My friend, Krystal, and I sat down at the table in the small country pub our tour had stopped at for lunch.
A warm, Guinness Beef Stew in front of me. I was so excited to warm my bones after the snowy day we had enjoyed in the Wicklow Mountains. How we found ourselves sitting at this particular table is where this story begins.
The tables were long, ideal for large groups, and we had been intentionally scouting seats away from the “loud Americans”. A voice came from a nearby table, a lady asking “Would you like to sit here?”
Krystal and I both turned our heads, nodded, and found ourselves sitting at the table with Chelsea, an Australian traveler. Over our incredible, beefy lunch, we decided to meet up the next day on Grafton Street. We spent the following afternoon browsing shops, meeting other wonderful Australian ladies, listening to buskers and eating very well! It’s funny to me the relationships formed while traveling and how quickly you become friends with everyone! We formed an awesome bond with all the girls – I’m even photographing Chelsea’s wedding next October!
I think it is interesting to know how various people are able to find time and money to travel. Chelsea and her (then) boyfriend scrapped and saved, volunteered, and worked their butts off to be able to take a huge trip!
“My partner Dan and I worked very hard for 8 months and saved our asses off! We were working and living in England at the time. We purposely looked for jobs that were live-in positions as they are usually cheap rent or even better rent-free! We still treated ourselves but every pay date we would agree upon an amount to put into the savings. We would match each other dollar for dollar and any extra cash we made through tips or extra jobs would go straight into the kitty.”
“Also while we were traveling, we volunteered for a few weeks at a time using the websites workaway.com or helpx.net. These are an amazing program where you get to stay with a family in another country for a set amount of time and help them out around their house in exchange for food and accommodation. It was an amazing chance to immerse ourselves in the different cultures around the world. It also enabled us to extend our holiday while spending little to no money for weeks at a time.”
Getting The Bug
“Ever since I was a young girl I have always been fascinated by the world and have wanted to explore it as soon as I could. I had my first solo trip when I was 18 and I went to volunteer with Gibbons in Thailand. It was this spontaneous trip that planted the true travel bug within me. I want to see and experience everything that this world has to offer.”
“There are so many beautiful things to see and so many different people to meet in this world that one lifetime could not satisfy my curiosity.”
The Great Getaway
“I traveled through Europe, Eastern Europe, and South East Asia with my fiancé Dan. We had a backpack each and a rough idea of our route and only the next few days travel and accommodation booked. We wanted to be flexible with our plans in case we changed our minds or route. Together, we traveled for almost six months and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!”
“There is truly something special about travelling the world and hopping from country to the next, meeting different people along the way and trying the most amazing food!”
“It was a long time to be on the move and carrying a backpack and I think next time we would do it in smaller stints as by the end we were very run down and very over hostel life!”
I had, however, been away from home for over three years.
“I first left Australia when I accepted a position in South Africa as a Primate Carer for 15 months. It was over there that I met my (now) fiancé and we began our traveling together. Whilst we were there we explored South Africa as much as we could and I also did an overland tour through Topdeck throughout Eastern Africa which was truly amazing and eye-opening!”
“During our travels, we would look up the must-see things and the must-try local foods or beverages. We saw all the big highlight and then looked for other quirky, unique things to see in that country or city.”
“We are big foodies and love to try anything. But also looked up things that weren’t very touristy or common. Many places you will find on your own as you are walking around or by chatting with fellow travelers! We also tried to avoid traveling via plane when we could. We would stick to buses, trains and local transport.”
A photograph popped up on Instagram, and my mouth hung open. It had been shared by Chelsea. I instantly messaged her, “Where on EARTH is this?!” A few minutes later, a message alert sounded. Chelsea had responded. “Lake Bled in Slovenia…..Google it. It will go straight to the top of your ‘Must See’ list! Trust me!”
Advice from a Traveler
“Choose where the locals are eating and try to get out of your comfort zone. No McDonalds!”
“When eating street food, always get them to make it fresh in front of you to avoid getting sick (lesson learned!!)”
Take her word for it! “I would highly recommend a backpack over a hard suitcase. So many times I saw people’s break open at the airport. They would crack and the wheels would fall off. Also, so many times we had to walk up 3 or more flights of stairs at hostels, hotels, train stations, and subways. A backpack is much easier in these situations and they usually have loads of hidey-holes and concealed compartments to hide valuables if you are staying in dorm rooms.”
She also advice you to “roll your clothes. Don’t bother folding it takes up way too much room and when you reach into your backpack you cannot find a thing. Also ALWAYS have plastic bags handy. They are good to wrap your shower stuff in case it leaks, put dirty washing in, put wet clothes in if they haven’t had enough time to dry etc.”
“Have a portable power bank. If your phone dies when you are lost or when you are on a 10-hour long bus ride you will want to be able to charge your phone!”
“Pack outfits that go with everything (no items of clothing that only go with one thing). PACK LIGHT! By the end of my trip, Dan had to physically lift my bag into my back because I couldn’t control my spending habits!”
“When searching for flights, clear your browsing history frequently. If you don’t and you keep searching the same dates to the same location, it will up the price the next time you search it.”
“Definitely do your research beforehand and I think you would need to be much more aware of your surroundings than if you part of a group or a couple. You should also not be afraid to approach other people while traveling to make friends.”
“I have traveled alone before and it can be tempting to not be social but it really does payoff to be out there and making friends as that’s where the best adventures start.”
“One of my most favorite memories was sitting and eating our local dinner on the steps of the huge cathedral in Florence at twilight and just people watching.”
“There were buskers everywhere and doing acts for small crowds, people selling goods, paintings and food and loads of people, travelers, and locals, just wandering around the square admiring the cathedral and enjoying a perfect night. It really sticks with me as it was a lovely night, clear sky and we were just relaxed and living in the moment and appreciating that we are lucky enough to experience such things.”
“There is not much I would change, everything we did was an experience good or bad and it all made the trip wonderful and memorable. I would probably do my research about SE Asia a bit more especially regarding travel times between places as we really underestimated them and we ended up cutting out Cambodia as we ran out of time. The transport in these countries is not very good nor scheduled properly and often you cannot book online or know times until you get there which can throw a spanner in the works.”
“Also in Asia, I would not be so worried about not booking your accommodation in advance as there were loads of wicked, affordable bed and breakfasts that weren’t advertised and turned out to be an amazing and awesome alternative to a cramped hostel.”
“Honestly, nothing really bad happened to us on our trip! We heard loads of horror stories about awful transportation, things being stolen, annoying and rude roommates. But apart from getting lost pretty much every other day due to my awful sense of direction and having to walk longer than necessary, it wasn’t too bad!”
To avoid getting lost, Chelsea’s words of wisdom are to prepare. “On day one, we had a dodgy map printed out from home and it was so bad we couldn’t even tell what was where. We learned our lesson on day one after a heated argument and having to ask three people for directions we vowed to never let ourselves be that unprepared again!”
“We eventually figured out how to download a free app called Maps Me which can track your location even without using your Internet / Wifi. It was a lifesaver! Loads of people we met had the same app and loved it.”
Chelsea has been to so many countries, and after all her months of travel, where does she recommend?
“Ireland and Romania. Both are amazing countries with spectacular landscapes and had the most amazing and friendly locals!”
High on her list is Iceland, and says “we are hoping to go to Iceland for our honeymoon but we keep changing our ideas! Stay tuned!”
Additionally, Chelsea loved staying at the Plus Florence, Villa Louise Beach & Spa in Vietnam, and at the Hotel De L’Amphitheatre in Nimes, France.
“We left England in July 2016 and arrived in Australia, my home country on the 21st of December, 2016 where we surprised my family for Christmas. They had no idea we were coming home. I have not seen them in 18 months. The look on my mum’s face was absolutely priceless and worth all the lies I told her.”
Want To Know More?
Reach out to Chelsea!
“I am always keen on meeting new people all over the world and if anyone has any questions please feel free to get in contact with me!”