6 things I learnt the hard way while travelling
Updated: Jan 22, 2019
Throughout my childhood I was fortunate enough to be taken on a number of incredible overseas trips with my mother and an even greater number of interstate trips with my father.
In my (short) time on this earth I have counted the steps up to Machu Pichu, made snow angels in Norway, travelled by train from Paris to Amsterdam, Safaried through Nairobi and heard Big Ben chime from down the street. I have also wandered through countless waterfalls, camped in hundreds of different sites, seen it rain down on Uluru, slept in the caves at Coober Pedy, hiked countless bush tracks and driven thousands of kilometres across Australia.
But despite all these amazing opportunities there was a few lessons I had to learn the hard way while travelling.
1. The travel book isn't always going to be helpful
This may seem odd when considering the purpose of the book but you will soon understand, trust me.
Those little books you buy prior to travelling overseas are supposed to be lifesavers, they have all the information you could possibly need, yes? I mean they include how to say simple phrases in the language of that country (important), popular tourist attractions (just in case you can't plan) and even a guide to the transport system!
But for the love of god someone needs to include how to say "take-away" in the Spanish section of the Argentinian guide.
Let me set the scene for you:
A busy street, a small packed cafe, my 5' tall mother pushing her way through to the register to order the coffee and hot chocolates for the day. Now to clarify my mum considers herself a bit of a legend when it comes to ordering coffee overseas, and to her credit she was very good at it. The only problem was... one time we tried to order coffees to take away so we could wander the streets.
Suddenly a great big language barrier collapsed on us. An argument ensued as my mother tried to convince the barista she wanted to take the coffees away and the barista angrily told her she had to pay.
My sister, standing just a few feet away, was frantically searching the little travel book desperately trying to find the phrase.
Naturally we left the cafe with the usual ceramic mugs, wandered for a while and then returned them to the cafe.
Hence the lesson, the travel book is not always helpful.
2. Your parents are NOT wrong when they say pack extra clothes
There is no amount of underwear or sock collection in the world that will protect you when you go on trips overseas.
If you pack too little the struggle of re-washing becomes a living nightmare and if you bring too many you find your bag zips only just and the struggle of packing every time you move location begins to eat away at your soul.
But if I could offer one piece of advice, it would be to pack more than less.
Your parents, although frustrating when travelling, know what they're talking about when they say pack for everything.
So what if you're going to London where the likeliness of sun is on average 0.003% bring at least one summer outfit, just in case.
The last thing you want is to be standing there sweating in long sleeves and long pants, I mean at the very least think of the washing...
Also, children pee themselves. I have no specific story to share of this but I'm sure it's a problem for someone out there... just always pack extra.
3. You do a lot of standing around
When you look at all those instagram models and influencers lounging about on their island paradises you immediately wish you were there too.
Who doesn't want to relax in an island resort or drink coffee in Manhattan or whatever the location they're hyping this week is. We all do!
Buuuuut what they never showcase on their channels or splash across their Instagram's is the sheer amount of hours you will spend in airports, waiting in lines for tickets, CUSTOMS, waiting for transport, or freaking walking.
It's never-ending!! It's basically a 3:1 ratio of waiting to relaxing!
One time when I was younger my family and I were waiting in an airport for a flight and I was, naturally, being a little shit and causing absolute chaos.
In response to my poor behaviour I received a time out.
However, I don't take well to being silent... so I continued being an annoying child in an airport while my mother screamed at me and racked up the time I would be forced to be silent.
It ending up equating to approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes of time out.
Want to know the best part? I sat in silence for that entire time, and we STILL didn't get on a plane.
So yeah, all I can say is: Be prepared for a hell of a lot of nothingness.
4. You have to try new foods- like a lot
To most people this isn't a 'hard' lesson as per say but I, a picky eater, find this to be an incredibly difficult thing to adjust to while travelling.
All countries are different and one aspect of this difference is their cuisine.
To my shock, everywhere you go they eat different things, what is considered to be 'normal, every-day cuisine' changes from place to place.
In South America they told us we should try cows hearts, in the Netherlands I was offered more pâté then I could stomach and plane food is just... well it's seriously an acquired taste.
But you have to! Everywhere you go you have to try new foods. You have to attempt at least to branch out a bit from your normal and try hundred new delicacies.
It's not always bad of course, you can learn new passions for certain flavours or new hatreds but regardless you have to do it.
Look at the bright side though, at least now I know I'm not a fan of yam flavoured ice-cream...
5. It's not all going to go to plan, but that's okay
I can safely say the most common occurrence in any trip is that the plan you have in place is not always going to pan out the way you expect.
I've had hikes cancelled due to weather. I've had afternoon plans changed because the morning plans didn't go quite as expected. I've had important landmarks be closed on the day I'd planned to visit and I've simply been caught up doing something else and forgotten about plans I had already made.
But the important thing to remember is that it's not the end of the world.
There is always more days, more trips or more chances for you to do or see or participate in everything you desire.
During my trip to Paris, the line spanned a kilometer long to climb the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre was closed the day we planned to visit. These were obviously disappointing results for our trip but it didn't take away from the trip as a whole. We went and saw new places instead, wandered new streets and had just as much fun.
Plus, now I have an excuse to return to Paris at some point in the future!
6. If someone tells you to pick a guinea pig, don't.
This may sound unusual as a lesson but I honestly think its the most valuable lesson on this list.
In short whilst travelling through South America my sister and I came across a pen of guinea pigs. Our tour guide told us to pick one, so naturally my sister and I assumed we were picking our first pet guinea pig.
After sorting through them for a while we settled on the cutest, fluffiest, most adorable looking guinea pig in the pen. Satisfied we continued on with our day.
Later that night my family and I sat around the table waiting for our "special" dinner promised by our tour guide. To our utter horror out came our precious pet guinea pig we had so carefully selected.
Except now it was no longer fluffy.
Instead it was standing on a large platter, grilled to perfection, gazing back at my sister and I.
So, lesson learnt.
If someone tells you to pick a guinea pig... just don't