Everyone has their reasons
A year ago I left my apartment, sold most of my furniture and appliances, packed my bags and then said goodbye to all of my family and friends to go travelling on an open ended holiday. I had a list of hundreds of places around the world I wanted to visit and no idea how I was going to see them all. All I knew was that I would start in Frankfurt and work out the route as I traveled. Since then I’ve been bouncing around Europe, North and South America on countless trains, buses, flights, boats and cars.
Everyone you meet travelling has their own reasons for leaving home and the thing that has surprised me most so far is how many different reasons there are. Some are having one last blow-out before uni/working, others are on a mission to find out where they fit in world, most are looking for some adventure and the odd person is escaping bullshit at home. The thing that they all have in common is that they are all incredible people with an interesting story to tell. It takes a special kind of person to give up luxury and live out of a bag for months so they can explore a place completely out of their comfort zone.
Being on an open-ended trip I’ve had the luxury of being able to plan my trip one destination at a time and honestly for me this has been perfect. Everyone has different opinions of the same place and there have been countless times when someone has told me a place is shit, only to be told by another person that it was one of their favorite places. The point is to do your research and visit everywhere that sounds interesting to you. When you arrive you have the chance to either get out of there if it’s terrible or extend your stay if you end up liking the place. If you have the chance to be flexible, do it, it will make a trip so much more enjoyable because you can take a break somewhere if you are exhausted and you’re not stuck somewhere you hate.
Don’t be afraid to join a squad
I started this trip by myself and I’ve had my fair share of time travelling alone. There is definitely a lot of positives to travelling alone; you can do what you want where you want, you don’t have to take into consideration anyone else’s wish list of destinations and how long you stay somewhere is up to you. On the other hand when you meet people you get along with and are doing roughly the same route you should definitely join them for as long as possible. I’ve joined more squads than I can remember now but without a doubt the best experiences I’ve had have been with the people I’ve met along the way. The fun times are better, the travels days are more interesting and you have people around to make the bad times shorter.
More than friends?
If you’re going to travel for a year you will definitely meet someone you like and those times have the potential to be either the best or the worst times. Everyone has different expectations from their holiday and the future. Sometimes you are part of that holiday/future and sometimes you aren’t. The best thing you can do is go into a new ‘relationship’ with an open mind and just enjoy things until your trip isn’t going to the same place anymore. Definitely don’t let uncertainty about the future stop you from enjoying the little time you might have with someone.
With every good there is bad and the bad about travelling for most of us is saying goodbye to the great people you meet. There is something about travelling, whether it’s being more open to new people or just having a lot of like-minded people together, that means you skip months of normal friendship or relationship building and become so close within such a short amount of time. After a few days you then have to say goodbye to these people. It’s basically a breakup. You always say that you will see them again with the best intentions but after past experience I know that most of the time it’s just impossible. So, with knowing all of this you say goodbye and tell yourself that the memories you have with them is worth the farewell. Sad but true.
Finally are the local people you meet while you travel. Apart from the odd thief trying to fool me out of some cash I’ve only had great experiences with the locals in every place. Especially in South America where I’ve been blown away by the kindness, curiosity, different cultures and welcoming ‘hello’ we seem to get everywhere we travel. Foreigners are still a new thing in countries like Colombia which have only just emerged from terrible times and just by being in the country you are showing them respect by trusting them enough to be there.