Ever since I was little, I was in love with books. Nothing would make my day as sitting in my room, under warm blankets and going through pages of knowledge and stories to be discovered. There is something very special about new mystery that is about to unravel infront of your eyes.
As the times changed, books were often replaced with blogs, forums, and so on. Still, my love for a good read never changed. And it never will.
So, later in my life, when my horizons expanded (or at least I like to think so) and love for travel grew much more that I could’ve ever imagined, these two loves of mine simply combined. Even before I started to travel actively, I would go through so much travel blogs, articles about solo (and not solo) female travellers. I would read books from people who sold everything they had to travel the world. I would be simply smittened with people who backpacked through and entire continent or two, often sleeping under stars. Those were the real travellers and they had it all figured. They obviously knew what they were doing. That is what I wanna be when I grow up! Yes? No. Well, not really.
The thing with travelling is that it can be done in so many ways, with so many purposes and many, many outcomes. And all the freedom and choices is what make it so beautiful. Every single traveller is like a book-brand new story, individual and different. Places we are coming from, reasons why we travel, things we enjoy and ways we learn and grow on our journeys.
And exactly this is what I wasn’t understanding in the begging of my travels. I would get so lost in stories of people who travelled to 50+ countries, giving advices about low budget style of living, saying how it is great to spend year or three sleeping on random people couches from Couchsurfing or hitch-hike around the globe, living out of a backpack. Sometimes I would feel guilty and not feel like a real traveller just because I don’t even own a backpack, but a bright blue suitcase instead.
Here is the thing-personal growth (which kinda goes hand in hand with travelling) is… Personal. It is all about you. Therefor if you want to travel, you should do it your way. And even though tips and tricks are always welcome, and other people’s stories can inspire you, you should not do things that don’t make you happy just because you read it in a magazine you like or on a blog you follow. Let me give you some examples.
Accommodation. Hostel stays, Couch surfing accommodations, camping under stars… Obviously, all of these above save you money and give you a possibility to experience something new through bonding with people around you. Something new is always very welcome. I am all about new. I am all about veriety too. But if you are taking a trip just on your own to mend a broken heart, you will want some piece of mind. That excludes happy and peppy hosts from Couchsurfing, no matter how nice they are. Same thing applies if you are taking a trip to relax after you worked 6 to 7 days a week three months in a row. When you are tired and drained, you want to get a goodnight sleep and be able to explore a new place. Drunk youngsters in a mixed hostel dormitories might make that less possible. Also, just because somebody is travellig, that doesn’t mean he is an extrovert craving for new people in his life. Have that in mind.
So, if you want to take a nice or less nice room in a hotel with fancy breakfast, don’t feel guilty about it. There is absolutely no point in saving money from acommodation if that is going to make you miserable or agitated.
XY best things to do in a Z. This is probably the most often title in travel blogging world. And I hate it with all my passion. And I am a quite passionate person. First of all-you can never ever know what I like, and I can never ever know what you like. So what was best for you, most likely won’t be best for me. I don’t like museums and I hate shopping malls. Also I can’t bring myself to eat sushi and I am against training animals. So if there is an elephant ride with a complimentary dinner of raw fish after, I sure as hell don’t wanna go there. I still remember that whole day I spent in Louvre museum. It almost killed me.
Please, do not get me wrong, lots of these post are written with a good intention. And like I said, many times you can come across valuable information and learn and see new things. But stick to Lonely Planet and similar sites. Because thousands of opinions is better than one. And always have in mind people often get paid to write stuff.
Do not buy souvenirs. It is a pure waste of money. Oh, is that so? I happen to have parents who are old, and when they were young they were never able to travel anywhere. I will never forget when I got home from my first trip to Norway and my dad was asking thousands of questions with anticipation in his eyes: How is it on a plane? Did you feel scared? Does it shake? He is 72 and never was on a plane. My mom is not much younger and the furthest she could ever afford to travel was shopping in Italy. And you say I should not bring them anything when I go to a new country? I call BS on that.
Sure, if your travel consists of going to more countries in a row and you are hitch-hiking, souvenirs are probably not a good idea. Last thing you want to be doing is carting extra kilograms around, but buying a thing or two in the end of your journey won’t kill you. And it will make the right person happy.
Also, I have to point out that I have a romantic side. I like to have things that remind me of places I have been. However, I stopped buying hoodies from every capital I would visit simply because I have no more space in my closet and it is driving me crazy. (Also, I have gained some weight and can’t fit in some of them but shhhh.) However, I do have a collection of fridge magnets in my apartment and I will keep buying them as long as I travel because every single time when I am stood in my kitchen making myself coffee with honey, they make me grin. They remind me how far I’ve come and how many thing I still need to do. My fridge is like my personalized board of happiness. You can not tell me to not to do the happiness board.
Save your pennies in every possible way and that and only that will get you to new places, new cities, and new countries. New, new, new. This one is true and it is pure logic. Right? Na-ah. First of all, travelling is not a race. Even though numbers are always a cool thing and it sounds awesome when you say you have been to 64 countries, it doesn’t really count if you drove through them. Once again (and I can’t emphasize this one enough), travelling is all about discovering. Maybe you are discovering new places, maybe you are discovering who you are and maybe both, but just because you have been to 11 countires in one month, that doesn’t mean you do it better than I do. In my book quality has always been before quantity.
I recently read in one article, written by a nice guy who travelled to bunch of places. He adviced people to cook at home while they are travelling. I am sorry, but this will never happen. (Not just because I am a lousy cook. ) If you are a foodie like me, how could you ever deprive yourself from all the amazing local food that new places offer? You say you could go to Italy and not try their pizza, gelatto, and pasta? Ok, if you can, and want to do it, that is fine. But no, not me. For me, food is one of the most important experiences in new places and if I have the opportunity to try something new, I definitely will. Even if that means one pin less on my map.
Do as much as you can in one day. Ok, to some point I really, strongly agree on this one. Once you are where you really wanted to be, please do not sit in your room watching Kardashians. Don’t spend two hours in front of the mirror doing your make-up before you go out so you look good on your selfies.
When I am in a new place, I wanna explore. I wanna be a part of the new ambient and learn. What I don’t want to do is run from one place to another. I don’t want to set myself a schedule and then stress myself if I have missed something. What I want to do is do sightseeing in a reasonable amount. And then I want to sit in a caffe and do some people watching (one of my fav hobbies). I want to observe the legendary Parisian fashion. I want to stare at beautiful women of Iceland. Or sexy tattoed guys that work in Albertan oil patches. All this is so much more valuable than being stuck in a que for some attraction you don’t really care about but it would be cool if you can say to your friends you did it.
That’s it. In much more words than needed (lapidary is not my style) I have tried to explain why I think there is no wrong way to travel. As long as it makes you happy, and brings you good memories, you are a real traveller. Why the hell would you do things that don’t make you happy anyway? Unfortunately, like one of my fav Croatian authors said: the differentation between “tourists” and “real travellers” will always exist and they will always look down on each other. Needless to say, I find that completely unnecessary and snobbish.
So, next time you book a flight, make sure you do every single thing YOU want to do. And make sure you are not doing it just because you were told so.
Smiles all around,