I didn’t really travel as a child.
We didn’t have the money to afford anything more than our yearly holiday in my absolute favourite place in the world.
But that didn’t stop me from dreaming of seeing the world and adding to my ever-growing wanderlist.
Or to get at it as soon as I had the chance, taking in the sights and a little bit of wisdom from each of the 10 countries I’ve visited sofar.
My first ever trip abroad was a school trip to Stuttgart, Germany back in 2004 and it’s the best memory I have from the overall horific college experience (the first part of High School in France, leading up to GCSEs).
From my first experience of life in a big city and staying with an amazing Turkish-German family, I learnt that middle of nowhere, whiter than white small town was not where I belonged.
And that there was a whole world of Haribo to be discovered out there!
A rural development mission to Burkina Faso took me on my first ever long-haul trip in 2007.
No phone connection, no electricity, no running water, strawberries in the middle of February – it was a completely different world and an real eye-opener for my 16-year-old self.
Kids that had nothing but would still hand up fruit and nuts at the local market. Passionate debates with professional degree students on standards of living and how it affected disposable income. The mind-boggling fact that local builders would simply stop working by Wednesday if they had made enough money for the week.
That trip changed me more than any other I have ever taken. It taught me to not take anyhting for granted – not even getting light or water at the touch of a button – gave me a sense of perspective and a drive to travel as a local.
A two-week trip to Sweden was my most fantastic 18th birthday present.
Our road-trip adventure took us across the achingly beautiful Lake region as well as golden light-bathed Stockholm and reminded me that despite my big city aspirations, no amount of skyscrappers will ever top up how beautiful nature is.
It’s also when (after carrying a veeeery over-packed bag and the most ridiculous pair of heeled silver sandals along) I finally understood the value of packing light – and I never looked back.
After 3 years of uni, I wasn’t really sure which way to go. So I decided to hit the pause button, enrol as a teacher assistant with the British Council and go spend a year across the Channel.
2012 was a crazy year. I drank too much, didn’t sleep nearly enough, finally learnt to speak English properly (as in, in ways that would allow me to discuss things other than the apartheid) and made friends for life.
I fell in love with London almost instantly. Bright, exciting, strongly multi-cultural, it was everything I was looking for in a city, and then some. It was scary at times, and exhilarating the rest of the time.
London has taught me so much – how to navigate night buses, tricks to not let SAD take you down, what to do when you spend an entire day at the pub… – but mainly how to live in the moment and make the most of each of them.
Home is not a place, it’s a feeling. A feeling you can only understand once you’ve left.
Going back taught me about the importance of having a place you can always go back to. A place that’s stable and that allows you to see that you’re still the same, despite how much you’ve changed.
Amsterdam was the first place the BF and I traveled together to. It was also my first proper ‘city break’ and that kind of showed.
Short trips are tricky to plan and we didn’t do as well as we should have in that department. Lesson learnt – we’ve improved much since!
We went to the US in the summer of 2015. Needless to say, the main thing I learnt from this trip was the value of air conditioning and drinks bigger than my head.
America is all about excess – cities are massive (and you can’t get anywhere without a car), portion sizes are huuuuge (and often enough to feed two).
‘Restrain’ is simply not a thing there. Which made me realise that restrain is something I’m rather into and that it was okay to be a little homesick when on holiday!
With its care-free lifestyle, rolling accent, long siestas and slow pace of life, Spain is the ultimate relaxing holiday destination. A couple of long weekend visits over the past few years has been a great way to remember what’s important – good food, good wine and even better company to make memories with.
Gorgeous white light, bikes and water everywhere, amazing food and the never-ending impression that you’re walking around in a perfectly currated Pinterest board – what’s not to like about Copehagen?
From our idyllic 3-day stay in the Danish capital, I learnt that waking up early is the way forward if you want to hit the sights and also took away a determination to give degustation menus a chance!
Our trip to Dublin wasn’t quite the traditional itinerary. We didn’t go to the Guinness Museum, or to St Patrick’s Cathedral. Instead, we had brunch and doughnuts, our most fantastic meal this year and more whisky than strictly reasonable. And it was fantastic!
The definite proof that the only thing that matters is to have fun your way!
So, here it is – the top 10 things I learnt from traveling:
- Exploring is a chance to find places that are right for you.
- Travel like a local and take every trip as a chance to get a feel of what it’d be like to live there.
- Pack light.
- Go with the flow and make the most of it.
- There’s no place like home.
- Do your research – especially for shorter trips!
- It’s okay to get a little homesick.
- Memories with azaming people is what truly makes a trip.
- Wake up early if you want to see the sights.
- Leave FOMO behind and do whatever you want!
What unexpected/surprising/amazing thing have you learnt from traveling?
This post is part of this month’s Travel Linkup – if you want to read more ’10 Things…’ travel bloggers are counting down, head over to Follow Your Sunshine, SilverSpoon London, Adventures of A London Kiwi or Erin Out and About now!