The Full RTW Recap + Plus your Questions Answered

We are (at times, begrudgingly) home! After the most exciting 14 months of travel around the world, we made our way back to Calgary, partly out of necessity, but also because there’s truly no place like home.

It was hard to leave the world behind, but travelling long term is challenging too. We were fortunate that Thea’s job was waiting for her when we got back and that Phil found a new one quickly so we can start saving for more travels and new adventures!

Now that the dust has settled off our backpacks, here’s the most common questions we’ve received since we’ve been back:

What was your favourite place?

This one is so hard to answer, but we both agree the one experience we loved the most was sailing to Antarctica. It’s just such an incredible place, but it’s not really fair to the other amazing countries we visited, so here’s a top 5*:

Kayaking at Paradise Bay in Antarctica
Antarctica, not really fair to the rest of the world
  1. Antarctica by a frozen nautical mile.
  2. Bolivia for its incredible hiking, unique character, and all the rescued animals that stole our hearts.
  3. The Galapagos Islands for their beauty, diversity, and getting to dive with so many sharks.
  4. South Africa for its endlessly beautiful landscapes, delicious food and wine, and getting to see charismatic megafauna every day in Kruger National Park.
  5. Nepal because the Himalaya are such an incredible hiking destination (sorry Phil and your broken foot), super sweet people, and chasing tigers!

*Listing your favourite places is of course an impossible task, but overall we loved places with great hiking, SCUBA diving, and wildlife watching which isn’t surprising as those are some of our favourite things to do. But we would also be remiss if we didn’t say how fun it was to catch up with old friends around the world, meet new people and try new things.

Hiking in Bolivia
Hiking in Bolivia

What Country had the Best Food?

Thailand was an easy tops for us, but South Africa, Portugal, France, and to our surprise as it wasn’t on our radar as a foodie destination, Bolivia deserve notable mentions. The wines of South America and beers of Belgium earned rave reviews too!

Khao Soi
Khao Soi, one of our favourite new foods!

How did you book places?

We did not have everything planned out when we left so we booked a lot of flights and hotels along the way. We monitored flight prices using things like Google Flights and typically booked within a few weeks of takeoff. For accommodation, we mostly used and liked that you can easily find smaller, budget-friendly rooms that often came with a kitchen. Since there was two of us, booking a double often was the same price as two dorm beds in a hostel. We didn’t stay in the most glamorous places, but there are plenty of clean, cheap, comfortable rooms in local businesses around the world.

Mr Bs Place Bardia
Mr Bs Place in Bardia, Nepal – pretty cozy except for the insane heat!

Any places you didn’t like?

Some places didn’t impress us as much as we hoped but we wouldn’t go so far as to say we didn’t like it. Some places were disappointing for sad reasons, like the overwhelming garbage problem in Senegal, or the constant hassling and harassment in Egypt but we still enjoyed visiting those places.

Thea in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza
The Great Pyramids of Giza – incredible, but also harassment-central!

We could have done without the back to back colds and food poisoning that we got during the first couple of months into the trip though. Apparently that’s a thing that no one warns you about when you go on a big trip, but you tend to get sick a lot at the beginning because you’re exposed to so many new bugs.

How did you afford it?

We decided on a shared dream, made a plan, and avoided lifestyle inflation, then saved like maniacs. For more details read our post on how to save for a trip around the world!

Ocean View while Driving to Cape Point from Cape Town
Beautiful South Africa

How did you pack for such a long trip?

Mainly we tried to pack versatile, breathable clothes that could go from trail to town and we wrote a whole post with our packing list!

Were you really travelling the whole time?

Yep,  from May 2018 to July 2019 and the time flew by!

Zentravellers on a roof in Puerto Rico with All Hands
Volunteering in Puerto Rico at the beginning of our trip seems like an eternity ago

What did you do with your house?

We were renters so we sold most of our stuff and sent the rest to storage. It mostly all came back fine. We’ve replaced some of the things we sold, but if we haven’t missed it we didn’t buy it again.

What happened to your cat?

He charmed is way into a few people’s hearts while we were away but he is now so happy to be back with hoomans. Turns out, scientists have found that cats really do love their people, aawww!

Yup, seems this cutie missed us

Are you Changed?

Loaded question here, but I think yes in some ways. We kind of believe that wherever you are, there you’ll be so I don’t think travelling gives you a personality transplant unlike what you may read on other travel websites.

However, I do believe that we are slowly figuring out the ways we are ever so slightly different than when we left. For example, it’s small but we are much more likely to sit and enjoy a coffee in a cafe and just talk to each other. In the past it may have been a coffee to go but cappuccinos are so much better savoured!

Most of the world has terrible Nescafe instant coffee, but there’s lots of good coffee to be found too. We loved this cafe that served up world champion latte art in Chiang Mai!

While we may have learned to slow down and savour our coffee more often, we also pushed ourselves to some pretty impressive feats while travelling. We climbed to over 6,000m in Bolivia, cycled in the desert, toured some of the most remote corners of the globe, spent days at a time on trails, and logged enough dives to go from beginners to more experienced. This taught us that we can do just about anything!

Hiking the Colorado Trail
Hiking the Colorado Trail

Any Big Revelations on the Road?

It’s a cliché I know, but it really is the people that make the place. We’ll always remember our local hiking guides, the sweet Nepalese ladies that looked after Phil and his broken foot, or the kindness that the Hurricane Maria victims showed us in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Beach
Lovely Puerto Rico

Also, sorry to be a bummer, but despite our collective previous travels, we feel like garbage pollution is now at a critical all time high. The entire planet appallingly is swimming in trash. Whether we were SCUBA diving on  a reef 25m below sea level or trekking in the Andes or Himalaya mountains above 5,000m, we found people’s trash. Travel responsibly people and pack it out, or better yet, don’t make trash in the first place!

Garbage in St Louis Senegal
Devastating amounts of garbage along the coast of St Louis, Senegal

What is it like to be Back?

It’s tough for sure. There’s a special magic to experiencing new things every day and going back to work and routine after being able to spend all day outside is jarring to say the least.  We’ve learned a thing or two about beating the post-trip blues and one key strategy is to plan your next trip, even if it’s a local one!

lake louise gondola
Ski season is just around the corner!

Are you Done Travelling?

Never! We still dream of completing the Colorado Trail and  want to get back to Central America to dive with whale sharks for the first time. We’ve got to get to our last continent too!

You would think an experience like this would get the travel bug out of your system but if anything it only made it stronger and we have even more bucketlist items instead of less.

One thing we know now is that we’re not likely to visit a place just because someone else said we should. Meaning, we know we love hiking, cycling, volunteering, and SCUBA diving for example while we travel, so unless a place had those things to offer, we may opt not to visit despite it blowing up on Instagram. Also, we don’t want to leave our fur baby behind next time, so maybe some overland travel is in order. Whatever adventure is next, it will be fun, and it will probably be outdoors!

Paine Grande Campground
Paine Grande Campground, Patagonia

Countries Visited:

  1. USA/Puerto Rico
  2. Ecuador
  3. Peru
  4. Bolivia
  5. Chile
  6. Argentina
  7. Portugal
  8. France
  9. Belgium
  10. Cape Verde
  11. Senegal
  12. South Africa
  13. Egypt
  14. Turkey
  15. Nepal
  16. Thailand
  17. Japan
Landing at Baltra Airport on the Galapagos Islands!
Landing at Baltra Airport on the Galapagos Islands, one of our favourite places!

RTW By the Numbers:

  • 17 Countries visited across 6 Continents, including Antarctica!
  • 17,808 Kms travelled by Bus
  • 60,930 Kms on planes
  • 754 Kms travelled by trains
  • 4,500 Kms Roadtripped in South Africa: 
  • 1,025 Kms hiked
  • 37.92 kms vertical
  • 41.36 kgs of garbage removed from trails as Grounds Keepers
  • 364 Kms biked
  • 72 dives logged
  • 200+ New birds (Thea unfortunately lost count when her phone cratered)
  • 45,623 Photos to sort through
  • $150 CAD average per day (not including Antarctica because we don’t want to discourage anyone from taking a trip like this. $75cad per person per day is a good middle-range budget )



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