Our flights were joyful and the layovers short.
My Bulgarian residence card allowed me to reenter Bulgaria without any hiccups.
The house is in one piece and my plants grew into an apartment jungle.
The cats recognized me right away and showered me with kisses and purrs (Matt says I’m nuts).
Stotinki still hates standing still.
They are soooooo fat now, strict diets for both of them.
So happy to be home.
By now it is clear to all that Matt and I enjoy traveling. We prefer to do it as much and as often as possible. Over the last 2 years we’ve spent more than 12 months living out of our campervan exploring Europe, we’ve also enjoyed several camping trips around lesser known parts of Bulgaria and finally, we are currently enjoying a 6 week trek around Southeast Asia. Our thirst for adventure in unquenchable.
A few days ago while we waited for our bus in Bangkok to take us to the southern islands of Thailand we met a friendly Canadian from Calgary who also had a passion for travel. As we told him about our year long trip around Europe he pointed out how different it must be now traveling out of a backpack.
Neither Matt nor I prefer a style of traveling over the other, they are just too different but I thought it would be interesting to make a list of pros and cons.
- You get to see places and things most tourists will never see. I have a list of a hundred little villages and towns no one has ever heard yet are just as beautiful if not prettier than the tourist destinations.
- You have your house with you, it’s impossible to get homesick.
- You can cook like a local as you have your kitchen with you.
- No waiting around wasting time. You don’t have to arrange your days around bus and train schedules, if you want to pack up and go you can.
- You can stay neat and orderly, shirts are hung on real hangers and your pants are folded neatly in a cupboard.
- A tiny bit of room for storage. Our camper has a “trunk” where we store tools, camping equipment, and a badminton set. Our roof top bin holds folding chairs, a table and a mini BBQ.
- If you are in the mood to party, pull over and start dancing and drinking, no need to drink and drive, your bed is only 2 feet away.
- Never knowing where we’d end up next.
- You always have a washroom and a shower available.
- Everything you own is contained within a tin can thin walled vehicle. You always worry if the car is parked in a safe area, braking into a van is rather easy to do.
- The cost of fuel
- Parking and driving an oversized vehicle. Some ancient cities have tiny narrow roads, steep inclines are scary especially if you need to brake rapidly. Low hanging trees, electrical wires and driving under small bridges or tunnels can also be of concern.
- Managing electricity, water and waste is a lot more complicated that you think. The first month with the camper we consumed water and electricity so rapidly that we needed a campsite every 2-3 days, by the end of our trip we could free camp for a month without any problems. Click here for more.
- Showering. Our camper has a nice hot shower but it takes up a lot of water. Modern truck stops often offer showers for only a few dollars.
- Never knowing where we’d end up next.
- Meeting new people (an often likeminded people). As soon as you strap on a large bag to your back fellow backpackers will find you and strike up fascinating conversations.
- Interesting accommodations (with lovely hot showers). Sometimes you can luck out and get ultra-luxurious room at an affordable price.
- Matt and I can experience everything together, sometimes I felt that Matt was missing out because he always had the responsibility of driving.
- Everything you own is in a thin fabric bag. Pickpockets target backpackers as they know that they will surely find something worth stealing.
- Waiting for buses, planes and trains, so much time is wasted this way yet you can’t do anything about it.
- Booking hotels, haggling for deals, not knowing where you will sleep next.
- Food is more expensive when you have someone else make it for you.
- Not being able to perform my #1 hobby, cooking.
So far our backpacking trip has gone smoothly with the exception of us catching colds. Our packs are comfortable and weigh 6 kilograms each and our day bag (we only have 1) an additional 4 kilograms. The only thing that I’ve packed which now seems superfluous are 5 pairs of socks, Matt brought gloves (?).
Qatar airways is probably the best airline I’ve flown in a long time. Reasonable leg room (not that it’s an issue considering my vertical deficiency), cosy seating with plush and adjustable headrests, personal TVs (believe it or not I’m currently watching Thelma and Louise for the first time, fantastic) and the food and drinks are unbeatable as far as airline grub is concerned. Piping hot chicken and cheese baguette and Coke, French white wine, tomato juice and vodka, soda water, couscous salad, chicken with carrots, green beans, tomato sauce and gnocchi, braised beef with mashed potatoes and peas, fresh buns, cheese, crackers, mini Mars bar and the best layered chocolate cake on earth (well slightly above earth). Cognac for dessert.
To be honest I’m surprised they even serve alcohol, I’m informed that there will be no drinking at Qatar airport since this Allah guy is so popular but that’s OK, maybe a few minutes of shut eye between flights might be a good idea.