Travelling the world has taught me many things. It has opened my eyes to new experiences, these eyes have seen things – good and bad – that can’t be unseen. My memory is filled with stories, private jokes with people I may never meet again, beautiful sunsets and sunrises (yes I do wake up early sometimes), insane experiences and moments I won’t ever be able to explain well enough that someone will get it and so much more.
I’ve changed, I know I have. I look back to the ‘old’ me. The unexperienced, untraveled, self-conscious, naive girl. The one with all the plans – the 5 and 10 year plan – the one who knew where I would be right now.
But now I am so far away from the straight lined path I had laid out for myself at 18. I am so far off the path I couldn’t tell you the direction to get back to it, it is unseen and my new ‘path’ isn’t there, only untouched ground, waiting for footsteps to mark a path to take me forward; and at this stage, any path I make doesn’t guarantee me the opportunity to retrace my steps. This can be good or bad.
Travel isn’t all the glitz and glam of the 5 star resorts, beautiful food, enviable photos, perfect hair after hauling a rucksack and ever perfect plans we keep seeing from Travel Bloggers lately. Travelling full-time is up and down, Its dirty and messy, Lonely and overwhelming, adventurous and boring all rolled into one.
I’ve worked hard enough to travel extensively in the last 4 years, but it wasn’t enough. I left home in December 2015 to pursue my dream of travelling the world full-time. I don’t see myself stopping – or returning to the UK – anytime soon.
I want to share with you some things I’ve learnt – about myself and other things – while travelling so far:
My Gut has a better sense of judgement than I Give it Credit for… Or am I Just really hungry at all the right moments…
I’ve travelled to some incredible places both Solo and with friends. To these incredible places I have done some things I grew up being told not to do, I’ve done things I always promised myself I wouldn’t, avoided some pretty stupid situations and also ones that seemed completely harmless but a massive part of me (i.e. my lovely gut) shouts NO. This isn’t Ok. I don’t like it, lets leave.
When people say ‘trust your gut’ you never really think anything of it right? It’s an expression, nothing serious and often a feeling we forget to notice throughout our everyday, routine filled life. It’s only when you jump out the box, looking at new situations – or the same ones – in another country, city, place does the feeling become more noticeable and one in which we deem worthy enough of paying attention to.
You know now that you are vulnerable – if you are anything like me, my face gives away my emotion before my brain full recognises it – your paying more attention to your senses, your learning to trust yourself.
So I just want to take this moment to thank my Gut. Even with all the ‘stupid’ situations I’ve gotten into, I’m still alive and kicking – Running to touch wood right now.
Making Friends takes a lot of effort… Sometimes I want to skip the small talk.
I’m currently travelling Solo. Solo in the sense of I left the UK that way, by no means am I alone. I have met and will continue to meet some incredible people, I go on Tinder dates – yes I have no shame, its also the easiest way to meet locals sometimes! – and I’m (now) a pretty confident person. Even though I hate it, small talk comes naturally to me now.
It’s pretty much talk and meet people or don’t talk and don’t meet people. Everyone is in the same boat and no one wants to really be completely alone, we don’t go travelling to be that alone all the time.
So what’s the problem here? Small talk takes a lot of effort and can be repetitive. There are days I miss having my best friend by my side, hanging out with each other we can just watch shit TV and not talk, we can go window shopping and hang out aimlessly. It’s easy and secure because we know each other inside out, there is no pressure ‘to DO something’ just being there is enough.
But travelling doesn’t give you constant people really, it’s ever-changing. We are a bunch of nomads all with ‘itchy feet syndrome’. Friendships, just like relationships (boyfriend/girlfriend) are pretty hard when you know that in a few days, weeks or months both of you will part and possibly never see each other again.
But the friendships you do have are incredible, often stronger than most and with the technology it is easier now than ever to keep in touch… even if you don’t cross paths in the future, at lease you will have the memories (and Facebook to check up on one another).
I’m going to eat that Burger and those fries. Damn it i’ll have the Ice Cream too! Yes I’ve gained a little weight, but I’m still going to wear those shorts and my favourite top.
Wait for it. This announcement may shock you, like, you might have to sit down!
Travel has made me more body confident.
When you travel you are probably going somewhere out with your own country right? With different foods and delicacies. Where the local beer is the only thing you can afford instead of the Vodka Tonic. The Dessert is looking at you, the voices are calling you to eat it and you’re going to say yes.
Travel makes you eat ALOT. You’re going to try new foods and love them. If you head to South East Asia, people over feed you because you are the guest and you haven’t politely figured out how to stop this yet so you eat it all. How long have you been saving for this trip? You’ve probably even had dreams of eating that roll that looks like a doughnut but tastes like a croissant while filled with Ice Cream right? SO DO IT.
I worked damn hard before leaving the UK to travel the world full-time. Before this decision I was working hard. Working hard to fit into the size society deemed acceptable, I’ve never been a size 6 and I don’t really want to be anymore.
Sure I have ‘fat days’, everyone gets these. But I am not going to endure 25+ degrees heat and 60 – 80% humidity in jeans and a baggy top I hope will cover my ‘lumps and bumps’.
I really don’t care if you think I’ve gained, If I have a little cellulite or that I’m not beach body ready with sculpted abs and bronzed skin perfection. I’m going to wear my favourite bikini, my favourite shorts and my favourite little dress.
I am happy with me. For the first time in my life, I didn’t spend 30 minutes looking in the mirror battling with myself whether to go out in these shorts. I just went out and loved it, hoped the tan on my legs improves – it also helps that I don’t own a full length mirror.
FOMO is a real thing. But saying No, unjustified, is Okay and sometimes essential.
FOMO = A Fear Of Missing Out.
It’s a real thing, I can’t remember where I first heard the FOMO shortcut(?) but it’s true, especially in the travelling community.
Staying in hostels is just what us backpackers do. They are central, cheap (sometimes) and a great way to meet people.
Hostels always have something going on to ‘bring people together’. It often includes a ridiculous amount of alcohol, some kind of embarrassing/hilarious activity or challenge or a cool excursion.
I am never going to slam hostels. I love them – in small doses – So DO IT enjoy yourself for a bit but don’t burn yourself out.
Before I left home to travel full-time I didn’t drink a lot. It wasn’t a regular habit of mine, that’s just me. I grew out of the party and club scene. I like having time to myself sometimes, days where I don’t have to entertain people, get dressed up – or dressed in general, bed and Netflix yay – days where I would disappear, switch my phone off and have some me time.
For the first 2 months of my travels this didn’t happen. I was always with people, sleeping in dorms, getting drunk, having an awesome time, but yearning to escape but to scared to say no to the latest party or event in case of disappointing my ‘new friends’, or coming across as the weirdo in the dorm.
I pretty much said yes to everything.
This caused me to spend WAY too much money. Become a bit disconnected with myself and a little unhappy. Drank too much and did some crazy shit. This wasn’t me, but I didn’t want to say No.
The minute I realised I could say No and people would still say Hey and share their embarrassing stories with me the next day was liberating – I mean some of them were so drunk I could have pretended I was there.
Say No if you don’t want to do something. You came out on this trip to do you, so do you. I can promise you are probably not missing anything you can’t do at some other stage.
People actually respect you a little more. You’ll do things you actually want to and enjoy yourself a whole tonne more.
Communication is a lot more than spoken words, sometimes it’s dancing out what you want or simply making Chicken noises…..
I’ve travelled to more than 25 countries – which is insane when I think about it – and every single one is completely different from one another – as you’d expect right?
A language barrier is a challenge yes, but it should never be a reason not to go somewhere. It should never be a negative, I mean, English is my first (and only language) and I completely take advantage of that. The majority of native English speakers will never learn another language…
Yet as I travel around the world I meet people from all over the world, from all walks of life, from the ridiculously pool to the extremely rich and they all give English (or another language) a shot.
So don’t be afraid to completely immerse yourself in a different culture with a different language, try to learn some of their language? Otherwise the next best option is hand gestures, dances, pretty much ‘hey, let’s play charades’, you’ll become pretty popular pretty fast.
Whenever I need them, my friends and family back home don’t actually feel like a million miles away….
One of my biggest fears was getting home sick and wanting to come home. Which would not be an easy choice or option considering I’m literally the furthest away from home I could possibly get.
At home I would speak to my Dad every other day, my sisters and I were close and were like my best friends, my mum was always around as I lived with her and my best friend and I – although in different cities – talked every day, went on holidays together, made plans and saw each other when we could.
I still talk to my best friend almost every day. It’s amazing how you forget when you go travelling technology doesn’t become non-existent. In Asia it was tricky but a nice break. In New Zealand, I have a Sim Card, with data, just like home. AMAZING.
If I need a chat I can call, text, Skype, Facebook, snapchat my way back into their lives.
So even though I’m 13hrs ahead on the other side of the world, everyone I need from home is still there when I need them.
You think you will budget, but in fact, you will probably totally forget and spend the majority of your money a lot faster than initially planned…
Unless you are Insanely good at forward planning – or can predict the future – I can guarantee that once you get going, after (max) two weeks, your budget will start to fall apart a little bit.
Sure you will have weeks when you spend almost nothing, live off ramen noodles and soy sauce, hitch hiking your way around or sleeping in the cheapest hostels. But you’ll also have weeks where you try the local food, maybe eat something a bit nicer than ramen noodles, have no choice but to go for the more expensive hostel or maybe you get somewhere and want to try EVERYTHING they have to offer – I did this in Krabi and New Zealand.
Stop. Breathe. It’s not the end of the world. A lot of people do this and we all survive (yes, myself included). How did we survive? Well there are a couple of different options; Carry a credit card – for emergencies only! – incase your bank account is getting small and you need to choose between eating and sleeping rough – I personally couldn’t do either so one of those things has to go on the CC – or worst case scenario, you need to come home early.
Another option? Work abroad. Yes, I know, your travelling to escape the daily grind of a job but look at it this way, this is a chance to get out there and try something you’ve never done before! Luckily many countries offer working holiday visa’s (Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Australia….) and have a variety of different jobs available to backpackers. Otherwise, try picking up a TEFL qualification and teach English for cash in hand? If you’re a hairdresser, offer cheap haircuts in hostels – you will be extremely popular.
I’m in New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa and I started working a lot sooner than planned – mainly thanks to the fact I got a little carried away and spent over half of my money in two weeks…… Sorry dad.
I can do this.
I have discovered I can do ANYTHING (almost, haven’t got flying down yet) I put my mind to.
I made this trip happen. I worked my ass off, saved as much as I could, took the plunge and stepped on the one way flight and my whole world didn’t fall apart. It liberated me.
I travelled through Asia and then to New Zealand. I made friends on my own. I overcame awkward and tricky situations, I found work, I quit work on a whim when offered something better. Any barriers that pop up I have to deal with them. There is no one else there to battle them with me or for me (sadly).
I can do this. I got this. I can fix it or make it better, I’m not rooted anywhere I can go somewhere else whenever, there is no one here that can tell me no. So there is no one else I can possibly blame or look to when things get tricky.
I’m only just discovering how much I can accomplish alone and it’s incredible.