The 3 Worst Hostel Experiences From Our Round-the-World Trip
We recently shared our five favorite hostels from our round-the-world trip last year. Now it’s time to step a little bit on the negative side (I always make time for complaining). Here are three of our worst hostel experiences from our ten months of backpacking across five continents.
5 Favorite Hostels From Our Round-the-World Trip
During our round-the-world backpacking trip, we stayed mostly in hostels. However, we also made sure to treat ourselves every once in a while with a hotel – about once a month. You can only stand to not have a private room for so long! Our other common lodging option was of course CouchSurfing which we also did about once a month. Before we began backpacking I had never stayed in a hostel so my first one was the day we arrived in Mexico City. Hostel living grew on me fast and I couldn’t imagine traveling any other way at the moment (aside from CouchSurfing). As we’ve stayed at many a hostel, we thought we’d share our favorite five from our 10 months of backpacking across 5 continents.
Reflecting on the Past Year Abroad and the Next Year of Traveling
Can I Snooze My Birthday Wake Up Call?
It’s 9am on the Sunday after arriving back in Arizona from a year long trip abroad and my phone is ringing. I’m sure I didn’t set the alarm so I’m confused. Is Jesus calling? It is Sunday so that seemed logical. He’s not. It’s my mom. Proudly claiming to know that I must be awake because my latest blog post just appeared on Facebook. It did. Because it’s automatically scheduled. And I was not up. In fact I had just gone to bed not 3 hours earlier after stuffing my face with Jack in the Box finalizing the debaucherous birthday celebration that coincided with our return.
Leaving Peru For A Spice of Chile
While visiting Peru, we spent our last four days there trapped in Puno, desperately trying to figure out whether to take a bus from Peru to Chile, or to Bolivia. This was mostly because our travel buddy, Megan, had a flight to catch on from Puno back to the U.S. and we waited there with her. But in addition to that, I also got sick again (but not like the shits from Mexico) with a bad cough that was passed to me by my older sister. As if that wasn’t enough, my upper lip started falling off. It was super weird and the skin just peeled away – not from sun exposure because I am obsessed with Chapstick (SPF 15). Then my eye starting swelling slightly and I gave up. It was time to stay put and rest. I couldn’t even drink wine!
iPhone Apps for Traveling
Even though we cancelled our phone services with Verizon and AT&T, Auston and I both wanted to bring our iPhones with us while we traveled. I assumed it would be to listen to music, snap a picture if our regular camera wasn’t handy, or to go online while connected to wi-fi.
I did not expect to find so much more use out of them though. I was very pleased to find that the GPS function on the iPhone still works without cellular data and without wi-fi. This means you can use it for free. A phone service connection and/or wi-fi would help the GPS location to be a little quicker, but it is not necessary to be connected to any service or wi-fi.
What to Pack for a Round the World Trip
Packing for a year long trip around the world is not an easy task. Imagine trying to fit all the stuff you use on a daily basis into one small bag that you carry on your back. Although it wasn’t easy, we found a way to do it.
The first step for us was choosing a backpack and then deciding what to cram inside. We wanted to choose a bag with enough space for our items but nothing too large or heavy that would prevent us from being mobile. The compromise was a 55L backpack. After months of planning and debating, here is the list of what we packed.
Note: This post was first written in May 2012 but was updated in May 2013 to reflect what we actually kept or added to our packs while traveling. I’ve made all updates in red so you can see differences between before and after our trip.
Clothing / Apparel
- 3-4 t-shirts & 1 collar shirt (this number increased to 6-7 shirts)
- 1 pair each of pants, shorts, & swimsuit (in the end we had 2 pairs of pants including jeans)
- 4 pairs of underwear & socks (more like 6 pairs by the end)
- Light jacket
- Running shoes / sandals / casual shoes
- iPad & netbook
- Global cell phone
- iPhones (unlocked)
- Power adapters & extension cord
Security / Safety Items
Padlock (for lockers) (we used our wire bag lock for both lockers and locking our bag, no need for both)
- Wire lock (for backpacks)
- First aid kit
Misc Travel Items
- Pocket knife
- Water bottle
- Travel pillow
- Backpacking towel (a big, high quality one!)
- Small mess kit
- Drying line
- Sewing kit
Duct tape (we carried it the whole year but only ended up using it once)
- Ear plugs / eye mask
Playing cards (we only used these one or twice. not worth bringing again)
- Travel umbrella
- Squash ball (to plug sinks)
- Small travel mirror
- Resistance Bands (for staying fit on the road)
- Ziplock bags
- Compression sacks
Documents & Money
- Passport / ID
- Student ID – for discounts, though we aren’t students anymore)
- Travel insurance policy
- Vaccination certificates
- 2 Credits cards & 1 Debit card
And don’t forget the ridiculous amount of pills you’ll have to take with you!
After two long nights of organizing, we managed to pack all this stuff and still have room to spare. I’m taking bets on how long David can go with such a small choice of outfits! (Of course, I was right since he ended up buying 3 more shirts, extra pants and shorts) Deciding to backpack around the world is the best decision we have ever made but packing for the trip was one of the most difficult tasks!
Passing Time Until Our First Flight
We’ve been passing time in Arizona for almost 3 weeks now. In addition to spending most of our days planning for the trip, we’ve managed to occupy our time in many other ways…
Like passing out flyers to our neighbors requesting any items they can donate for our garage sale. (We’re having it next weekend to raise funds for the volunteer programs we’re applying to.)
…And collecting items from my mom’s neighborhood that people were throwing out to sell at the garage sale.
We celebrated my mom’s bday with an excellent dinner.
A lot of our attention has been focused around our favorite board game, Settlers of Catan. (We know we’re dorks and we’re okay with it.)
We’re also hanging out with the awesome Grzecka kids building lighthouses and volunteering in Owen’s preschool class. Spending three hours with ten four year olds is as much fun as it sounds.
Auston has been selling a bunch of our things online to earn some extra cash.
To save some money on the entrance fee to Phoenix Gay Pride this past weekend, we volunteered the week before by placing some mats under generators (to soak up oil) and assembling cardboard trashcans.
Only 11 more days until we fly to Mexico City! Then the trip really begins.
Quitting Our Jobs to Travel the World
At long last, the time has come to make one of the biggest changes leading up to our trip….quitting our jobs. This past week marked a big milestone since both David and I gave our resignation.
There was a lot of anticipation leading up to this moment. It was a sigh of relief to unload our minds with this secret and it is very exciting to be leaving our jobs. Don’t get me wrong, we have both been very happy with our jobs and the experiences we have gained. I have spent the last 9 years with my company, and have had great opportunities and growth. After all, this job is what brought us to Chicago in the first place just three and a half years ago.
The conversations with our bosses went very well and they were happy for us and supportive. In fact, at least 15 co-workers have approached me over the past few days to express their excitement and to learn more about our plan.
The clock is counting down. With our last day fast approaching, there are just 4 weeks remaining before we break away to start our journey.
Vaccinations for our Round the World Trip
We had our 2 hour travel clinic appointment this week. There was a lot to go over. Yellow fever. Malaria. Typhoid fever. Meningococcal disease. Hepatitis. Traveler’s diarrhea. But we prefer to think of it as Hepapolio Malarangitis B Fever for simplicity.
You name it, we have a vaccine or pills for it. But now we’re prepared for anything (or almost anything). One of us is bound so get sick on this trip eventually. Here’s to hoping it’s not on a plane…