Traveling for months on end was new for us, so there were a few things we learned that helped us avoid major issues along the way.
As a quick update, read Reflecting on the Travis Traverse Travel Sabbatical for more context on my actual travel sabbatical.
Budgeting was a big focus for us. We ended up traveling pretty cheaply most of the trip, save for a splashier Caribbean vacation and some longer flights we ended up booking last-minute. We logged most expenses in a spreadsheet and made adjustments based on our planned expenditures. Buses and flights within Europe were particularly cheap, so we were able to come in significantly under budget on transportation costs.
For our work exchanges, we used Workaway, which wasn’t super intuitive at first but ended up working out well. For dogsitting/housesitting, we used Trusted Housesitters, which was easy to use. Note that both of those services are paid but well worth it if you use them, even at least once – and if you use them, make sure you get as much information from hosts and only commit if you’re comfortable. We never felt unsafe, but it did pay off to have backup plans. Feel free to read my other posts to get details about those experiences.
Too Good to Go was a great app to use in cities – they pair food establishments who have extra food at the end of shifts with folks who are more flexible with their food choices to reduce food waste. We ended up getting full meals for just a few Euros on plenty of occasions.
Navigating languages was mostly straightforward. Between my German and my wife’s Spanish, we only really ran into issues trying to speak Brazilian Portuguese. To keep languages fresh, I used Duolingo (and managed to get my 365 daily streak!). It was a great exercise in empathy.
Navigating new cities can be imposing, so I used Wikivoyage as a starting point and contacted friends or family who either lived nearby or had visited before for additional recommendations. Downloading offline Google Maps also proved to be super helpful, especially when we drove.
Healthwise, we used SafetyWing for insurance. They had good reviews online, and I was recovering from a blood clot for the first part of the trip, so I wanted to be extra careful, and things got better over time. I also coped with daily yoga routines and travel adjustments.
Somehow we managed to dodge covid on our trip despite a ton of travel. We mostly wore KN-95 masks indoors and on public transportation, especially during the Omicron surge. When we ate out, we almost exclusively ate outside. We also adopted an EU vaccine app that made travel super simple. Fortunately, we were both able to get boosted in the middle of our trip, which allowed us to continue traveling.
For travel gear, we both opted for a backpack and carry-on. Since we were originally planning for more extreme colder weather, we also shipped a larger suitcase to family overseas and swapped our wardrobes in the middle of the journey.
Overall, we found that the best preparation was understanding how long we could feasibly travel – financially, physically, and mentally. We learned to prioritize what we needed – not to prove anything to anyone but ourselves.