There are few things in life that throw you more life lessons than travelling solo.
I was 17 when I first set off for what I thought would be 10 months kickin’ back in Europe. And, despite a few hiccups along the way – including a small bus crash on a highway going from Turkey to Bulgaria and my first night in Copenhagen when I had my wallet and camera stolen – I had an amazing time.
In the end, I came home after 8 months when I ran out of money (thanks to a very expensive 6 day cruise in the Arctic circle). And while there are some things I would never do a second time, like a 46 day camping Contiki tour for instance, I don’t think I’d change a thing about those 8 months in Europe. I worked a little, touristed a fair amount and learnt a lot about life, the world and, probably more so, myself.
I also learnt a thing or two about travel. If I had 8 months to kill hanging out on another continent again, there are a few things I would do differently. Here are just three:
1. Pack small
When I was 17, how little I knew about packing.
I have vivid memories of dragging 20+ kilos of luggage across London – down the street, on the tube, changing trains, up a staircase and down another street. It was hell, but by that time it was towards the end of my 8 months, I was running out of money and there was no way I was spending the kind of dough you need to take a taxi across London.
Well, it’s safe to say that I’ve learnt my lesson – packing small is now a top priority. All it takes is a little planning. And for me, it means only taking items that I a) actually need, b) are appropriate (weather wise and culturally), and c) that I genuinely like to wear.
As a general rule, I try to take no more than 10-12 kgs, no matter how long the trip. I spent 4 months in Fiji a couple years ago and got away with a mere 13 kgs. Kicking all those packing goals!
2. Take your time
Did I mention that I did a Contiki tour?
In true Contiki style, we smashed out something like 26 countries in 46 days – it was insane. And while we could set up and take down a tent in record time by the end of it, we came away with only a taste of what Europe has to offer.
Now let’s be serious. As a fresh-faced 18 year old (I’d had my birthday by then), I loved that tour. It was perfect for me at the time, but that doesn’t mean that I would do it again now.
It’s not all bad news though. Thanks to that tour, I now have a list as long as my arm of places I want to revisit and spend some quality time getting to know. A few years on, my travel mantra is all about spending more time in less places, whether it’s a couple of weeks or a few months. Now the only difficult part is deciding where to go first.
3. Find good coffee
To be honest I don’t remember coffee being on my radar at all when I was in Europe. Oh, how things have changed!
Apparently my caffeine addiction has taken on a life of it’s own and now good coffee is one of the first things on my to-research list. By proxy, this often means also finding the cutest cafes serving up good food and chill vibes. If you follow me on instagram, this won’t come as a surprise and you’ll already know that cute cafes are my absolute fave.
Speaking of insta, these days it is definitely my go-to medium for kicking off research about a new place. In my opinion, if the coffee is worth grammin’, it’s probably worth drinking. Some destinations make for a harder task than others, but if you’re anything like me, it’s definitely worth taking the time to try and find a decent coffee.
To sign off I’ve pulled a couple of happy snaps out of the archives just for you. And I’m keen to know – what are your top travel tips or favourite destinations for good coffee?
– Bec x
Note: This post was written for Virgin Australia’s ProBlogger competition. Are there any bloggers out there going to ProBlogger this year?