! We were in a van stuffed with 10ish people and we both felt so sick due to the constant swaying and the fact that our driver thought he was a race car driver.
Thailand is a great vacation spot and it should be on your travel destination list too! There is a lot to see and do here. Jamie and I were just over Asia so we ended up leaving and booking a trip to… EGYPT!!!
Asia is great, but when you’re there for so long the food all seems to taste the same, you dread looking at another temple, as they all blur together so we felt like we really needed a change.
Thailand To Egypt
Egypt was always on my list and I couldn’t believe we were finally going to this magical land!
Egypt is a place every person has to at least see once in their lifetime. It is packed with history, culture and the views…WOW… We got an airbnb and our room was very simple, but the view was perfect. Our host brought us up to the rooftop and we could basically touch the pyramids. We did have our own balcony too, which had stunning views every second of the day.
Egypt was magical but it did have some downfalls. The biggest ones that come to mind would be the amount of garbage everywhere, the men being really sexist and rude and the locals never leaving you alone to buy stuff or take pictures with you. The kids were cute at first and they would swarm you to take a picture but it got very weird to the point teenage boys and young men wanted pictures with me and they had their camera out before I even said no. It felt that they were trying to take photos in a very secretive fashion, as if they were trying to look up your skirt or something. I felt like a celebrity at times and had my face covered with my scarf just so they wouldn’t take my picture without my permission.
BUT with all the downsides, Egypt was a great place to see. I do wish that we did a bit more research on things to do , and how to do them so we could experiences things alone. Next time, I wouldn’t hire a tour guide, probably just a driver. Having a tour guide had benefits, but it did feel a bit rushed at certain places and I wish Jamie and I could have just sat in the sand looking at the Pyramids of Giza. I would love to go there again and experience it more on our own.
While we were having a great time we were tired, and I felt off a lot of the time do to the sexism I experiences. At one point I was looking at stuff and our tour guide was talking, and he snapped in my face to ensure I was paying attention. I also felt left out a lot as our guide mainly spoke to Jamie, so I felt like I wasn’t part of the conversation. This all built up to when we were on the bumpiest train on the world going from Cairo to Luxor, where I broke down crying because I wanted to finish with travelling and go home. I was confused and felt like the worst traveller ever! I mean I had this opportunity to quit my job and travel the world, I just felt like a complete failure. We talked for the rest of the bump train ride, and I found out that Jamie felt the same way, so we ended up staying in our airbnb for 2 days without leaving to figure out what we wanted to do.
We did see some great places in Luxor but we were dead, so we didn’t see everything we wanted. After travelling Egypt we went back to Thailand to pick up our drone and spend a few days at a nice Airbnb condo with a pool and a gym to just decompress. We did end up going to Taiwan and thought we could finish the last two- three weeks of what we already booked, but we went home a couple days into our trip to Taiwan.
What I learned From This Experience
Travelling is amazing but you know what’s better? A vacation!! Vacations and travelling are so very different and I’d rather splurge on a trip once or twice a year than having to budget every day.
The full 4 months of travelling was a rollercoaster but an amazing ride. We both grew more together and learned how to work around each other in a tiny camper van, it taught us to be more patient with one another and to communicate better with bookings and every day planning.
The biggest mistake we did was vlogging! We did have a Youtube channel and we wanted to be the next “Kara and Nate.” We spent so much time trying to get the perfect video and shots that we could have spent more time hanging out and taking in the gorgeous destination. Taking pictures is great and I’m happy we did practice our photography skills before we left because now I have 2 large prints hanging in our living room which we took! The vlogging thing is a lot of work and I give props to people to do that full time year after year, because it’s truly hard and it does take up a lot of your time in a destination.
I learned that social media can really play tricks on you. Don’t always believe the pictures you see online especially if people are good at editing pics.
I also learned that I’m a sucker for adventure instead of just laying on the beach kind of girl.
I learned that travel burnout is a real thing! All you full-time travellers out there, take your time! Never feel like a “bad traveller” because it happens more than you think. Home is home for me! And I’ll always love where I’m from in Canada!
I learned that travel insurance is worth it 100% because I did get Bali belly and going to the doctors and hospital did cost a lot. You never know what will happen when you’re abroad. So be on the safe side.
If you do get this opportunity to travel for a long period of time or you’re doing it already; don’t forget to take extra time for yourself and your partner. Put down the camera and computer and just enjoy where you’re at! Life goes by too quickly; so enjoy it to the fullest!