Eeeeek! That’s it! Wanderlust is finally out, just in time to download to your Kindle for some holiday reading. I mean, who doesn’t love a good holiday romance? The accelerated getting-to-know-you process, spending magical moments together, heartbreaking goodbyes and never knowing if you’ll see each other again. *sigh* It’s my firm belief that everyone should have at least one and whether you have or you haven’t, you can join Alex and Selina on the beautiful island of Ibiza by downloading it here. Even better, it’s only 99c/99p for tomorrow only!
In other news, my very own Alex (even though he is fictional) and I are on a road trip! Our sense of Wanderlust continues. So far, we’ve visited Zurich and Marseille, and are currently in Uzes, the place that sparked my travel bug and is the inspiration for Colinas Verde in Wanderlust. Afterwards, we’re heading to Spain, back through France to England and then back to Germany.
It’s a fact that travelling brings people together. You’re on your own, in a foreign country, experiencing new, unforgettable things on an almost daily basis and the best part is that most people you meet will have similar interests as you. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who hasn’t had some kind of relationship story while travelling, whether it’s been a fling or the real, true deal. The question is, is it worth it?
I read a comment on an online forum some time ago that said falling in love while travelling is brutal, but worth it. I love love. I’m a romance writer, so of course I do. I’m a hopeless romantic and I’m always filled with a warm glow when I hear about a love story that started thousands of miles away in some exotic place, and lasts. I was lucky enough to attend the wedding celebration of a French woman who met her now Australian husband travelling in Costa Rica. Proof enough that the possible heartache that comes with falling in love while being inherently transient is a possibility.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’m happy enough to say that right now, as I’m writing this post, I’m in love. For the last two months, every day has been better than the last, with picture perfect moments that Hollywood would wet itself over. Having someone to share new experiences with is one of the best feelings ever, whether they’ve been good or bad. It’s been like living in a dream world with an infinite amount of time ahead of you.
But it isn’t infinite. Sooner or later, things have to change. People have to move on, whether you continue travelling together or not, or one of you returns to your home country. How do you know whether or not to continue on the path you originally had in mind when you first set out, or to see where this new romance takes you? When things are so uncertain in life, how do you know whether it’s worth adapting your plans to accommodate someone else? And, more importantly, how do you know that the love you’ve shared wasn’t just some by-product of being somewhere exotic and tropical – somewhere far away from your every day life? Realistically speaking, the experiences you share with a new partner in your regular setting back home (wherever that home may be) over the period of a few months, can be shared with someone while travelling in a matter of weeks. Especially if you’re spending every single day together.
When I left home, I had a firm plan of doing my shiatsu course, staying away from parties and generally being more focussed. Suffice it to say, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Instead, I’ve partied like a crazy person, found myself in one of these dream-like travel relationships and the shiatsu just wasn’t for me. Now, it’s getting ready to change again. In around two weeks time, the guy I’m with leaves for Nepal and a couple of weeks after that, I’ll be in Thailand – at least, that’s the plan. The question of whether our time together has been worth the inevitable heartache that’ll come when we eventually take different directions has popped into my head more than once. For me, I can honestly say that, yes, it has been. Whatever happens in the future, I know for a fact that at the very least, I’ve made a friend I’ll keep for life.
Have any of you experienced the dizzy feeling of falling in love on your travels? And what was the outcome? Do you think it was worth it, or do you think it’s better to stick by yourself and achieve whatever it was you hoped to achieve when you jumped on an plane to a far flung corner of the world?
Ok, so I’ve been very, very lax with my updates, but it’s hard to keep in touch when you’re busy chilling out all the time. Actually, that’s a lie. I’ve not been chilling too much. I’ve had deadlines, patchy internet and moved house. I think I’ve been to the beach three or four times since I’ve been here. Ho hum. In any case, I’m back in Arambol and having a major case of deja vu.
I guess it’s a pretty special place, in that there’s a core community of people who come here year after year, in some cases, the last two decades! So I’ve not been surprised to see so many of the people I met last year. In fact, I was banking on it. But, like most things, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.
The people I hung out with last season are not the same people I’ve been hanging with this time around. I’ve seen them, spent a little time with them, but that’s about it. I suppose it’s a important lesson not to have any expectations of anyone, or plan around people too much. In the upside, I’ve made a bunch of new friends who have kept me thoroughly entertained.
And the deja vu? Well, I’m back in the Purple House, the same one I stayed in last time. But this time, I’m sharing with two awesome guys, German yoga teacher, Simon and Aussie surfer, James. And as of yesterday, German contact dance teacher, Anir. That is where the deja vu ends though. Even though I’m technically sleeping in the exact same room I did last year, most nights we’ve all slept on the balcony (pictures to come soon). Unlike last year, we’ve decorated it with mattresses, cushions and wall hangings and most of the time, we hang out there. Even though the surroundings are the same, the feelings are much, much more different.
I guess it all boils down to the saying that’s so prevalent throughout Asia. Same, same. But different.
In all seriousness though, why wouldn’t you? This week, I’ve been looking into insurance for my upcoming trip and man, it can be a bit of a minefield. And, it can be pricey, but if you’re thinking about shirking, don’t do it! Let’s imagine, you’re in Mexico, or Sydney, or Bali. You’re having a total blast, meeting new people, getting drunk, going around exploring – the usual. You think to yourself, I wanna swim with dolphins. Why not? Everyone knows how human friendly they are and anyway, it’ll look beyond cool for your Facebook photos. You sign up, get in the pool and:
Sound extreme? The fact is, people get hurt on holiday all the time. It has to happen to someone and as much as you won’t want it to, it could happen to you. We’re lucky in the UK, we have the NHS to look after us after a mishap, but Belize? Cape Town? When you travel, you will no doubt hear about people who’ve fallen off their scooter (have witnessed that and it’s nasty), lost their bag thanks to the airline, got caught up in an earthquake, spent 10 days straight on the toilet (why is it that travellers bond over dodgy tums but you wouldn’t dream of having that conversation back home) – shit, sometimes literally, happens.
The day I arrived in Goa, I met one one of the girls who’d travelled from France with my friends. She was a lovely 19 year old German girl, travelling for the first time. She’d been in hospital and was STILL sick with some kind of stomach problem. Think about how much scans cost, consultant fees – it’s insane but it’s better to pay a little upfront instead of blowing your whole budget on medical care.
So. Comparison sites are a good place to start and there are a great many – moneysupermarket.com, comparethemarket.com etc etc etc. Or, you can go via a recommendation from a friend, Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor – my point is, there’s a lot out there. They often come in tiers. Bronze, silver, gold, black etc, and each level will have varying amounts of cover. It definitely isn’t an idea to just go with the cheapest.
You have to consider what you’ll be doing. Will you be going to one country, two, or do you not know yet? Will you be doing ‘activities’ like kayaking, mountaineering or board sports? Will you be taking camera equipment, a laptop, a mobile phone? All of these things could well end up being add ons you need because the maximum cover amount might not stretch to it. Lets say you’re taking a laptop, mobile phone and camera, and lets say they’re top of the range. Your laptop might be a Macbook, that’s around £900. Your smartphone, let’s say £400. Your camera maybe £100. That’s £1,400. Now, they might not be brand new, but is your maximum cover of £500 going to stretch if you get robbed?
What’s that you say? You won’t get robbed? Well no, you hope not but shit happens. You need to weigh up what’s important to you, and how much you’re prepared to shell out just in case. In some cases, an upgrade for valuables might only cost an extra £10-20 but the cover difference is immense.
So, my advice – don’t be cheap. Shop around and READ THE SMALL PRINT. And take care 🙂
I’ve decided to do a series of posts about common blockers that might stop someone from travelling and the first one is – money. It costs money to travel. Fact. Unless you’re one of those super savvy people who manage to blag things all the time, or find an ingenious way of getting what you want, like that dude who put a paperclip on eBay and then kept trading random things until he eventually got a house. But most people aren’t like that, so you’re going to need some cash.
I remember emailing my friend Caroline (I do have more than one friend, I promise) a couple of years ago. I wanted to travel, and I had my sights set on Brazil, but I had a huge blocker. Money. For some reason I had it in my head that I needed £10,000 to do it. TEN GRAND?!
Ridiculous, isn’t it? I mean, I still over estimate what I need money-wise and it stems from thinking its better to have too much than get stranded – I’ve been there, done that and it ain’t fun – but these days, I’m a lot more realistic. So, how much money do you need to go travelling? It’s a complicated question, based on a lot of things.
Are you doing a ‘big bang’ travel adventure? There’s the whole gap year thing which insinuates that you should get it out of your system in one go. Before or after uni, before you get a ‘real’ job and start making money, having babies etc etc. That’s all nice and dandy if you have that set up behind you where you can afford to go travelling before you’ve really earned a decent wage and saved for it. Maybe you’ve got family who can fund it or credit cards (just no), but either way, travelling for a year, across the world, will not come cheap. Flights alone will dent your pocket in a big way. Personally, as much as I’d love to globe trot for a year solid, I know that’s just not in my remit right now. I’m happy to go somewhere, come back, go somewhere, come back. Like a boomerang. That way, the cost can be spread and you can do things at a more leisurely pace.
Second of all, destinations. Australia, The States, Canada and western Europe will cost bucks. That’s pretty much a given. Africa, South-America (some parts anyway), Eastern Europe, some parts of Asia – they’ll cost less. This is where your personal preferences come into play, as well as what it is you want to get out of travelling. Invariably, the cheaper the place is, the harder the place is. No fluffy pillows to lay your head on, lack of sanitation, etc etc, but hey, you’ll live like a king. And how much do you need to live like a king? Can you stretch £3k to last 4 months? Yes, you can. I did. And I didn’t budget myself at all, really. Honestly, I could easily have taken half of that.
Activities. This is where a HUGE chunk of money will go (apart from booze). If you’re going to want to ride elephants, pet big cats, zipline through the jungle, go on safari, take cooking classes, take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, you better be prepared to pay for it. Personally? I don’t like most of the organised, targetted activities. I was, but then I looked into a lot of them and decided I didn’t like the ethics. So you want to ride an elephant? Good for you. Just be aware that the elephants you pay to ride on may not be treated in a humane way. After all, they weren’t made for you to sit on. Going to a decent sanctuary (and most worth their salt will allow you to get up close and personal, wash them etc without riding them) is just as good. And as for petting big cats? I think the Tinder thing of men posing with them hasn’t helped here. Most of them are heavily sedated in order for you to do so. All I’m saying is, do a little research and if you want to have these experiences, there are plenty of alternatives where you can get the same effect without the nastiness. It’ll still cost, at any rate.
Basically, there’s no easy answer to how much money you’d need, but I’d say whatever figure you’ve got in mind, halve it. Most of the time, we apply western/first world prices to things and that just simply doesn’t work (again, depends where you’re going). Be savvy. Eat local food instead of heading towards a McDonald’s, Starbucks or whatever (depending on where in the world you are). Organise things yourself or with your friends instead of going along with a tour operator (where safe and possible to do so). Learning to budget while you’re travelling, whether it’s in Cambodia or your girls holiday in Ibiza is a good life lesson. We all have to budget, unless you’re a millionaire.
You’re already living on less than you usually would – you’re not planning on carrying every single item you possess in your backpack, are you? So why not apply the same logic to your money?