2 Months on the Road: A Few Lessons Learned


Thinking... Lessons learned

We’re two months into our South America Backpacking trip and we’re getting into the groove. Here are a few tips to make your next long-term trip seamless.

Less is more

If you think you need to pack it you probably don’t. Choose items that are multi-functional like a sarong that can be used as a beach cover-up, towel, dress or blanket. I learned this the hard way by forgetting to unpack pants I couldn’t match with any other item. Traveling light allows you the freedom to move swiftly and fill your soul with unforgettable experiences rather than baggage.

Let it go

This is especially true when preparing for your long-term trip. When we decided we were really going to hit the road we began selling as much as we could on Craigslist and in the end made over $2,500! Every time I protested and insisted I needed a certain item I looked at the big picture and the adventure that was ahead. As we started getting rid of more and more stuff I realized that I needed it all less and less. The experience was extremely cathartic and freeing. What we couldn’t sell we gave away to friends or donated and ended up with just a few things to store with our family.

Go with the flow

When planning for a 6 month backpacking trip we found that it is best to have an overall outline of where you will go and not plan every detail down to the minute. My fellow control freaks can take a deep breath now and know that everything is going to be OK (I’ve done this many times already).

Sometimes excitement gets the best of you and you want to see everything quickly but it is important to sit back and relax too. I know for me it always takes at least 3-4 days to settle into a place and get comfortable. Also, things will not always go according to plan. When island hopping you may miss your boat or miss a flight. Don’t fret! There’s always a way to get there, even if it’s not what you had envisioned. So remember to take it easy and if you like a place stay awhile.

Have backup

Things can get lost and/or stolen. It is important to backup your files regularly into a hard drive or the cloud or whatever you choose to use. Also, it is a great idea to have the “Find my Phone” app or similar program installed and active on your devices. When Manu forgot his phone in a taxi in Medellin he thought it was gone forever. Luckily, I remembered to activate the app and quickly signaled the phone to send a message indicating it was lost. The cab driver thankfully called back and we were able to recover the phone.

Another app I have installed in all of my devices is Prey. This program works similarly to “Find my Phone” with GPS tracking, alarm signaling and messaging but with the upgrade you can also activate your camera while the program secretly works in the background. Catch the thief in the act!

Time is of the essence

When planning your long-term trip you start dreaming about all the free time you think you will have. The reality is that time must be used wisely and it can be easily wasted. Writing a blog, volunteering, sightseeing, planning or whatever else you choose to do takes up a lot of your day! You must make an effort to do the things you really want to accomplish and set a structured time to do it all. Although I am definitely not a morning person waking up early helps a lot! Now if only I could stop hitting that snooze button…