10 things I wish I knew before we left home

1.You will spend much more money in the first 4 weeks than you budgeted for. This is mostly due to the ‘We’re on holiday, yeah let’s do it!’ effect. After a reality wake-up call – on looking at the bank balance – you will adjust from ‘holiday mode’ to ‘traveler mode’.

2. You will put your hand into a dirty toilet bowl to retrieve paper placed there in error more times than you can count, before getting used to putting it in the bin. The horror fades with time and practice.

3. A 3-night stay is insufficient time if you have traveled hard to get there. You will spend the first full day recovering and doing necessary jobs, leaving only 1 day to actually see something of the place.

4. Make good use of fast internet when you have it. Don’t assume that you can download or upload anything at your next destination – even if it’s in the middle of a capital city.

5. Book at least 5 days, preferably 7, on Isla Isabela in the Galapagos. It is a paradise on earth and everyone will blame you bitterly when when we have to leave after 3 days.

6. Create a daily routine for the kids that involves journal writing from the start. Otherwise they will never do it.

7. Pack a universal plug. You will not see a kitchen or bathroom plug again for months, which makes doing dishes or hand-washing far more difficult than it should be.

8. Your 45 year old body will cope well without the creature comforts of home, like your comfy bed and pillow. You will usually be too tired to notice or care if a bed is hard or a pillow lumpy.

9. You should steal the little sachets of salt, pepper, jam etc. from hotel breakfasts EVERY SINGLE CHANCE you get. Backpacking life involves far too few hotels.

10. Have faith that the kids will cope with life on the road. Of course they will miss their friends, but they will rise to the challenges and generally go with the flow.

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