Sleeping with EVERYONE

When your partner starts snoring you can give them a jab in the ribs and tell them to roll over. But what about when there’s 7 strangers in your room all playing a Capella in their sleep, can you give them a kick and tell them to shut the fuck up?

No, no you can not.

There’s lots of different accommodation you can stay in whilst travelling; hostels, air bnb, car/van/tent, Couchsurfing, hotels (not really), sharehouses etc etc etc. There’s always somewhere to lay your head. After staying in the same hostel for 5 months, and various other ones on my travels, I think it’s fair to say I’m pretty clued up on them. So I’m going to give you the pros and cons of hostels.

CONS

1. Noise

A hostel where everyone stays up all night, drinking, smoking, chatting, playing music, is so much fun IF you are a part of it. But if you are working and just need to sleep then this is a nightmare. It’s difficult to tell them to be quiet as you don’t want to be a party pooper, and if you are one of the noisy ones then some sleepy angry person telling you to shut up is a buzz kill. I’ve been both the noisey bitch and the frustrated one. Best thing to do is to keep away from the rooms and respect each other!

2. Privacy

Have you ever sat on the top bunk whilst people have been having sex beneath you on the bottom bunk? If it’s a no, you are a very lucky person. There’s nothing more to say here.

3. Cleanliness

Sharing a small room with 7 other people means there is limited space for all your stuff. The floors are normally covered in clothes (I’ve lost so many items of clothing I’ve lost count), it’s just a hostel room so none of the travellers want to clean it and most hostel cleaners just do a basic job rather than the thorough deep clean they so badly need. Kitchens are normally small and filthy, I lived on instant noodles for 5 months so I didn’t have to cook in the dirt (and because I’m lazy), people chucked their plates and cutlery in the sink leaving them for someone else to do.

4. Alone time

Sometimes you just need some “me time” away from everyone else. But this is pretty impossible in a hostel as it’s hard to be anti-social with a hundred other people sharing your home. Most people on the bottom bunk would hang a blanket around their bed to act as a curtain from the rest of the world, just a snippet of privacy for themselves.

5. Toilet business

This is a con and a pro. Any one else a nervous pooer? Go share a toilet with some strangers for a while, you won’t be any more.

6. The staff

I haven’t been to one hostel yet where the staff were decent. Most don’t care about the backpackers and are often reluctant to help out.

7. Theft

In most hostels I have felt safe and unthreatened. However you must remember not everyone has the same morals as you. Some hostels offer lockers but I’ve rarely seen them. You can usually scout out the people in your room and pick up their vibes early on, so you can decide yourself if you feel it’s safe to leave your valuables laying around. I stayed in one hostel in Bondi beach for a week, one day I went to work and left some makeup, pyjamas and dirty knickers on my bed. When I came back, it was all gone! I’m not sure who took it, the staff didn’t want to help, I just hope someone put it all to good use.

PROS

1. The people

The best part of a hostel is the people you are living with. As I’ve said before, you’re never alone! And sometimes this can be great. I would leave work looking forward to getting home to see all my friends. There’s always someone there to chat to, to go out with, to eat with. People are quick to invite you places and happy for you to tag along anywhere. Soon we became a little family that went out together every weekend, and it would always be strange if one of us was missing from the gang.

2. $$$

Most hostels are pretty well priced. My favourite hostel fluctuated it’s rates between $20-25 a night which is reasonable for a city like Melbourne. (And if you’re sneaky like me, you can get under the radar without paying for a few nights, too!) However, in Sydney we have found hostels for $40 a night, which is extortionate for what you get! Hostels are a good stop off if you can’t yet afford a big bond for a share house.

3. They are everywhere!

Especially in cities, there’s so many, and they are easy to book on apps and websites such as Hostelworld. So you should always be able to find a place to stay.

On paper there’s more cons, but for me the people I met and experiences I had whilst staying in a hostel far outweigh the cons.

Oh and top tip; take the reviews with a pinch of a salt.

When holiday romance becomes real life love

You came to the other side of the world just to find someone English! That’s funny isn’t it!” Ha ha yes Karen good one, haven’t heard that before!

I never came travelling expecting or looking for a boy. God knows I’d had enough of those, this time was for me. I was a female solo traveller and I didn’t need no man holding me back! I would meet couples along the way and of course I would judge them wildly. The couples that came out here together just never seemed to have as much fun?! It looked harder for them to make friends and like they just didn’t have the same experience as every one else. Then the couples that met out here, were from different countries and caught up in the holiday romance, you would just think “pah yeah, that’ll last…” (I’m ever the pessimist if you couldn’t already tell!).

When you meet people whilst travelling there’s always that non-committal vibe in the air. You have your plans, they have their plans, you might be here together right now, but that’s where it will start and end. And you both know it. But then what happens when you both decide you’re the type of baggage I’d be happy to carry around with me?! Well, that’s when the real adventure starts.

I met my now boyfriend in a hostel in Melbourne. Despite technically living together immediately, things weren’t as intense as you’d imagine. Yes, we saw each other every night, but we both worked all day, we stayed in different rooms, and we went on dates like any blossoming romance. One month passed of dating and raving, then it was decision time. Sophie had planned for us to do a road trip (this was the most interesting(?) road trip of all time so needs a post of its own), so you comin’ or not? That’s when my plans and his plans started to become our plans.

The running motto for our relationship was “if we can get through this, we can get through anything”. The road trip from hell was just the beginning (and trust me, this was very trying), by a series of events we ended up hundreds of miles away from where we thought we would be. Alone. In a house with

No wifi no tv no phone signal no people

In the ‘real world’ there is no way in hell I would be living with someone after two months of dating, especially in such isolation. It’s hard enough for people to move in together that have been a couple for years. We worked together, we cooked together, we cleaned together, we did the washing together, we did the weekly shop together, hey and you know what else we had to do with no tv or phones? We had to talk! We screamed, we laughed, we cried and we grew to learn so much about each other in a small period of time. This was definitely a point where we said “if we can get through this we can get through anything!”. We became a duo, we were invincible.

But of course, the universe throws you hurdles to toughen you, even when travelling. We were skint and living out of our van. This was stressful, tiring, and we kept repeating that motto so we didn’t turn on each other.

Our visas end at different times and we are from different towns, but luckily we are both English and these things can be dealt with when the times comes.

When dating someone from your hometown, generally you already know everything about them (I did anyway ‘how did you find that out Sally?’ I don’t have to find out, I just know). You know their friends, what they were like at school, where they go out at the weekends, and pretty quickly you meet their family.

I have met one of my boyfriends friends who came over for a holiday and he has met one of mine. Luckily, his family are coming out for Christmas so I will get to meet them then, and I occasionally chat with them online. But by the time he meets my family, we would have been together for nearly two years! I think the build up makes the whole experience scarier, the family already have a perception of you and you must make sure you live up to it! (Wish me luck). I think meeting your partners friends and family is important, it shows you more of who they are and where they came from and why they act certain ways.

We haven’t stayed in another hostel for more than a couple of nights, so we haven’t really tried to make friends yet, but here’s to hoping we won’t become one of those couples I judged at the beginning! You don’t have to lose yourself and your plans just because you’ve met someone. If it’s the right person you can compromise and adapt so that you both are happy and can do what you want still.

So, relationships whilst travelling can work. If you really like someone and want to put in the effort then go for it.

And most importantly… you’ll always have someone to take photos of you!

F.O.M.O

fōmō |

noun

a state of mental or emotional strain caused by the fear of missing out.

Even though you’re sailing away to find a better life and greener pastures, and you make a hundred new friends along the way, they’ll always be someone you’re leaving behind at home!

‘FaceTime will be your best friend’ I heard so many times, we’re so lucky in this day and age that people are only a click away, but in all honesty how much do we use it? I send regular texts, updates, voice messages on Whatsapp, but I can count on one hand how many times my friends have tried to FaceTime me. Life gets busy, the time zones make things difficult and there’s a hundred other excuses we could all use. I would see my friends regularly, once a week, some friends even every day! So where we would sit and talk for hours we must now fit into a few minutes here and there, so of course- you miss out!

I now might not know about an argument someone had with her boyfriend, or I might not get to help chose what outfit she should wear, or I might not get to know about the sick parallel park she just did. Missing the small things is sometimes sad, as you miss the little details about each other’s lives, the things that you tell each other because you know everything about each other and about the day/week they had. I sometimes feel forgotten about, or even jealous that they are doing something with another friend that they would normally have done with me!

But the real problem is missing out on the big things. This is where the real FOMO kicks in. Within the year I’ve been away two friends have bought their own houses, one friend has broken up with her boyfriend, one friends pet has died, and my best friend has got engaged! I didn’t get to be there to have a cuppa tea and a house tour, to help mend a broken heart, to wipe away the tears, or to celebrate and party. I try to show I’m thinking about them by sending cards, I hope this helps but a piece of paper is nothing compared to a hug and my presence.

And the other worry… I’ve changed! I like Techno now and have my septum pierced… will they still like me?! Will I still like them?! I’m sure everyone that’s travelled has had this worry, but I think the best friendships are built on your differences, you don’t have to like the same things or be the same people, that’s what makes life interesting. Sharing stories, experiences, new music, clothes, art, is how the world grows and we can help each other do that.

And you know what? If you do go home and things aren’t the same, that’s fine too. You have no obligation to be the same person, or be friends with the same people just because you always have been. It’s okay to move on, it’s okay to grow, just as it is perfectly fine to go home, have the same friends, same job, and go back to ‘normal life’!

Communication is key to keep a friendship alive when there’s distance. You don’t have to talk every day or every week, just check in now and again, let them know you’re still there for them, even if it’s just in spirit! The true friendships will last no matter what.

How to win friends and influence people

Most of us make the majority of our friends in the playground when we start school. A few people come and go, work colleagues, friends of friends, a drunk girl in the toilets of a club, but after the age of 6 we rarely find ourselves walking up to a bunch of strangers saying ‘hey, can I play with you?’. My biggest fear about going travelling was being alone, what if no one likes me? How the hell do I make friends?! But a wise woman once told me ‘you can’t force friendships, you’ll find your people’ (thanks Jess you ledge).

Feeling lonely is a killer, and whilst travelling the best way to combat that feeling is to stay in a hostel. The worse the hostel the better the people staying there. I stayed in a dirty, noisy, badly run hostel for almost 5 months (!) and I became part of a family there, a crazy, disfunctional, international, interbred family. I was lucky enough to be there at the right time and talk to the right people, and everyone was always very friendly to new comers, however not all hostels can be like …

Of course, I didn’t even go into this hostel alone. In fact most of my time in Australia I’ve been lucky enough to have a best friend by my side, supporting me through the tough low times and being there to enjoy every high with me, also.
I was lucky enough to meet Sophie. I met Sophie in Ayr and we bonded over being invited to play goon pong in a share house. We both left Ayr a few days later and I wrote in my diary “Sophie was nice, I hope I see her again”, thinking full well that would never happen. Well, Australia may be big but it’s a small world and it’s surprising how many people you bump into again that you’ve met along the way. Sophie and her friend came to Sydney to stay in my sharehouse over Christmas and new year. It didn’t take long until we were sharing a bed, clothes, and secrets. From then on we didn’t leave each other’s side for the next six months. “Are they a couple?” We heard people whisper far too many times along the way!

Whilst travelling you cross paths and meet people that you never would in “real life”. When would I normally live with a german vegan, or a Mexican juggler, a crazy Aussie fashion designer, or even an Englishman with a missing front tooth? These people became not just my friends but family. Sophie was there to listen to my bad days, Sonny was there to take me for breakfast and have a beer, Paul was there to make me dinner, Callum was there with a movie, and every night after work someone would be there to brighten your long day with a laugh.

Making friends with a local is even better. And by local I mean Krafty, the drunk old man in cycling shorts. He always came to the hostel to ask for drinks or cigs. One day I decided to make conversation with him, he then asked what colour knickers I was wearing and the friendship really blossomed from there. I would get sweet voicemails asking how my day had been and inviting me out for a coffee. I would get home from work and people would come up to me saying he had been there looking for me, and I would always hear “Sally? Where’s Sally?!” Being called as I was chilling in bed. Friend or stalker? There a fine line but the attention was nice.

And of course, we can’t forget old friends in new places. There’s something so exciting and strange about seeing a friend from your home town on the other side of the world with you. I was lucky enough to have one of my closest friends be here at the same time as me. She gave me tips and tricks before I even left, what to pack, where to stay, what bank to use, and the list goes on. After not seeing her for 8 months, we embraced in the airport and picked up just as we had left off. There’s something so beautiful about a friendship you can have like that.

As the saying goes; it’s not about where you are or what you’re doing, it’s who you are with that’s important. And if you intend on going travelling alone, just know you will never really be alone.