07 Mar Reflections on Life after Two Years of Travel
It’s been two years since we sat in a departure lounge at Heathrow, clutching our one-way tickets to New Zealand. With our goodbyes behind us and a whole new future ahead, we boarded that plane with no idea where we would ultimately end up. To say I’m surprised by what we’ve experienced and where we are now is an understatement.
Back in 2013 I had no idea that we’d spend almost two years in Asia or that we’d end up living in Vietnam. I never knew that I’d have the skills and courage to teach children English or that I’d be capable of heaving wheelbarrows full of rock and debris in the sweltering heat while volunteering in the Philippines. I couldn’t have planned the spontaneous adventures that we’ve experienced; our unscheduled trip to Borneo, a spectacular summer visit to the UK or a return to the Philippines, a country we unexpectedly fell head-over-heels in love with.
This is not necessarily the path we sought or the dream we thought we were buying into when we first left the UK. Our trip has morphed into something else, a way of living that allows us to travel as well as establish temporary home bases, earn money and amass new life and work experience along the way. Travel has been a springboard for us to other things and one of the biggest gifts it has given us is the time to think about what we really want to achieve next in life.
The Journeys we Take
When we left England it felt like we were setting out on a lonely, unconventional path, but since then we’ve met so many other people all taking their own uncertain, exhilarating adventures around the world. This has given us the courage to continue our journey when things have gotten tough and we’ve wanted to retreat back to England.
What these two years have taught me most profoundly though is that we’re all on our own unique, turbulent, incredible journeys, whether we live in one place or travel to many. We’re all climbing our own mountains and taking on new challenges everyday and we’re all ultimately searching for the same thing: happiness.
The difficult part is figuring out what makes you happy; exploring new countries, studying, building a home in one place, volunteering, establishing a career, having a baby or any number of other things. What’s more, it’s likely that the source of your happiness will change and shift over time; after 15 months of constant, fast-paced travel we wanted nothing more than our own apartment again and a working routine, which is what we’ve enjoyed here in Hanoi.
Now, however, the tide is turning yet again, our feet are starting to itch and we’re preparing to chase our happiness back out onto the road again.
Here’s to Many More Years of Travel
The Vietnamese school year is drawing to a close and we have just 14 more weeks left in the country before we board a plane to Bangkok and a brand new phase of our journey begins. As great as our time in Hanoi has been, I know that we are ready to leave because lately our conversations have been full of plans and ideas. Where shall we spend our holiday in Thailand? When should we start applying for summer house sits in London? How are we going to divide our time between family, friends and the places we love during our two-month break in the UK?
All our flights for this year are now booked and we have our ESTA visas for America. As our autumn road-trip through New England glistens on the horizon, we’ve began arranging car hire and plotting a tentative route. Beyond that I’ll occasionally daydream about the cold Christmas we will celebrate back in England, our first in two years. Andrew is more often than not dreaming about the car he wants to buy which will take us through Europe to a new life in Spain in 2016.
There is so much to look forward to and we’re so happy with the life that we’ve carved for ourselves. Here’s to many more years of adventure!
Stefan ArestisPosted at 11:42h, 07 March
Awww really nice post guys! The upcoming plans sound great.
Spain 2016 eh? That one’s a surprise to read 🙂
AmyPosted at 15:10h, 07 March
Yep, Spain is looking like our next semi-permanent stop Stefan; we should be able to pick up some more teaching work there pretty easily.
KatiePosted at 12:34h, 07 March
Congratulations!! Two years of travel is an amazing achievement!
Do you feel like it’s come around quickly?
AmyPosted at 15:12h, 07 March
Thanks Katie 🙂 Yes, in one way it feels like these two years have gone so quickly but when I think back to lives in London that time seems so far away, as if it was a dream.
JeniaPosted at 14:20h, 07 March
I was just thinking about this precise thing the other day: Before we left the US for our 14 month trip, I couldn’t have imagined how it would change me. I might not be a different person, but I certainly view life differently, I have different aspirations, different plans for my future. Before we left, I knew I would see, learn, experience lots. And, we did. But I had no idea that it would be the people that we meet along the way that would make the trip what it was. Ah, the gifts of long term travel 🙂
AmyPosted at 15:14h, 07 March
Yes I agree Jenia, the people you meet are definitely one of the best gifts of travel 🙂
Gilda BaxterPosted at 14:21h, 07 March
Amy, I can’t believe it has been 2 years already? I have followed your journey from the onset and have enjoyed all your posts. You and Andew are living many different lives in one life. The swaps and changes are exciting and looks like your plans for the rest of this year will be a lot of fun again. I admire your energy and courage to choose a less conventional lifestyle.
AmyPosted at 15:15h, 07 March
Thanks for your kind words Gilda and for following our journey 🙂 It hasn’t always been easy but I am so glad we took that leap and left the UK to follow our travel dreams.
LesleyPosted at 21:27h, 07 March
Guys, I so love reading your updates. I’ve always thought that travelling is not just about experiencing new places but about freedom. Freedom to make choices, stay, move, work, go home, move again and you sum it up beautifully above. I’m excited to read more about your upcoming plans. Take Care. Lesley x
AmyPosted at 05:56h, 08 March
Hi Lesley, thanks so much for reading and commenting. You’re right, travel is also about freedom and it has allowed us the time to think about what we want to do in life. Lots of adventures ahead!
MattPosted at 22:26h, 08 March
We were at a talk by an author the other day which was about society slowly moving away from materialism and collecting stuff to experientialism and collecting memories. So your sometimes “lonely, unconventional path” just means you guys are some of the early adopters!
Congratulations – looks like an amazing 2 years and your plans sound exciting. We’re looking in to house sitting options (including Spain) but are complete rookies there – what site(/s) do you guys use? Any good resources you’ve seen on it?
AmyPosted at 03:52h, 09 March
That sounds like a really interesting talk Matt; we love collecting memories as we travel. We tried Mind My House but it didn’t really work for us, we found both of our sits through Trusted House Sitters; you can read about our first housesitting experiences here.
CatherinePosted at 23:40h, 09 March
Wow, congratulations on your two years of travel! You’ve had so many great adventures – I’m so jealous! Here’s to another year of amazing travel adventures! 🙂
AmyPosted at 04:17h, 10 March
Thanks Catherine, we have enjoyed an amazing two years 🙂
EmilyPosted at 17:28h, 10 March
Congrats on the 2 years! I’m excited to follow along for the next leg of the journey!
AmyPosted at 15:59h, 11 March
Thanks Emily 🙂
PattiPosted at 21:50h, 11 March
The two of you are the best, two years! Kudos to you. Remember when I interviewed you before you even took the first leap, how fun is that?! I love that you’re living your lives and following your path and that you’ve got it figured out for next year! You’ve got a lot of reasons to jump for joy, which is a great photo by the way!
AmyPosted at 02:59h, 12 March
I do remember Patti, I can’t believe how the time flown! Back then you owned your own B&B and now you’re off exploring Europe, I’d say you’ve done a great job at successfully following your dreams too 🙂
Miriam of Adventurous MiriamPosted at 23:24h, 14 March
Wow, you have experienced SO much these past two years! And it’s inspiring how you’ve planned the next couple of years already – I could definitely learn something from that! 🙂 I look forward to follow your adventures.
AmyPosted at 06:09h, 15 March
Thanks Miriam, it probably is a bit excessive of us to plan so far ahead but we can’t help ourselves! We’re really at the point now where we’re itching to move on again 🙂
RobPosted at 01:30h, 16 March
Bit late to this post, but congrats to you two. It’s been great following along so far with your adventures, looking forward to following in the future 🙂
AmyPosted at 03:16h, 16 March
Thanks Rob, we’ll have plenty more adventures to share 🙂
MaddiePosted at 14:34h, 22 March
Happy travel anniversary guys! I for one cannot wait to read about your time in the U.S, it will be such a change for you but oh my, the scenery is amazing.
AmyPosted at 03:44h, 23 March
Thanks Maddie, we are so looking forward to the U.S and a change of culture and scenery.
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)Posted at 17:10h, 01 April
I can’t believe it’s been two years since you guys set out! Where has the time gone?!? I feel like you were just skydiving in NZ and we were just grabbing smoothies in HCMC…
Congrats on not just reaching this milestone, but on thriving over the years. It’s wonderful to see how your adventure has evolved and I’m really excited to see what this next year will bring you guys. I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time back in London for the summer and all that comes afterwards!
AmyPosted at 03:42h, 02 April
I can’t believe it either Steph; it was over a year ago since we met up with you guys in HCMC! We are really excited to get moving again now and explore some new parts of the world, there’s lots to look forward to!
Lauren JoynerPosted at 00:19h, 18 April
Wow two years is amazing! I only just began following you when I discovered a photo you on google images. The photo is of you pretending to drink in a waterfall in New Zealand. My daughter is in NZ and we spoke today. She gave me her travel route from Christ Church all the way around the island. She went swimming in the glacier waters under the waterfalls – it’s in her blood because I took my kids waterfall hunting/camping for nearly 10 years while they were growing up. Now she is an avid traveler, but doesn’t blog much. Anyway, you have come a long way since NZ.
You said you will be heading to New England in the fall. I am right in the heart of New Hampshire and would LOVE to hike the White Mountains with you when you arrive. Please keep in touch as it would be great to meet you.
AmyPosted at 05:47h, 18 April
Hi Lauren, thanks so much for reading and commenting. It sounds like your daughter is having one hell of a trip; New Zealand is an awesome country. Yes, we will be in New England in the fall and we’d love to hike the White Mountains, we will be in contact with you nearer the time when our plans are clearer 🙂