This post is a guest post written by Zenja, the author of Bearly Here.

I asked her about her 6 months trip around the world together with her partner. She told me all about her trip, her favorite travel essentials (which you might find surprising) as well as her greatest challenge. I also asked her what she learned traveling around the world.

She has had many amazing adventures during her trip and has some inspiring favorite places and activities to share with us.

If you also want to travel the world check out my Round the World Travel Planning blog category. Where you will find useful tips for your travel planning as well as other inspiring stories by other world travelers, such as Nina’s European adventure and Julie’s backpacking trip around South America (for 18! months).

If you want to start planning your RTW trip right now, sign up to my mailing list and get instant access to a RTW Travel Planning Task List with more than 50 tasks!

Around the world in 182 days

My Trip

In February 2018 we packed our apartment, moved everything to the storage facility, filled our 40L backpacks and boarded our flight to Auckland. We came back 6 months later, after we visited 22 countries on 5 continents. 

Too many, you say? Yes. But that was our way. I know it sounds like a cliché (and it totally is), but this was one of these unforgettable experiences that we will carry through life, no matter what.

It wasn’t hard for us to figure out what kind of trip we wanted to have. We are not much into luxurious resorts and we love traveling with our backpacks. Besides, taking off for 6 months is not the cheapest thing you can do, especially while on a career break. 

So that was it: we wanted to backpack, stay in hostels or affordable Airbnbs, bike, take trains and busses and enjoy local food, sometimes make our own. There’s just one thing we didn’t want: we didn’t want to save on EVERYTHING. I think it can be very sad to travel around the world, have the opportunity to do things you have never imagined and let your dreams pass you by solely because of the gap in your budget. We wanted to save when we can, but splurge on some special activities and bucket list adventures. 

For example, we tried skydiving in New Zealand, took an unforgettable tour to Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia, went on a 4-day nature trip in Mongolia and so on. We enjoyed every second of it, and at the end of the day, our memories are invaluable.

My Favorite Travel Essentials

Even though we only traveled with 40L backpacks (which you can buy on, we didn’t find ourselves missing anything. Our all-time favorites include micro-fiber towels (check the latest price for the Sea To Summit Dry Light Towel on, small locks, lightweight running shoes and reusable water bottles.

We were, however, very happy with a few things that we weren’t sure about in the beginning. One was Scrubba wash bag. Not everywhere in the world you can find laundromat on the street or washing machine in a hostel. This wash bag saved us many times. Check out the Scrubba Wash Bag on!

Another thing I never knew I needed was a sleeping mask. We never used sleeping masks before, but Estonian company Ööloom makes such adorable animal masks that we couldn’t resist. And we did not regret it! There were many situations where we had to sleep with the light on – in buses, airplanes, hostels. And now we looked cute doing that!

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Using the RTW Travel Prep Checklist including 50+ planning tasks

My Greatest Challenge

I don’t find that we struggled a lot during our trip, but of course you can’t have 6 months of exclusively happy days. Sometimes you or your travel buddy can be in a bad mood; sometimes things don’t go as you wish. Often there are disagreements, stressful situations and just simply being tired or hungry, which can affect a lot. 

For us, probably, the greatest challenge was to find others to communicate with. Don’t get me wrong, we met plenty of wonderful people on our trip, and some of these acquaintances turned into friends. But I find socializing as a couple harder than as a solo traveler. Mostly it’s because you always have each other to talk to, so your need for meeting new people is lower. Also, it can be harder for others to approach you.

Another thing we found more complicated than we hoped was staying healthy. We had big plans about how we’re going to continue eating well and exercising during the next 6 months, but the reality was different. 

When you want to see as many things as we did, you often start very early and don’t take time to go for a run. And surprise-surprise, in many places you don’t really have much choice in what you put into your mouth! New Zealand was easy – you’re always active, moving around, hiking, kayaking, and cook your fresh meals in the hostel if you want to. But things can change when you visit destinations like Bolivia or Mongolia, or when you take long bus/train trips or when you’re tired and sleepy, because you woke up at 4 am to watch the sunrise.

My Favorite Destination

We always get asked what our favorite destination was, and I feel that it’s a little unfair to single out one place. There are so many incredible countries in the world, each of them unique in its own way. 

New Zealand and its stunning landscapes; the whole Balkan region with incredible castles and fascinating history. Russia and Mongolia offered unique cultural experiences, as well as South America, a mix of it all. 

We often say that our “favorite” country was Bolivia, but when we talk about cities, we always bring up Buenos Aires. The most interesting thing is that I cannot pinpoint what we loved about it so much. It just felt like home. We even stayed there longer than initially planned – that’s the benefit of not booking your whole trip in advance.

My Favorite Memory

One of the memories we think very fondly of is doing Salkantay Trek in Peru. We spent 5 days (including my 30th birthday) with people we just met. We challenged ourselves and enjoyed ourselves and getting to Machu Picchu on the last day wasn’t the highlight. The whole trail was. People who were with you, everything you learned, touched and saw. 

And then there was camping in Balkans, taking Trans-Siberian train, kayaking in Punakaiki, experiencing Cuba, seeing deserts, mountains, volcanos, lakes, oceans and so much more…

My Favorite Accommodation

As I mentioned earlier, one of our most beloved cities in the world is Buenos Aires. And our favorite accommodation probably played a big part in it. 

We rented a small AirBnB in Balvanera – nothing fancy, but very much “us”. It was a fantastic place to stay for a while and “pretend” as if we live in this city. We felt like home, and for those days it was our home. We drank mate, made food, went out for walks and runs, enjoyed some meditation and the special vibe of this place.

If you want to stay at an Airbnb like this and you haven’t used Airbnb before, sign up using this link and you will get a discount on your first stay!

Want to do a trip around the world?
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Using the RTW Travel Prep Checklist including 50+ planning tasks

A Lesson I Learned

I won’t lie and say that this trip changed us, and we returned completely different people. But we definitely learned something, and it’s not one particular thing.

It wasn’t our first time traveling, we both have lived in and traveled to quite a few countries. But this time we experienced it from another point of view. It’s like taking an immersive course in programming, where all you do, all you think about for weeks is programming. 

This was our immersive course in cultures, nations, history, getting to know ourselves and others better. We learned that we don’t need many material things to be happy. We learned to love nature, animals and our planet even more than before, and we realized how you can live in so many different ways, even if you aim for the same outcome. 

That trip definitely influenced our future plans and goals and the way to achieve them.

Returning Home

Coming home wasn’t as hard as they say, sometimes it seems like we never left. Except we did. And we know it in our heads. We came back with minds full of new ideas and ability to see things from the different angle. Would we do that again? Hell yes. And I’m nearly sure we will.

About Ženja

An Estonian with a Russian ethnic background, Ženja lives with her Danish partner in Singapore. She has a background in life sciences and music, but currently she is exploring less familiar endeavors and believes that it’s never too late to try new things. Ženja is the author of Bearly Here travel blog and an avid traveler herself. She loves spending time in nature, hiking, trying local food, watching sunrises and meeting new people.
You can find her on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

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