“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ― St. Augustine.
My first solo trip to Europe wasn’t planned. Well not as meticulously planned as I thought my first solo overseas trip would be.
But hey, sometimes the best memories are the ones that weren't planned... and I've never believed in that sentiment more than I do now.
19 countries, 45 days, 1 girl, all booked and paid for two weeks before I departed…crazy, right? A spontaneous last minute decision to spend my savings on a lengthy Top Deck tour saw me skydive over the Swiss Alps, party from sunrise to sunset in Mykonos, eat my body weight in baguettes in Paris, and dance on tables in Nice to the early morning.
Away from the constant get up and go of life at home, checking my phone religiously and feeling the constant pressure to ‘succeed’, the long bus commutes, plane trips and train rides that are all too common while traveling gave me the chance to just sit back, stare out the window, and do nothing but reflect. Exploring Europe taught me few too many life lessons...
And there are three I want to share with you:
1. You can’t do everything (it’s impossible sorry), but that shouldn’t stop you from doing, something.
Of the 19 destinations we travelled to in Europe, there were a million places that were noted a ‘must’ see. As a group, we were left feeling overwhelmed when each person we asked gave us a different answer. I realised too many options leads to a duality of over-analysing yet also procrastination, where too much time is wasted trying to come to a decision, that you end up not making one at all. We couldn’t waste time on our trip deciding what to see or do next however because we had only 6 weeks to make every day count. In our everyday lives, that sense of urgency doesn’t necessarily exist. It’s the reason why so many of us never act on our hobbies, passions or things we’ve always wanted to pursue—because we don’t know where to start, and therefore, we don’t. But hey, you’ll be much further ahead of someone who constantly waits for ‘tomorrow’ by starting 'today', on something.
2. Who needs to be let go and who deserves to have a place in your life? Distance will give you the answer.
Ah, something many of us have been through. We’ve left the comforts of home to embark on the trip of a lifetime, only to return and realise that nothing has changed, same old same old, you feel me? Lifelong school friends are busy with pursuits different from your own, and you begin to realise that maybe you were only friends because you saw them five days a week, and really you have nothing in common. Then there’s those friends where time bares no difference to your friendship. The end result? You realise growing apart from people is a natural process in life, but so too is growing closer to the ones that matter.
3. See the bigger picture, in everything you do.
Travelling Europe was truly the trip of a lifetime, one I thought I would never get to do, but it wasn’t as smooth as it set out to be. No show airport transfers and missed trains are just some of the problems you’re bound to encounter traveling. I can assure you, I encountered every, single, one (Just my luck). Yet when you expect, and accept, bad occurrences like this will happen, you learn to make the most of each situation and won’t let it get you down. The lesson here? Embrace things out of your control, and don’t allow one bad experience to put a damper on the rest of your life.
So there you have it, the three big lessons I learnt in Europe that money can’t buy (or maybe it can?).
Written by Holly Anderson.