We’ve all taken things for granted at some point in our lives, we wouldn’t be human if we hadn’t! But being on the other side of the world has taught me a fair few things which I feel like I should share.
Material possessions are not as important as you think
Back home, I’m betting that your laptop or smartphone was something you would use on a daily basis without even thinking twice. Using a Wi-Fi connection that doesn’t buffer when you try to watch a 6 second vine was a luxury because now, my fellow travelling friends, you will struggle to find free decent Wi-Fi anywhere, your phone battery will probably go flat and you will find it difficult to find a socket to plug it in (depending on where in the world you are travelling, of course). Which means that you will be without those luxuries, around 50% of the time as opposed to the 1% you are used to back home.
Unless (like my very sensible friend) you decided against the traditional backpack and are travelling with a suitcase, you will wholeheartedly without a doubt over-pack your backpack and regret it later. We are used to having so much stuff at home that we think it’s necessary to bring it all with us. Well it’s not. And when you’re catching a train or walking for miles with a pack the size of Jupiter on your back, you’re going to wish you hadn’t brought those hair straighteners or that gaming tablet that you haven’t had a chance to use once since being here. Leave room for extra things that you will more than likely purchase once you’re on the road too.
Always have a backup plan
You are going to need one. Since being in Australia, I’ve had so many things go wrong that I’m losing count. Firstly, your priority should be money. The amount of people I’ve walked by on the streets of Sydney who are sleeping rough because they have no money is astonishing. Backpackers included! Think twice before being roped into that 3-day tour around Bondi for more money than makes sense and do not get led into any over the top swanky bars in Sydney without being prepared to shell out a near-fortune for drinks. I know a lot of people will be smart about their money, especially since you had to save it to get here in the first place, but I know there will be people like me who are still learning what it’s like to be an adult. Make friends with people who are going to help you out when you need it, and be there for them in the same way. Don’t hang around with people who encourage your inappropriate spending (more specifically on nights out – I’m sure you know the kind). And in fear of sounding like your mother – BE SENSIBLE.
Secondly, you need to make sure you and your belongings are safe. Lock your belongings up when you leave your room, keep your friends in the know about where you are heading – especially if you’re going somewhere alone and keep your phone charged and in your pocket in case you need to use it in an emergency.
Thirdly – accommodation. If you move into an apartment at any stage of your travels and two days in you discover that there is actually a cockroach infestation that the landlord just so happened to forget to mention, have another place in mind such as a hostel or a friend’s sofa.
Just in case.
Cockroaches can fly
Speaking of cockroaches, my friend and I had a traumatic episode only last night which resulted in us discovering this uncommonly known fact.
I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom when I came down to find my friend standing on her bed with our bedroom door wide open and cringing like crazy telling me to “look on her clothes”. I stood in the doorway looking in the direction she pointed and was greeted by the biggest cockroach I have ever witnessed in my 23 years of life. It stared at me head on and was literally at eye level, standing on one of my friend’s cardigans which was hung up on a hook. I’m not going to lie to you, my initial thought was that it looked like a giant dried date, but then when it moved, I freaked out and sprayed it with our bug spray (not really caring much for my friend’s clothes in the process though). It thudded onto the top of our fridge and FLEW onto the floor where it scuttled around in a panic. I panicked too and continued to spray like a mad woman until it turned onto it’s back, seemingly dying. My friend was on another level freak out at the fact that a cockroach had just spread wings and flew across our bedroom and didn’t want to get down off her bed until it was 100% dead. It twitched for about twenty minutes afterwards though, despite me spraying it over and over in attempt to put it out of its misery.
Just an FYI, cockroaches can fly.
Appreciate your own company
I’m sure you already think you’re somewhat cool and don’t really need to learn much more about yourself but you are wrong. I mean, you probably are cool but there are a lot of things you might still not know about yourself. Such as, how you would cope in a tragically stressful situation – would you engage fight or flight mode in an instance where you couldn’t imagine yourself having to. Or could you stand to be completely alone with your own thoughts for more than a day?
Travelling opens you up to meeting so many different kinds of people that it allows you to see things in a different light. Watch how someone else handles a situation and learn from them. You wouldn’t meet that 80-year-old Australian surfer and learn his ways of living back home in Manchester, would you? Meeting a variety of personalities will allow you to think outside of the box and challenge your own ways of thinking but travelling isn’t always about who you meet. It can be spending days alone with your thoughts and really thinking about how you are coping without your family and friends back home and really learning how to adult. And there’s nothing like plunging head first out of your comfort zone to do so.
Long haul flights are the bane of a traveller’s existence
I’m yet to meet a fellow traveller who enjoys a long haul flight. I could be mistaken, but I’m guessing the majority of people would teleport if they had the opportunity – even if it would cost ten times the flight. The inflight entertainment satisfies you for a few hours but then you start getting restless and need to move but you’re stuck between a girl who is hogging the arm rest and a guy who is asleep and almost leaning on your shoulder, drooling.
The four-hour flight from home to Greece seems like a snooze in comparison.
Having a plan is always a good way to start something, but venturing off on a tangent and exploring things that you wouldn’t have penned down in that original plan is something else. Don’t take things too seriously and just wing it.
Get lost, see new things and take photos.
Always take photos
Sometimes you get so much done in a week that you forget little things and miss them out of your stories when you tell people. And it’s not that you didn’t enjoy it as much as the other stuff you do remember, it’s just that you have so many things to talk about that something is bound to be missed out. Unless you take photos to remind you, that is.
Personally, I judge a traveller who doesn’t take photos. By all means, live in the moment and see it with your eyes as opposed to seeing it through your camera’s LCD screen, but taking a photo to capture that memory is what travelling is all about, isn’t it?
Try new things
Like eating a kangaroo steak or a crocodile sausage. It won’t kill you when it’s cooked and on your plate. Plus, it’s a tick off the old to-do list.
Understanding a different way of life
Having a job and meeting the locals enables you to absorb some culture whilst on your travels. Learning how other people live and work will open your eyes to new ways of doing things. I’ve found that people in Oz are so much more laid back than they are at home. Even the road rage is politer! My friends and I were crossing a road not too long ago and a guy in a truck appeared out of nowhere beeping his horn at us, of course being English we were preparing ourselves for some obscenities and offensive hand gestures but the guy just shouted “ladies, please!” – I guess that’s Australia for you?!
Remember your roots
My mum is a home bird in every sense and this is something she lives by. You wouldn’t see her leaving Bolton any time soon because Bolton is where she grew up which is why I think she was shocked at my decision to come out to Australia. Personally, I would love to live out here forever.
I’m a Bolton girl and proud. My whole family are from Bolton and I’ve lived in the same house on the same street for my entire life until November this year when I packed up and left for Oz. Whenever people ask me where my “weird” accent is from I used to say Manchester – because people know Manchester better than Bolton. But in all honesty, I’m proud of where I am from. We aren’t unknown for our celebrities though, like Danny Jones from McFly, Vernon Kay, Paddy McGuiness & Peter Kay just to name drop a few (the latter being a name which I have been called one too many times on my trip already). But whilst being a worldly wise traveller is something to be proud of, never forget where you came from and drop a message home now and then. You’ll learn to live without them, but your family is one of the most important reminders of who you are, especially whilst travelling. So however much you hate your home town or even the people in it, they all play a part in making you who you are.
All in all, travelling is something that I think everybody should do at some point in their lives. Whether it’s just to experience the wilderness or spending some time alone for a while, plunging head first out of our comfort zones is what makes us realize who we really are.