Upon my return from my first parentless grand european adventure, the most common question I have encountered from every Tom, Dick, Harry and Jane is “is travelling Europe at this age really worth it?“.
My answer has always and unreservedly been “YES!“.
Whilst this question has been posed by friends and colleagues of varying backgrounds, from those living a modest on-campus university lifestyle, to those in their late twenties wielding the newest and most luxurious handbags, my response remains unchanged.
Understandably, many would see near ten-thousand dollars for a four-week escapade as a farce. I get it. However, I actively sought to travel comfortably; staying mostly in hotels, consuming cultural foods on the streets or in restaurants and sniffing out european bags, leathers, cosmetics and sales as a past-time. I will be the first to admit that my trip was nowhere near as money savvy as it could have been. Yet, irrespective of what your bank account does (or doesn’t) have, you can mould your trip to work for your financial situation. If you want champagne and caviar for breakfast and enticing, palatial hotel rooms – easily done. Equally, if you’re after youth hostels, cheap alcohol and wandering the street with new-found friends – power to you! Apart from the obvious deterrent for most young people wanting to travel, that being funds, other reasons you should travel are as follows:
Learning how to ‘adult’ is a terrifying, sometimes unpleasant and a humbling learning curve. No-one warns you that one day the bills will come and they won’t necessarily align with your payday. No one warns you that now you are legally fully culpable for any action you take and that now you have to call and make your own appointments and communicate on your own behalf. Adulting can suck.
In-between new-found responsibilities, work and university courses, it can be easy to lose a little piece of your identity and continue merely existing, because that’s what adults do right?
Experiencing the world from a new perspective can re-enlighten that fire and thirst for life, you one held dear as an idealistic teenager. You can engage your passions, fascinations and be inquisitive when travelling. You learn so much about who you are and who you want to be when removed from your menial day-to-day adult life.
My great catharsis that eventuated from my trip was how I fit into the perceived twenties culture. I have always thought it a right of passage for any young Australian to have their partying phase. Before any great commitment, I thought it was necessary to go out every weekend, share affections with many and drink far too much. At twenty-one, I figured perhaps this phase of my life was bound to occur. When placed in these situations in Europe, I quickly determined that this right of passage wasn’t for me. Surrounded by beautiful people from all over the globe, who loved their drinks and party, quickly taught me that I hadn’t experienced this ‘right of passage’, as it wasnt in my disposition. Croatia Sails taught me that I much prefer a cheese platter and a few episodes of Criminal Minds with the girls on a Friday night. Travelling enlightened the faults in my perception of who I am and what I should experience as a young adult and helped me reconsider my future.
We all have those great moments of self-reflection when removed from the security of our own cocoons. Why not self-reflect in a picturesque location?
2. Minimal responsibilities
Your early twenties signify a period of your life where it’s okay to be selfish – in fact, it’s expected.
In your selfish years, you usually don’t have a mortgage, kids, wives/husbands or others to look after. Whilst I understand that statement is a vast generalisation, I found this to be the case in my situation. Bar my monthly one-hundred dollar phone bill (thanks Virgin), my responsibilities were and are minimal. Saving money for worldly adventure is significantly easier when you don’t have recurring expenses and when you live at home. The implications that the responsibilities of the adult world can have on your adventures are evident in the multiple conversations I had with fellow travellers who imminently quit their jobs and were travelling without a return-home timeline. I humbly believe that you will get more out of a trip, if travelling when you are not bound by fiduciary relationships or steep financial situations.
Commonly know as the act of spending time idly observing people in a public place… yes this is actually a thing (and I love it). As an admirer of all things fashion, I was captivated to hear of that Croatians (namely in Split and upon the Dalmatian Coast) are big people watchers. As a tourist from the other side of the world, and then some, it was fascinating to experience the styles, combinations and pieces people sported upon the streets. Admiring the distinct flair of European fashion and the admiration their citizens had for leathers, furs, detailed accessories and godly shoes was alluring. Walking the cafe strip of Split at night is fascinating; the equivalent of watching beautiful men and women casually strolling in their Sunday best. No longer is there a need for magazines with posed women, when the city streets are lined with the best fashions and inspirations.
The shopping prowess in Europe (amongst other places in the world I hear) is mind-boggling. Following on from the people-watching culture, finding outfits to replicate/that were inspired by the glamorous women at night is highly enjoyable. Further, if your escapades take you to countries that do not adopt the Euro, or other onerous currencies, your money can go a long way. Poland, Budapest, Croatia and the Czech Republic were a godsend for my wardrobe (and my back pocket). Where else in the world will you ever find Hugo Boss shoes for one-hundred and fifty Australian dollars? (if you genuinely have an answer for that, please message me – a girl needs to know these things).
5. The unlikely friends you make and the people you meet
Travelling is a funny thing – you pay great sums of money to be shipped to the other side of the world, where often you know no one, where there is a language barrier and your bearings are obscured. Somewhere within the stress and experiences, you hear another person speaking English and you automatically want to become best friends with them. Irrespective of their values, beliefs or their life waiting for them at home – humans are after all social creatures. The vast array of people you meet and befriending is enough of a reason to pack your bags and go. Often you will leave a city with new friendships and experiences under your belt – well knowing that if you ever travel to their part of the world, you wont be alone.
6. Magnificent views and cityscapes
The views speak for themselves. Learning the concise version of other others history, appreciating intricate architecture and trying to comprehend how people who live in these cities become so accustomed to such beauty.
(sidenote: you will never run out of social media content after a trip).
7. That unspoken element
You return to that adult life, a little poorer, a little more tanned and with a lot less phone memory – but you return with something money can not buy. You return with experiences, memories that you can hold dear and reminisce about and your return with practical experience. You travelled to a different continent and survived. You return with beautiful images of unspoken places imprinted in your head and memories or the drunken conversations you had with people whose names you cant recall and memories of the scent in the air.Somehow you have changed but the world continues around you. Whilst I wouldn’t say no to a designer bag or a car upgrade, experience trumps every imaginable material object said money could have paid for.
I return home empowered that I am an independent adult, proud that I was frugal to enough save the funds and impatiently awaiting the next stamp of my passport.
I assure you – if you are in a position to and there is something you should do –