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How to make smart decisions that won’t cause arguments while traveling for a year with your fiancé

Leaving for a period of extended travel is so exciting partially because it is so liberating  – no time limits! no rules! no set agenda! Freedom for almost a year! WOHOOOOOO!

It’s SO liberating though, that sometimes it feels overwhelming. Will we know what to do if we have tough, or even not-so-tough, decisions to make? What about our budget and how to appropriately spend our money? Do we want to visit all the places recommended in the guidebooks, or discover things for ourselves? If it comes down to taking a 16 hour bus that costs $30 or a 2 hour plane ride that costs $75, which will we chose? And why?

As we prepare for our trip, we are reminded that some guidelines could be helpful, especially when traveling with your partner. After many long discussions, and taking into consideration our own philosophies on travel and life in general, we have compiled a list of some rules (or suggested guidelines) for our trip:

This is the time of your life, so focus on the positive

The most important and probably most difficult to put into practice. This is such an amazing, possibly once-in-a-lifetime experience and it’s going to be awesome!!! But, there will inevitably be days that will suck, or days that will be boring, or days that one or both of us will feel lonely, homesick, sick sick, or just over the whole traveling experience. Those are the moments we’ll need a little attitude adjustment to live in the moment, and be reminded that this is a unique and special time and place. Stay positive!

Travel via overland transportation

One of our main objectives of traveling, and the subject of our photo project, Life in Transit. We plan to take only overland transit across Asia, unless deemed impossible or really unsafe. Trains, buses, cars, bikes, by foot, whatever. We want to travel like locals, be in contact with the earth, and see as much of the landscape as possible. Also, trains are freaking cool.

Learn at least some communication in each country

At minimum, a smile, a “hello” the four magic words in the local language: hello, goodbye, please and thank you. This is just a matter of being polite and respectful to the people who’s homeland we are visiting.

Wake up early

This one is borrowed from the excellent travel blogger, The Expert Vagabond. Instead of sleeping in and acting like we’re on vacation, we want to get in the mindset of long-term travelers. In order to get the most out of our days, and more specifically for Seb to take advantage of the awesome early-morning light, we’ll try to make it a habit to get up an at ’em at day break.

Eat things you can’t get at home…mostly

And eat mostly street food. We’re pretty excited about this one because it will push us out of our comfort zone in a category that we both love – food! For budget reasons, and just for the experience of it, we’ll eat most of our meals from local street vendors and save the restaurants for exceptional occasions. Personally, I just don’t get eating sub-par westernized pizza or pancakes when you can eat like a local.

Accommodation isn’t our top priority

When budgeting for an extended trip, along with food and travel costs, you have to factor in a huge chunk for where you’ll be resting your head each night. We LOVE traveling in Europe to beautiful and unique hotels or bed & breakfast places (we’d like to open up our own someday!). It is a total joy to search for and find a stunningly chic and interesting room with a view and giant bathtub en suite; one that when you walk in the room you look around and say ‘Woooooow’. But in Asia, we’ll be on a fixed budget for nearly a year, so we need to be careful with our funds. Guesthouses, home stays, hostels, and cheap hotels will be our temporary ‘homes’ for the next year. As long as it’s clean(ish) and safe, we’re not going to complain. We’ll be out exploring most of the time anyway. That being said, we will definitely treat ourselves from time to time with a cool splurge.

Enjoy our own unique experience and not focus on the ‘must-sees’

Yes, we’ve read the Lonely Planets,  pinned images on Pinterest, talked to other world travelers and read countless travel blogs for most of the countries on our trip. There are some truly breathtaking places that will be within our reach over the next year. What we really want to keep in mind though, is that this trip about traveling, not just sight-seeing. We don’t have a checklist of what we have to see, and we want to leave some of our experience up to chance encounters, random destinations or even accidents. It’s cliché, but we believe that happiness is a path, not a destination.

What ‘travel rules’ do you live by?