We’ve Forgotten How To Travel

I counted the number of murdered bugs smeared on the concrete wall. Eight, nine, ten, more. Of all sizes and former shapes, their grotesque forms had obviously been resident on the faded hostel room wall for quite awhile.

The so-called mattress I sat on was slightly better than a slab of concrete. I reached out to squeeze the pillow with the thin cotton case and discovered it was just as firm.

The power had been out for an hour. Pete yelled from the bathroom that the water flow in the shower had been reduced to a mere trickle. A disgusting bug crawled in under the large gap in the door. I was pretty sure it wanted to eat me.

This was the third really bad hostel in a row, and my limit had been reached. After nearly six months of continuous travel, a new “home” every two or three nights, I was exhausted. I was annoyed. I was crying.

In the middle of Colombia, our seventh country on our tour of South America, the travel breakdown had come, and an important decision had been made. Jetting from place-to-place had become too much and was no longer enjoyable. We needed to slow down. Better yet, we needed to sit still.

That was almost a year and a half ago. And while we are still on the road, and still “technically” traveling, it is in a very different manner.

We slowed it waaayyy down. We kinda sorta became pseudo-expats. Our preference now is to spend a few weeks to a few months in one place so that we can get to know it better and not burn ourselves out. Easier on our backs too, as we definitely could use some more lightweight luggage.

That fateful April in Colombia, we became the un-Hecktic Travelers.

We finished Colombia and returned to Ecuador to unpack our bags for several months. Then, after a visit home to Canada, we went to Honduras for six months. Then Ireland for two. It has been quite some time since we’ve continuously schlepped our heavy backpacks around and worried about booking rooms.

And oh boy, have we ever become bad at it. Never mind that we also hate to plan for anything.


We’ve forgotten how to travel!


Since leaving Ireland we’ve shown up in new European locations without a lick of research done on what to see or do, fully (and wrongly) expecting that we would have plenty of time to figure it out. Even with two full weeks in Brussels, we couldn’t bring ourselves to take the five minutes necessary to plan our onward travel, and thus had to leave a full two days later then we wanted, cutting our exploration of northern Germany short. We’re so used to slow travel that our bags are too heavy to be lugging around daily – packing efficiently has become of minor priority. We’ve also been neglecting to learn new languages before broaching new borders.

In short, we are pretty terrible travelers, and have a lot to re-learn. Don’t expect much in the way of “tips” from this website as we fumble our way through our next couple of months of hardcore travel, unless you want to be overpacked and underplanned. But we do promise to at least give you a few good stories out of it. 🙂

Here is our loose yet “hecktic” itinerary for the next couple of months, all suggestions on what to see/do/eat would be greatly appreciated. As would any offers of booking our accommodations and/or carrying our bags. 🙂

 We are currently on our way to Amsterdam, where we are spending a few days with our lovely friend Aafke whom we met in Bolivia.

 From Amsterdam we are heading to London for a 2-3 week housesit in the Camden area.

We are THRILLED to be one of the participants in Eurail’s Blog Trail program starting in November, where we will travel by rail through Croatia, Slovenia and along Italy’s Adriatic coastline down to Sicily.

 Another housesit in time for Christmas!  This time in lovely Malaga, Spain.


Not only are we bad travelers, we’re also slow writers.  Did you know that we typically have a two week lag between our actual travel and our blog posts?  To stay up to date on where we are and what we’re doing, be sure to visit our Facebook Fan Page, or follow us on Twitter!

66 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • October 3 2011

    I can relate to this post. I have also slowed my traveling down, and once I started moving quickly again through Mexico, I ended up spending way more than I normally do because I had forgotten all the little tricks that I picked up when I was traveling faster. Oh well! I’ll still continue to travel slowly, even if I’m not as savvy as I used to be 🙂
    Jasmine recently posted..Will I Ever Get Over My Fear Of Salsa?

    • October 4 2011

      We used to operate pretty slick when on the road continuously! But now we’ve lost it, and it’s funny because neither of us seem too concerned about it really. 🙂 Although it did suck that we missed out on part of Germany because of it…

  • October 3 2011

    It says right in your title banner “no plans”. You’re just living up to the advertising! Hope you’re at least enjoying the chaos, and I’m looking forward to some stories of your unplanned adventures, even if they are two weeks behind.
    Steve recently posted..Five Places We Probably Shouldn’t Have Taken Our Kids

    • October 4 2011

      Haha! That’s right! We are just living up to the banner! 🙂

  • October 3 2011

    We can totally relate to this – after three weeks in Lisbon and six weeks in Canada we were so used to going slow that when we picked up our travel pace again when we started our road trip we were totally stressed out… And we’re off to Thailand in two weeks and haven’t done any planning at all yet!

    You have two awesome housesits coming up – love Camden!!
    Globetrottergirls recently posted..Lisbon, sweet Lisbon: Our favorite breakfasts in Portugal

    • October 4 2011

      REALLY looking forward to the housesit in London, I know we couldn’t afford 3 weeks there otherwise! Hopefully that few weeks in one place will help us get more organized for the next, very hecktic part of our travels…although we’re already trying to pass off who does all the actual planning. 🙂

  • October 3 2011

    Ha, I know what you mean! We have waaaay too much stuff with us and thus try to limit our traveling days/distances as much as possible. Or, you know, we could get rid of some of it…. but that’s just crazy talk. =P
    Technosyncratic recently posted..A Day in the Life of a Housesitter

    • October 4 2011

      I’m gonna do some purging soon. I’ve come up with a new rule – if I don’t use it once a week, I don’t need it. I haven’t put that rule into action yet, but I do need a new strategy – my back will thank me!

  • October 3 2011

    You feel you have no tips to offer but in your honesty of what you feel you’ve done wrong you do offer great insight. Thnx.
    Maria recently posted..Pink Knees

    • October 4 2011

      Thanks Maria! Never thought of it that way!

  • October 3 2011

    Don’t worry, you guys will definitely get the hang of it again quickly! And don’t be afraid to throw out some stuff along the way, your back will thank you 🙂
    Good luck you two!
    Kit Whelan recently posted..How Airbnb Earns Their Baksheesh

    • October 4 2011

      Yes, a purge is necessary quite soon. When we get it slow it down in London for a few weeks, I’ll be re-looking at everything I have.

  • overpacked + under-planned = mirth-filled antics and hilarious blog posts.

    • October 4 2011

      Ha! Although, I really hope not. I don’t wanna miss out anything else!

  • I can’t imagine traveling the way Scott and I used to either. As I’m researching for our South/Central America trip, I’m actually looking at places that I would like to stay for a month or two rather than all the places I want to visit. It does get very exhausting especially if you do a lot of work online.
    Christy @ Ordinary Traveler recently posted..Travel Shot: The Art of Labor

    • October 4 2011

      YES! Work is so hard to keep up with – projects are getting pushed. Especially because in this part of the world we are also visiting some dear friends, and we don’t want work to get in the way of that! We need a good couple of months in one place come the new year so that we can get some work done!

  • October 3 2011

    Ive always traveled more slowly (i think because i most love to learn about an area or culture), but the downside of that is I HATE PLANNING THE TRAVEL. what if i want to stay 3 more weeks? what if i hate it and want to leave after a few days.

    this of course leaves me with the same problem that my desire to go wherever whenever i want (and my impatience for maybe not being able to just take the next bus without notice) sometimes makes me stay in a place longer than i want, or suddenly scramble for somewhere to stay.

    it would be nice to actually expat somewhere at somepoint, i just want to see so much right now, and am trying to balance seeing everything with not burning myself out 9and trying to travel south america for 6-8 months with significantly less money than i should have for this trip) 🙂

    ps: on my blog i havent even left the country yet. i purposly dont want people to know exactly where i am; except my family and really close friends.
    dani recently posted..DamBar and Steakhouse -Kingman, Arizona

    • October 4 2011

      It is a really tough place to be in. Wanting to sit still vs. wanting the freedom to pick up and go. When we did our 6 months housesit in Honduras, I wish it could have been over after just 3 (it then got toooooo hot for me!), but we were tied in.

      Interesting – why don’t you want people to know exactly where you are? I never thought of it for that reason, I just write very very slow. 🙂

  • Jarmo @ArcticNomad
    October 3 2011

    I think I can relate to that. While I usually avoid too much planning, I’ve just recently gotten lazy with my travel. All the places I’ve been the last month, I’ve just always stayed a lot longer than I planned. Not because they were that interesting (well they were), but just because I’ve been too lazy to actually figure out the transport to the next place and book it. Still I think it’s better to travel a little slower 😉

    • October 4 2011

      Oh yes, our unplanning can definitely be interpreted as laziness as well at times. 🙂 Neither of us wants to do it!

  • Jeremy Branham
    October 3 2011

    I definitely have the planning part down but like a little spontaneity as well. I think most people would love to travel the way you do now and would gladly give up the bugs, hard mattresses, and hostels. Instead of typical travel tips, just focus on telling the rest of us how to travel like you do! 🙂

    • October 4 2011

      How to travel like we do: 1) Housesit 2) Make great friends around the world with spare couches 3) Mess up massively on everything else! Haha! 🙂

  • Emily in Chile
    October 3 2011

    Honestly, with so many websites telling you how to travel with the best itinerary and only a tiny backpack, it’s refreshing to read a post like this! And as you said, I’m sure your adventures re-learning how to travel will at least be good for a few laughs.

    • October 4 2011

      Well, hopefully our upcoming adventures don’t include any more of missing out on places because we are totally unprepared! 🙂

  • Taryn
    October 4 2011

    I probably should write some philosophical comment about journeys vs. destinations. Honestly though, it’s all about me. And *I* like the stories that come to light when you stay put for a while. So. Keep entertaining me, yo.


    • October 4 2011

      I will keep that in mind! Priority Numero Uno – entertain Snack Box! xoxo

  • Maureen at Vaco-Vitae
    October 3 2011

    Before I forget–when you’re in Malaga, head out to the city/town of Nerja (I think it’s about an hour away, if I recall). FABULOUS place right on the Mediterranean. Jeremy and I did a house swap there several years ago with a British gentleman and it was six weeks of pure bliss! (In fact, if you want me to make an introduction for you, I’d be happy to…not that I want you to plan or anything…)

    As far as slow travel, that was pretty much our mantra when we started. Then again, we’re older than you and our bug-dwelling hostel days are behind us. In fact, we’re thinking of slowing down even more–perhaps living in a place for three months or so before taking off for the next spot.

    The beauty of this lifestyle is that you can’t do it wrong, no matter what you do. It’s just important to find the best tempo for you.

    Ohhhhhh….I feel a new blog post coming on about this. Gotta go!

    • October 4 2011

      Haha, looking forward to reading it!

      As bad as we’ve gotten at traveling with any kind of speed, we’re really loving it. I thought we’d be pooped out so fast, but we’re really loving all the places we’ve been in Europe so far. And with only a few months here before the stupid Schengen rule kicks in, we feel like we HAVE to keep up the speed! We can rest in January, right? 🙂 I think we have the same idea as you guys – we might look for something a little longer term come January so we can relax (and get some work done!)

    • October 16 2011

      So reading other people’s blogs helps you write for your own? What an excellent tactic! 🙂
      Glenn Dixon recently posted..Almost Canada – Wyoming to Minnesota

  • Christine
    October 3 2011

    What?! You’re coming to Spain?! And Malaga at that–only 1.5 hrs away from me 🙂 We most definitely better be meeting up! Send me your itinerary!

    • October 4 2011

      Oh YES! Would LOVE to meet you!! Will be in touch! So far we only have time for Malaga, but may be kicking around afterwards to find somewhere fun to be for NYE. Any ideas?? 🙂

  • October 4 2011

    I’m the same way. But I think it’s the best way to go, even if you lose some of that travel readiness. Have fun in Amsterdam. See if you can make that camel milk event. Sebastian is part of a crazy crew of really awesome filmmakers and camel milk just happens to be their latest project 🙂
    Phil recently posted..I Have a Plane Ticket

    • October 4 2011

      Turns out we aren’t going to be able to make it. There’s a really fantastic band in town that we all want to see so we’re going to head there… 🙂

  • October 4 2011

    I don’t think you are ‘bad travelers’! There is nothing wrong with slow travel, and I think it can be an incredibly enjoyable change from the hectic pace of moving around every few days. No one is going to kick you out of the travelers’ club just because you’re staying in one place for extended periods of time 🙂
    Emily Sims recently posted..My journey through Grass is Greener Syndrome

    • October 4 2011

      We are bad travelers when we miss out on two days of exploration because we didn’t buy our train passes in time! Ah well, it will always be there to be explored another time… 🙂

  • October 4 2011

    I’ve been embracing slow travel as well, but I’ve been chucking stuff from my bag at almost every stop along the way. I think I may go home 10 poulds lighter than when I left. 🙂
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Travel Photo of the Week — Water Buffalo Evil Eye

    • October 4 2011

      New plan: only carry things that I use at least once a week. A lot will be purged soon, or my back will do me in, I am sure…

  • Theodora
    October 4 2011

    I don’t think the human body or brain was meant to move every three days, honestly. The pace one can do in the first few months is radically different to the pace after that. It’s nice having a home for a bit. Then moving on.

    • October 4 2011

      I think you’re right. Unfortunately, we have a lot of doing just that coming up. I am sure we will make do for a short while though. 🙂

  • I think I’m going to have to start calling myself a pseudo-expat too! It took me 8 countries and 6 months to decide to stay in one place for a while. I am glad I did, but I am worried when I have to be a backpacker again 🙂
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..3 Strategies to Taste the Best Wines at a Wine Expo

    • October 5 2011

      I know what you mean – that is the worry about settling down. I don’t want to commit to anywhere for too long because I know I’ll get the urge to “move” again.

  • October 4 2011

    I prefer to go slow, but since we are normally taking week-long stints during my vacations, we (ummm, Chris) normally plans the trip in detail so we can see as much as possible. Sometimes it does move too fast, but the better we plan, the more we can see and have down-time to enjoy the setting.
    Don Faust recently posted..A Career Change: Why I’m Speaking at Meet, Plan, Go 2011

    • October 5 2011

      That’s a good point, and we could definitely use an injection of “planning” in our routine. But, that’s work! And we also have had such great things happen to us when we’ve “left ourselves open” that we aren’t ready to commit that readily to one thing or certain program…

  • Andrea
    October 5 2011

    Awww…looks like we’re going to miss you guys. Congrats on the Eurail gig….fantastic! As for travel hell, welcome to our world. We’ve always been more expats than full-time hobos and this year has seriously kicked our arses. We’re pros at fast-paced travel now, packing and unpacking and planning ahead but that doesn’t mean we aren’t sick to death of it at the moment. Looking forward to being in one place for two or three weeks. I can’t WAIT to be an expat again!

    • October 5 2011

      When do you get into Amsterdam? We are here until the 10th…

      Yeah, you guys have been going full bore for some time now, I can imagine you are tired! 2 weeks in one place will feel like a vacation after all of that work! 🙂

  • PostcardFromBK
    October 5 2011

    Don’t beat yourself up over under planning and moving travel dates. If anything, that sounds exactly what “hectic” travels should be. We’ve had a few similar incidents of under planning, but made the best of the situation and just moved on…

    You’re going to love Malaga, try to get an Espeto de Sardines from one of the churinguitos if they’re open for xmass. Simply delicious.

    • October 6 2011

      I’ll pass that suggestion onto our resident food taster (Pete), as I don’t like fish… 🙂

  • Alouise
    October 5 2011

    Even with forgetting how to travel it seems like your both doing pretty well. Actually the pseudo-expat way of travelling seems a lot more appealing to me than going to a new place every day.

    • October 6 2011

      Yes, we do tend to enjoy moving slower as well. Although we can’t complain with all the exciting stuff we have coming up! We’ll manage to get through it…somehow… 🙂

  • October 6 2011

    Your kind of travel is definitely my kind of travel, although I’m having difficulty convincing anyone to let a 25 year old female housesit for them. 🙂
    Candice Walsh recently posted..Things That Tasted Good in South America

    • Pete
      October 6 2011

      Yeah, I’d wonder about you too…haha 🙂

  • October 10 2011

    Oh Malaga! Have you been before? I have a great friend and her husband that live there in a little town called Mijas! Send me a message if you would like me to get you guys in contact with them! 🙂

    Near Malaga you must visit Giraltar and also a couple hours away is Tarifa a cute little surfing town and from there you can literally see Africa!! and after a 30min boat road you can be in Tangier, Morocco! I definitely recommend heading over there for at least a day 🙂
    Cailin recently posted..What should I do in San Francisco?

    • Pete
      October 10 2011

      We are very excited to get to Spain, and sure we will definitely get in touch with your friend 🙂

      Thanks for the tips too, you know us, we will probably show up doing no planning 😉

  • October 10 2011

    sorry that should of said “Gibraltar” 🙂
    Cailin recently posted..What should I do in San Francisco?

  • Ahhh, but it’s like riding a bike isn’t it??!! A few spills here and there, but it comes back to you pretty quick, no? Your story is not only similar to what we went through (we had to leave our friend’s house in Liechtenstein the next morning, and we still hadn’t put any thought into which country we wanted to be in the next day), but likely of all those who begin to travel again.

    It is all about the perfect balance between spontaneity and planning. In our case, Shawna used to be the uber planner…and me…not so much…now it is funny because we have actually each developed a little more balance. I am getting better at planning, and Shawna has become a lot more comfortable with just seeing what happens.

    Have fun and play safe!
    Skott and Shawna – Get Up & Globe recently posted..Friday is Couscous Day-Cookin’ in Meknes!

    • October 11 2011

      That perfect balance is a pretty hard one to find! Our spontaneity has paid off recently, but I sure wish we would have gotten that rail pass in time. Ah well, Dusseldorf will be seen another day… 🙂

  • October 16 2011

    When we started off on our current see-the-USA tour it seemed like such a long time. Now, six months, nineteen states and 18,000 miles later we feel like it’s all been a blur. It has been incredibly difficult to keep the blog up-to-date. Planning ahead for down days would have been good, but almost impossible. We are SO looking forward to the next phase with 90-day visa stays in each country. I just hope we can avoid exploring every inch of each place and actually stay in one spot now and then…
    Glenn Dixon recently posted..Almost Canada – Wyoming to Minnesota

  • October 17 2011

    What an awesome post! And can I just say? You two are FAR braver than I could ever be. LOL When I recently moved to the UK from the US, I struggled to bring every last bit and bob that I could. What is it about material possessions that make people feel more comfortable? (Or less comfortable, for that matter.)

    Totally awesome blog, and I’m so glad I stumbled upon it via Twitter. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Kate recently posted..Families, Felines and Fritos

  • Bob
    October 23 2011

    Slowing down can be a good thing; I think your plan to mix-in house-sitting along with quicker-moving travel is a great way to go. Very envious about your upcoming travels – enjoy!

    • October 25 2011

      Thanks Bob! When we’re traveling fast, we look forward to slowing down, and when we sit for a long time, we get anxious to get going again! Still have to perfect the “mix” I think – ha!

  • November 24 2011

    I’ve forgotten how to travel too! And I’m a slow commenter 🙂

    • November 25 2011

      At least you are a commenter at all (I am bad for that, no time!) 🙂

  • December 6 2011

    I like the idea of slow travel and I think that is how my wife and I will spend most of our traveling. I’ve been travel blogging for two years now, even though I haven’t really left off for some serious traveling yet, but in that time I’ve learned that fast paced traveling only leaves people burnt out. Slowly it turns more into learning about the people the interact with and their stories and less about the sights and must see items on their list.
    Cornelius Aesop recently posted..The Tale of Hachiko

  • February 26 2012

    Slow travel is good travel. But there is still nothing more exciting than finding something new. I always just bring far too much clothing, or end up buying too much on my adventures. Though I freakishly enjoy the planning aspect, I have these packing issues. If you end up getting some tips together, I will be all over those!

  • March 14 2012

    We need to get into this house sitting business! We love ultra slow travel but actually end up usually finding jobs and spending a minimum of a year in a place before we are sick of it. 2.5 years and counting! Not sure how we keep accumulating so much crap as well. Stupid heavy bags.

    • March 15 2012

      We’ve been going that long too! And are on our 8th housesitting job…you could say it’s really our preferred way to go!

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