Long-term travel gives you the opportunity to experience life in a different location, be it close to home or far away. We love the sights, sounds, and smells of far-off lands, but we are always excited to return home to New Zealand (in our opinion, the best little country in the world).
It has been over six months since we returned to New Zealand from our 9.5 months travelling in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. I simply cannot understand where this year has gone! Who is with me?
Now that we are well and truly settled back into life in NZ, we have realised that there are things that we miss from long term travel (in North America), and other things that we really don’t miss.
Here’s a little insight into our thoughts at the moment – have you ever had the same feelings as us?
What we miss about long-term travel
The feeling that anything is possible
When we were travelling, we met so many new people and experienced lots of new things, and we felt at times like we were invincible – that anything was possible. When you are away from familiar situations and people at home, you actively seek out new opportunities and take more risks than usual.
Discovering and exploring new places
Of course, one of the best things about long term travel is discovering and exploring new places. Everywhere we went on our trip last year was new and exciting, and we loved navigating our way around the streets of New York City, trying to speak Spanish in Mexico, and exploring the ski runs of Whistler.
Trying new food
Like the point above, travel is all about doing new things and this includes trying new food. We discovered some amazing local treats including licuados in Mexico (fruit smoothies), poutine in Quebec, as well as the amazingness that is Chipotle in the U.S. and Canada (we don’t have this amazing chain in NZ!).
Learning about different cultures
It’s so interesting meeting people in different parts of the world. From the outside, people from New Zealand and people from the U.S. or Canada may not seem that different (aside from our accents!) but when you get to know them, you find out that there are massive cultural differences. We loved joking along with our new friends about differences between our cultures!
Sorry, but we had to include this! (New Zealanders will know what I’m talking about here – things are so overpriced in NZ). Although shopping in NZ has come a long way recently, we still miss the crazy deals you get overseas and the range of stores, especially in the U.S.. Especially when you’re travelling on a budget, the cheap shopping in the U.S. can really help you out!
What we don’t miss about long-term travel
Being away from friends and family
This is the number one negative about long-term travel. As we talked about in the post about our wedding that happened in a week, people are the most important thing in life. We really missed our close friends and family while we were away, and even though Skype is fantastic, there’s nothing quite like a hug from your Mum or talking smack with your friends over a beer.
Far out, we do not miss (most) American food. We know there is a lot of good stuff there – we actively sought it out – but there is just SO much crap. The cheese is way too orange to be natural, there is added sugar in almost anything, and the chicken breasts are just way too big. We’ll take New Zealand food over American any day!
The miserable drizzle in Vancouver was one of the reasons why we called it quits on our Canada working holiday. It was so depressing, having to take an umbrella with us every single time we left the house and getting wet feet all the time. Yeah I know, you’ll think I’m pathetic for moaning about this – but until you’ve experienced Vancouver from October to December, you don’t know what I’m talking about!
Living out of a backpack
As much as we love travelling, it can get a bit tiresome unpacking and repacking constantly. Fortunately we generally stayed in places for a decent length of time and so we didn’t have to do this each day, but it still gets exhausting!
NZ dollar weakness against other currencies
Thank goodness we aren’t in the U.S. now – the New Zealand dollar has reached six year lows against the greenback recently. When we were there, it was around $0.85 US to $1 NZ, and now it’s about $0.65 US to $1 NZ! Ouch. But even though we were travelling on a much better exchange rate, it sucks ‘losing’ money when we travel to other western countries – the UK is the worst with $1 NZ worth about half a pound!
Do you have anything you miss and don’t miss when you return home after a long trip? We’d love to know if you feel the same as us – share your thoughts in the comments!
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