I started to write this post just after my first solo trip to Europe. I’ve now come back to it, 2 years later and after 8 months of solo travel around Central and South America. I’ve grown so much in that time so lets see whether 2020 Nay was right or still had a lot of learning to do.
2020 me: It’s not as difficult as you think it will be to make friends. I’m so much more confident than I thought I was. When you’re put in the situation, you will crack on with it and it really isn’t as daunting as you thought it’d be.
2022 me: I can’t agree more. I’d be inclined to now rephrase the term making friends and call it making acquaintances. It’s so easy to get chatting to someone, become surface level friends and spend a day or two travelling around together. But it’s usually pretty clear from the get go who’s going to be a good friend and who you’ll probably never see again.
Sometimes you just don’t want to do things alone so you’ll do it with someone without really wanting to spend too much time with them and there will also be days where you don’t want to make friends and that’s totally ok, you just keep yourself to yourself and carry on.
But there are also the people who you may not stay in touch with forever, but they’re special and have a big impact on you and your journey. There are also some friends you’ll make who mean everything to you and you can no longer imagine life without – they’re special and not so common, but it happens for sure.
Looking back at my confidence level when I first started travelling is wild. I’ve done a lot of growing and learning in other ways which has contributed to my confidence levels, but I can confidently say, the more you travel, the more your confidence will grow. You realise that you don’t have the time to not just go for things or talk to people. And more often than not, you’re all in the same boat so it’s more a game of who’s going to say hi first.
2020 me: You definitely don’t need everything you think you will – pack the clothes you want and then half it.
2022 me: A heavy bag is not fun – granted I’ve got pretty used to it now and I can definitely manage a heavy bag when I have to, but if you can help it, your life will be so much easier if you pack light and people won’t look at you like you’re insane when they try to lift a bag that weighs a tonne.
If you’re unsure if you’ll wear something, or if it’s something you don’t wear at home, but think ‘It’ll be a great opportunity to wear that whilst travelling’ you’re lying to yourself. Don’t pack it. Pack the things you know you love to wear, things that are comfortable and versatile.
A good rule of thumb is to take things that you won’t be heartbroken over if they get lost, ruined or stolen. These things happen and most likely something will get ruined in the wash, so anything precious – probably best to leave at home.
2020 me: Don’t get too attached to the friends you make, you’ll probably never see them again. But you may also make friends for life.
2022 me: Briefly touching on this one above, I think you learn to know who’s going to be long term and who’s not. And honestly you probably won’t see many people again, unless you see them along the way of the same trip. If you really bond with someone and it’s mutual, you can make sure that you see each other again. It’s always nice to have the option to visit some new countries and have people to stay with!
2020 me: Always turn around. As you’re walking, you take in so much beautiful stuff in front of you, but if you don’t turn around every once in a while you can miss another perspective of what’s there – I feel like there might be something philosophical in there somewhere but who knows.
2022 me: Damn I love this one and I still don’t always do this! The more I see, experience and have delved into my inner self, the more I practice being present in my day-to-day doings, and appreciating the beauty in every thing and moment is part of my re-wired brain. But I do love the way I phrased that – go 2020 Nay.
2020 me: Some people are strange and will ask you to borrow your flip flops – never say yes (who tf does that) this literally happened twice.
2022 me: This one honestly went straight over my head and I have no recollection of what this was in reference to. However, if someone asked me for my flipflops now – context dependant, I’d probably give them away. I’ve seen a lot of how the world isn’t as easy on some and opportunities for what we (western society) see as a standard way of living doesn’t come as easy to many people and places around the world. So a cheap pair of flip-flops to me, are so much more to someone else. My travel budget is tight and I really don’t have a lot of money in my pocket, but if I really needed it I can get money from friends and family. A lot of people don’t have that luxury so where I can, I will always give a little to those who need it.
That may not have been the context of the original comment, but that’s where my heart took me.
It’s funny to think and look back on when I first started out my travels – so much has changed and I’ve grown so much as a person. Travel is truly amazing for expanding your awareness and deepening your perspective on life.