As we’re now six months into our grand tour and have another six months to go it seemed a good time to reflect on the first half of our travel experiment and share some tips based on what we’ve learned from the experience so far.
Rarely a day passes when we don’t get told “You guys have the best jobs in the world!” And we have to agree that travelling around the world, living like locals, meeting people, and doing and learning things is pretty incredible — being paid to do it even better — and as far as we’re concerned, much more preferable to looking after an island.
But we do appreciate that this style of travel doesn’t suit everyone. Why?
- we’re staying in holiday rentals instead of hotels — this style of travel won’t work for people who spend a lot of time at the tour desk or talking to the concierge and can’t do without 24-hour room service;
- we’re trying to live like locals — we’re shopping at local markets, eating and drinking locally, staying in and cooking, doing laundry, watching TV, and we’re even entertaining our new friends;
- we’re connecting with locals — we’re making an effort to meet people as a way to really get beneath the skin of the places we’re visiting; those who see travel as an escape and prefer privacy (as John Nicholls’ guests do) probably won’t find this focus as fascinating as we do;
- we’re kicking back in everyday neighbourhoods rather than ticking off sights (in Paris, we didn’t even climb the Eiffel Tower) — this won’t suit first-time visitors to a city who are intent on seeing the star attractions;
- like the early grand tourists we’re learning things, from musical instruments to making macarons and offerings, and we’re doing stuff, from walking tours to mountain hikes — it won’t appeal to those who prefer lying on a beach or soaking in a spa;
- not all people are made for round-the-world travel (RTW) — although grand touring couples like Kathryn and Daniel and nomadic families like Soultravelers3 seem to do it adeptly while raising a child!;
- we’re travelling sustainably — wherever possible, we’re honing in on the home-grown, going organic, and travelling green; we’re seeking out local artisans, artists and craftspeople; we’re eating local produce and buying local products; and we’re shopping at local farmer’s markets and small ‘mom ’n pop stores’ rather than huge multinationals; and
- we’re using food and wine as a way into a culture — okay, well, perhaps that’s something that does appeal to everyone!
We’re not only going to muse about local travel, experiential travel and sustainable travel over the next weeks, but we’ll also be sharing advice based on our experiences these last six months on the road.
Not everything has gone swimmingly — even after 4.5 years* living out of our suitcases, we still make the occasional poor decision. For example, we’ve selected a couple of properties that didn’t meet our expectations, we’ve sometimes not met people early enough in our stays, we’ve missed a few great opportunities, and we’ve even resorted to using a guidebook once or two. But fortunately we’ve learned from those mistakes.
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll share advice on everything from planning a yearlong round-the-world trip to choosing the right holiday rental, from tips on how to connect with locals to how to travel more sustainably.
If there are any topics you’d like us to cover or any questions you have, please do leave them in the Comments below.
* Prior to embarking on our Grand Tour in early 2010 we completed our fourth year of continuous travel and living on the road (mainly in hotels) as travel writers. So you’d think we’d know better…