My 6 Month Solo Backpacking Trip In Numbers

I used to build websites for a living, and still kinda do since I’m getting into freelance and starting my own business, so I built a little website infographic to commemorate my 6 month solo backpacking trip I just got back from.

The first day I woke up after I got back home, I distinctively remember wondering for just a second if the past 6 months was a dream. It’s crazy thinking back on my trip now that I’ve been back home for about a week. I’m still in a state of shock and euphoria about the fact that it actually happened, but enough rambling here’s the website that the point of this post is supposed to share:

170days.realisticwanderlust.com

I calculated a TON of stats from the past 6 months of backpacking and used only photos I took during my trip. There’s stuff like how much I spent, how many different places I slept in, how many cities I passed through, the farthest place I went, etc…

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Ditching the Internet and Rediscovering Travel

When I first started traveling, I used to research everywhere I wanted to go beforehand, and would rely on google maps to get around new places, that’s all pretty normal nowadays. But a few months ago, while sitting on a train, I was inspired by a podcast that talked about how travel in just the past 5 to 10 years has changed drastically from what it used to be. The aspect of exploring has been eroded by services like TripAdvisor and Google being able to tell us exactly how to get to places, what to do there, and what to expect. Travel has become a huge industry driven by corporations and advertising, and our trips have become more about doing what other people have done before, versus discovering something new for ourselves.

I internalized this halfway through my trip and decided to try traveling without Google, without looking up things to do before I go somewhere new, and stop following my phone around in new places. I wanted to rediscover travel the old fashion way to see how it felt. Here’s how it went and what I learned:

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A Moderate Storytelling Blog in Today's Internet

Since I started this blog, I’ve been trying to decide what kind of blog this is and how to sum it up and explain it nicely. I didn’t want to think of this as a travel blog, because I didn’t want to limit myself to just travel related posts. Nor did I want to label this as a personal growth blog for the same reasons, I didn’t want to box myself in and set expectations that would limit what I write here. But the thought of a ‘miscellaneous’ blog also didn’t set well with me, that felt disorganized and without purpose, and it doesn’t answer the question of ‘what kind of blog is realisticwanderlust?’ because I don’t want the answer to be: “I donno, it’s a blog about whatever”.

Yesterday night right before I fell asleep, I was randomly thinking about this topic again and it was like the clouds parted and I came to a clear conclusion as to what kind of blog I want realisticwanderlust to be. It has been, and is going to be a storytelling blog. I love the sound of that and it perfectly captures what I want to do here. I’m not here to be a travel blogger or a personal growth blogger or to just write guides, or how to’s or clickbait-y stuff, I’m here to tell stories. But that’s going to create a slew of challenges for me in trying to grow this little storytelling blog in today’s internet environment.

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Going Home

Originally I left without a hard end date in mind. I had a general game plan and that was just to keep going westward until I made my way around the world and back home, but I didn’t seriously think about when I was going to get home until about 4 months into my trip. It was January 2019, the new year had just turned and the question of ‘when should I go home’ really took over my thoughts and I wrestled with the question daily before I went to bed. I thought I came to a satisfying conclusion and even wrote a blog post about it here but that changed.

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Islands, Beaches and Sunsets in Krabi, Thailand

Originally I was thinking of avoiding Thailand because of it’s reputation as a party backpacker kind of place, a culture which I never got into. However I knew that was narrow minded of me and the country likely had a lot of other things to offer travelers who aren’t into the party scene. I managed to find a cheap flight, I think about $80, from Mumbai to Bangkok. So off I went to Thailand.

I debated for a while over whether to go to the north of Thailand for the mountainous feel or the south for the beach vibe. In the end I chose the southern beaches because I had been missing the beaches back home in California and I just wanted to find a place to unwind near the ocean after a tiring 2-3 weeks in India. I chose the city of Krabi, which is a city on the coast of Thailand’s southern arm, that does not have the same party beach reputation that Pattaya/Phuket has. Here are some photos and stories from my 5 days in Krabi, Thailand.

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Snapshots and Stories from Mumbai

My last stop in India was Mumbai, I spent a few days here to rest and gather myself before leaving the country. By this point I was pretty exhausted and traveling through India had definitely taken a toll me. Looking back on my time in India, I think I moved through the country a bit too fast. I only spent about 3 to 4 days in each city which did not give me a lot of time to adjust to the fast paced and intimidating environment that permeates the big cities of India.

Regardless, I was still extremely excited to explore the city of Mumbai, I had heard and read so much about the city and wanted to experience a slice of this megalopolis for myself. Here are some snapshots and stories from my time in Mumbai:

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How to Buy a Train Ticket in India (2019)

India is very well connected with their extensive railway system, and once you figure out the train system and build some confidence in using the trains, it opens up the subcontinent in an amazing way especially for a budget traveler. Nowhere else can I travel to another city hundreds of kilometers away for $2-5USD (I’ve gotten tickets for day trips to nearby town for as little as 20 rupees, which is about $0.30!!). India is so varied too that each city can feel completely different than it’s neighbor and there’s so much rich culture to explore.

There is a bit of a learning curve though in figuring out how to buy a ticket as a traveler. There’s a lot of trail and error, it’s not super well documented and sometimes it’ll randomly fail without any explanation. I’ve written down a step by step guide to hopefully shed a bit more light on the process and help other first time travelers to India.

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Exploring the Hills of Southern India - Ooty

I’m currently in a small town in Japan right underneath Mt. Fuji, and I’m making some time for myself to unwind and live some normal days instead of running around so much sightseeing. Picking up my photo journals from where I left off, which was when I was still in India over a month ago!

My last photo journal was from my time exploring Kerala, India. The next place I ended up at was a town called Ooty which was nested in the hills of Southern India.

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