Oh, the things you learn on your first trip! At 21 I thought I had it all figured out. There wasn’t more to learn about life, no room left for me to grow and I was going to have one wicked holiday! I had worked hard and saved hard for this trip. I had my backpack full up and I was off to explore Europe and the U.K for the next year. I had packed everything I could possibly pack into my 75 litre backpack, I was bubbling with excitement and I had no idea what lay ahead of me.
I grew in more ways than I could have ever thought and I learnt a few life lessons along the way. To this day I still grow and still learn different things along the way, that will never change for me. But, that trip above all my other trips, I know I will carry in my heart forever. From what I learnt from my very first adventure, has made me the person I am today.
1. I Can Live Without Makeup
I was so use to getting up every morning and putting on my makeup. I am a Beauty Therapist after all. It was always apart of my morning routine, it was just second nature to me. That very first trip I packed about 90% of my makeup into a makeup case that just barely fit into my backpack and lugged that around with me for a year. I wasn’t going to leave without my makeup! Just because I am backpacking doesn’t mean I don’t need to wakeup and look awesome everyday! It turned out to be painful and totally unnecessary. That brought me to lesson one. You don’t need to wake up and look awesome. You need to wakeup be yourself and be the awesome person you are.
Backpacking is a whole different world. You learn that you really don’t have to look awesome when you’re backpacking. I was getting frustrated with myself that I bought all this makeup and I was only using about a quarter of what I bought with me. Somedays I wasn’t even applying makeup, it became so unneeded and such a waste of time. I have since toned down the makeup and take with me the absolute bare minimum. I have more room in my backpack and my body thanks me for it! And girls, wearing no makeup while travelling, is so freeing! You are at your truest form. You should try it sometime!
2. It Is Not a Fashion Show
Backpacking is about as far from a fashion show as you could imagine. I’m the first to admit, I don’t follow fashion. I buy what I think looks good on me and what I feel comfortable in. But, I was off to Europe. Europe! Some of the best fashion in the world comes from Europe. I started to worry that I would stick out like a sore thumb in my Australian get up of shorts, singlets and flip flops. Before that trip I went out and bought all new clothes. I was going to rock Europe with my new found style! Well, it doesn’t look very fashionable carrying a 10-15kg backpack on your back wearing a dress straight off the runway!
Not even half way through my trip I dumped my new clothes, headed to the nearest thrift store and stocked up on appropriate backpacking clothes. There’s really no appropriate backpacking clothes, depending of course what country you are visiting. And you’re most likely always going to stand out as a tourist anyway. I also learnt that nobody cares if you’re wearing the same shirt you wore yesterday and the day before, nobody cares if you have a pair of hand me down ripped jeans on and nobody cares what the hell you look like. Backpacking is all about travelling light and comfortable. Chances are the backpackers that you will meet along the way are probably wearing the same faded t-shirt they have worn countless times already on their own journey and they don’t give a f**k about fashion!
3. It’s Ok To Have Alone Time
I wasn’t alone on my first journey, I was travelling with my then boyfriend. We alternated between travelling together as a couple, travelling with people we met along the way, we stayed in dorm rooms in hostels and sometimes we stayed in big share houses that slept up to 20 people. It was fun, full of great times and I gained friends that I still keep in touch with today. I am the sort of person though, that needs my alone time. A 10 minute walk around the block can make a world of difference, just for a little bit of sanity. The first 3 months I had a total of zero minutes by myself, of course not including bathroom breaks! I didn’t feel like I could go off, have coffee at the cafe on the corner, take my book to the beach and read, or even go explore somewhere for the day by myself.
I didn’t want to offend anyone by saying no, you can’t come with me, or come across as snobbish. One afternoon, I secretly grabbed my book and snuck away for an hour to read in this beautiful little coffee shop in Spain. When I got back to my travel companions, a few asked where I was. I was honest and told them what I had been up to. Their replies were so understading and one of my friends said “If I don’t get a break every now and then, I would go insane!” I got it then, that it’s ok to have alone time. I wouldn’t come across snobbish or offend anyone if I did something by myself. People get it and they understand.
4. I Find Myself More Educated
At the end of my trip when I was heading home after a year of travelling, I found myself realising that I was more educated now then I ever felt when I finished High School. Obviously I got an education at school, so kids stay in school! However, school never taught me what I learnt from immersing myself into different cultures and history in different countries. Travelling I learnt how to read an old school map, I learnt how to deal with different currencies, I learnt that there is so much more to life than graduate, work, pay bills and then its over. I felt more than ever that life was to short not to explore the big wide world. For me, travelling to each and every country I have been to has been more of an education than school ever was.
5. I Stopped Caring Less About Stuff
By ‘stuff’ I mean material objects. Fancy car, big house, nice clothes, shiny jewellery. All those are nice but they are nothing compared to riding a gondola on the canal in Venice, drinking a stein at Oktoberfest, partying with the Spanish at Running with the Bulls, people watching on the beaches in Mykonos and tasting the delicious food from each country. Living out of a backpack for a year and having my whole life in that backpack, really taught me that I don’t need that stuff. It’s just stuff. My photos, memories and the friends I met along they way, are worth more to me than any of that stuff ever will.
6. Less Is More
When it comes to travelling long periods at a time, less is so much more! My backpack now when I travel, doesn’t come close to what it looked liked on my first adventure. I have since learnt what not to do when it comes to packing. I don’t need to take certain items and if it once crosses my mind whether I will use that, it’s ditched immediately.
7. I Learnt To Accept Myself The Way I Am
Before I got on that plane, I use to be unsure of my abilities, I was worried about what people thought of me and looking back now I didn’t understand myself and had a few insecurities. Since then I know what I am capable of, I learnt to understand myself and face those insecurities and work through them. I have learnt that I don’t have to not laugh to loud or not say something in fear of worrying what some might think of me. You come across so many challenges and personalties when you travel. I started realising my capabilities and realising that, I’m not going to get along with everyone. Some personalties you get along great with and others not so much. And that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with you or the person you clash with. This will happen all through life. Once I understood myself, worked through my insecurities and stopped caring what everyone around me thought of me, I slowly learnt to accept me for me. I am who I am. It feels incredible when you accept who you are and life becomes a whole lot easier!