The first steps

How do you choose where to travel?

I say- pick a place, go there.

Yes- it’s hard, ’cause the more you travel- the more places you’ll want to travel; and how do you prioritise? What if you go to the wrong place and have a horrible experience? What if you go somewhere so wonderful everything else pales in comparison?!

Well, it’s worth the risk.

My partner and I are a good cross section- I’ve been travelling since I was 2 and I love everywhere I’ve been. He’s pretty much never travelled- his first overseas adventure was with an underwhelming ex-girlfriend to Thailand in his 20s, and he hated it. Nearly put him off for life.

Lucky for him, his next adventure was with me- and, to me, an underwhelming travelling experience is tantamount to sin.

Ok, I’ll recant straight away. Don’t just pick a place. You need to go somewhere that’s quite different from where you already exist, is steeped in history and culture, and a bit easy to get around.

For example, I am Australian, I live in Sydney- so I would go to Europe for my first adventure (as I have done, many, many times).Europe is wildly different from Australia, but not so different you’ll get culture shock. It functions in other languages, but most young people speak English or its likely you’ve picked up one or two words along the way because the English language is entirely made up of European languages. You can fly in to London first- acclimatise in an English-speaking country, then go main-land. PLUS! You will see buildings older than colonised Australia, America, NZ, Canada (list goes on) AND actually stand where the super-stars of history stood. Also- there are planes, trains and automobiles to get you everywhere in comfort and style, so you don’t have to dress like a bum with a backpack.

Look, everyone needs to travel Europe- even the Europeans. No two places are the same and you’ll see more in a week than you can cover in a text book. It’s a good place to start.

Going somewhere like Thailand or Bali as a first trip for an Australian is, I feel, a trap. People think because they’re close it won’t feel too different; or because we have a huge Asian culture in Australia- they won’t feel confronted. They don’t realise that the Thai takeaway you get on a Friday night is not representative of actual Thai food. That Eastern culture is totally and, perhaps, terrifyingly different to Western culture. Maybe you’ll be ok with that, maybe you’ll have culture shock, maybe Australian casual-racism will get the better of you. At any rate, I find it an interesting choice. Personally, I’d leave the countries that are a little harder to traverse (i.e. India, Cambodia, Vietnam) ’till you’ve done a couple more trips and know how this whole travelling game goes. I think it’s an absolute must to go to these places- but you should know what you’re doing.

As mentioned, I have 26 years of travelling experience under my belt. I’ve travelled with family, alone, and now with my partner. I’ve travelled on a budget, on a generous budget and in absolute luxury. I have a list as long as my leg of where I’ve been, and a list as long as my intestines of where I want to go.

No one ever need take my advice- but it’s perhaps a perspective worth considering.

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