From our early days of watching travel documentaries and reading about exotic places, travel has always excited and inspired us. From our pre school trips to Europe where we visited Italy, Spain and France; to early teens trips to America, travel has always lingered in the background of our thoughts, spurring us on, daring us to commit to a nomadic lifestyle.
After meeting at university over a mutual love of travel, Laura and I decided to take a couple of months one summer to travel to Asia, visiting China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. The travel bug had well and truly bitten us, and we vowed to continue to do so.
And then the cold harshness of reality hit us; the rat race. After all, weʼd studied hard so we could get a good job, surely we owed this to our careers? And so it began, we were embroiled in the rat race and before we knew it a few years had passed.
In the meantime weʼd made it to the US for a couple of weeks, and had a couple of holidays in Europe, but we werenʼt satisfied, we wanted more. For those wannabe adventurers, finding the time (and permission from employers) to take extended leave for a month or so can be difficult. Thatʼs the frustration of the rat race, and you may be in the same boat we were in.
But fear not, it is possible!
With careful discussions and negotiations with our employers on the timing of the trip, we had our month of (unpaid) leave! But where to go? How to make the most of this opportunity?
After much deliberation, we decided to book an organised tour through G adventures. This wasnʼt a decision we took lightly; we love our independence and we were reticent about being organised by someone else. In fact, our main concern about an organised tour was the organised part of it! Would we be treated like children? Would we get marched about all over the place? How many souvenir shops would we get bussed to? Thankfully, none of this was true, and we had an incredible time on our tour.
If youʼre short on time, then a tour is a great option to see as much of a place as possible. We decided on Peru as weʼd always wanted to trek to Machu Picchu, and after careful consideration we chose the Peru Panorama tour with an additional Amazon Rainforest excursion. We were ready for 15 days of action.
There were a number of elements that made our trip incredible. We had a great group of people on our tour, ranging from ourselves (mid to late twenties couple) to other slightly older couples, a single traveller, a group of 3 older brothers and one of their father in laws ticking off an item on their bucket list (their words not ours!) and two couples on honeymoon. In retrospect, we couldnʼt have asked for a better group of people, and we were instantly comfortable in their company. Perhaps we were lucky, but we did feel that the way the tour was marketed, along with the the duration and cost associated that it would attract people with similar values.
The route itself covered everything we wanted to see in our time in Peru, and did so with great efficiency. We experienced all sorts of transport: plane, train, bus, automobile, rickshaw and boat, with each unique experience creating fantastic memories for us. Our accommodation was excellent, and we couldnʼt complain about the restaurants we were taken too. What we liked most however, was the way our tour guide would offer to take people somewhere for dinner if they wanted, but if they fancied some time alone that was fine as well. The freedom to do what we want was welcomed, although we never did miss a dinner with our new friends, we were having too much fun.
The main element of the trip that surprised us was how much free time we had. We would arrive somewhere at lunchtime, and we wouldnʼt need to meet up until dinner (or breakfast if you wanted to be alone). So having an afternoon to wander the sights meant people were given a good balance between social and private time, and we felt this was spot on for this trip.
So the highlights of the trip? The Peru Panorama trip packs a lot in, without feeling rushed, but weʼd have to say our Peru home-stay on Lake Titicaca, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and our couple of days in the Amazon jungle were the highlights.
Its easy to put travelling on hold, we did for a few years, but if you’ve got the travel itch, you can only ignore it for so long! For those who struggle for time away from their careers, the first step towards liberating yourself from the 9 to 5 could be an organized tour. It worked for us, and we’ve never looked back. Weʼve recently been able to liberate ourselves from the rat race, and weʼre about to embark on a 12 month round the world trip (after the small matter of getting married!) and we cannot wait. Will the travel itch be fully scratched? Probably not, but weʼre going to have a good go at it!