Before backpacking, I was kind of a control-freak with an addiction to being organised and on time. What am I now? I doubt my control-freak tendancies have completely disappeared, but I have changed a lot this year.
Here are some eight things I learnt about myself and life from backpacking Europe.
1. You can book one day at a time
I have always been extremely organised, and so for me, going into two months of travelling having only booked the two first weeks was very scary! However it’s possible to book life one day at a time. You can make friends and stay longer or get out of there if you hate a city. Not having everything booked makes rearranging plans so easy!
2. Other people also travel solo
This might seem obvious, however I didn’t even consider that there would be other people doing the same thing as me – travelling solo. Of course, right?! It was fantastic to meet groups of friends, but at the same time it was also amazing to meet people travelling by themselves and going through the exact same ups and downs as me.
3. Everyone has a story about bedbugs
No matter where you end up, everyone you talk to will have a story about bedbugs. Whether it happened to them or their friend, you know it will be horrific and awful and will usually end with “Never stay there!” or “I wrote a bad review on TripAdvisor”.
4. You’ll repeat the story about your trip multiple times
If you’re like me and were covering multiple cities per week and therefore staying in multiple hostels, you will find yourself repeating your life story over and over so much. It becomes a routine! Where I’m from, where I’ve been, where I’m going, why I’m doing this…Be prepared to repeat your story over and over! Of course, it’s all good fun and even funnier when you think of other backpackers doing the same.
5. Google Maps is your best friend
Google Maps saved my life on multiple occasions. Paper maps are great, until you completely find yourself disoriented in a new city.I absolutely loved the transport section on the Google Maps app, which allowed you to see which methods of public transport you could take to your destination, when they would arrive and which stop to get off at. Definitely a time saver, although you will meet interesting people when you ask for directions!
6. Always carry an extra battery/portable charger/SD card
There were a few days on my trip where I went through more than one battery for my camera, and I basically used my portable phone charger every day. Be aware that your batteries will deplete faster in cold climates, but also don’t do well with extreme heat! The spare SD card I suggest as a precaution in case you fill one up and don’t have a chance to empty the photos onto a harddrive. It’s also a good idea to have one in case you lose your one or it decides spontaneously to corrupt. It’s always good to be prepared!
7. Saying ‘yes’ is rarely a bad decision
It might be tempting to stay in your hostel room because you’re tired, but if you’ve met new people who are heading out to a museum/club/show/dinner/etc, it’s a great idea to say yes to their invitation or ask if they would mind you tagging along. 9/10 times they’ll be happy for you to come, and it will often end in crazy adventure and memories.
8. Life goes on back home
Whilst you’re swanning about in Europe (or wherever), it’s often easy to forget that life is trundling along back home in usually the same state you left it. Your friends likely aren’t having a quiet week, it probably just seems like it because you’re doing amazing, incredible, new things. Make sure you always set aside a little time to stay in contact with those who mean the most to you. It can be hard with timezones, but guaranteed your friends miss you just as much as you miss them!
What did you learn about yourself or life when you went travelling? Comment below!