As you’re probably aware, the two of us are back home in Melbourne, Australia after our whirlwind adventure around the world.
We made a lot of mistakes while we were away but fortunately we also got a lot of things right as well. Here are ten things we did right during nearly 5 months on the road.
We kept our plans as flexible as possible.
By not having set plans, we were able to see things that weren’t in our original itinerary. We spent a few days at the spectacular Niagara Falls when we had a few days to spare between Chicago and New York City and went on a spontaneous road trip of the Scottish Highlands.
These were just a couple of the experiences that arose from our flexibility – there were plenty more!
We spent money on experiences.
We know that many budget travelers sacrifice experiences while traveling because they’re “too expensive” or “don’t fit the budget”. We are the complete opposite and believe in seizing every opportunity that presents itself to us.
For example, our Beluga Whale Interaction at SeaWorld may have cost $278 (plus $80 for a hire car) but it still remains the highlight of our entire trip and will be a lifelong memory.
If you really want to do something while traveling, just do it. Forget the expense.
We chased value rather than the cheapest option.
People often think we’re “budget travelers” but the truth is we’re not – our main objective is searching for value. When looking for accommodation, we never went with the cheapest option.
Many travelers often choose the cheapest accommodation they can find and immediately regret their decision – they’re usually too far away from where they need to be or are stuck in a dodgy neighborhood. For the two of us, we’d much rather spend $100 on a good hotel than $60 on something that would potentially ruin our experience in a city.
We used Priceline to save big on accommodation.
Before we departed on our trip, we had heard of Priceline but never used it. By the time we finished, Priceline was the first thing we checked when searching for accommodation and it enabled us to find great value right across the USA.
The first time we had success with Priceline was on our California Road Trip where we scored a room at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach for $46/night plus taxes and fees. We used it many more times during our journey and not just in the US, scoring a last-minute room at a nice hotel in Amsterdam when most other accommodation providers were booked out.
We occasionally splurged on accommodation.
Our accommodation budget was around $100/night but sometimes it made sense to spend a little more for comfort and luxury. After an 11-hour overnight bus ride from London to Edinburgh (saving us paying for a night of accommodation), we forked out nearly $150 for a luxury apartment in Scotland’s Capital city instead of staying in a windowless Tune Hotel room for half the price.
Easily one of the best decisions we made – we cooked ourselves a delicious dinner, watched cable TV and enjoyed a fantastic night of sleep after a day of exploration!
We attended the World Travel Market in London.
It was a coincidence that our visit to London happened at the same time as World Travel Market but as soon as we found out, we registered to attend this trade show as media.
We networked with tourism boards from all around the world (hopefully creating some opportunities for us later in the year), met some of our favorite fellow travel bloggers (can you name any from the photo above?!) and spotted celebrities such as Dannii Minogue, Brian Lara and the future King of Spain.
If you’re a blogger and can make it to WTM London in 2012, we highly recommend it!
We spent time with family and friends abroad.
If you have family and friends living abroad, go out of your way to catch up with them. We got to visit West Point Academy in New York with Amy’s uncle, caught up for a pub meal with Amy’s cousin in Covent Garden, London and met up with some friends in Manchester for a fun night out.
It makes you feel that much closer to home (despite the physical distance) and it’s great to spend time with people who you haven’t seen for a long period!
We visited Iceland.
We had our flights booked to Iceland before we departed on our journey and the typical response we received from friends in Australia was “why the hell are you going there?”. At first we were going because it was a unique destination and broke up the flight between New York and London, but little did we know that it would become our favorite destination on our journey!
We packed all of the power adapters (except one!).
Up until the last two weeks of our trip, we hadn’t purchased a single power adapter as we had packed all of the necessary plugs in our packs. Arriving at a new destination and not being able to charge up all of your devices has got to be one of the most frustrating feelings a traveler can experience!
Unfortunately once we arrived in Belgium/France we realized we didn’t have that adapter (it looks the same as the other European plug!).
But we’re still claiming this as something we did right for 90% of our trip.
We started a travel blog!
This is by far the best thing we ever did before our round-the-world trip. Not only did we have a way to share all of our adventures with the people closest to us, this blog also opened up a plethora of opportunities that we wouldn’t have otherwise had.
But the best part of having a travel blog? The people we met because of Don’t Ever Look Back! We won’t name all of the fabulous people we hung out in the second half of 2012 (there are so many of you!) with but thanks to all of you for creating some of our favorite memories on our journey.
If you’re planning any kind of extended travel adventure, start a travel blog now!