Frequently Asked Questions, Answered

Inspired by our time at home, I wanted to personally answer the questions posed in this Boots n’ All article, which we are frequently asked by people. After 6 months of travel, I feel I have a much better grasp on the answers than we began our journey, even though we are constantly evolving our knowledge of what long-term travel means. Long-term travel, especially in the United States, is a strange idea, and our everyday life while traveling may seem even stranger. While it is true that what we are doing is not typical, and it does push our boundaries; however, just because it is strange does not mean it is dangerous.

Why (are you traveling around the world)?

We tried to cover this in our very first blog post 6 months ago.

Will it be safe?

In general, the answer is yes. However, we do take additional safety precautions to minimize risk. For example, we receive travel alerts from the Department of State. We check with our hostel to make sure the areas in the city we want to visit are safe. We avoid getting drunk in public. We split up our money and credit cards, and keep everything backed up redundantly. The list can go on and on, but overall, we use common sense.

What happens if you get sick?

This was a major concern for me before leaving. We started taking preventive measures in the US by going to a fabulous travel doctor, who gave us general health advice, necessary prescriptions we need on the road, and the proper vaccinations. I packed a mini-pharmacy of over the counter pills to take with us, which are also available abroad. Additionally, we purchased travel insurance that covers us for basically everything, from an activity as extreme as shark cage diving to as tame as walking. With our insurance, our medical expenses abroad are covered and if we need to go home for health reasons, those expenses will be covered too. One last note about getting sick abroad: other countries also have doctors and hospitals with modern facilities, so we will not need to be treated by a “medicine man” unless we choose to be.

How will you stay in touch?

This one is easy. Internet is so prevalent across the world that the only place we have been without internet is North Korea. Seriously, we had one of the fastest internet connections in Shaxi in rural China. We have used video Skype to stay in touch with our friends and family, and we probably talk to them more now than when we lived in Boston. We also use this handy blog so our family can track our whereabouts and stay informed about our day to day travels.

Won’t you get lonely?

Even though Kyle and I are always together, it would be a lie to say that we don’t miss our friends and family. Especially, during the holidays, it is difficult to be away. However, there is never a shortage of new and interesting people to meet on the road. Sometimes we will only have a few hours with our new friends, but we will email with them for months afterward. We are also lucky to have friends who live around the world that we have been able to meet up with and have made our travels much more fun.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock’n’Roll?

Being married we don’t get many questions about the first, we don’t do drugs, and as an Audiologist, I certainly won’t be going to any concerts without earplugs.

Where will you stay?

The short answer is we stay in hostels, guesthouses, hotels, and with friends. People seem to have preconceived notions about hostels so I will address that mainly. Hostels are great places to stay if you want a bed to sleep in and new people to meet. The conditions of a hostel vary as much as hotel chains in the US (think Motel 6 vs. Hilton). Most of the time, we stay in a private room with a private bathroom; sometimes we stay in a private room with a shared bathroom; rarely, we stay in dorm rooms. We almost always book our hostels at least a day in advance, which allows us to read the reviews. Our criteria depends on what city we are staying in. In larger cities, we look for helpful staff and good location; in smaller cities, we look for a good atmosphere. Above all, we always look for cleanliness and good wifi. By reading the reviews it allows us to find a place to meet our needs and stay bedbug free.

How will you eat….and will the food be safe?

Trying new cuisines is one of my favorite parts of traveling. From fancy restaurants to street food (GASP!), we try it all. However, as an e.coli survivor, I know that getting sick while traveling is horrible. Luckily, there are some basic precautions we take to try to only eat safe food. Our two general rules are to eat some place that is busy with locals (local people wouldn’t eat there if it made them sick) and eat freshly made, hot food. The longer cooked food sits, the more likely it is to have harmful bacteria. That is actually why street food is great because they make it to order in front of you. I try to avoid uncooked vegetables and fruit that can’t be peeled since usually it is rinsed in the water, but it isn’t always possible.

With that said, getting sick from food while traveling is inevitable. On our Asian leg, we only got sick once, and it was in Laos from a Philly cheesesteak in restaurant owned by an American. I will spare you the details.

One last note is about water. We drink bottle water, unless we know another westerner that lives in the city that tells us the tap water is safe and drinks it themselves. It can be surprising where you can drink the water. For example, Phnom Penh, one of the poorest capital cities we visited in Asia, has safe drinking water. Drinks with ice are another item people will warn you about. In Asia, most of the ice is made by the same companies that make bottled water and then deliver the ice to the restaurant. Factory ice is cylindric and has a hole in the middle so you can always tell if the ice is safe. One major question is, “can you brush your teeth with the water?” Kyle always uses the water to brush his teeth and I never do. No clear winner there, but Kyle hasn’t gotten sick from it.

Won’t the gap in your resume look bad for future employers?

Honestly, neither of us are concerned. IT and healthcare are two in-demand fields right now. Plus, plenty of people take time off for many reason, including childbirth. Kyle is still working about 10 hours a weeks and I am taking audiology classes online to stay up to date. We also like to think that our travel is increasing our skills, such as problem solving, communicating, and working with a diverse group of people.

What about personal hygiene- cleaning yourselves and your clothes?

To clean ourselves, we use soap and shampoo in a shower, just like at home. While traveling, sending out your laundry is very inexpensive. We just paid $6 to have all our clothes cleaned. Before leaving the US, we did invest in travel clothes that dry quickly and don’t show dirt easily. Our most interesting purchase is our two pair of wool underwear, which do not need to be washed everyday.

How will you communicate?

We found it shockingly easy to get around only using English in Asia (with a few “pleases” and “thank yous” in the native tongue). So far in South America, we are finding a basic level of Spanish helpful. When all else fails, we use gestures and/or Google Translate. The nice thing about visiting a place with tourists is there is tourist infrastructure; with that, you usually can find someone that can communicate with you.

Any other questions?

Feel free to post questions and I will answer them. Really, I love answering these questions and sharing our everyday life.

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