After a 14-month honeymoon around the world, it was unfortunately time to go back home…
Our world tour retrospective is more than positive!
Indeed, we didn’t even hoped to encountered so few issues. And above all, each and every stop on the way was amazing.
We can now say with certainty : going around the world for our honeymoon was one of the best decisions of our lives!
Lots of firsts for us
Also, we have to say that even if we were often considered by our loved ones as “frequent travellers”, because of our experiences as expats in the USA and the UK, we were rather novice to backpacking. It was even a real first time for Clémentine who normally travel with large suitcases. Moreover, we had never travelled to countries where culture shocks are common. Finally, we have both set foot on new continents!
A trip longer than expected
Although, obviously, certain aspects of the trip had their drawbacks (like changing beds constantly and having to pack every day), we could easily have continued for few more months! Thus, we are very happy to have managed to push the trip to 14 months. In fact, when we left, we only had our budget set for about 9 months. This estimate was due to the uncertainty of how much we would spend and what style of travel we would find more comfortable.
In the end, we spent less than expected without feeling like we had to compromise. After 6 months of travel, once in Australia, we took some time to recharge and reflect on our desires for the rest of the trip. This was easy and cost-efficient thanks to the house sitting we did. It was also an opportunity for Nicolas to expand our budget by working as a remote freelance computer engineer for a few weeks.
In addition, throughout the trip, we saved money thanks to our (full-time) work with our blog Voyage de Miel. This is due to Clémentine’s tenacity and commercial persuasion. Indeed, we started from scratch and were complete beginners in the travel blogging industry. More than anything, this success is due to our loyal readers and we would like to thank you warmly.
After our world tour 6-month appraisal published last year while we were away, you can find here our final thoughts gathered at the end of the 14-month trip. This article’s purpose is to answer the questions we have been asked most often during the world tour and since we came back.
Our world tour retrospective in a few figures
- 1 wedding
- 2 lovers
- 5 continents
- 23 countries
- 14 months of incredible adventures
- 413 days and today was never like yesterday
- 9,912 hours spent together
- 11 oceans and seas splashed around
- 29 borders crossed
- 17 flights
- 1 food poisoning (big pride on this one, we expected many more)
- 2 ear infections and 1 flight changed in consequence
- 14 newsletters (you should subscribe!)
- 39,224 photos and videos taken
- 2 planes cancelled
- 4 challenging borders to cross
- 11 SIM cards purchased worldwide
- 10 kilos lost but quickly regained
What did we prefer?
This is such a difficult question! There have been so many places visited where we have expressed the wish to return later in our lives.
If we had to choose one country and only one: French Polynesia was the place visited on earth which came closest to our vision of paradise. In addition, with its hundreds of islands and five archipelagos there are still months of exploration ahead to get a correct overview of this wonderful country.
If we had to choose one experience it would be the safaris in Africa! In particular, our volunteering to help black rhinos conservation in Zimbabwe. Overall, every opportunity to observe animals in their natural environments have been incredible.
Where would we have stayed longer?
Almost everywhere… but especially Cambodia. This is a destination for which we did not know what to expect and it very pleasantly surprised us. It is such a culturally and historically rich country ! Also Cambodians have been so welcoming and warm with us. One week was definitely not long enough ! Thus, we dream of spending a few more weeks there to keep learning about the country’s history and to visit the coastal cities and the islands.
What was the most difficult destination?
Without hesitation it was India. It is the only place where we really got “scared”.
Paradoxically, it is also a destination we truly enjoyed. Thus, our issues did not prevent us from seeing the beauty of this incredible country. On our next visit we will get organised differently and invest in a guide and a private driver if we are not travelling with a local friend.
Where is the best food in the world?
Another difficult question, but we think India is at the top of our personal charts. Every meal was absolutely delicious and we never ate the same thing twice whether it was cooked at home, in a restaurant or on the street. There are so many flavors to discover and each region and community comes with different specialities. The real problem is knowing how to stop. Especially seeing the disheartened looks of the cooks when, on the verge of a liver crisis, you have to tell them you are full!
French Polynesia was also a great culinary surprise for us. We knew nothing about this delicious fusion between Asian and French cuisine prepared with fresh fish and exotic fruits and vegetables.
Missing French food ?
To touch on another recurring question: have we missed French food? Our answer is: no, not really (even if we were very happy to eat French dishes coming back home). Having been expatriated for several years before the trip, we now adapt well to the lack of French food (yes even the bread). It must also be said that we were so enthusiastic about the idea of tasting all the local specialities that we would not have exchanged a meal.
Dealing with Clémentine’s lactose allergy
Finally, France is undoubtedly (at least of the countries we have visited) the most inconvenient country for Clémentine’s lactose allergy. To close the subject (very dear to our eyes) of food with another question: Did Clémentine had difficulties with her allergy? Almost none, again it is still more difficult in France (when there is not even a language barrier)!
Have we partied and make friends around the world?
Yes, we have made so many friends and have been to amazing celebrations. There are too many to cite here, so here is a completely non-exhaustive mini-summary:
In North and Central America
To begin with, we met up with relatives in Canada for a wedding and a birthday party. We also visited old friends in the United States. Then, we had the chance to celebrate the Day of the Dead in Mexico with new friends and our adoptive Mexican family. The festivities lasted more than a week and remain one of our best travel memories!
After this, we created bonds during high on adrenaline activities in Belize and we were invited to spend Christmas Eve with our host’s parents in Costa Rica. We also celebrated New Year Eve in a coastal village of Costa Rica with Nicolas’ parents who came to visit us. Right after this, a magician friend took us for the most magical evening at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles.
Later in French Polynesia, the guardian of one of the most beautiful beaches in the world taught us to how to make sublime jewellery with shells and seeds found in the sand. In New Zealand, we feasted with Tolkien’s hobbits (an evening we will never forget). We were also hosted by friends whom Clémentine’s father had met almost 50 years ago during a camping trip in Iceland (it was the opportunity for them to have a video call to see how much everyone has changed and how their respective accents remain difficult to understand)! Also, we found lost friends at the very bottom of New Zeland’s South Island and we fished mussels together.
In Indonesia, on the island of Java, we were invited to a teenager circumcision party and shared incredible memories while watching a turtle laying eggs on a beach deep in the jungle. We made friends on one island of this big country, which we later met again with on another island.
In the city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, we also met friends to share a luxury apartment. In India, we were incredibly well received by a friend as well as friends of friends and even friends’ family. We also had the huge honour of raising the flag in the neighbourhood ceremony for the country’s national holiday.
These are just examples from hundreds of great meetings which made our trip so beautiful. We hope to meet many of our friends again around the world (in a few months or fifty years)!
Has this trip changed us?
Who can say they haven’t changed in 14 months of life? We did not have a “big revelation” and we were not seeking one. We cannot, however, deny our way of thinking has evolved on certain points:
Animal welfare and conversation
Before leaving, we had already developed an ecological conscience and we were trying to correct our harmful habits for the planet. One thing we discovered in particular during our trip is the beauty of encountering animals in their natural environment. This realisation was sadly accompanied by realising this chance we have had is greatly threatened nowadays. In addition to our volunteering in Zimbabwe for black rhinos conservation, we visited a lot of preservation and rehabilitation centres for animals to be reintroduce in their natural environment. This is an area in which we had a lot to learn and our discussions led us to adapt our lifestyle and our habits even more drastically.
Undoubtedly, seeing with our own eyes the damage we are causing to the planet and its inhabitants has been a real shock for us.
Our relationship with money
Another point which is a little difficult to explain: this trip has also changed our vision in relation to money and more generally to the way we want to live our lives. In a society where we are always told we should work non-stop to earn more money to have more possessions, our decision to leave our job, our flat and to sell our things to go travelling came as a shock for some people. Do you what is even more shocking? For us to realise how happy we were and how light we felt with our four t-shirts and three briefs in our backpack. Having no bills to pay was a real feeling of freedom. We are, now even more than before, convinced that money does not make happiness.
In any case, this trip made us richer!
The underwater world
Discovering it for the first time (especially the animals) was a big revelation for us! No doubt you’ve heard of it, we’ve become big fans of scuba diving. The beginnings were difficult but it quickly became amazing and we are so happy to have been able to add the seabed to our discoveries around the world. We are now proudly certified PADI Advanced divers. We hope to stay fit and up to date (France is not exactly a diving destination where we can practice much) and go for hundreds more magnificent dives in our life.
And so much learned
One thing for sure: we have learned a lot. First, of course, in geography and history as well as in a foreign languages. Officially (sometimes even with a diploma), we have learned how to cook Thai and Cambodian. In Indonesia, we have learned how to forged our own travel wedding rings. We have graduated from a beginners surfing class. How to release baby turtles to the sea and how to recognised wild animals footprints and poop is also something we learned!
We have also learned to: sleep in improbable situations, hitchhike, open a coconut with no tools, urinate in all positions, not be bothered by each other 5 days without showering smell, know what to eat and what drink to avoid being sick, overcome your motion sickness, find imaginative solutions to wipe your butts, scuba dive… And this is just another non-exhaustive list.
We also learned, for the good of our couple, we shouldn’t play cards just the two of us! Clémentine also discovered she can go diving, hiking on volcanoes, climbing in caves, canyoning, sand and sea surfing, trekking in the jungle, kayaking in the sea, hiking with grizzly bears … (another non-exhaustive list) without dying. Without dying but certainly not without being afraid of dying!
Nicolas learned he can swim with sharks and wander under the giant Australian bats without being attacked. The poor man also discovered, at his own expense while diving, he is suffering from “underwater motion sickness”.
Finally, we have certainly learned to be open-minded and more tolerant. Unfortunately, it seems that this has made us less patient and tolerant with intolerant people…
How much does a 14-month round-the-world trip cost?
A recurring question which is unfortunately very difficult to answer. Indeed, we must take into account the advantages we have enjoyed through our work with the blog and social networks. This allowed us to save a lot but also to carry out activities in which we would not have invested our money ourselves. For example, if we received one night’s accommodation in return for marketing work we certainly saved one night’s accommodation. However it is very unlikely we would have stayed in a hotel at such a high price.
The question we would have liked to be asked is : has our hard work had paid off? This is because the blog has really been a full time job for us!
To come back to the budget, the only number we can reveal with certainty is our starting budget… The suspense remains however because we plan to develop this point in a next article on “how to prepare for a world tour ”.
9,912 consecutive hours spent together and how is your relationship going?
We wrote a “being married” review in our 6-month appraisal article and we feel like our observations did not change after 14 months. So much so that now we find it difficult to be separated and do things on our own as we were used to before. We are working on it to find a healthier balance.
Working together for the first time was a challenge! Without a doubt, working on the blog was the biggest headache of the trip. However, we have no intention of stopping Voyage de Miel on such a good track and will therefore continue our little necessary clashes to create quality content for you!
What will become of the blog now that the world tour is over?
This trip around the world and our honeymoon may be over but certainly not our “Voyage de Miel”. We hope you felt the same way because we still have so much to share with you! Also, as you can imagine we have more trips in mind. Thank you so much for reading our blog!
Seriously, we must have encountered difficulties?
Of course, who can say he has had no problems in the last 14 months? In any case, it was less than we had imagined. Nothing was insurmountable and many are already making awesome travel anecdotes. Some are even hilarious! We have already made a first list of them in our article on our first 6 months of travel in which we consider we had covered the main ones.
Here are the few hassles to add over the last 8 months:
- difficult border crossing in Zimbabwe
- a taxi driver (Uber) who got us lost and extorted double the initial price of the ride in India (he also did a surprising and frightening U-turn on the highway)
- a virus (kindly shared as a couple) who kept us down for a few days in the Seychelles (and reveals the slowness of the health system in these islands where everything seems to take so long)
- our brand new water bottle lost in a bus station after only a few days
- an absolutely disgusting home to house sit in Australia
- a Thai grandma driving her tuk-tuk faster than a formula one driver in Bangkok
- a feeling of insecurity India (we also found very challenging the way people looked at us)
- the opportunity to push the limits of our notion of hygiene in Asia and Africa (but also a little in Australia)
- constant discomfort with public toilets in Asia and Africa which requires a big dose of courage before each use (and many great anecdotes to share in society)
Of course more little beasts encountered:
- two massive spiders who invited themselves into our bedrooms in Zambia and Malawi
- a vicious toad hidden behind the toilet roll in Malawi
- several colossal spiders crossed while hiking in Asia and Australia (but everything is fine as long as it is not inside our homes)
- the biggest cockroaches found in our room in Sydney, Australia
- Australian fox-sized bats
- dingoes screaming as we were trying to fall asleep under the stars in the Australian desert
- scorpions around the fire during wilderness camping in Zimbabwe
- the monkeys who fought on Nicolas’ back in Indonesia. The rascals also cheerfully rubbed their naked buttocks in his neck. It was a great moment of anxiety for Clémentine who then felt very suspicious and anxious about all the other monkeys crossed in the rest of Asia
And bigger animals: we indeed had several close encounters with elephants ready to charge while we were on foot in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
To conclude, nothing worse than the tarantula found in our shower in Costa Rica! Also, rest assured Clémentine continued to frantically check every bathroom and toilet’s corners. Finally, we survived Australia without encountering (at least inside) deadly or giant spiders. What a relief ! Really, we never dared to put a hand under a table during our 3 months there.
It should also be noted our stomachs have become imperturbable and we have survived without major issues all of our culinary risks taking. Indeed, we have never said no to a meal offered to us and have had a lot of street food. However, we have been faithful to our rules to attest if the food seems safe to eat and have always used our filters to drink water.
What was the most difficult part then?
Surely going back … For us, making the decision to leave was easy and euphoric but the decision to come back wasn’t. Social pressure, the return to the household, administrative concerns, schedules or even being sedentary… This is such a complex subject that we have also decided to develop it in an upcoming blog article.
It must also be said the climate in France since our return does not help. Indeed, it has been rainy and grey almost every day! We are missing the sun and Nicolas even walked into Clémentine sniffing out sunscreen.
And when do we plan on leaving for our next trip?
Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to plan our next big trip (understand: save enough money to travel over a long period). We are impatient to work on our future projects in order to start dreaming about these future trips. To summarise, no date yet but a lot of ideas!
Thanks for reading our world tour retrospective! If you have any other questions, please leave them in the comments and we will be happy to answer them.