I spent the last 10 years fantasising about travelling and exploring new places and it was a taxing job trying to ignore the tsunami of envy I felt every time I saw another photo online of someone (ANYONE!) on their travels. So I decided it was time to face my travel bug head on and actually do something about my desire to see more of the world. On the back of my first solo trip last December I set myself a goal for 2017 – to fly at least once a month. Each and every trip so far has been a unique adventure and I have made some amazing friends and memories along the way. I love writing about my experiences and it never ceases to give me that warm fuzzy feeling when someone comes up to me to say they are reading these blogs and even better; enjoying them! But one thing has really struck me and that is the amount of people who have opened up to me about their own wish to travel but for one reason or another they feel like they can’t. It is like the idea seems just a little too far away to be their reality. I want to talk about this today because I really believe that if travelling is what you want then nothing should stop you.
I have been thinking about this a lot recently as my own circumstances have changed in the last couple of months. I have gone from only having myself to consider and being completely focused on solo travel, to having someone else to think about while I’m away. I would be lying if I said this doesn’t change my perspective a little, but not in the way I was expecting. When I set my goal at the start of the year I was determined that I didn’t want any ‘distractions’ while I was gallivanting and if I’m honest I was afraid that having a significant other would hold me back in some way. I thought that flying solo (literally!) was the ONLY way this year of wandering could work for me.
But the wonderful thing about travelling is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ which we have to fit in to; there is no magic formula that will suit everyone’s life in exactly the same way. Capturing the essence of travelling is what is important. I met a remarkable man in Holland last month who summed it all up perfectly. I was in the main city square where I sat down to take it all in and after a couple of minutes an older gentleman came and sat down beside me. He started talking to me and at first I thought he might have been a little, well… mad!! But it turns out he was just really friendly and open. He spoke to me about everything from the history of the royal family to the gay bar scene in the city and he had me in stitches with his animated way of telling stories. He gave me possibly the best piece of advice I have heard all year, he said “Darling, make sure you always travel and don’t just change places”. So there it is, that’s travelling – you just need to figure out how to implement that in your own way.
When I thought about how I was going to fulfil my wanderlust back in December I knew that giving up my job and backpacking around the world for a year or two just wasn’t what I personally wanted. At one point in my life it was, but people change and their wants and needs change with them. The close relationships with my family & friends aren’t something I want to be too far away from and having a career that I really enjoy means leaving all that behind for a long time just isn’t something I want. So I decided to do things my own way and that’s where the balance of flying once a month came from. Although I feel like my life is going a million miles an hour right now; I know I am getting the best of both my worlds – travel and home.
Right, so I had faced the fear, found my balance and figured out how to get the best deals on everything from flights and accommodation to bus tours (Tip: if you get the last tour bus of the day – around 4pm I think – then they USUALLY give it to you for half price!!). My travel itinerary was a well-oiled machine and on track for the rest of the year. So naturally the universe was right on cue to move the goal posts. When I met Brian a couple of months ago it could not have been more unexpected or further away from the ‘plan’! Never has the John Lennon quote “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans” been more appropriate! But when the universe hands you something good, whether you planned for it or not, I don’t believe in handing it back. I think if you are adaptable and can embrace change then life will be a very enjoyable place for you.
Fast forward to last week, 1500 miles and two excited people later and we were in Madrid. We decided to mirror the way I do my solo trips, i.e. rough it in a hostel with a load of strangers, & walk ourselves into the ground exploring the city, etc. (I plan on doing a purely travel piece on Madrid separately but let me do a quick synopsis for you while we’re here.) We stayed in a fantastic hostel called Cats, and shared a dorm with four others, two of whom were hilarious guys from Canada. They kept us well entertained with their drunken antics throughout the weekend! We took the tour bus around the city and visited all the major landmarks. Sat in the huge park on the outskirts of town and had a couple of drinks overlooking the paddle boats on the lake. We found the famous indoor San Miguel Food Market and ate our way through it – one tapas, oyster & plate of paella at a time. (I was only a nibble away from needing to be rolled out of there by the time we’d finished.) We walked for miles each day and just took in the city & its people together, happy and free.
Madrid has shown me that there was no need to fear being held back and that you don’t always have to be alone to feel the adventure of travelling. I’m sure it does depend on who you are travelling with, but when you are on the same page as your travel partner (be it friend, love or family) and you are all open to the experience you really can be just as fulfilled and have the same sense of freedom as when you are by yourself. With all that said, my solo trips are still important to me and I am (albeit nervously) off to New York on Thursday, unaccompanied! But it is really nice to also have someone to get excited about future travels with. We’ve decided to do something really fun for July and August – we’re each going to plan a ‘mystery’ trip and the other person won’t know where we are going until we are boarding the plane – I’m so excited to see where we end up going! Keep you posted… ☺
The point of this post was to talk about how you can enjoy travelling in many shapes and forms, and to encourage you (if you’re on the fence waiting for a nudge) to never restrict yourself no matter what your situation is. Bring the kids, go by yourself, or do it together – if you want to travel then do it whatever way suites you and fits in with your life. Whether you take a massive leap or start with baby steps, the actuality is that there is no right or wrong way to travel. Taking risks, trying new things and not being afraid to let the plans move off course can be terrifying at times, but sometimes if you roll with it (like greedy Rachael out of the San Miguel market!!) then you can end up with something even better than what you started with.
Written with love,
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