It’s that time of the year where your Insta feed is saturated with European travel picture with hash tags like #candid and #travelgram attached to almost every photograph. It is also that time of the year when Facebook decides to remind you that a year ago you were in Paris sipping a rosé in front of the Eiffel Tower, yet here you are a year from now trying to figure out if you can fake your own death.
I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum and after doing a few solo trips of my own I figured I should compile a list of observations to help rookie travellers get a head start. A list of the good, the bad and everything in between.
- You’ll develop a newfound love for pjs on long flights. For the longest time I used to walk into airports with a full-face of makeup and skinny jeans with a Macklemore jacket to avoid looking like a gremlin. That was until we moved to Australia. A flight from Sydney to London takes approximately 20+ hours (including a stopover) and if you’re lucky the stopover is only for 2 to 4 hours. On my second flight from Sydney to London I rocked up to the airport wearing the baggy pants for wriggle room and a hoodie to curl up in.
The paparazzi would just have to deal with it.
- You’ll come to realise that all those years at university never went to waste because you’ll become a bawse at researching for deals online to help you with your frugal lifestyle. No one ever tells you the amount of anxiety and time consumption that comes with making sure that you’ve got the right visa to avoid the risk of getting detained and/or rejected upon arrival.
I actually start sweating like a Narcos drug lord in those immigration lines cause god forbid my paracetamol tablets get mistaken for MDMA pills.
- You’ll become more self-aware. On my first solo trip I checked that I had my passport at least 30 times prior to boarding the plane. Some may call it a nervous habit but I was on high alert for 90% of my trip around Europe. The 10% consisted of me being passed out at a few bars along the way.
Hey, I never said I was perfect.
- You’ll learn how to deal with stressful situations. As someone who’s naturally inquisitive, this nature of mine can sometimes be a major flaw. Throughout my travels there have been multiple instances where I’ve strayed from my group of mates cause I was trying to catch a glimpse of the sunset in Zadar, Croatia or because I failed to memorise the name of our meet up spot in Florence, Italy. I also did not have a functioning sim on me at both times which was a major f*ck up on my end, but I learnt to navigate myself around unknown cities without Google Maps in a somewhat calm state of mind. Our immediate reaction is to panic but when I realised that crying and running around with a snotty nose because I was lost in an unknown city would not attract the help I needed. I stopped and gave myself a much needed reality check.
Guess those yoga classes paid off after all.
- You’ll learn the art of adjustment. I’m talking long rides across multiple borders in cramped bus seats and lack of hot water in developing countries are some of the many things you’ll grow to endure and love the more frequently you decide to travel. I have a bit of an obsession with showering before going to bed. Something about going to sleep without a warm shower puts me at unease.However when you’ve been indulging in your love for ‘brownies’ in Amsterdam, in a hostel with a bunch of backpackers your sense of reason gets a bit jaded. At times like these you have to learn to go with the flow and adjust so your vibe matches your tribe.
Despite the cons my love for travel is unending. Some women save up for their first Louie I save up for a trip to Mexico and Cuba because the truth is traveling is so enriching its addictive. Once you get a taste you will crave more.