This is something I never thought I would say, but it is a confession I must make nonetheless. After five months of three straight housesits, I don’t know if I have what it takes to get out and travel again.
But that is exactly what is going to happen in November when we fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina! For those of you not signed up to our newsletter (and if you’re not, why not? Sign up to get it here.) we recently announced that it is finally time for us to travel to South America, starting in Buenos Aires! Technically, because we are spending the whole month of November in the city, we won’t be ‘traveling’, but the balancing act will return. In smaller cities and especially at these beach houses we have been housesitting lately, maintaining a balance between work and social lives is easy, but in a city like Buenos Aires, we will be jumping head first into a schedule that has us out exploring the incredible city all day, eating dinner at 10pm, going out at midnight. At the moment, we’re in bed by 10pm.
After the month Buenos Aires, we will probably jump right on the trail, traveling down to Patagonia, back up into Mendoza and then on to the rest of South America for six months or more. For those of you reading this who have not done long term travel, the ‘trail’ is this magnetic path that most travelers are drawn to travel on and no matter how often you hop off to do that ‘off the beaten path’ exploring, the trail pulls you back. After all, those places that lie right on the beaten path are usually the best, if also the easiest, places to visit while on the road.
We do our best to go beyond and explore further out regions and even popular cities in more detail, but in the end, we want to travel as much of South America as we can while we are there, so much of it will be on the trail. And the thing about the trail is, once you are on it, it’s like a roller coaster of experiences that come flying at you day after day, week after week. Getting to a place, putting down our bags, unpacking only the things we need for the next day or two, exploring, spending the day doing something adventurous or relaxing after too much adventure (or wine) the day before. We stay a few days, or longer if we like it, and then it is on to the next place we have been reading or hearing so much about.
This freedom is exhilarating. In fact, sometimes, travel is about more than seeing the world. Packing up if you don’t like a place, just picking up and moving on, feels like acting out a sort of rebellion against the static lives we used to lead, against that sinking feeling in your stomach on a Sunday night when you allow yourself to remember that tomorrow is Monday and it’s back to the grind. It is even a rebellion against that excitement you allow yourself to feel on Friday afternoons, hours from the weekend, a giddiness which every week feels more like the last day of a school year the more you hate your job.
Booking bus tickets for a Tuesday afternoon, going snorkeling on a Thursday morning, and working full-on on a Sunday all sort of justify the reason why we left to become nomads in the first place. The freedom to use our days the way we want to, the way we prioritize. That’s an incredible feeling.
That kind of travel comes with sacrifices as well. When housesitting, we make healthy food, work out everyday (currently doing Insanity – have you done this craziness?), and have a set work schedule for more than a few days at a time. Squeezed on a bus for 20 hours or exploring an unfamiliar city all day makes motivation for those things hard to find. When we housesit, or live in an apartment, we take on clients, work on new projects; we are proactive. When we travel, it’s all about keeping up, not getting ahead.
So, why in the world do we even want to do this? Why do we want to get back on the road?
That’s easy. Aside from all that freedom, seeing the world is addicting. As we travel, we each become obsessed about visiting places we never even thought about before. I never had an inkling to visit Jordan, or Egypt, or to spend a month (or more) in Istanbul and don’t even get me started on my recent obsession with traveling through Eastern Europe, either. But before any of that can happen, we have to visit South America. Our obsession with traveling this part of the world has been there longer than anywhere else.
I have dreamed of this trip since I first fell in love with speaking Spanish in high school, or maybe even earlier when I saw Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas traipsing through the Colombian jungle in Romancing the Stone, but definitely since I read my first Isabel Allende novel and Pablo Neruda’s poetry and memorizing every word of every song on Shakira’s Donde Estan Los Ladrones album. I am bursting with excitement at the thought of watching people dance the Tango in Buenos Aires, I have always had this crazy interest in spending time in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. I want to walk through vineyards in Chile and Argentina and learn everything I can about New World wines, get drenched by the spray off the massive Iguazu Falls, eat lunch sold by Bolivian ladies wearing Bowler hats and of course hike to the top of Machu Picchu.
After five months and three housesits, I am healthier, more fit and more productive than I have been in ages (we both are!). My question is whether I am going to be able to successfully balance what I have been feeling like is the ‘new me’ with all the travel to come. Have these months in the sun been to enough solidify this new found work ethic or has it made us a little bit soft? Only time will tell, and any words of encouragement can’t hurt (hint hint).
Have you been to South America? Where do you recommend we go that’s off the beaten path? Do you know Buenos Aires well and have a restaurant/bar/attraction to recommend we visit? Do you live in South America? We’d love to meet up when we pass through!