Travelling is… fun; exhilarating; eye-opening; a whirlwind; life-changing.
It is all of those things, and obviously even more, depending on where you’re travelling, why you’re doing it, how long you’re doing it for etc.
But life-changing. That’s one to think about, because it’s not just ‘life changing’ in the sense of the whole shebang- seeing new cultures, angels singing in your subconscious and you’re suddenly totally in tune with all the other people around you and your views on the world have changed and whatnot.
It’s also in the smaller, more minute details- having to adapt the way you work in order to make the most of the situation you’re in.
All the sunshine and freedom aside, travelling is f****** hard.
I’m not going to start mouthing off about travelling, it’s the greatest freedom you can give yourself, and honestly, it baffles me when people refuse to step outside the frontiers of their own countries to experience the ways of life of their neighbours and see what the world has to offer. We’ve all been told how massive the universe is… why not make the most of what’s on our own front doorstep?
However, as an anxiety sufferer and recoverer of bulimia, travelling on my own has turned out to be much much much more difficult and taxing on my mental health than I ever thought it would be.
On the run up to my travels, I was so caught up in all the last minute details I had to get sorted that I never had a chance to plan out what I’d do in order to keep active and therefore keep my thoughts at rest.
My (now infamous) admin skills meant my travel insurance, foreign currency and transport from the airport to the hostel upon arrival were sorted on the day before I left, and not because I wanted to, but because I bloody well had to or else I’d have had no holiday to come to.
I don’t know how far it is to Aus from where you guys live, but my flights were: a 7-hour long one from Edinburgh to Abu Dhabi, and then 14 hours from there to Sydney. That’s 21 hours already of being forced to be seated and not moving about that I had no choice but to do.
Sitting is boring, especially when you’re left alone with your thoughts, but, surprise surprise, the worlds worst traveller struck again and I managed to sleep away a lot of the time.
Eating plane meals has never been easy for me, and mixing eating unfamiliar food with no chance of being able to move it and rid the feeling of stodge, my discomfort increased even more.
I can’t imagine flying long-haul is particularly comfortable for everyone, so I won’t complain too much… the inactivity there was to be expected and there wasn’t anything that could’ve been done to change the situation. *though, if you do fly long haul, I recommend you take a wee bit of time to do some light stretching in order to keep the blood flowing round your legs etc.*
I arrived in Sydney to be yelled at by a customs officer due to my confusion of how passport control here works, and she even accused me of not being able to read. Eh. You don’t know me. Maybe I can’t.
But, with sweatiness, tears, and luggage all weighing me down, I toddled into the car park and met my new host mum, who was kind enough to take me from the airport to the hostel before I needed to officially move into their house two days later.
She was so nice- we are quite similar people so we get along fine and have lots of things in common! I was so overwhelmed from my massive journey that it still didn’t kick in for ages that I was now on the other side of the world. Like what the heck?!
Arrival at the hostel brought with it a sensation that was super unfamiliar to me.
Whenever I’ve stayed in a hostel, it’s been with mates, so I’ve never been a lone traveller having to immerse herself in a 10-man room and make herself accepted by the others sharing the space with her.
Even being in reception, with all these groups of people having a laugh and a drink, giggling away, I felt so self conscious and on edge- I had no idea how to act.
There was only one person in my room when I went in: a Swedish boy who’d arrived the day earlier and was recovering from jet lag himself (hence napping upon my arrival at 7pm) and he woke up just as I was gathering my stuff to get a well- needed shower. And thank goodness he did because I’m an absolute tit that forgot to pack shampoo and shower gel so I had to borrow his.
I took it upon myself to use the borrowing-of-the-toiletries as a conversation opener and therefore a way to make a pal, and basically forced him to be friends with me, and good thing I did, because everyone else who turned up happened to be in groups or couples and were not game for speaking to other people.
The entire duration of time of me getting showered, getting dressed and putting fresh clothes on was a conflict between wanting to be sociable and friendly, and covering myself in my duvet and crying from sheer waves of emotion and grief.
See, no one tells you about the difficult parts of travelling. About those sh***y little moments that make you question your personality and the way you behave when you’re not amongst familiar people and friendly faces. Meeting new people can be hugely difficult, and when you’re travelling, these challenges are intensified by your already turbulent emotions, as well as the complete and utter exhaustion you’re going through.
In the end, my new friend and I went for food and a drink in the bar next door to the hostel, before jet lag completely took its toll and we both decided it was time to rest. But I did it. I was so scared I wouldn’t find someone who would want to spend time with me, or someone that would find me interesting enough to be my friend, but I ended up being able to enjoy the last few hours of the evening of my arrival in Sydney, and not mope about feeling sorry for myself, which I will forever be grateful to myself for.
Take it on the chin, be yourself, if someone doesn’t like you, well, their loss.
But if you need to cry, do it. It’s not a bad thing having emotions and finding things tough.