One Month Abroad: my thoughts so far

Interested to know how I’ve been getting along at the beginning of my RTW trip? Because of all the great feedback I got on my first week abroad, I thought I’d share what’s new & what I’m thinking as I’ve gotten a little further into my trip.

I’m writing this from a terrace of a restaurant in Marrakech’s Djemaa el Fna after an afternoon lunch (the couscous wasn’t the best, but the view is excellent). Morocco is pretty different from anywhere I’ve been before. It’s taken several days to get used to it, but it’s definitely growing on me. Marrakech has been one of the easier and more enjoyable places to travel here—not that I don’t like a challenge.

I’ve been through two countries and ten cities in just one month. That’s a lot of places. Slow travel is something I definitely want to experience more in the coming months. Plus it’ll make things hopefully cheaper and more enjoyable. Here’s my thoughts so far on long-term travel:

On technology: My iPod touch doesn’t work as well in Morocco as it did in Spain. Google Maps and Foursquare just aren’t set up for Moroccan cities & medinas. Free wifi is still possible to find. Luckily when you meet other backpackers, they’ve often already found free wifi on the street and are willing to share that knowledge. I shared my find in Chefchaouen (behind the restaurant near the waterfall) in exchange for a street corner in Fez.

On booking: Ugh. The most stressful part of travel so far. It’s a bit of a catch-22. I don’t want to book accommodation beforehand in case it’s hard to find, or in not so great a location, but at the same time half the places I try to get at the last minute are already full. I need to get over that and just start booking the first day before arriving—HostelWorld and HostelBookers are actually incredibly useful. And really, really good at finding nice places (more so than a guidebook).

On cost: So far it’s been pretty reasonable. Spain ended up being just $63/day and Morocco, though I thought it was expensive at first, has actually turned out to be quite reasonable. At least by European standards.

On blogging: This is becoming more and more difficult as wifi in my hostels is becoming harder & harder to find. Uploading photos on a slow network is NOT fun. My Moleskine notebook (usually full of lists) is now full of stories, journal entries & rough drafts for future blog posts.

On photography: I’ve been taking a lot of photos but this article has made me reconsider my shutter-happy finger. Plus, mixed with the wifi issues (see above), I just don’t want to spend all my time shooting & then uploading, tagging, etc. Oh, and I just found a smudge on my lens. F*çK!

On traveling: Despite a few setbacks (Running Around Andalusia; On Getting Medical Help Abroad), I’m still certain this is the best thing I could be doing right now. I’m so so happy with where my life has taken me and wouldn’t give it up for the world.

On guidebooks: Not worth the trouble. Spain was incredibly easy to do without one—I met people and got tips from locals. Morocco would’ve been difficult to do without it at first, but putting too much reliance on it is a bad, bad idea.

On languages: I need to practice my language skills more before arriving in a new country. Not everyone in Morocco speaks English (duh) and my French is terrible. Luckily in northern Morocco there are lots of Spanish speakers so I was able to get by. Brandy was kind enough to recommend a website to learn basic vocabulary: www.beforeyouknowit.com

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18 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. I’m heading to Morocco around March 2012. What were your thoughts on the food?

    • The food is great! But I did get tired of the lamb tagine. I also had a little bit of a difficult time finding less touristic restaurants, but I think if I went again it’d be easier for me…

  2. Thanks Cam!

  3. The biggest lesson we learned on our RTW Adventure was to not let technology and blogging consume the experience. For us, blogging was a product of the travel – but, at times, blogging took over and somewhat dictated the experience. Enjoy! You're living the dreams of many

  4. Hi Megan — glad to see you're having a similar experience on your trip!

    Happy and safe travels :)

  5. Am also at the end of the first month of my trip, and hear you on all these points! Happily, wifi is still easy to find though. I agree with slowing the pace down – because I'm travelling with a friend with limited time, we're going quite quickly at the moment, and it's incredibly tiring.

    We've also started booking one night in advance and then extending on the ground if we feel like it – at the moment, it's just too hot to turn up in a new place with heavy packs and walk around trying to find an appropriately priced room.

    I find we're also using the guidebook less and less – particularly since it has often turned out to be completely unreliable!

  6. Hey Philip!
    I've downloaded a few random language apps for my iPod and the've been moderately helpful. I'll try the podcasts, though – hadn't thought much beyond that!

    I've been trying to find free travel apps and guides for cities in podcast form, but they don't always exist.

  7. Oh thanks for the tip, jj1! Didn't know that existed but it looks like it'll be helpful!

  8. Do you know any of the language podcast websites like SpanishPod101, FrenchPod101, ItalianPod101, etc…
    They might help you – and the free lessons on iTunes could help a bit. I do some work on video for JapanesePod101 out here in Tokyo.

    Just briefly checked BYKI – how are you finding it? Is it worth downloading the software?

  9. If you are looking to find free wifi while abroad it will be even easier if you check in the free wifi wiki: http://freewifiwiki.net/index.php?title=Main_Page

  10. Really great tips and thoughts.It will help me in future.

  11. Hey mate, great tips and suggestions after a month of travel. Good work with the notebook – I find it an excellent way to make keeping up a travel blog on the road more doable.

  12. Language is my weak point too, Jeannie.

  13. Thanks Ayngelina! Got any tips for photos & blogging while on the road? They'd be really handy. I'm not sure how everyone else does it.

  14. Great round up Adam. Terrific tip on learning language. One of my weak points.

    • Language is my weak point too, Jeannie.

  15. Hey nice synopsis, its so funny how our perspective changes with just a month in. Im just over 60 days and starting to find a rhythm that works for photos and blogging.

  16. Great tips, suggestions and a synopsis of your first month, happy travels and yes you are correct my friend in stating that this is the best thing that you could be doing with your life right now.

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