This post is day 15 of my 30 day travel writing challenge. To view all posts in the challenge please click here and if you enjoy what you read please subscribe to my blog below
I have travelled a fair bit in my 20’s and mostly alone. I definitely learned a lot of lessons through my travels too- some good and some bad. Here are some of the things that I would’ve liked to know before I started travelling…
Problems are still problems when you’re halfway across the world
Just because you’re travelling, it doesn’t mean everything is suddenly perfect. I realised soon after arriving in Canada that it wasn’t my circumstances making me unhappy but rather my mindset towards problems. Running away does not solve anything. Soz.
It’s OK to have a shit time
People tend to pretend their lives are fabulous even in the times that they’re actually struggling. So when you’re travelling and posting photos on social media, people naturally assume you’re living the dream. But sometimes life gets in the way and your trip isn’t always as amazing as you thought it’d be. I’ve been depressed when travelling before and I felt SO guilty for feeling that way. I felt that I needed to force myself to try and have a good time otherwise I was being ungrateful and wasting an opportunity of a lifetime. I now know that bad times are just a part of life and I need to go easy on myself. It’s OK not to be on top form 100% of the time.
Not everyone is friendly
I have had some pretty rubbish experiences when interacting with others abroad- creepy guys (one even calling me a slut when I didn’t accept his friend request on Facebook!), rude government officials in the street and just some people who have absolutely no manners. Assholes are everywhere you go. But at the same time…
It’s OK to trust strangers
You’ll come across some really nice travellers and random people who just want to help for no reason other than to be nice. There are far more good people than there are bad and if you have your guard up too much you will miss out on some amazing experiences and connections. This is just one example of thousands but I was once on a day-tour on my last day in Asia and made friends with a British expat lady on the bus. I had to check out of my hostel at 8am that morning and wasn’t able to shower before heading to the airport at night (after being in the sun all day). On the way back, she asked if I wanted to hang out some more. She let me shower and change at her place then ended up taking me out for dinner and getting me into a taxi to the airport. A similar situation also happened on my last day in Jamaica. Lovely, lovely people. But obviously be wary of trusting everyone- just use your gut.
Book everything independently
Most (not all!) of the time, you can book a trip SO much cheaper than what a travel agent will quote you for the same. Excursions, flights, accommodation etc. can usually be found cheaper online or once you’re actually at your destination.
Also- take local transport instead of taxis. It’s so much cheaper. And because I stick out like a sore thumb in non-Western countries, I find that local people on buses/trains tend to want to look after me and help me get to where I need to be safely. So it’s way cheaper and way safer than getting in a taxi on my own with a stranger. Plus you get the authentic experience.
Keep a record of your travels
I had a physical journal before but didn’t write in it as much. Starting my blog was the best thing I ever did- I much prefer being able to share my stories with my family and friends instantly, and adding all of my photos there and then. Through my blog I now have a full travel journal of all of my highs and lows from everywhere I’ve been in the last year and it will never get lost or damaged. I just wish I’d started it sooner.
Everything always works out
I’ve lost count of the amount of times when travelling that I felt like everything was going to fall apart. I worry a lot- especially when I’m travelling alone. But what I’ve learned is that no matter what, everything ALWAYS works out. Maybe not in the way that you wanted or planned, but it’s always going to be OK. We can’t control everything anyway so there’s no point wasting time worrying. Just try to embrace the present and focus on the moment.