What happened to me when I first started travelling
Travelling solo can be one of the most frightening things you can every do, and one of the most liberating.
The first time I travelled solo was the single most frightening thing I had ever done, mainly because before that I lived with my parents and never had to worry about consequences or being completely responsible for myself.
Funnily enough, that was actually why I did it. Due to complications (a story worth its own chapter) I was only able to get my passport at 24, so had never left Australia. As soon as I finally got it though, I looked at my bank account, worked out roughly how much money I thought I would need (grossly underestimated) and booked an open-ended ticket and a Contiki tour of Europe. I also gave my boss what must of been the longest notice period ever to resign – 9 months.
In case you couldn’t tell, I was a little excited!
My excitement lasted until I landed and checked into my hostel. Then the shock hit me. For the first time in my life I was completely alone, with no one able to easily help if anything went wrong. My parents didn’t exactly have a ton of money, so financially I only had what was in my bank account.
My first day in London involved me sitting on the steps outside my hostel in tears on the phone to my mum. Not the greatest start to my international adventure!
The plan was to land in London, go on a two week Europe trip then return to hopefully start a job and a life in London.
Well, on the upside, I had an interview lined up with a recruitment agency the day after I landed (wanted it out of the way ASAP), which went well enough that I had a job starting as soon as I returned from the Contiki tour.
Down side, my long stay accommodation fell through and I found myself living in a hostel for a few weeks after returning from my tour… most people who live in hostels do not have a corporate admin job! A bit tricky, especially with laundry, and there were looks occasionally but at least I had a roof over my head!
I found a long stay hostel, it was a converted mansion in Willesden Green filled with people from around Europe, Australia and the USA who were in London looking for work or already working. I ended up staying there for nearly 4 months, sleeping in a dorm room with 10 other girls the entire time.
What I loved about this hostel was that we all bonded, in fact my best friend who now lives in Geneva, was my room mate for 3 months while we both lived there. She wasn’t able to find a job that fit her skills, and so went back to Paris. But the rest of us would cook together, explore London together and just have fun.
I had never had a group of friends like that back home, so it was a new experience and one that I valued. It is an extremely liberating experience to not be judged.
Everyone in that house was a stranger with different backgrounds, opinions and experiences, but we didn’t judge each other, just accepted who we were at face value and went from there.
It is actually one of the reasons I become addicted to travel. At home, without realising, you are confined by expectations. From family, friends and work. You can’t really go anyway without knowing someone who knows someone, and there is already an assumption made. When you travel, that assumption no longer exists.
In that four months, I learned how to look after myself. Find my way around a strange city. Become comfortable (or at least used to!) talking to putting myself out there, talking to strangers, learning new cultures and listening rather than just talking.
By the time I had had enough of London, I had become a completely different person to who I was when I left. Moving back home with my parents felt strange and uncomfortable.
They had formed new routines without me, and I found myself trying to fit back into a box that no longer fit.
Within a few months I saved enough to move into a rental apartment on my own, with a queen sized mattress on the floor (sorry dad but I wasn’t taking the single mattress from my room!), a fridge and the 15 boxes of books I had in my parents garage.
So what happened when I returned from my first trip abroad?
Thus started my obsession with travel!