I’ve compiled a list of questions that I’m often asked about traveling. Answering them has been great for me because it’s given me a lot of time to reflect and think about why I do what I do. If you’re considering picking up and heading off on an adventure but are unsure where to start, you might want to give this a read. Happy travels!
- Q: How do you afford to travel as much as you do? A: This is a common one that my fellow adventurers and I are often asked. I’ve heard, “wow you always seem to be traveling somewhere, I wish I could afford to do that!” so many times that I’ve lost count. The reality is – anyone can do it, it just depends on how badly you want to. Everyone has different priorities and lifestyles and I understand that mine may not appeal to everyone. I’m single at the moment with no children and I don’t have a mortgage, car or many material possessions. I don’t spend money on visiting a hairdresser like most people do on a monthly basis; instead I visit a barber which is significantly cheaper. I rarely purchase makeup, accessories, shoes or clothes (when I do purchase clothes, they’re usually from a thrift store or Forever 21 – or Forever 30 at this point but hey, if I can still fit into the clothing I’m doing ok!) and I don’t remember the last time I had my nails done, got a facial or had other spa treatments. That doesn’t mean I don’t treat myself, I just usually do it in the comfort of my own home. My phone is ‘pay as you go’ and I use public transportation to get around. Every year on my birthday and at Christmas, I ask for money instead of gifts and when I’m traveling, I stay in hostels or cheap hotels depending on the country. I also don’t shop when I’m traveling; I only really purchase souvenirs authentic to that country. The bulk of my money is spent on food because I really enjoy trying different cuisines. There are always cheap flights if you look early enough and you can get alerts sent to your email for select destinations. There is always a way to travel on a budget. There are many reasons for not traveling (kids, mortgages, illness, etc.) but if it’s something you crave, you can and will find a way to make it happen.
- Q: Where do you stay when you’re visiting other countries? A: I usually stay in hostels (I get a private room which is still less expensive than a hotel), Airbnb’s or with a friend if I’m lucky enough. I’m rarely in my room so it’s really just a place to crash for the night. On a recent trip to Prague, I stayed outside the city centre in a cute little B&B. I booked this trip last minute so there weren’t a lot of options in the city. I opted to stay out in a more rural part of Prague which was lovely. I had to take public transport into the city each day which I didn’t mind one bit as it was easy and affordable. Where you stay just depends on your comfort level and what you’re willing to spend. I don’t have the need to stay in 5 star hotels but I also don’t enjoy getting 2 hours of sleep because the 7 other people in my dorm are snoring and/or partying all night. You need to be comfortable and get a good nights sleep, especially if you’re doing a full day of exploring.
- Q: How do you get around in the city that you’re visiting? A: The first thing I do when I arrive in a new city is grab a map to familiarize myself with my surroundings. Your hotel will almost always have one or you can stop into a tourist office and pick one up there. I always ask a local what the easiest way to get from point A to B is if I’m stuck and Google Maps always comes in handy. In some countries, it’s incredibly cheap to get a taxi so that’s always an option that can save you time and effort. I always do a bit of research beforehand. You don’t have to plan everything down to the minute but it’s nice to know where certain attractions are in relation to one another.
- Q: What if no one speaks your language? A: You can always find someone willing to help, even if they don’t speak your language. In Japan, I had a hard time finding English speakers but people were always willing to lend a hand by pointing me in the right direction or leading me to someone that could help. Train stations, hotels and tourists offices are also great places to visit if you’re stuck, as they usually have staff members that can speak a variety of languages.
- Q: Are you ever afraid when traveling on your own? A: Nope. I actually love it because I can do what I want, when I want. If I want to walk around for 6 hours non-stop or just relax on the beach for a day, I can. That’s not saying I don’t love traveling with a companion, I’m just very selective about who I choose to travel with. It really takes a strong friendship/relationship to be able to travel together and not strangle each other by the end of it. I’ve been very lucky with travel partners in the past but I’ve heard stories of even the strongest relationships crumbling when things don’t go according to plan. And it’s inevitable that things won’t always go according to plan. You have to be able to look at the bigger picture, keep a clear mind and adapt to the situation. As long as no one is in physical danger, things will work out just fine. Sometimes, they even end up better than you had initially expected 🙂 Now, when you are on your own, you have to use common sense and keep your wits about you. You should do this regardless but you should maintain a heightened sense of your surroundings at all times when traveling solo. Most importantly, do a little research on the country you’re visiting. In some countries for example, wearing a certain style of dress can be offensive, especially when visiting temples and shrines and you will be required to cover yourself before entering. Always be smart, use common sense and trust your gut!
- Q: What made you pick up and move to Australia and now Ireland? A: When I moved to Melbourne, Australia in 2011, I had just graduated from University. I was working a job that I wasn’t really enjoying and was growing bored of the same old routine in Toronto. I had also been suffering from a lot of panic attacks at the time and felt really anxious about what the future held. An Australian friend and I decided to head to Coachella Music Festival that April and we met up with 3 of his friends visiting from Melbourne. We had the greatest time together and I remember one of them asking me why I don’t get a Working Holiday Visa for Australia. I thought to myself, why don’t I? What’s stopping me? I went back to Canada, applied for a visa, packed my bags and a month later was on my way to Melbourne. It was the single greatest decision I’ve ever made. The lessons that I learned were invaluable and I developed a really strong sense of self. My anxiety subsided and my confidence grew; I felt that if I could move across the world, get a job and an apartment by myself, I really could do anything. I ended up staying for nearly 4 years. During this time, I did lots of traveling, I fell in love and got married (although it didn’t work out in the end, I have no regrets; he’s a wonderful person that I remain friends with to this day), I volunteered in Tasmania, worked a variety of jobs and met many people; some of whom are now lifelong friends. After returning to Canada for a couple of years, I was ready for another adventure. I decided to move to Ireland in January of this year. I had never been but I’ve always had a special connection to it (you’d never know but my maternal grandfather’s family is from Belfast) and I have always wanted to see the lush landscapes I’ve only witnessed in movies (PS I love you, anyone?). I’ve been living in Dublin for nearly 5 months now. I’ve already visited quite a bit of this beautiful island and I’ve seen some amazing things so far. I’ve had some ups and downs which comes with the territory; you go through a range of emotions when you move abroad but in the end, it’s always worth it. You will never look back and regret experiencing another culture, regardless if you choose to stay or head elsewhere. I’m thrilled that I get to spend time in such a beautiful place and I’m looking forward to visiting other parts of the country and Europe in the near future.
- Q: Do you ever think you’ll settle down in one place? A: I really have no idea. So far, I can’t say that I’ve found somewhere that I think I can settle down in ‘forever.’ The concept of forever doesn’t really apply to me because I know how quickly things can change so I tend to just go with the flow and see how I feel as time goes on. I, of course, love Canada and if I ever went back I would definitely settle down in the West Coast somewhere. I love the mountains and the lifestyle there so I think it’s somewhere I’d fit in quite well. For now, I’m just trying to live in the moment (at times this is easier said than done; my mind is one that doesn’t ever seem to shut off) and enjoy every minute that I have here – the good, the not so good and everything in between.
- Q: Do you ever get homesick? A: I miss my family and close friends all the time but I never really get homesick for a place. I am very proud to be Canadian and will always have a strong bond to my country but I don’t necessarily know if I will settle down there. I also have a strong tie to Australia, having spent so much time there and making a life there that it will always be special to me. I read something one day about a man who said that he didn’t really get homesick because he sort of felt like he was a ‘citizen of the world.’ I completely understood where he was coming from because I, too, feel that I could be happy and make a life in many different places.
- Q: Are you afraid of living in/traveling around Europe with everything that’s going on at the moment? (This is a question, I’ve been asked more and more lately) A: No and here’s why…things can happen anywhere. If you constantly worry about the worst case scenario, you will never leave your house. There are crazy, unstable people in every corner of the globe. Things can happen anywhere; in every country, big city or small town. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be careful and aware of your surroundings but you can’t stop living your life out of fear. Get out there and enjoy every moment of this crazy, beautiful life while you can!
- Q: What advice can you give someone who wants to travel but might be afraid to leave their comfort zone? A: Just go. You will never regret the decision to travel and experience another culture. I’m not saying you have to pick up and move across the world but you can start off small. Travel around your home country first and then expand from there. If the bug is really in you, you will make it happen and push through your fears. I think that the only way to get over our fears is to really put ourselves out there because it allows us to realize that nothing is ever as bad as we think it is. I’ve read articles about the greatest regrets from those at the end of their lives and the most common always seems to be that they regret not living in the moment and doing more of what made them happy. Don’t be someone with regrets. Whatever your passion is (even if you have no desire to travel, there must be something that inspires you) – get out there and give it a try. Do the things that scare you and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. It’s your one and only precious life – make it one to remember.
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”-Anonymous