Tikal National Park rightly holds its spot as arguably the most popular and well-known destinations in Guatemala. There are hidden gems like Semuc Champey and colonial towns like Antigua, but none can compare to the grandeur of the ancient ruins of Tikal. Teotihuacan ruins are one of the highlights of our time in Mexico, but would Tikal live up to all the hype?
Stepping off that cramped minibus in the pouring rain with the mist rising above the trees and the howler monkeys screeching in the distance, it was clear that Tikal was going to be an adventure of the senses…
There are not many people who I’ve spoken to who have said they wouldn’t like to travel and see the world. Who wouldn’t want to be exploring a jungle utopia in Guatemala, getting up close and personal with elephants in the wild in Sri Lanka, or exploring all things weird and wonderful in the Californian Desert? When it’s put to you like that, it kind of sounds like a stupid question doesn’t it?
Travel isn’t just about lazing around on some pristine beach in Mexico (not that lying around on a beach is all that terrible), it’s much more than that. Travel opens your mind to new cultures, you meet people you never would if you weren’t to head to some far away foreign land. It’s sometimes difficult to be open and understanding of new cultures, if you aren’t exposed to those cultures. It’s easy to get stuck in your ways and way of thinking. I know that more than anyone. Travel helps a great deal in changing your way of thinking.
What about my money?
What about my job?
What about buying a house, car, dog/cat…? (the list could go on and on)
No matter how many ideas have been in your head about travel, the most difficult thing is taking that leap of faith and breaking free from that everyday mould. There’s so much pressure to live your life the way society defines as the norm. Education, job, house, kids etc. The idea of quitting your job for 6 months of travelling, just to come back home with no job and no money might sound like the worst idea in the world.
The idea of quitting your job often sounds scary and unimaginable. Let me ask you this, what sounds scarier; quitting your job (the average person has 12-15 jobs in their lifetime) or regretting something you dreamed of doing when it may be too late?
I’ve lost count of how many people 40+ have said to me that they would have loved to have travelled. People of any age can travel long-term, but it will be a damn right harder to make that leap into the unknown in your 40s than in your 20s.
Travel may not be for everyone and I understand that. However, I’ve met countless people who wished they went travelling or could go travelling. I’m yet to meet one person who has said that they regret going travelling. That statement alone speaks for itself.
Who wants to come back from 6 months away with no job and no money, while everyone around you has a thriving career and plenty of savings? Yeah, it doesn’t quite work like that. When I went away on a 6 months trip to South East Asia, a lot less changed back home than I imagined. In fact, barely anything changed even when I spent a year travelling in Australia and Central America. It was like I had never been away. You won’t end up years behind your friends career-wise. Travel can even further your career and don’t forget you can build experience on the road with freelance work or on a working holiday visa.
You’re Just Running Away…
The number of times I’ve heard from people who haven’t been travelling that people who do go travelling are just lazy and delaying their lives. ‘Delaying their lives’, that’s an interesting statement in itself, isn’t it? Delaying what life exactly? The life that they choose; finishing their education, forging a career, buying a house so on and so on. I think you get the picture. I’m not knocking their choices, don’t get me wrong. However, just because that’s their choice for their lives, does not mean everyone has to follow that path.
‘Why do you love travelling?’, ‘Why do people even travel?’ These are questions I’ve heard too often. Well…
I love travelling because travel has enriched my life. There’s a degree of freedom that comes with travelling that no other experience can give you.
Just because I’m not living by your standards, does that mean I am running away? The old cliche ‘life is for living’ would be right at home here. I am living my life how I want to live my life. If you want to live your life that way, break free from the mould. Just do it. I know that’s easier said than done. However, there’s no other way to say it, other than… Just go.
Like I mentioned, travel changes you, for the better.
Just go, while you have the chance. Life has a way of working itself out. Don’t worry about how you might fall behind in your career. You might just live to regret it if you don’t go…
Distinctive cobblestone streets are full to the brim with tourists, expats and locals alike. Crumbling churches stand behind locked gates, while next door is a modern hotel or restaurant. Vivid ‘chicken buses’ whizz around, while packed to the rafters with locals. Around another corner, you’ll spot a row of tourists shuttles ready to take the next lot of tourists on a day trip or to their next destination.
Antigua is a city which caters for tourists as much as the local population. Has the excessive demand for tourist amenities made Antigua, Guatemala lose its authenticity? That’s a question I found the answer to during my 3-day stay in Antigua. This city attracts flocks of tourists and backpackers. The question is, is Antigua, Guatemala overrated as a destination and worth your visit?
Diving into crystal turquoise pools in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle. Scaling rickety stairs 500m up a cliff to look out onto the gleaming pools and the surrounding lush wilderness. Meandering through a narrow cave, with just a candle to guide your way. This isn’t the chronicles of a National Geographic explorer, this is the reality of an ever growing number of backpackers in Semuc Champey, Guatemala.
People throw the term ‘must-visit’ around quite a lot these days. That term is often paired with Semuc Champey. However, Semuc Champey well and truly deserves its name under the term ‘must-visit’. This Guatemalan natural gem is on the lips of every backpacker in Central America.
Stumbling off the night bus in San Cristobal de las Casas with one eye open and the other shut, half asleep, wasn’t the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had. However, my intense desire to lie down horizontal in the closest place possible was soon pushed to the back of my mind. I almost got the shock of my life when I nearly fell off the ridiculously high kerb onto the unsteady cobbled road (watch out of those kerbs, when I say they’re high, I mean they’re highhhh). Shock and sleep deprivation aside, I found myself pleasantly surprised and taking an instant liking to San Cristobal.
On first glance, San Cristobal might well look like your standard Mexican colonial city. That’s not to say that the regular colonial cities across Mexico aren’t stunning, there’s just quite a few of them. It’s good to have a bit of a variety, isn’t it? Anyway, back to San Cristobal. This city has the best of both worlds.
As you take the repetitive drive down the never-ending straight roads, surrounded by the flat and barren Southern Californian Lower Desert, you will not believe your eyes when Salvation Mountain comes into your view. From the dull desert ground, a mound awash with colour and life stands tall. This colourful hill is none other than Salvation Mountain.
Our main reason for visiting California was due to us having tickets for Coachella. After 26 hours we had finally arrived in LA from Melbourne. Of course, the jet lag was kicking in instantly. The next 3 days in LA were spent wandering around like a zombie, fitting in all the hiking and sight-seeing we could.
While walking through the charming streets of the city of Oaxaca all I kept hearing about was ‘Hierve El Agua’, the majority of the time it was through a tour agent asking me if I’d like a tour there. After a quick look into Hierve El Agua, the natural swimmable springs and the rock formations resembling waterfalls had me intrigued. As you may well know, I consistently avoid organised tours if possible. Luckily, it is possible to visit Hierve El Agua from Oaxaca without a tour and I will tell you how.
La Paz has delivered Mexico’s best beach, Guanajuato served up a city with lashings of colour, Mexico City treated the taste buds with all kinds of delicious food, but what would Oaxaca and the surrounding area serve up? Fortunately, Mexico is an incredibly diverse country. You will visit place after place and at no time will the boredom set in. After all, have you ever visited a destination with rocks which cascade down the side of a cliff to give the idea of water pouring down to the ground below? Not only does Hierve El Agua boast the unique waterfall rocks, there are also natural springs which dominate the cliff top, perfect for a quick dip to get away from the hot and humid weather.
“You’re going to Mexico City, but isn’t it dangerous there?” This was a question I heard one too many times when I told people that I’d be going to Mexico and in particular Mexico City. I’ve got to admit the majority of the time, my answer was “I don’t know”. I guess the sensible thing would have been to do a bit of research and ask the question ‘is Mexico City safe to travel?’
Mexico as a whole and in particular Mexico City seems to have a stigma of being dangerous in a lot of people’s minds. I have to admit, with so many people telling me it was dangerous, I did begin to question the safety of travelling in Mexico City. In the end, I ignored everyone’s prior warnings about how unsafe Mexico City is and decided I would check it out for myself.
In a city the size of Mexico City, the last thing you want to be doing is wasting any time. If you have a limited amount of time in the Mexican capital, say 3 days, you’re in luck. I’ve devised a 3-day Mexico City budget itinerary. This itinerary focuses on the very best of Mexico City’s offerings, including; architecture, food, bars, museums and more.
Mexico contains stunning cities and towns like Guadalajara and Guanajuato, but Mexico City is in a league of its own. Whether you’re at the beginning, middle or end of your trip, you will want to maximise your time in Mexico City. Follow this 3-days in Mexico City budget itinerary and you will not waste any of your precious time.
After getting our fill of tacos, tacos and more tacos and exploring far and wide in the gigantic Mexico City, only one thing was on our minds next, the ancient city of Teotihuacan. Balandra Beach, Guanajuato and Guadalajara are amongst our main explorations so far in Mexico, so it’s not surprising that the visit to Teotihuacan to explore the pyramids was eagerly anticipated.
Getting a tour to take us to and around Teotihuacan from Mexico City was out of the question. If I can do something myself without a tour, via public transport, that’s exactly what I’ll do. You have much more control over your day and it often works out much cheaper, what more can you ask for? I’ll tell you exactly how to get to Teotihuacan from Mexico City and what you do once you’re there.