6 Months In Mexico: Here’s How Julie & Chris Adapted When COVID Cancelled Their 2020 Travel Plans
Published by GAFFL
Last updated - 09:51 AM
What is GAFFL?

GAFFL connects solo travelers with similar itineraries to explore destinations together. Whether you are backpacking in Asia, road tripping in Australia, or exploring national parks in the US, simply type the destination you are traveling to, find travelers who are going there at the same time as you, connect with them, plan trips, meet, and travel together.

The Travel Unicorns is the story of Julie and Chris, a digital nomad couple. They have been together for a little bit over 5 years and they complete each other perfectly! They are originally from Bucharest, Romania, where they lived and worked until they decided to start their full-time travels. They got married in 2018 in Mexico, and in 2019 in Romania.

On a professional level, Julie and Chris have a solid background in the digital environment, Chris is focused mainly on web and app development and photography, whereas Julie has a strong background in product and project management, and marketing. Their previous jobs and freelancing have helped them save money in order to follow their dream and become full-time travelers. They also plan to fulfill Julie’s dream to visit 80 countries by the age of 30. Up till now, she’s visited 64 countries and counting.

Back in November 2019, Julie and Chris started planning their 2020 travel itinerary. They were supposed to start in South America and see most of it, then move on to the Pacific islands, and end in Asia. Of course, this year had a different plan for them, so they had to either return back home or adapt to the limitations of the pandemic. They chose the latter, and do not regret the decision at all.


How We Were Inspired To Travel Together


We met through our best friends back in September 2015, in Bucharest, Romania. I (Julie) have been taking every opportunity to travel, most of the time alone, even before I met Chris. I traveled the world by myself back in 2013 and that’s when I fell in love with travel. I believe that travel is the best way to learn about the world, customs, and life in general. Chris, on the other hand, always wanted to travel, but never got the courage to do it by himself. Therefore, we were a perfect match. We have traveled a lot since we began our relationship, and we can truthfully say that it is the one thing that makes us happy no matter what.

Our First Wedding In Mexico


When I (Julie) traveled the world by myself back in 2013, I went to Cancun, Mexico, where I witnessed the most amazing beaches with white sand and turquoise waters. That was the moment when I promised myself that, if I ever get married, it will be in Mexico. Chris always did everything to make me happy, and he always responds to this question with If she said YES to me, who am I to say NO to her?

Users
Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 170 countries to plan trips and travel together!
Try GAFFL

Our Trip To Mexico

Interestingly enough, Mexico was not in our initial travel plans, as we have already visited this amazing country. However, as we have been stuck in an apartment in Chile for 4 months due to COVID-19, we decided that it was time to change our plans in order to safely adapt to the new normal way of living. Mexico was the best choice, as it was not too expensive, it has warm weather all year-round, and it was open to tourists.

Itinerary

We weren’t able to make very clear plans, as every region in Mexico has different rules based on the pandemic. We started in Playa del Carmen in July, and until September we were only able to visit Cozumel, Cancun, and the surroundings. Afterward, we visited most of the Yucatan peninsula, including national reserves, pink lakes, magical towns, cenotes, and jungles. In November we are taking a bigger trip to the capital city, Ciudad de Mexico, which will include visiting some Aztec ruins, waterfalls, and more magical towns. 

After Mexico, we plan to visit Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Afterward, we are supposed to restart one of the tours that have been canceled due to the pandemic and visit Machu Picchu, Bolivia, and Chile. Hopefully, after South America, we will be able to continue our journey through the Pacific Islands and Asia.


How COVID Impacted Us

The pandemic has definitely had an impact on our travels, we had a lot of tours and flights canceled, and there was a lot of uncertainty for a long time. We decided to accept that it is not in our control and to do our best to adapt. Right now, we are trying to adopt a slower way of travel and to protect ourselves more. Even in Mexico, we always wear masks and use hand sanitizer everywhere we go. We avoid crowded places and big groups of people. We have done a few road trips throughout the Yucatan peninsula, but have chosen to rent a car and avoid public transportation.

Highlights

We have had some amazing experiences in Mexico, most notable were visiting the pink lakes of Las Coloradas, Rio Lagartos Natural Reserve, the magical yellow town of Izamal. From the more popular sights, we definitely recommend visiting Cozumel for snorkeling in one of the biggest barrier reefs in the world, and Chichen Itza, with its beautiful history.

Time Allotted

We allocated 6 months to visit Mexico, and we believe we will manage to visit everything we wanted by the time we leave. This country is huge and we won’t have time to see it all, but we made a shortlist of points of interest that we can visit safely, given the current situation. As we are digital nomads, we also have a lot of work to do, so we need a very good organization in order to achieve a healthy balance of work and travel.

Favorite Culinary Experience

The most amazing culinary experience we have had was at Rosalia Chay’s place, which has been featured on BBQ: Chef’s Table on Netflix in September. There, we have been able to taste the most traditional Mayan foods like Cochinita Pibil and Relleno Negro. Rosalia offers a truly authentic experience, welcoming guests in her modest house in Yaxunah, near Valladolid. Guests have the opportunity to see a real-life pib, which is an underground over, where the meat is cooked for 12 hours. They can also have a try at making tortillas, a skill that is definitely not easy to master.

How We Managed Our Expenses


We have a monthly budget in mind that takes into consideration accommodation, food, personal expenses, and sightseeing. We update this budget month-by-month, depending on the activities we want to do. The way we manage our costs is to check the income we receive in a month minus the expenses, taking into consideration a margin of 20% for unexpected expenses. We usually travel on a budget, we usually look for a flat/house that has good WiFi, kitchen and it is clean. When we do not travel, we cook most of the time, in order to save money.

However, there are times when we take a more extravagant trip, for instance to a unique hotel or a more expensive tour, because we do not want to have any regrets after we leave the country.

How We Decide Where To Go Next


There are three things we take into consideration when we plan our next trips. One represents our personal wishes, for instance, Chris always wanted to see the Great Wall of China, Easter Island, as well as to eat bugs in Thailand. The second aspect is the list of countries that I (Julie) have already seen, so the priority is to go to countries I have not visited yet, in order to achieve my goal of seeing 80 countries by the age of 30. Finally, we have to consider the limitations of the pandemic, we constantly check the international travel conditions for the countries we want to visit, as well as the number of cases in each place. Safety is the most important aspect right now, and there are a lot of things we consider before we travel to another country or region.

Advice For Travelers


First of all, we advise not to try to control everything. Most times, the best experiences appear when you don’t plan for them, while other times, things that happen are not in your control, so the best thing to do is to adapt. It is great to have a plan, for things to see or do in a specific place or region, to know the opening times and prices, but leave some time for unexpected events too. Just like with budgeting, it is best to have an error margin of 20%.

Secondly, we suggest that when traveling, to always comply with the rules in the host country. We see many tourists here in Mexico that do not wear masks or litter, which is really disrespectful. 

Finally, if you always wanted to travel but never really got to do it, we suggest to stop finding excuses and just do it (of course, better to do it once the pandemic is over). You can travel in so many ways, even with a low to non-existent budget, you can volunteer, get a job abroad, there are so many options nowadays. For us, travel is the best life experience and the best way to improve yourself as a person.

Users
Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 170 countries to plan trips and travel together!
Try GAFFL

Comments

Leave your comment here