Full Time Travel – Q & A

Life as a full time backpacker is a bit of everything. Its exciting and definitely makes my heart sing. Over the years, I have been asked all kinds of questions with regards to travelling, part time or full time. I understand your curiosity, which is why I have decided to write up this post answering all of your questions.

12 most frequently asked questions:

1. How did you start planning? / How did you decide which countries to go to?

The first part of the plan was to identify where I wanted to go and for how long. Having travelled in Africa, Asia and Europe, I knew I wanted to experience something totally new. After some research, I found out that Central and South America are the cheapest places for backpacking, after South East Asia.

With my South African passport, Central and South America are ideal to travel to because I only require a visa for Mexico, Colombia, Suriname and French Guiana.

2. How did you save up before starting The Big Trip?

This has to be the most popular question and I totally understand why. I mean, if someone told me they are going to travel for a year or indefinite time, my response would be – Where will you get the money from?

Although my Instagram feed is filled with scenic photos that may make you think that I hit the jackpot, I’m sorry to let you know that I have not had much luck with gambling, well, not yet. I only decided to trade in full time working for full time travelling in April 2018 and starting my journey in September 2018. All I knew is I was not happy in the office space and longed for an adventure of a life time (please read my first blog post for more). I had no solid plan but I knew that I needed to save as much as I possibly could.

Since I enjoy travelling, I was constantly saving for my next adventure, way before travelling full time. This is what I do/did to save up:

Track my spending:

It really is important to keep track of how you are spending your money. For me, it was the first step to understanding how I am managing my money which helped me take control of my finances.

There are plenty of Apps created for you to track your expenses and I have no doubt that you’ll be able to find one that works for you. With these Apps, you’re able to individually choose categories, then assign each expenditure (item) to one of those categories in the currency of your choice. If you do not track your money, then you will not know when to stop spending in a category. These Apps also show you fancy graphs and charts to illustrate your spending habits and are completely usable offline.

Cancel All running costs:

I’m proud to say that I have avoided debit orders my whole life, LOL! While working, my whole salary was mine to enjoy as I pleased. Each month, I only used half of it and saved the other half. So, if you’re looking to minimize costs, ask yourself if you really need to be paying that amount for a car or cellphone contract. Yes, we are all different and find happiness in all sorts of things. For me, travelling is my life and when I had to choose, I decided to chase experiences instead of giving away my hard earned money.

Avoid unnecessary shopping or expenses

I spent most of my time at home or would only go out to enjoy free activities with friends and family. I avoided eating out or buying unnecessary items at shopping malls.

3. How do you make a living from travelling? / Are you sponsored to travel?

All my travel expenses have been my own. I’m currently using my savings and I am not financially assisted by any companies. Although, partnering with brands is my goal. If you know of brands that would like to work with me, please contact me, haha!

4. What are the most stressful or challenging moments you’ve experienced?

Not being able to speak the language spoken in the country I am in is certainly stressful. Imagine trying to buy a painkiller for your headache and you just don’t know what to say at the pharmacy? I’m quite disappointed with myself that I have been travelling in Spanish speaking countries for 6 months now but I’m still not fluent. I’ve become a professional at acting things out to get my point across. It’s embarrassing, really, but I need to focus on trying harder. I can speak the basic’s and I understand more than I can say. My goal is to be fluent AT LEAST before I leave this part of the world.

5. What is it like travelling with Frederik?

Wow! How do I begin to even describe this?! I’m so fortunate to live a life of adventure with my favourite human. Life isn’t always pretty – on the road or off it. Sometimes, life’s challenges are even harder while travelling.

We are constantly faced with challenges and have to make decisions, often right at that given moment. Whether it’s deciding which accommodation to book, saving R 150 / 10 USD by taking a bus instead of a private taxi or deciding on which activities to take part in. Our relationship has grown tremendously and we continue to learn about each other everyday.

6. How do you maintain your hair while travelling?

I briefly touched on this on my post about Flores and Tikal ruins and mentioned how I found a place to do my hair in Guatemala. Also, the thing I love most about travelling full time is that I don’t care much about how I look like. So, I don’t really feel the need to renew my braids like I would if I weren’t travelling.

7. Which phone plan are you using?

I don’t have a phone plan. I buy new SIM cards in each country I visit. These days there are many ways to call abroad. To keep in touch with my family and friends I use WhatsApp Call or Skype Call which work just fine. I load data on to my SIM card or use WIFI.

8. What did you pack for The Big Trip?

Well, I definitely packed too much and I’ve been giving away some clothes as I go to make room for new items. I am travelling with two backpacks. A small one with all my gadgets that I carry on my chest and the big, 60/70 L, backpack with all my clothes, behind me.

This is what is currently in both my bags:

Small Backpack:

  • laptop
  • drone
  • digital Camera
  • passport
  • universal plug
  • sunglasses
  • notebook (writing pad)

Big Backpack:

  • medicine
  • swimwear x 8
  • long trousers x 4
  • t-shirts (Including vests) x 10
  • shorts x 3
  • dress x 3
  • jumpsuit x 2
  • sweater/hoodie/jacket x 3
  • towel x 1
  • trainers x 1
  • slops x 1
  • jewelry and Make up (which I haven’t used)
  • toiletries
  • socks and underwear

9. How long do you stay in a country?

If you’ve been following along my travel blog, you’ll know that I state the duration of my stay in each post. This is the current breakdown:

  • Dominican Republic – 21 days
  • Mexico – 54 days
  • Guatemala – 30 days
  • Belize – 5 days
  • Honduras – 54 days

10. Do you ever feel like going back home?

Yes, I do! My sister got married and guess what? I missed it! Although there are moments that I wish I was home, I am at my happiest when I am on the move and I know my family and friends understand that.

11. Can you share some of your favourite destinations so far?

  • Dominican Republic – Paradise Island and Playa Bonita.
  • Mexico – San Cristobal de las Casas, Cozumel Island, Playa Del Carmen and Agua Azul waterfall.
  • Guatemala – Acatenango Volcano and Lake Atitlan.
  • Belize – I only went to Caye Caulker Island.
  • Honduras – Utila Island and Pico Bonito National park.

12. What have you learnt so far?

  • Backpacking has taught me to open up to like minded travellers from all parts of the globe. I have learnt to appreciate new customs, cultures and languages.
  • This trip has also taught me to not let fear stand in my way. Whether its paragliding or camping right next to an erupting volcano. Adventure is now a way of life.
  • I have learnt to appreciate the small things – cupboard space and hot showers.

If you have any questions that I haven’t answered in this post, let’s have a conversation in the comment section below. I’m here to help you travel more and live the life you’ve always imagined!

Thank you for reading,

Dineo Zonke.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Lerato says:

    Wow thanks for sharing this beautiful story, it has allowed me an opportunity to know exactly what to let go in order to achieve my goals of travelling across the globe…Keep on soaring like an 🦅. Boa viagem amiga

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dineo Zonke says:

      Thank you, Lerato. I’m so happy you find it useful. Yes, as with most things, you can’t have it all so sacrifices need to be made. 🤗 Keep well, let’s continue to travel more!

      Like

  2. Hi Dineo,

    Very informative post. I know I can Google this but I just would like to find out which app you are using to track your spending. Thank you for responding to my question.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dineo Zonke says:

      Hi Karabo, I use XE Currency. I’ll be writing a post with all of my favourite apps I use while travelling. So please follow to make sure you don’t miss it 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much. Definitely will check it out and wait for the post to come out. Thank you for following as well! Amazing stuff here.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Dineo Zonke says:

        Thank you so much. Looking forward to your posts!

        Like

  3. Expat Panda says:

    I didn’t know that Colombia put a visa restriction on us which is really sad considering the freedom of travel we have in the rest of the region. I loved this post and I greatly admire what you do!

    Like

    1. Dineo Zonke says:

      Yes, they put a visa restriction in 2017, I guess it’s because Colombians require a visa for South Africa.

      Thank you Aneesa, this means so much coming from you!

      Liked by 1 person

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