In 2004 I took the scenic route back to Cape Town after 9 years in London. Heading off on a round-the-world trip sounded wonderful – but a few days before I left, cold feet set in and I was terrified!
What if nobody talked to me for the whole four months?! What if someone smuggled contraband into my backpack and I ended up in the Bangkok Hilton? What if I missed my flight and the balance of my RTW ticket was voided, leaving me somewhere like the Cook Islands? (That last one wouldn’t really have been so bad, would it?!)
Well, my worries were unfounded and those were possibly the best four months of my life. Conversation wasn’t a problem as I soon discovered a sub-culture of very lucky people who were also on their way around the globe. Meeting the ones travelling in the opposite direction from me was the best as they always had tons of advice and suggestions.
One piece of advice I was given early on was ‘always go one step off the beaten track’. Just going on one village down the road, or one island off the mainland meant I’d find quieter, more authentic and less commercialised places. Locals would be less jaded to tourists and the kinds of travellers who made this effort would be less likely to be ‘drink your way around the world’ kids on their gap years.
Taking this advice of going a little bit off the beaten track resulted in some of my favourite experiences. I highly recommend it.