I really struggled with this month’s travel linkup topic: travel contrasts. The destinations I have visited, while many, are not incredibly diverse. The majority of my travelling has been done in the Western part of the world so I’ve never experienced huge contrasts in the places I’ve been. But despite this, looking back I now realise how much I have changed in the 8 years since my first trip to Europe at the age of 22.
The only travelling I did with my family growing up was within Australia, and apart from a holiday to New Zealand when I was 2, I’d never been outside my home country. My parents never really seemed to have a desire for international travel but I remember as a child I dreamed of visiting the US (Disneyland in particular) and as I got older I started to become more fascinated with Europe. As a teenager I fantasised about living in London one day but it always seemed well out of reach. I had no family living overseas and the prospect of moving overseas alone is quite daunting.
After 2 years of working full time I’d saved up enough money for my dream holiday to Europe. I travelled with my boyfriend at the time who had even less travel experience than I did. Since we would be visiting countries where English was not the native language and neither of us had any idea what to expect, we booked on to a group tour for the European leg of our trip but travelled independently within the UK. I loved this holiday but at that time of my life I wasn’t really open to things that took me out of my comfort zone. I avoided a night out in Amsterdam with some great people as I was intimidated and didn’t want to have to worry about finding my way back to the hotel if we missed the tour bus. I was definitely not up to trying new foods that were too different from what I ate back home. I wasn’t adventurous in the slightest.
At some point between that first trip and now, I became a lot more brave. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of things that scare the crap out of me but I’ve come a long way. Perhaps part of that can be attributed to my move to London. It takes a lot of guts to move to a foreign country away from your family and the comforts of home. There have been numerous times where things were hard and I’d been tempted to pack up and head back but I stuck it out and I think I’m a better person for it. Once you have accomplished something so big, some of the other things don’t seem as scary as they once did.
There are a few things I’ve done in the last few years my younger self would never have dared to try:
After breaking up with the previously mentioned boyfriend I started travelling alone. At first I continued to join organised group tours but eventually became more comfortable travelling by myself and found I enjoyed trips more when I could go at my own pace and set my own itinerary.
Skiing black runs in Austria and Switzerland
I learned to ski when I was young but I was never particularly great at it and I only ever stuck to beginner slopes. When I started skiing in Europe I was forced to step up my game in order to handle the bigger mountains. I took lessons and gradually started skiing on steeper runs. In January my boyfriend sneakily lead me on to an advanced black run and I didn’t realise until it was too late. I’ve published a video of that run, spoiler alert: I made it down in one piece. I’m still not terribly confident but I’ve managed to conquer a few more black runs since then.
Taking on the rollercoasters at Thorpe Park
Probably not a big deal for most people but I’ve always hated rollercoasters and avoided any that looked too scary for me. Earlier this year I visited Thorpe Park and rode on all 5 rollercoasters despite being scared out of my mind.
Becoming a PADI Certified SCUBA Diver
I love snorkelling but the idea of SCUBA diving scared me a bit as there are a lot more things that can go wrong! Becoming PADI certified was tough for me and I got seriously freaked out on one of the dives - for no valid reason, really. Nothing seriously bad happened, I just got anxious. I passed the certification and have done a couple of dives since then, I still get nervous but I think it gets a little better each time. I’m hoping to do some more SCUBA diving when I go to Malta next month.
Learning to ride a motorcycle
A few weeks ago I completed Compulsory Basic Training (CBT), which is the first stage of learning to ride a motorcycle in the UK. I’m now legally allowed to ride a 125cc bike on the road with L plates, eeek! I’ll be sharing more about this soon.
I really hope this doesn’t sound like I’m bragging or tooting my own horn but I am proud that I’ve found the courage to do these things and when I think about my past travels the greatest contrast I see is in myself and how my outlook on life has changed.
Has travel changed you? Do you see major contrasts in yourself before travelling and now? Let me know, I’d love to hear your stories!