The world is your oyster and travel is what you make it

I’ve recently moved to Vancouver, and as a result I’ve been reading the Vancity Buzz in an effort to familiarize myself with the city while sitting in front of my computer.

I stumbled across this article, The truth about backpacking Europe (and why I will never do it again) and although I agreed with a lot the author had to say… it really annoyed me.

She basically said: if you’re looking for culture, if you want to replicate anyone else’s experiences (duh), if like small comforts etc, etc… don’t go backpacking

To which I would like to say… Expectations are fine, but don’t go to Europe, or anywhere or even do anything with a one-size-fits-all approach while still holding expectations.

USE YOUR IMAGINATION

I started my trip mildly unconventionally. I completed a Workaway helping some girls with their English, took Spanish classes ,  took a brief trip to Salamanca, went on a road trip (to take videos/photos of possible filming locations!) , a few days in Lisbon, and then completed a volunteer program with Diverbo .

I think I was about two months in at this stage, and I decided it was about high time I did some ‘conventional travelling’. AKA Solo travelling through Andalucia/the South of Spain, staying in a hostel in each destination for 1-2 days and ticking off the sights before catching a bus to the next destination.

I am slightly to ashamed to say, I didn’t really like it so much.

I loved South of Spain, but I didn’t like the hostels. I also didn’t like moving between places by myself every 1-2 days.

I feel mean saying that because I’ve had some great times in hostels playing drinking games and exploring the locations with others HOWEVER….

There is often a snorer, a smell and an inconsiderate packer with a noisy plastic bag. If I’m late back at night, I’ll likely wake someone in the dorm up. However if I’m having an early night someone will likely wake me up when I’m coming in.

I like the freedom and the sleep quality of my own space.

However the real issue was the moving. Travellers are good conversationalists but eventually I did not want to tell anyone where I was from, what I did, where I was going and where had I been. Short stays means there is the potential to have this this conversation A LOT. Towards the end of these 2 weeks I began to avoid meeting people, purely so I could avoid this superficial conversation.  You’re hardly ever alone as a solo traveller, but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel lonely.

Disclaimer: I loved some of the people I met in hostels, and most people like hostels more than me! To each their own!

However, most likely on a meditative bus ride, I came to the realization that I could travel however I wanted. That I didn’t have to travel in a particular way, or even in a straight line was such a freeing idea. I was free to make decisions based on experiences and let my whims take me where they wanted; be that staying or going.

I did later ‘hostel-hop’ but I kept these trips shorter and in between longer stays. I’ve been away for (an anxiety inducing) approximately 300 days, and I can count 41 nights that I spent in hostels.

Instead some of the mildly unconventional things I did included:

  • Leaving countries, to return later

  • Au- pairing in a little village north of Barcelona

  • Visiting a friend competing in a sporting event

  • Renting a place in Barcelona with a friend I hadn’t seen in years and his odd housemate

  • Working on a permaculture farm… without power

  • Going out of my way to reconnect with friends I made earlier in my trip: in new cities or in their own

  • Staying with awesome locals on Airbnb

  • Taking Spanish Lessons again (in a new location!)

  • Crashing 2x birthday parties in France and in Spain and struggling through language differences

  • Staying with a Swiss family for a week and going hiking in the surrounding mountains

  • Visiting the middle of nowhere in Spain and Portugal. (Tiny towns without English speakers)

  • Travelling from Switzerland to Portugal through France and Spain by bus

  • Working on a campsite in the beautiful nature of South of France

  •  Visiting extended family and friends I made in England

Things I wanted to do, and could have: (but time and money are precious resources)

And I’m comparatively boring! I haven’t even:

If you think about it, travel is about moving your body from one place to another. Surely you can find some way to do this that is in line with your goals and interests.

If something is not working… change! If you’re burning out… stay still a while.

I definitely got to see my fair share of culture, and connected with people, nature and ideas more than I did buildings.

The world is your oyster people.

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