5 Things I’ve learnt after 100 days non stop travel
Travelling through Europe overland I’ve been reminded of a few things..
My Phil and I left the UK on the 19th March 2017. Travelling from Suffolk to the Netherlands on an overnight ferry, as the first leg of our Road To Happiness Expedition.
I am writing this sat on a high speed train from St Petersburg to Moscow. Which completes after one hundred days travelling across Europe on boat, train and coach.
We still have a long way to go, travelling through Russia, Mongolia, China before looping round South East Asia and up through India into Bhutan.As you can imagine there have been lots of new experiences on this trip. Some I would love to experience again, others I’m happy to leave behind and ignore forever.
So, in no particular order, here are the top 5 things I have learnt on this trip so far…
IM VERY LUCKY TO SPEAK ENGLISH
In every single country we have visited, our lack of the local language has not hugely affected our travel. Every menu or sign we have needed is also in English, or a lovely local has helped us out.
Phil and I try to learn at least ‘Hello & Thank you’ in every language, and we feel incredibly lucky language has not been a barrier in meeting and getting to know people.
Meeting local people has been such an important part of our Adventure so far. Without these new experiences and friendships we would have not been so lucky.
COMFORT IS ESSENTIAL, STUFF ISN’T
Despite only having a small 45l backpack, I still had plenty of room for things that just make me feel comfortable, wherever I am.
I know from previous trips that there are a few important things I need to feel good. All my clothes are black stretchy, comfortable fabric. I look put together, even if the dress I’m wearing also doubled as my pyjamas last night (shhhh…). Heading into the 35 degree heat of Asia on the next leg may however be a challenge….
I have noise cancelling headphones, an incredible sleep mask for long journeys. Hair conditioner makes me feel human after a shower. A small crystal jewellery collection to keep me looking lovely! My Yoga Mat allows me to exercise wherever we are, which also helps with my daily chronic pain.
I’ve talked before about how I don’t think you need to throw out all your stuff to be a Minimalist. Despite only travelling with carry on luggage I still have ‘non-essential’ essentials.
This makes my travel more comfortable and my life happier.
Apart from Yorkshire Tea, I haven’t missed anything. Living out of a backpack has been easy.
I truly believe most people need a lot less then they think.
ITS OK NOT TO DO STUFF ALL THE TIME
When we first started our trip, every day was organised to ensure the maximum amount of culture versus time management. We went on all the free walking tours, scoured lonely planet and trip advisor for the best places to see, eat and do.
I was also trying to meet people everywhere to interview for the book I am writing as well as write and run Stag & Raven.
Now we are a lot more relaxed in our travel. Each City we visit we have a top three things to do (which can be museums, cool places to eat or sights) that we don’t want to miss — and the rest, we just go with the flow.
In St Petersburg, we visited the Hermitage Museum, The Loft Project and went to the Midsummer Fireworks. With a less rigid structure it meant we discovered more.
We found a soviet style bakery serving delicious 20p savoury filled buns. A cool basement Rock Bar hosted by a bartender wearing a Tattoo Art t-shirt brands (A sign!). We sat and people watched in the park, enjoyed our books and watched films together at our Airbnb.
Only spending a few days in each City created a constant fear of missing out, until we just, well, gave up. Despite being on a trip of a lifetime my stress level was through the roof trying to balance everything and not feel I was letting Kate, my business partner or Phil (my travel partner!) down.
Giving myself time to do nothing has given me the space to daydream, write and just enjoy being on this crazy Adventure. It’s important to give yourself free time and ignore the to-do list sometimes.
REMEMBER TO LET GO.
Like when we got off the train the wrong stop and missed our connecting trains to Berlin.
Or when my back was so bad in Poland I spent two days in bed so we didn’t see or do anything.
When we stayed in a place with no internet when I had a launch to organise for Stag & Raven.
Or learning, as an introvert used to my own space, how to spend 24/7 with my boyfriend. (ha!)
You get the idea.
Remembering my job is not saving lives, so if I can’t access internet for 24 hours the world will continue to turn. Richard Branson is unlikely to email with a 24 hour deadline and Oprah won’t Facebook expecting an instant reply.
Learning to let go and accept change has been a huge thing for me on this trip.
I have been a bit kinder to myself by acknowledging the things I have achieved. These are more important then worrying about the things I still have to do.
PREPARE FOR THINGS TO CHANGE.
When budget travelling you can leverage where you stay to your advantage. Travelling as couple, often the price of staying in an Airbnb is the same price or just as cheap as a hostel.
Usually where we live affects how we spend time in that City.
If there is no desk, I’ll find a cafe with wifi. Phil can spend the afternoon reading and people watching when I work.
I love to cook, so whenever we have a kitchen I love going to the local supermarkets and winding down making dinner at the end of the day.
As part of the same lesson as letting go, adapting to my environment is a constant job. Moving every couple of days is a new set of challenges.
Phil and I are being presented with new places, cultures, accommodation and food constantly.
I have learnt to make sure my kindle is charged and packed before leaving the house, I carry cards and my travel journal, so any delays are well spent.
I also carry snacks and water everywhere, along with an umbrella, hat and my trusty Chrysalis Cardi.(which can be a scarf, rug, cardigan, or skirt dependent on circumstance)
At the beginning of our Trip I would get so anxious and stressed when our plans changed. Learning to let go and preparing as much as I could helped me cope with this.
Understanding that outside influences can and will change whatever you do is important. Worrying about things won’t change them. Learning to focus on myself and the things I can control has really helped me.
NEVER STOP LEARNING.
At 33 I’m traveling around the world and running two businesses. This involves constantly learning new things and being challenged.
Meeting new people and friends presenting me with new lifestyles and ways of thinking. Cultural and Political differences provide new opportunities to understand the reasons why the world is how it is.
I’m learning a lot more about myself. The things I like and don’t like — and what I want to change.
So, if you take anything away from this article I want it to be this.
People & Experiences are more important then things. This includes You.
Be kind to yourself. It’s ok to look after yourself. It’s ok to let go of stress and try not to control everything.
The world will continue to turn regardless, so it’s important to look at it with possibility. We can keep growing and going. betternotstop!
Originally published at betternotstop.