The Not-So-Glamorous Side Of Travel

Taking 4 months off work to travel the world. Four months of leaving behind the everyday mundane tasks of the real world. 17 weeks of excitement and adventure. 120 days of doing whatever we wanted, with no real obligations or forced commitments. Sounds so glamorous and carefree and magical…

I thought I owed it to everyone who’s ever been jealous of the fabulous life of a traveller to share some harsh and hilarious reality. Anyone who’s stalked an Instagram account and just about been reduced to tears because every shot is SO perfect. Anyone who’s believed that it is all glamorous and wonderful, all the time. Anyone who thinks it was easy and fancy free the whole time.

Don’t misunderstand me; I had the time of my life and wouldn’t trade the months we spent away for anything! This isn’t a woe-is-me, “OMG I like totally freaked out when my hair straightener broke down” post. This is the real shit we dealt with, the parts that didn’t quite make the Instagram cut, the not-so-pretty but completely hilarious, comical, and every bit as memorable stuff.

We like to romanticise travel and imagine ourselves as glamorous Grace Kelly types, effortlessly and gracefully navigating our way through airports and train stations and cities and restaurants while our red lipstick stays in place. It ain’t always like that. Enjoy a good laugh at my expense; this is the other side.

 

 

Over the 4 months we were away, I’ve had to…

– Spread peanut butter onto a bread roll with a pen because you can’t always get a knife in the Canadian Rockies.

– Dry myself after my showers for several days with a hair dryer when a towel wasn’t provided.

– Carry luggage up 80 rickety old stairs on a very narrow staircase to get to our accommodation.

– Lug around 35kg of luggage a kilometre (mostly up hill) to get to a train station in a ‘cute’ old medieval town with footpaths to match. On a stinking hot day. In a floor length skirt. That was the last day I tried to look like a classy lady traveller.

– Boil water for tea in pots on cook tops when we were lucky enough to have a cook top, or microwave it when I was desperate and with no other options. FYI, microwaved water does not make a cup of tea your nanna would approve of.

– Bathe in a shower with only 3 walls and a defective shower curtain a few inches too short. Water. EVERYWHERE.

– Wash not only socks and undies in the sink, but jeans, jumpers and dresses. And then try to find ways to get them to dry in time.

– Wash my hair with only one hand while the other hand held the shower head to rinse with, while trying not to flood the bathroom by accidentally mis-aiming and shooting the water through the shower curtain. If you know how long and thick my hair is, you’ll understand what a completely ridiculous and inelegant undertaking this would be.

– Move from one train carriage to another, mid-ride, with all of our luggage, after some asshole decided to light up and have a smoke in the bathroom, set off the alarm, then lock the door so the conductor couldn’t get in to turn it off.

– Arrive at a hotel lobby absolutely dripping wet after being caught in a downpour on the 1km walk from the train station. Apologies to the hotel we left puddles of water in.

– Move 2 large suitcases, 3 backpacks, 1 sports bag and 2 boxes of groceries all of 10 metres, from car to front door, in the middle of an Icelandic snow storm, complete with snow, rain and gale force winds, without skidding out on the ice covering the driveway and front steps (because it would have been too easy without steps).

– Walk down 5 flights of stairs to get to the shower because the apartment we stayed in was so small it had no room for a bathroom. And then back up 5 flights of stairs afterwards. Oh, and the toilet was in a separate room, too.

– Carry my own tea bags for the times where ordering a cup of boiling water was easier than explaining how to make a cup of tea (America, I’m talking to you).

– Try to locate an Airbnb apartment in a country where I not only can’t speak the language but can’t even read the writing due to the use of a different alphabet, after being given the wrong address and with no internet. Then I got to be the super unglamorous traveller who had to locate a Starbucks outlet to hover around so I could use their free WiFi (thanks for saving our asses, Starbucks – we love you!!!).

– Find an English speaking doctor in a European country to remove an infected ingrown toe nail. And then walk around the city in thongs (flip flops). In winter. While people looked at me like I was a little mentally unstable.

– Sit in the seat behind a small child for a 2 hour flight who had no parental supervision and had just learnt to recline her seat. I spend most of the flight with the seat in front of me basically resting on my thighs. It was great.

– Put on thermal socks, snow boots, 2 jackets, gloves and a beanie over my PJs to walk through ankle deep snow in -12°C Icelandic forest to get to the bathroom.

Advertisements

From my travel journal: Returning home, January 2018

I’m home. I have been for a few days, and I’ve been meaning to sit down and write a little something now that the big adventure has come to an end, but that was harder than I expected. So, I thought I’d share a part of the last entry in my RTW travel journal…

We’ve been back almost a week now. I’m finding myself scattered, all over the place. All of that time away from my usual world gave me wings; it was as if being unfettered from my standard daily, weekly routines somehow unlocked the part of my brain that could imagine “what if?” without the realist kicking in. When you’re away from your work desk and out in the world, all of a sudden anything is possible. That’s why coming back can be such a kick in the pants, I guess.

I think there’s also a bit of anxiety around dealing with others upon return. How will they treat me, what will they expect of me? Do they think I’ll be magically cured of depression? Somehow ‘fixed’ of my introversion? Ready to ‘settle down’ into the real world and stop all of these ridiculous, frivolous adventures?

Looking back  at the photos  from the first few weeks of the trip feels so bizarre – Canada and Alaska feel like so long ago, it’s like I dreamt I visited them! But I know it was all real; yeah, I have the photos as evidence, but I also know how I felt there. You can’t dream that. So much off my life at home feels bogged down with responsibilities and obligations and guilt – the feeling of freedom that comes with travelling is completely unparalleled by anything else. When you don’t ‘have to’ work out and eat perfectly healthy, or go to that party or to this lunch, or try to split your time between work and family, you become a different person. You elevate to a better version of yourself, and it’s hard to let that person go when you get back home.

So instead of waving her goodbye until the next trip, I’d like to welcome her into my life on a more permanent basis. I’d like to see if she wouldn’t mind sticking around. I know that may not suit everyone, that many people might prefer her to stay away so they can have the girl who bows under the pressure of her obligations and feels too guilty to ever really take a stand for what she wants, but I think she’s had her time in the sun. Once you’ve been through the metamorphosis of travel, you can’t unfeel what you’ve felt, or unlearn what you now know. So, roll with it.

 

Over the past 4 months I have…
– Flown around 59, 000km
– Walked about 1360km
– Drove 5460km
– And covered 7650km by train. And about 140km by ferry.
– Slept in 39 different beds and visited 15 different countries.

I’ve also…
– Seen a caribou cross the road right in front of our car in Jasper
– Driven the Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada
– Stood before the world’s largest tree, the General Sherman Tree, in Sequoia National Park
– Joined New York City’s The Village Halloween parade
– Seen Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland
– Survived a 5 hour drive through an Arctic snowstorm in Iceland
– Taken a photo of the Northern Lights
– Slept in a giant bubble in the middle of an Icelandic forest
– Taken a hot air balloon ride over Ronda, Spain
– Visited 31 Christmas markets in 6 different countries in a month
– Been paragliding in Interlaken, Switzerland
– Seen the Berlin Wall
– Enjoyed Christmas Day with family on the other side of the world
– Stood in the middle of the Pantheon in Rome
– Ate a sushi breakfast early in the morning at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market
– Seen the first of Japan’s cherry blossoms
– Went to a Grand Sumo Tournament

And so, so much more… I’m grateful for all of the wonderful experiences I’ve had over the past 4 months, and I’m grateful for the not so wonderful ones, too. I’m really excited to share some of them with everyone, and to hopefully inspire a few more of you to face up to what you’ve always thought impossible and make it happen! But believe me, it wasn’t all magic and rainbows; stay tuned for the slightly less than glamorous side of the trip, coming at the end of the week!

A souvenir that lasts – 5 tips on getting tattooed while travelling

This is such a touchy subject, and one I’ve actually really been looking forward to writing about. Getting tattooed, while you’re travelling overseas. The irony of this is that “overseas” is different for us all. I live in Melbourne. Maybe you live in London. Or Rome. Or Seattle. Or Vancouver. Does that mean that you, living in Seattle, wouldn’t feel safe getting a tattoo in London, even though hundreds of people are probably seeing tattoo artists there every day??! Of course not, that’s completely ludicrous!

I think that the main issue with this topic is that many people have preconceived notions that:
a) Only irresponsible idiots get tattooed to begin with.
b) If you get tattooed while you’re travelling, it must have been a spur-of-the-moment idea that you probably had while drunk and will really regret it later on.
c) Because it was such a stupid, unplanned decision, you’re probably just going to get it done in some dirty, back-alley garage by a big guy in a torn leather jacket who doesn’t sanitise his needles or even wash his hands between appointments, which he smokes his way through.

While point a) irks me to no end, being the happy owner of we’ll over a dozen tattoos, I’m not writing this as a rant against people’s uninformed assumptions; if you’re not willing to consider the opinions of others and see both sides of a story, I don’t care much about what you think. Instead, I’m writing this for those of you who, like me, are admirers of art, and have maybe seen some work by talented artists across the globe who you might consider visiting on your next trip. Or maybe there’s just a city you really love, and want to take a memory of that city home permanently, and you need to find the right person for the job. Either way, there are a few things to consider….

 

1. Do your research regarding design:
* Don’t just turn up with a vague idea and expect it to be perfected immediately. They’re tattoo artists, not magicians.

* It should go without saying, but if you’re planning to get a tattoo in a language you’re not familiar with, for goodness sake, make sure it means what you think it means, and make sure it’s spelt correctly!!!!

 

2. Do your research regarding tattoo artist:
* If you’ve been following someone’s work for a while, this step is a lot easier. Otherwise, search online for “best tattoo artist in XXX” and read through all the lists that come up – if certain names seem to keep popping up on every list, chances are that’s for a good reason.

* Check that reviews/lists are actually recent and still relevant, not advice from 10 years ago.

* Try asking around on online forums, like Trip Advisor and Yelp.

* If you’re in a country where you don’t speak the native language, be sure you’re going to be able to communicate exactly what you’re wanting.

 

3. On the day:
* Does this place take walk ins or do you need to make an appointment in advance?

* If you need to make an appointment first, is a deposit required? Is it refundable (often it won’t be)?

* Are they a cash only place when it comes to payment, or are you able to pay on card?

* How can you get in touch if your plans change?

 

4. Consider the point in your trip you’ll be getting tattooed:
* Generally, you don’t want to expose your new tattoo to long periods of time submerged in water or exposed to the sun, so if your next few destinations are going to involve swimming and sunning yourself, it’s probably not the best time to do it.

* If you’re a party person, it’s also worth considering how many big nights you’re going to be having, and not getting your tattoo done the day after. Alcohol thins your blood, which means you’re going to bleed a lot more, and that’s not ideal.

 

5. After care:
This will be a bit easier if you’ve been tattooed before – while the general guidelines are pretty similar everywhere, only you know how your body heals and responds to certain ointments. As such, this advice is not to be taken as gospel, but for me, I know that:
a) I need to use Bepanthan cream for 4 – 5 days on my new tattoo, then switch to a gentle, non-scented moisturising cream.
b) my tattoos heal best when they’re kept covered for the first few days, and then left uncovered with a layer of Bepanthan where possible, or covered with plastic wrap over the Bepanthan again if they’re in an area that needs to be covered with clothing.

Knowing this, I packed some plastic wrap, medical paper tape and a tube of Bepanthan – I have sensitive skin, and after so many tattoos, I’m not willing to risk trying anything new at this point when this system has been working well for me for the past 12 years!

 

As you can see, we not dealing with some secret tricks – it’s basic common sense for the most part. If you do decide to get a tattoo in a foreign language made up of some cool characters that you’ve seen on a street sign after leaving a night club after having way too much to drink, and you do stumble into the first tattoo parlour you see with a quick iPhone snap of the street sign, then yes – you are an idiot and no one feels sorry for you and the crappy tattoo you’re going to end up with. For the rest of you who are looking for a lasting piece of artwork as a souvenir from a meaningful time or experience that you can literally carry with you for the rest of your life, I hope this helps! 🙂

 

As for me, I left home wanting to add to my collection, and …

Done by Martin at Sweet Hell Tattoo, Reykjavík, Iceland

Done by Pabby at Downtown Tattoo, New Orleans, USA

It’s that time again…. ✈️

4 months.
17 weeks.
120 days.

23 flights.
25+ trains.
5 road trips.
1 ferry.
15 countries.
50 cities, towns & national parks.
Approximate distance of 75,000km to be covered.

No matter how you spin the numbers, it’s gonna be big. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down to start writing this post, only to be completely overwhelmed by figures and logistics and emotions, delete everything, and promise myself I’d come back to it later. Only, now, there is no later; we leave tomorrow.

This trip has been in the works for what feels like forever. We started talking (dreaming) about doing something like this when we first met thirteen years ago. I started to genuinely contemplate it in 2013 after we’d gone on a four week trip to Egypt and Europe, which I’d previously thought of as an impossible feat. I let that simmer for a few years and finally decided without a shadow of a doubt that it was going to happen in January 2015, at the end of our 6 week trip around America.

When I take a step back and look at what we’re doing, I know that it’s not that big, in a lot of ways. People pack up and leave for a lot longer than four months. People pack up and leave without having booked any flights or accommodation, they leave with just a passport and a one way ticket and a vague idea of that the next step will be; I’m not so disillusioned to believe that our “little” four month trip around the world is even making a scratch on the glass ceilings in that regard.

But for me, personally, it is smashing those ceilings. I’ve written about this feeling before, about the odd feeling of discontent that came to me in Egypt when I realised I’d finally managed to get everything I was meant to get – a university degree, a job, a home of my own, a wonderful marriage – and I still felt kinda empty, unfulfilled. For some people, they’re complete once they have their dream career, their children, their perfect house; travel undeniably  fills that void for me.

I come from a pretty traditional Italian family. I’ve followed the steps of their game so far. Uni degree. Job. Home. Husband. After that, I was meant to “settle down” and have kids, in the footsteps of the path set by generations of women before me. So this little four month time out from the real world isn’t just a vacation or even a “travel experience”; it’s my middle finger to the traditional world, my way of saying “you know what, I actually don’t have to follow the path.” This is me finally following my heart.

 

 

I’ll be blogging fairly sporadically while we’re away, so if you’d like to keep up and see the world with me, follow the adventure on Instagram @the.life.of.j  🙂

Bone Broth: what it is, how to make it & why I’m trying it

So, I’ve been drinking a cup of bone broth every afternoon for the past 17 days. And as odd as I thought the prescription of it was for my gut problems, my time spent investigating it on Google has informed me that its actually becomming a bit of a “thing” right now. There are dozens of articles and posts already swimming around out there from multiple perspectives/health issues, so I’m going to add my experiences and health perspective to the pile, too.

 

WHAT IS BONE BROTH?
Its exactly what it sounds like, actually. A broth made by simmering marrow bones in water for several hours (like, 12 hours minimum). While the health hipsters have only just climbed on board the broth train, my Italian family (and many more like mine) have been doing this for generations. Having mostly grown up in small towns and provinces around Italy, and not being particularly wealthy, my ancestors had to learn to use every single part of the animals they had to slaughter in order to feed their families, and that included the bones. As kids, we’d always get a bowl on mum or Nonna’s brodo when we were sick – the old-school, uncool, billion year old, Italian, original bone broth.

WHY IS IT A THING NOW?
Let me back track a little so I can answer that question properly…

I’ve been plagued with gut issues for around 5 years now, bounced back and forth from doctor to specialist and back again, trying everything that’s been suggested and prescribed to absolutely no avail.

A few weeks ago, at my wit’s end, I went to another appointment, this time with a naturopath specialising in gut issues. All I could tell her for certain was that in recent hospital tests, I had tested negative to coeliac and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), extremely positive to fructose malabsorption, and had a history of severe lactose intolerence as a baby.

Among several supplements that I was to try, I was also prescribed a modified GAPS diet for a few weeks, which for me, includes the following guidelines:
– no sugar or processed foods
– no gluten
– no grains
– no cow’s milk products
– bone broth, kefir and sauerkraut daily

As the name suggests (Gut And Psychology Syndrome), it’s now been well documented that there is a strong link between the gut and the mind, with a rather high incidence of people suffering from depression and anxiety also suffering from gut disorders. Exhibit A, me.

So back to the original question – why bone broth? It’s believed that the gelatin in the broth (that comes from those long simmered bones, particularly knuckles and joints) can be incredibly helpful in healing dodgy gut lining. It’ also said to help boost the immune system, which is great for those of us with gut issues, as our immune systems are generally not in prime condition. While there are certainly more studies needed to verify these claims of good, there are certainly no harmful side effects to drinking a cup of broth each day, and with the staggering numbers of people who swear by it and nothing to lose, I figured I’d give it a go – couldn’t make my current game of Russian Roulette every time I sit down to eat any worse!

HOW DO YOU MAKE IT?
How long is a piece of string? My investigations led me to a ridiculous amount of recipes, all with slight differences in ingredients and method, and all claiming to be the right way of doing it. I call bullshit and came up with my own recipe, combiming the plethora of online advice I found, what I remember from my childhood, and plain common sense. I will say though that this is a long process, with the broth simmering for at least 12 hours, soma slow cooker would be much easier and safer than a pot on the stove!

I did two versions, one beef and one chicken. I suspect the beef broth (made with marrow bones that the butcher sliced into smalled pieces for me and a few ox tail bones) was closer to what it’s “meant” to be like; once cooled, it formed a gelatinous mass with a nice layer of fat hardened over the top. The chicken one (made using the carcass of a roast chicken we ate for dinner) was a lot thinner – no jelly, no fat layer. They both tasted pretty good on their own, to my surprise (and relief), and would make great soup bases.

Beef Broth Recipe
– 1.5kg beef marrow bones, cut up by the butcher so the inner parts are exposed. Knuckles and joints are great, so is cartilage and fat and meat; use it all!
– 2 carrots
– 3 celery stalks
– 5 brown mushrooms
– 8 bay leaves
– 1.5 tsp turmeric
– 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Heat the oven to 220°C. Place the bones on an oven tray, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 30 minutes.

2. Take the bones out of the oven and place them into your slow cooker, along with all the other ingredients. Fill the slow cooker with enough water to cover the bones, set on low heat, put the lid on, and ignore it for 12 – 18 hours. I’ve been putting mine on before dinner and turning it off the next morning at breakfast time.

3. After it’s cooled a bit, I ladel my broth through a sieve into empty peanut butter jars to freeze. Some websites recommend glass jars, but I’m not willing to risk them in the freezer!

HOW DO YOU EAT/DRINK IT?
I’ve been taking my jars out of the freezer and putting them in the fridge to defrost slowly over 24-36 hours. Then, I take it to work in a travel mug, sprinkle a little salt in it, heat it up around mid afternoon in the microwave for 2 minutes or so, and sip it down!

It can be used as a great soup base if you’d rather incorporate it into a meal, and a lot of people also prefer to have it in the morning with their breakfast, but I like it in the afternoon when I tend to get the nibbles.

 

SO, HAS IT MADE ANY DIFFERENCE?
Honestly,  it’s hard to tell… one thing I have noticed though is that while I’ve been experiencing severe stomach pain and bloating most afternoons for a very long time now, I actually haven’t really had that while I’ve been on this GAPS diet, which has been wonderful! Whether it’s the bone broth though, or the probiotics, kefir, sauerkraut, gut relief supplement, foul tasting herbal elixir, or a combination of the lot, I don’t know. But I figure I’ll stick with it a little while longer!

Women who travel alone are great; so are women who travel with their partners

Thank you guys!! I was stoked to have received such a positive response to my last blog post about spending time with yourself 🙂 But while I was putting it together and investigating more of the “Women Should Travel Alone” thing, I found something else that got to me a little, so I wanted to write a bit of a part 2 today…

Writing last week’s post, I came to realise that I really am in the minority. At 31 years old, I’m not settled down with kids and doing the family thing, nor am I a sassy, independent single lady ready to go out and take on the world alone. Instead, I’m somewhere in between; I married relatively young for my generation (a few weeks before my 25th birthday), and have had almost 13 happy years with my best friend. I obviously don’t identify with the single ladies, but I’m also not ready to “settle down” just yet. And I discovered that there really just isn’t much of a market for the “happily married, without kids, still up for adventure” women of the world!

I typed into Google “WHY WOMEN SHOULD TRAVEL” and found the following results over the first two or three pages:
– Why Women Should Never Should Never Stop Traveling Alone
– Why Women Should Keep Travelling Solo
– Why Every Woman Should Travel Alone At Least Once
– 15 Reasons Every Girl Should Travel Solo
– Solo Travel: Why Women Should Travel Alone
– Why Every Woman Should Travel Alone
– Why Woman Should Travel Alone
– Why All Women Should Travel Solo Once In Their Lives
– Why All Women Should Travel Solo
– Why Every Busy Woman Should Travel Alone
– 10 Reasons Why Women Should Travel Alone

Next, I tried “WHY WOMEN SHOULD TRAVEL WITH HUSBAND” and got…
– Why Women Should Holiday Alone
– How Travelling Alone Can Affect A Marriage
– Why I Travel Without My Husband
– Why Women Are Travelling Without Men
– Why Every Woman Should Travel On Her Own Before She’s 40
– Why I Travel Without My Husband
– No, I Do Not Need My Husand’s Permission To Travel Alone
– Is It Healthy For Couples To Travel Apart?
– Traveling Alone Benefits – Woman Travel Without Husband

Seeing a theme here? Like I said last week, I’m all for anything that helps women see that they’re not helpless little girls. Of course we can travel alone! And yes, it’s great – in fact, I highly recommend trying it! But at the same time, for the minority like me who fall somewhere in the middle of the SINGLE – FAMILY spectrum, travelling with your significant other can be every bit as rewarding, empowering and fun 🙂

So, for the other ladies out there who are in the same boat as me, who have and can travel alone, but who choose to travel with their significant other because they want to, maybe you can relate to my reasons for choosing to travel with my husband (which, coincidentally are many of the reasons a lot of the aforementioned articles recommend travelling alone…):

1. LESS NEGATIVE MENTAL HEALTH EFFECTS
My mental health struggles aren’t something I hide, so I’m not scared to say that travelling with depression and anxiety can be a big challenge. It certainly doesn’t stop me (in fact, I’m travelling more than ever, now!), but I find that I get a lot more out of my travels with my husband by my side. He’s my best friend, he understands the challenges I face, and he’s patient with me. Having someone who knows you inside out and is patient and understanding can make all the difference between working through an anxiety attack and enjoying the rest of the day, or letting it win and going back to your hotel with your tail between your legs.

2. MORE CONFIDENCE
Following on from that, not only am I more comfortable with him around, I am actually much more confident. I’m a classic introvert and am usually quite reserved, but I’ve also always had a very pronounced independent streak; if I’m not anxious on my travels, that comes out. It’s almost like having a security net around; I’m not scared to strike up a conversation with a stranger. I’m not scared to try my local language skills. I’m not fussed by walking into the café first and placing our order. I’m not worried about wandering off the main street and down an alley to get that photo. I can get out of my comfort zone without freaking out too much, and that brings out my confidence.

3. DO SOMETHING NEW
While we’re very similar in a lot of ways, we’re also very different, which means that we’ve both seen and done some amazing things we’d never have done on our own. I didn’t think I’d enjoy an NFL game in San Francisco that much or a visit to Westham United’s grounds, but they ended up being two of the best travel experiences I’ve had!

4. SAFETY
As much as I hate to say it, there is safety in numbers. We live in an increasingly scary world, and travelling solo (whether you’re male or female) inherently increases your risk.

5. INDEPENDENCE, TOGETHER
It may be a little different for us that other couples, because we are both very independent and like to have time alone, which means that even if we don’t both want to do the same thing when we’re travelling, it doesn’t matter. We’ll quite happily go to a sports bar so he can have a beer and watch a game while I sit there reading the new book I just picked up. Compromise isn’t always neither party getting what they want.

6. PHOTOS
Yes, it’s great to have someone to take photos of you when you’re travelling so you don’t have an album full of selfies, but the best thing about travelling with your significant other is that because they know you so well, they can capture you so perfectly. When someone who really loves you takes your photo while you’re doing something you love, especially without you knowing, they’re able to capture you as they see you, not as you ask them to while you’re posing. And it often reveals a lot about the things they love about you!

7. LEARN YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
You learn this travelling on your own, too, but I think it’s magnified when you travel with your significant other; they’re generally not afraid to point out when you’re doing a great job or letting the team down. Personally, I’ve learned through travelling with my husband and having him point it out that that planning and organising are big strengths of mine (which makes his life easier, because they’re his weaknesses), but an associated weakness is an initial freak out when flights are cancelled last minute or a hotel can’t find our reservation (whereas one of his strengths is keeping his cool and going with the flow).

8. STRENGTHEN YOUR BOND
Inevitably (hopefully). Every time you and your significant other are in a situation that isn’t your norm, you’ll be tested and given the chance to strengthen your bond. You hear about things like one partner getting sick, losing a rental property, or returning to full time study making or breaking relationships. And even then, you’re still going to have familiar surroundings or other people around. When you’re travelling, you’re thrown in the deep end with all the challenges that come with it. And not only will you only have each other to turn to and trust, you’re simultaneously stuck together basically 24/7. And that can often be a lot harder than travelling alone. So far (touch wood), we’ve come away from all of our travels stronger. We’ve had dramas and arguments on the way, but we’ve always come home more solid than when we left.

I’m hoping I’m not the only woman in this situation, so would love to hear from other childless women travelling with their husbands, and welcome you ladies to add your thoughts, too 🙂

Women, spend time with yourselves (instead of the “travel alone” thing)

ALONE. Separated from others. Exclusive of anyone or anything else. Having no one else present. On one’s own. Indicating that something is confirmed to the specified subject or recipient.

Every two or three months, I book a night or two of accommodation for one person in Warburton. Yes, I have a husband, a best friend, a sister who could accompany me, but I choose to take these trips without a companion. Why? Because I believe that it’s incredibly important for people to spend some time with themselves. Especially when those people are women. It’s important for men, too, but it really hit me that this really is still predominantly such a women’s issue when I was sitting in a café on the weekend waiting to order breakfast; I eventually called someone over to take my order, and he said “ohh, I just assumed you were waiting for someone.” That’s when I decided to write this post instead of another food review.

If, like me, you’re a lady who enjoys her travels, you’ll have no doubt read the myriad articles and blog posts out there titled “Why All Women Should Travel Alone” or one of its variations. You’ll be a better person if you can be more independent, they say.  You’ll meet so many new people that you’d never have had the change to meet if you were travelling with a companion. You’ll be forced right out of your comfort zone. You’ll be able to eat and drink and see and do whatever you want and no one can stop you!!! Oh, and you should definitely do this before you turn 30. Because apparently your years of excitement and adventure end and your carriage will turn back into a pumpkin then.


These articles aren’t all bad; I’m all for anything that encourages women to take control of their lives, but I think there is a HUGE difference between “travelling alone” and “spending time with yourself.” 

As a textbook introvert who suffers from depression and anxiety, I actually really enjoy having my husband with me when I travel. It’s not that I can’t travel alone (I have) or that I don’t enjoy it (I did) or that I got nothing out of it (I did) or that I’m helplessly reliant on him (I’m most certainly not); it’s that he actually really is my best friend and I have way more fun when I’m sharing my adventures with him. The reason we’ve worked so well for almost 13 years is that he encourages my natural tendency to be independent. I’m just as capable of speaking to a stranger in a foreign country with him by my side. And forcing an anxious introvert out of her comfort zone without backup isn’t always a great idea! So I really don’t think “travelling alone” is all that relevant or important.

Some other articles propagate the idea of travelling alone in order to feel more freedom, to increase your confidence, to become more self-reliant and to better understand yourself. Those are all brilliant things for any lady to have at her disposal, but I don’t think they come from “travelling alone;” I think you’ll find they come from spending time with yourself. Go back to the definitions of the word “alone” at the start of the post. I read that as being isolated and cut off, maybe even from yourself. When I take my little solo trips, I don’t see them as taking time to be alone, I see them as taking time to be with myself. I meditate. I reflect on the last few weeks or months. I try to understand how I’ve come to be where I am right now. I set some goals for myself, treat myself to a massage, a riverside walk where I say hello to everyone I pass, a trip to an antique shop where I chat with the gentleman behind the counter.

Yeah, I’m taking these trips without a companion, but I don’t feel “alone,” separated or exclusive to anything. I’m spending time with me. Instead of ignoring the niggling feeling of “not enough-ness” that drives so many people to travel (thinking that if they ignore those scary feelings and just escape, they’ll magically find some answers), I’m learning to make friends with it. Instead of shoving it aside while I take a selfie under the Eiffel Tower and post it to Instagram with an “I-don’t-need-no-man-to-take-me-to-Paris” caption, I’m sitting down to a pot of tea and a jam-smothered scone with it and trying to work out how I can let it go on its way without me.


You don’t need to travel the world alone to grow as a person, ladies. You just need to spend a little time with YOU 🙂