Travelling Europe solo isn’t the easiest thing I could have chosen to do with my summer however, in my family, travelling is a rite of passage. This started from when my taid (grandfather in Welsh) left our small village in Wales in the 60s to move to Borneo with his wife and kids. From then on the family lived in Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok where they settled.
My Mum lived out the same rite of passage moving around Australia, South Africa and America.
This summer, it was my turn, the first continent I was going to head to was Europe. Here’s what helped me.
1) Arrive to your flight feeling comfortable
As a Welsh girl who barely leaves the house without false tan, I like to approach my flights (still a fear of mine) feeling like Beyoncé (or a mediocre version). If i have an early flight, i like to make sure I’m at the airport earlier than normal, and have a glass of wine and just do my makeup. Not only do I feel #selfie ready but knowing I have my warpaint on makes for a much more pleasant experience. Warpaint, or armour can come in many forms however. For me it’s my makeup that makes me feel comfortable, however, a lucky college sweater or even a piece of jewellery that is beloved by you works. The goal is to feel comfortable, and that comes in many forms
2) Make sure you travel with something that will make you sleep better in an unfamiliar place
Oh youth hostels. Great places for meeting people, sharing stories, pub crawls and communal areas. The downsides can be, well communal areas and some travellers will have different ideas to what are acceptable sleeping times. In this case, I like to take a cheap, easy to pack throw so I can cover my bunk for better privacy. My anxiety thrives under lack of sleep, so even carrying it with me, makes me sure I can get at least an hour of extra shut eye to have a better trip.
3) Take emergency medication
As a traveller, I have a fear that makes it less convenient – flying. I will always remember an amazing trip to Berlin, however the flight on the way back had a little turbulence. It was very slight, but enough to make me cry. Turbulence is my main fear, to be 5000 miles above the ground in a little metal tube that is rocking is not fun. Crying like a bride who had just been jilted on my wedding day was not fun. The turbulence lasted 10 minutes. I should have had a diazepam. This would have calmed pre flight nerves as well but I didn’t. My trip was amazing however imagine if it wasn’t and each day was filled with panic attacks. Taking my medication helps give peace of mind and, makes my trip easier
3) Take emergency essentials (a spare credit card, a cheap phone)
This December, I went surfing to Morrocco. However my phone broke and my credit card didn’t work. This lead me to relying on people from my university I had only just met. I met some incredible people and luckily they still think I’m okay enough to hang out with (just unlucky). That trip marked a time when I knew in order to travel and grow as a person, I had to leave comfort behind, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience when your Mum is wiring someone she doesn’t know money to get you safe in a foreign country. Now I take a spare credit card and cheap phone that I can put a sim in to each country. The trip to Morocco taught me so much, but mostly importantly, this
Last night in Taghazout,
3) Take a notebook full of maps, the countries emergency number and to write in
When you feel anxious, it’s great to record how you feel, as diarising slowly makes you know your triggers. However a notebook is also handy just in case your phone dies. It’s also a great souvenir for the end of your trip
4) Spend longer in the city rather than rushing around
Doing too many jam packed activities in a day is stressful and can ruin a trip. That’s why, I like to limit myself to two a day and spend 4 days in a city, than say, a long weekend. I can then put in time for downtime and really savour the trip
I didn’t get enough time in Krakow
5) Limit yourself to a ‘luxury’
My friend Haruka is an avid traveller, who has back packed alone around Europe, when I asked her for advice, she said ‘have a luxury, some times you just have to’. Luxury can mean many things to many people, for me it means a spa time. So in Helsinki with 10 days on the road, I booked myself in to Allas Sea Spa to try one of those famous Nordic saunas and I was not disappointed. Luxury means different things to different people, it can be a 30 Euro shopping spree thrifting clothes from a flea market in Milan, it can mean doing the touristy bus tour in New York, it can mean eating Macdonalds in bed in Shanghai. Anything that makes you feel replenished. In Helsinki that night I was off to see Kendrick Lamar and I wanted to feel refreshed
My names Kelsey Luke
My instagram is: kenfighill