Well, well well, here we are a year on. Our ‘year’ abroad has come to an end as May arrived, uninvited. This time last year we were gallivanting around Athens, full of hope, intrigue and anticipation. There were plenty of things I had hoped to get out of the trip and I’ve been surprised by what came of it.
For starters, I wrote a novel. Yeah. I kept that quiet. I’m in the process of reaching out to publishers at present which is proving to be an arduous (and nightmarish) challenge. Alas, as I read from most Australian authors, so it goes. Hey, while we’re on it, I don’t suppose any literary agents, editors or publishers read this blog? Worth asking!
Other than that, the blog has had a face lift and I’m thrilled that I have a) persevered with it’s upkeep and b) been able to channel the memories and (many) photos into a place of usefulness. As for personal development, there is nothing quite like travelling to get you out of your comfort zone and open your eyes to a world of possibility. Of which, I discovered is ocean wide. But! before I digress and wax lyrical about the joys of travelling. Let’s get back to the task at hand. The budget (dread), the packing (gasp!) and the places (naww) of the last four months.
The last update left you in Barbados, back in January, back when the world was coming to terms with the idea of a new year, rather than a new global pandemic. Since Barbados, we had a visitor in Panama, I celebrated my thirty-third birthday, we house sat in Mexico and finally entered the US. Oh, and we’re currently living with my mother in Newcastle, NSW (hey, things could be much worse!). Psst. The feature image is taken from the Honeysuckle foreshore!
Well, the carry-on luggage idea kind of went out the window when we decided to ship our clothes – backpacks included – to Florida and buy a bunch of new things in order to cycle across the US. Mind you the packing list for two-month’s worth of cycling was pretty lean all things considered. Despite that, other than buying a new headband from Mexico City (felt cute), I didn’t actually alter the contents of my backpack. Which proved two things:
- My packing list served me well for the entire year abroad.
- I don’t need anything more than what I already have.
We spent every cent. And more.
But neither of us are remorseful about it.
We lived the year to the max. We ate lobster and drank Mezcal (not every night) and stayed in nice places and valued comfort over cost.
Accommodation and dining continued to be the dominating aspect of our budget. Our most expensive accommodation for the final few months was a birthday treat for me at Casa Tera at $362 per night, where we stayed three nights. However, we did contrast that well by scoring our cheapest stay yet, a campsite along the cycle costing just $16.
As for dining out, we managed on average to spend $54 per meal (for the two of us) for dinner (which we did 146 times) and $32 per meal for lunch (a staggering 167 times), out of 330 days. I guess this sounds like a lot – but given how highly we rate the quality of food we eat when we travel, we thought this was actually pretty impressive. Especially when most meals out included drinks.
Of course transport was a significant portion of our expenditure – $17, 521 to be exact. Flights were the biggest contributor at $10, 532 (remember the accidental business class flight – whoops!). We were thankful we also had a few flights booked on airmiles. The rest of the spend was a combination of ferries, buses, trains, car hire, fuel, taxis and ubers.
We weren’t adverse to spending our cash on fun filled activities too, and racked up a bill of $4,981 on entertainment. These included everything from museum visits, surfing, drag shows, diving with whale sharks, wine tasting, kite surfing, pyramid visits, coffee tours, walking tours, bike tours, basketball games, drive-in cinemas, arty parties and even Mexican wrestling.
Overall we spent an eye watering AUD $79,402 on our trip. Which averages out at $240 per day for the two of us. This includes spending $4,900 on all of our cycling gear. If you subtract our flight costs from this, it comes down to $209 per day (our target was $200, so retrospectively we did well.)
From Barbados, we flew to Panama City where we met with Moo’s mother, Soz. It was a joy to travel the countryside with her and sadly for both of us, the time went rather quickly. While we didn’t have the best of luck – weather wise – for the rest of our stay in Panama, we did explore as best we could. From there it was off to Mexico City.
Boy, did we love this city. From there, we were incredibly lucky to secure our third housesit of the trip in Baja California Sur. We looked after two Gordon Setter’s (they were adorable…except when we discovered their penchant for eating horse manure.) It really registered how much we needed a taste of normalcy along the way (routine is king – if – you love your routine.)
Not wanting to leave, but excited for what was to come, we zipped into our final country together of the trip – the U S of A. After third degree questioning from US Customs, we arrived into a chilly San Francisco and had a ball with friends exploring the sites (and eats!)
From here, we began our cycle, which, by now you’re probably sick of hearing about. Before fleeing back to Australia where we began the endlessness of staying indoors and social distancing.
Overall, anything we’d change?
On reflection, I feel like we could have slowed down even more. I don’t regret a thing, or place (except, maybe Petropolis, Brazil) but if I could go back and do it again, I’d structure it more like this.
Italy: 3 months
South Africa: 3 months
Brazil: 3 months
USA: 3 months
Why? It would have been cheaper to fly less frequently, we could have explored the countries more thoroughly and we would have made deeper connections with the locals.
Mind you, Barbados was without a doubt my favourite country visited on the trip (even more than Italy, if you can believe it.)
Something I wouldn’t change is my travel buddy. My boyfriend, Moo. I’m ever so grateful that we could share the experience together and I don’t think I would have enjoyed the trip half as much if he wasn’t by my side.
Of course, we couldn’t have predicted the virus that shall not be named. However, if I could go back, I would change the month to depart Australia either earlier or later in 2019. September would be a lovely month to visit Europe as would December be a lovely time to visit South Africa.
I guess we’ll just have to go back and do it all over again! Wishful thinking? Or maybe it’s time I started planning my great Australian voyage? Perhaps at this point a job would be more lucrative?
Until then xo
PS: If you missed the May newsletter, no biggie, just subscribe via email here and you’ll never miss another!