And On a Side Note…

Perhaps I’ve been placed under the influence since I’m reading Booker shortlisted In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut or perhaps it’s because it’s really time that I did it.

I’m talking about going on the Big Trip that everybody must/should do at some point in their life, preferably while they’re young. People usually take it after high school or during university. Well, those have now also passed so I’ve decided that I will finally do the Big Trip next year. There is one problem. It seems that I’ll have to go it alone. All my friends have either already gone to the places I want to go, can’t get leave from work (darn real life), or won’t travel without their partners. As somebody who is an international travelling newbie, this is a scary scenario. I have only been to one country and it was with family.

So, along with asking all my friends several times and friends of friends, I thought, short of asking strangers, I’d first ask on my blog. At the very least, I would know that anybody who replies will have as much of a book fetish as I do and won’t complain if I stop at every, single bookstore or library along the way. πŸ™‚ So, the plan: I’m hoping to go backpacking in Europe, and perhaps adding in the top end of Africa if we can, for around two months next year, either in April-June or from September. Is anybody interested in going along with me? Email me!

And for the others, do you have any travelling tips? Have you backpacked around by yourself? Hopefully, the world won’t go into another financial meltdown again next year.

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23 comments

  1. Holy crap, I so wish I could afford to do this as I totally would! (I wouldn’t mind travelling only to bookish/historical places, bookstores, libraries, writers homes, and so on. That’d make an awesome trip! Imagine the excess luggage!)

    Short of that, and as a total travel newbie, I can only point you in the direction of Sarah from Yes and Yes who posts some really good travelling tips, especially for more independent minded travellers. She recently released an ebook about travelling as well. Her advice is always really practical, based extensively on her own experience.

    1. Thanks for the link! Have you been backpacking yet? You can always join me for part of the trip. πŸ™‚ I am slightly worried about the excess baggage already. I know I’ll go slightly crazy in the U.K. The time frame is still up in the air. I still have to let my bosses know! It’ll be great if you came along! πŸ™‚

  2. This has been a problem for me even just for travelling within India. No one has time, money or inclination. And I quite dislike the idea of travelling alone – simply because its more fun, and it’s great to share the journey. I take it is the same for you?

    I would love to join you, but Europe and Africa are out of my budget for the next year! So whenever you think of visiting the Indian subcontinent or around South-East Asia at any point, let me know and I’ll definitely join you.

    You should also take a look at Couchsurfing.org if you are looking for travel partners/or to just meet people. Everyone (including me) has nice things to say about it!

    1. You’ve tried couch surfing? That’s pretty awesome! I’m a little apprehensive about it. I might be in Asia in next year and India is definitely on my to-go-to places too. I might have two weddings to go to in September (hence why I chose September) in Malaysia and the other might be in India. I can’t remember the city but it’s near the Pakistan border and Amritsar?

      It’ll also be great to go travelling with you! πŸ™‚ I’m saving quite aggressively but I’d still have to budget really carefully. Hopefully, the exchange rate will be kind and the world won’t go into a financial meltdown again as it did when I wanted to go in 2008. It’s the first leg of the journey that I would really love to have somebody with me – getting the tickets and equipment together and just setting out. It’s also the scariest! I have quite a few friends who simply don’t want to leave their partners which makes me want to pull my and their hair!

    1. Thanks Kathy! That was very brave of you and your blog looks great (although did the Italian hostel have the shower in the bedroom?!). I don’t mind travelling by myself but it’ll be great to go with somebody for the first leg of the trip.

  3. That sounds like a really great trip! I’m only just starting a new job, so I won’t dare plan that far ahead. I’ll have to buy so many new things for my new place, I doubt I’d even have the money. But I really hope that your plans will go through and you’ll have an amazing trip!

  4. Oh how awesome! What an exciting time – the planning, the anticipation, the travelling!

    I am a bit old now for backpacking (you know with responsibilities like a child and a mortgage!), but I did the big trip, predominantly by myself and had a fantastic time!

    The other place you might try having a look at for ideas etc is the forums at Lonely Planet. I can’t think what they are called – something about a tree if I recall correctly.

    1. I want to go backpacking before all those things that ties me down slowly attach themselves to my life! It’s difficult enough with my job and getting enough leave. Where did you go on your trip? And, yes, I’ve been trawling through the Lonely Planet forum (the Thorn Tree). It’s fantastic.

      1. I spent a month in the South west corner of the USA with a friend, then went all round Europe, and back to the UK. Ended up living there for 5 years, and spent some time in Germany, France, Belgium etc during that time. There are still loads of places I didn’t get to go to yet though!

        1. Wow! You’ve really done the travel thing thoroughly! I’m guessing you found some work while in the U.K? It’s pretty easy to travel around Europe (so it seems) once you have a base. It’s just Australia that’s so darn far. 6 hour flight and we’re not even out of the country!

  5. I would so love to go back-packing with you Mae. Unfortunately, time and money constraints interfere with this grand plan.

    I hope you continue with this grand plan even if you don’t get somebody to come with you.

    And if you do decide to come to India, do let me know…and please do post about your adventures πŸ™‚

    1. Ah, never mind Nish! You also have the little snub nose to contend with. πŸ™‚

      I will definitely let you know if I come to India. I’ll need all the help I can get, I think! Where abouts do you live?

  6. Oh, how exciting, Mae!!

    I did my solo backpacking trip in 1998 — aged 29, so it’s never too late to go on a big adventure. I left Melbourne with a 12-month return air ticket, only to never make the return leg of the journey. Twelve years later I am still on this side of the planet!! (Obviously, it helped I have dual citizenship, courtesy of an English-born father, and managed to find a job after my money ran out after three months of travel around the continent and the UK)

    I know people turn up their noses at Contiki trips (bus journeys for under 35s) but I recommend them if you are travelling solo. I did an 18-day tour through Eastern Europe (this was when Eastern Europe was NOT on the tourist trail) and it was the best way to make friends with other like-minded people. I was then able to go on other independent trips with people I’d met on the tour.

    I think planning trips must be so much easier these days thanks to the internet and Google earth!! But if I was to pass on any advice it would be this: make sure you have plenty of cash and be prepared to spend it. There’s nothing worse than looking back and wishing you’d visited that tourist attraction/castle/gallery etc but you weren’t prepared to fork out the cash at the time. The other thing is not to plan too much — have a vague idea of what you want to do and where you want to go, but don’t be frightened of just doing things spontaneously and doing things on a whim, some of your best experiences happen that way!

    Oh, and if you hit ye old London town, we must catch up for a coffee!!

    1. Thanks for you tips, Kim! You obviously fell in love with the U.K! And you were really lucky to be able to get a job so easily but I guess at that time, you had heaps of experience under your belt with the journalism you did.

      I don’t mind package tours but I would prefer to go at my own pace particularly with my bookish obsession! But it does make it easier to meet new people.

      I didn’t even think of Google earth to research the trip! What a great way to check out the neighbourhood before you even set foot in it!

      And I would definitely like to meet up with many of the lovely U.K bloggers. I might have to time my arrival to coincide with one of the Riverside book club meetings! πŸ™‚

  7. Sounds fantastic, hope you have an amazing time! I’m in the middle of my studies so I have no Idea yet when I’ll be able to get away and for how long.

    A friend of mine really loves couchsurfing, so maybe you could try that and not spend lots of money on accomodation.

    And if you get to Germany (Hamburg), make sure to stop by and I’ll show you around πŸ™‚

    1. Do you guys get that lovely long break after you finish a year? That’s one thing I miss most from uni – the lovely 3 month break! Too bad I didn’t really have the funds to travel then. If you decide to join in for a bit, do let me know! And I will definitely take you up on your offer if I’m in Hamburg. πŸ™‚

  8. Plan some stops in towns where there are a lot of bookstores.

    That’s why I selected Wigtown, Scotland. I didn’t want to go to Hay on Wye, because I wanted a restful vacation. Hay had too many bookshops.

    Yes,people asked me why I was traveling by myself, but I didn’t mind answering the question. I just felt like getting away from everyone.

    I don’t know about hiking sites. I like to stay in Bed and Breakfasts.

    I am looking forward to reading about your planning.

    1. Ah, I think I remember you telling me about this. I don’t know all that much about Hay but too many bookshops can’t be a bad thing. πŸ™‚ Although it might be bad luggage weight-wise.

  9. Good for you Mae. I’m sorry I missed this – it came in the day we headed off to Port Macquarie for a week and since I’ve been back I’ve been barely keeping up with current stuff, let alone check out past posts. My daughter (23) travelled to US and Europe on her own last year and had a great time. That was her second time of travelling on her own. The first time was when she did an exchange year in the US and travelled on her own in the holidays. If you’d like to read about and ask her about her experiences go to her blog – she’s a reader, but her blog is more about chocolate, travel and life. http://wayfaringchocolate.com

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