Travel- JUST DO IT!

78 days, 16 hours, 39 minutes and 7 seconds, well 8 seconds now, 9 seconds, 10 seconds, alright you get the point. Time keeps passing by and before you know it, it’s been a very long, kind of sad, and not yet ‘medically diagnosed’ depressing 2.5 months since your inevitable return. Where you ask? A return from your incredibly cultured and fabulous overseas trip to Europe.

“Travelling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” — Ibn Battuta

That my friends is a quote I found on Google by searching ‘Inspirational travel quotes’, as tacky as it may seem. Which it is, no denying- but it’s 100% true. So, that’s why I’m sitting here in my lounge-room, typing away on my crappy, old yet somehow still working laptop. If only I weren't poor (if only I didn't spend every dollar I own in Europe), I could actually afford a brand new laptop. So, getting to my first point or quote of the day as I like to put it, I am now a somewhat cultured (in my own opinion), fabulous storyteller who spent an amazing couple of months in Europe.

I’m very fortunate at the age of 19. I've travelled all over the world to 17 amazing countries. I guess what makes me so grateful is that I know not many people are able to have that opportunity. When my parents were my age they were still at home, busy working in full-time jobs; they never had the option of travelling abroad just for the hell of it. What we have today, in 2015, is a whole lot of freedom and opportunities to travel at such young ages.

Westminster Abbey- London
Berlin Wall (East Side Gallery)- Berlin.

Let’s start with how it all began, my brother was first diagnosed with the travel bug and he passed it on to me (yay for that). He got scholarships to travel and study abroad, he back-packed and most of all he was living life to the fullest. So, fast forward to me at 18 years of age… I had just started as a casual at a new job 6 months prior and hadn't really been saving. As I sat on the couch still in my pyjamas at noon (a common occurrence for me), I began to Instagram stalk this girl who was currently travelling in Europe by herself. She had started a blog that was super cool and all of her photos were making me insanely jealous. I started getting that (once again)not medically diagnosed “I want to travel but I’m poor depression”. Then I had an epiphany. I thought to myself: “what is stopping me from experiencing culture?”. Apart from money and general lack of independence, I really couldn't justify why I was just planning on spending the next year working, studying and having no social- life (yet still somehow being poor). So what’s the first thing I do?

Let’s put it in steps:

1. Call your best friend up and blatantly ask her if you can go to Europe with her, her sister and her sister’s best friend.

2. Hope for a yes, if not, laugh it off and say it was a joke. Or, if you’re mature and independent, plan a trip by yourself.

3. Once you get a yes from your best friend work out how the hell you will pay for it all (nothing illegal please).

4. Go to a travel expo with early bird rates, book your flights and a tour ( tours are optional and for the extroverts who like to parrrtayyyyy ).

5. Realize you are an extrovert who doesn't like to party and say “Oh well, too late, we already booked the tour” (Topdeck is great because most party stuff is optional.

6. Work your booty off saving a whole lot of money ($10,000+) How? Well…If you didn't already, lose your social life. Social life= fun, fun=money, money= something you don’t have yet.

7. Book hotels, hostels and apartments (shout out to Airbnb).

8. Whoops don’t forget to book those interconnecting flights.

9. Wait, patiently or impatiently if you must.

10. GO AND TRAVEL! But first upload the mandatory Instagram photo at the departure gate at the airport #eurotrip.

Melbourne Airport

Lets talk about the facts and stats:

Let’s put it this way:
33.9 million crossings of Australia’s international borders means 1.4 crossings per person in the Australian population. There was only 1.0 crossing per person during 2004–05. This is major!

Of these 33.9 million crossings, it was comprised of 9.2 million Australian residents departing short-term. Fun fact: According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics- 595,100 of these short-term resident departures were people of the ages 20–24. So when I looked up stats from 10 years prior (2004/05), I found that of the 4.5 million short- term departures there were: 297400 of them were aged from 20–24 years. To conclude this fun fact, the results are in…

595,100- 297,400= 297,700 extra people in 2014/15

That’s right, there was over a 50% increase in the 10 years. It speaks a lot for itself, there has never been a more better time to travel than now.

So, why is it cool to be cultured and fabulous? Why do Australians love travelling? I personally think geography has a major role in why we chose to travel.

Have a look at this world map below. Does that answer the question? No? Not yet?

World Map (Found on MapsWorld)

How about now?

World Map made by yours truly

We live far away from most other countries which means we’re used to going a long way to get there. When we do go, we want to make the most of it. Living so far away in completely different time zones and seasons makes us curious. What’s it like all the way up there?

Let’s not forget that Australia is a nation founded on immigration: majority of Australians have cultural roots in another country, and this adds even more motivation to cross our border into unfamiliar territory.

Ever wondered what people other than myself thought about travelling? Well, I conducted a survey with 100 people and here are some of the results:

Were you left out of that survey? Well, don’t worry to all you parents feeling excluded, you also got a mention. Yay!

I asked those 100 people surveyed if their parents wanted them to travel. The results: 68% said their parents wanted them to travel the world. 29% said their parents didn't care if they travelled or not(mean). 3% said their parents didn't want them to travel (that’s just cruel). All I can say is thank the heavens above that we live in less traditional times these days. I don’t know how I would react if my parents didn't want me to travel. It’s such an important part of life that we all should experience- Which leads me to my next point…

Culture- What is it? Can we purchase it on eBay? Or do we have to develop it?Well according to Google (once again), a blogger named Maria Costadini says “…A person who is cultured is well travelled. They have been to different countries and observed or experienced how others live”.

Paris, Budapest, Barcelona, Berlin, Howth, Santorini

Europe is full of history. There are so many different places that have incredible stories behind them. For example:

Berlin, Germany: Home of the Berlin Wall that was made to separate the Eastern side of Berlin from the West Side. Fun fact- Whilst visiting this cool city I learnt how to tell the difference between the East and West.

Ampelmann-Berlin (Found on Flickr)

These cheeky guys ^ are called Ampelmännchen (aka Ampelmann) and they are on every pedestrian signal in the former East Germany.

Amsterdam, Netherlands: Home of the red-light district, a place where sex-workers are respected and encouraged. Also home of the Ann Frank house, where a Jewish girl hid during World War 2 and wrote a diary of her experience. Note- If you plan on visiting this house be aware the lines are often around 5 hours long to get in.

Canals- Amsterdam

Italy: The birthplace of my parents and delicious food. Note- Don’t expect the Trevi Fountain to be ready by the time you get there, they've been working on it for years. This makes it very difficult for you to meet a famous Italian pop star named Paolo and get mistaken for his singing partner, Isabella. (The Lizzie McGuire movie)

The Trevi Fountain- Rome

Vienna, Austria: Home of the opera and several palaces. Advice- If random boys approach you in the streets of Vienna and ask you to be in their music video, don’t say yes… You’ll never see the final product (If there even was one).

Schönbrunn Palace-Vienna

Paris, France: Home of that really cool tall, pointy thing called the Eiffel Tower. Note- The French don’t like eating at normal times (or in general). I suggest you snack throughout the day then wait…patiently, till 10pm to indulge in some escargot(snails).

The Eiffel Tower- Paris

London, England: Home of our Queen and Shakespeare(and British boys with hella cute accents). Advice- Check out an amazing play in London’s West End, but before you do so, head to the diner across the road for a cheeky corned beef and pickle sandwich.

Corned beef and pickle sandwich- London

You get the point. Seeing, and taking part in all these things gives you experience and knowledge on how other people live and learn. So, the answer is, you can’t buy culture from eBay, but you can buy a ticket to a country and indulge in it, everywhere you go.

By indulge, I mean eat. Eat, everything and anything, everywhere you go!

Yummy paella in Barcelona

So, back to the 78 days since I've returned from my fabulous and culture-filled trip to Europe. In those 78 days that I've been home not a day has passed when I don’t think about some place I went to or a memory I shared with my friends. Now that I've been, I thirst for more, more travel, more culture and more experiences. I may be really poor, and thirsty, but I worked by tush off to travel last time and I sure as hell can do it again. I know it’s quite a cliché, but when your parents and teachers tell you “the world is your oyster”, it really is and you better treat it like your pearl.

P.S. Don’t forget to come back tan…

Tanned in Santorini

All photos displayed on this page were taken by myself (Ashlee Marsico) throughout my trip in 2015, unless stated otherwise.