Before we start, I would just like you to know I am far from an expert.
Just ask the second degree burns on my legs from that time I spilt a bowl of microwave noodles down myself. (It happened last week, I have pictures.)
As someone who had never moved out of my Mum’s house until I actually moved to a different country, the biggest worry on my mind was “how am I going to survive. Alone.”
So far, so good. I’m not dead and I haven’t had any serious injuries, we will ignore the noodle incident.
I haven’t been up to too much over the last week or so, purely because I am now in the trying to save money stage (again) and I feel I should be making an attempt to post a bit more frequently.
I’ve now been travelling for over 6 months, and think it is time to bestow my limited knowledge and wisdom to the 2 regular people that actually read my blog (Hi siblings)
and with that the first thing I suggest,
1- Pack light
Even if, like me, you’re main plan is/was to work and stay in one place for the majority of your time, your first instinct is to pack EVERYTHING you own.
Invest in decent luggage which is easily portable. That was my first mistake.
A lot of hostels are old. Which means they have stairs. And if you have a huge suitcase to carry up said stairs and store, everyone, including yourself, is going to get frustrated.
Getting rid of my suitcase and getting a backpack was a solid investment, and it kicked me into getting rid of a lot of my clothes which I 1-didn’t want to be carrying on my back and 2-hadn’t worn for the last 6 months.
Seriously, 10 tops, 2 pairs of trouser, few skirts and shorts. Trainers, comfy shoes and underwear. All you need. Lesson learnt.
I honestly think the next time I go travelling, or even on holiday, I could cut my clothes (and the money I spend on clothes) in half.
2- Don’t be boring.
Bit hypocritical this one, as I’ve spent most of the last two weeks binge watching Rick and Morty on Netflix and watching dumb YouTube videos. But as a solo traveller (or travelling with one or two other people), you don’t want to be that one person/group in the hostel who people stop inviting everywhere because they don’t want to socialise. Luckily that hasn’t happened to me.
Even on the days where I absolutely didn’t want to socialise with anyone, even friends, I still forced myself to go out and do stuff. No one at home is going be interested about that time I watched 3 Disney movies back to back.
Just going for a ten minute walk to the supermarket with a new roommate could lead you into meeting a friend for life. Which leads me to my next point…
3 – Stranger danger doesn’t apply (as much)
Everything your parents told you as a child about trusting randomers and getting into their car is irrelevant. Mostly. I like to think people who go solo travelling have enough about them to actually realise whether the people they meet are crazies or not. But when you’re travelling and living in hostels, you’re going to want to make friends and meet new people and experience new things.
When travelling you learn to trust everyone. I’m sure my Mum hated it and panicked when I messaged her something along the lines of “I’m moving to Cairns with a girl I met a month ago and we’re going to travel together indefinitely” and it worked out fine because we’re now pretty good mates and when I get home I am most definitely hanging out with her whether she likes it or not.
Keep an open mind with everyone you meet. There will be people you meet who, if you were back home, you’d never consider talking to them.
Obviously you still have to have your wits about you, always go with your gut feeling. Just don’t trust them to look after your bank card or passport because that’s stupid and if anything goes wrong, that’s on you.
But if someone asks you if you wanna go on a 4 day hike up whatever mountain, take it.
Unless you’re me because I would actually die, but it’d be from the actual hike rather than the people. Probably. Just show me your pictures when you get back.
4- Expect the unexpected
I’ve been very fortunate that the only thing that has gone wrong for me is my phone breaking. Yo, Nexus 5x you suck.
I was without a phone for a whole 24 hours. I know I don’t know how I survived it either, but $300 later I managed to buy a decent phone which will actually last me a couple of years. Crisis averted.
Other people have missed flights or had cars break down on them in the middle of nowhere, and resort to Facebook to try and get a lift to where they need to go. Which goes back to my last point, people are there to help you. Travelling groups are great because everyone wants you to have the best time and have most likely been in a similar situation and can help you.
It could be a costly situation so it always pays to have an emergency fund (get it? Pays. I’ll leave.)
5- it’s okay to have “you time”
Everything I said about going out and saying yes to all the fun activities everyone is doing without you? Ignore it.
Know your limits.
Being social IS tiring and you will get fed up of the same conversation,
“Hi I’m Leila, what’s your name? Where are you from? Where have you been? Where are you going next? How long have you been travelling? Are you on Facebook?” Never speak again.
Don’t be afraid to say no to things that don’t interest you, or if you really can’t be bothered. I got invited to a party and although I really wanted to go and have a night on free booze and be a social butterfly, staying in and watching movies and eating junk food just sounded so much better.
Also don’t forget! You will get lonely and you will get homesick and there will be a point in your travels where you’re ready to give up and go home.
IT IS OKAY. Everyone has been there. There are a few ways to push through it. My favourite thing to do when I’ve been in my room all day and I’m feeling a bit down is just going for a walk and talking to the first person who will respond to your messages.
6- Have fun
This one goes without saying.
Wherever you go, have fun. You’re fortunate enough to be in a situation where you’re away from home, you have zero responsibilities and all the freedom in the world (within reason).
Find a balance that works for you, everybody is different. There will be people who will want to go out every single night and drink until 5am and there will be people who will want to stay in and get up at 5am the next day to catch the sunrise and then spend all day sleeping.
Make friends with everyone, be yourself and enjoy yourself.
Also, everyone lives off noodles, rice and peanut butter sandwiches.
If you’re still alive and breathing, you’re going pretty good.